19 May 2016

Let’s take Islam back from the extremists and fundamentalists

Islam – my religion – is facing the most serious crisis of its 1400 year history. Extremists like ISIS only serve to bring this crisis to a head, but it has been growing over the last 200 years. Yet despite this, we refuse to accept there is need for reform or even to engage in a conversation about it.

The past 200 years have seen some of the greatest changes in human history. Changes in relationships, gender roles, law and order, morality and ethics. Changes in the way we understand the natural world and the processes that drive it. Changes in the way we organise our lives in the pluralistic, multi-faith, multi-ethnic societies we now live in.

But when it comes to the understanding of our religion we have stood still. We cling to a literalist mentality that looks back 1400 years to 7th century Arabia as the perfect model for us to imitate in the 21st century.

We either ignore the changes or condemn them as iniquitous innovations. We refuse to accept that religion needs to change or evolve. Any apparent flaws are our own inadequacies and misunderstandings. We keep repeating, ‘If only the Qur’an was followed “properly” it would lead to peace and happiness for all mankind.’

Groups like ISIS are of course an inconvenient aberration, but there have been no shortages of such inconvenient aberrations in our recent history.

Reformers — or rather renewers (mujaddideen) — have only repeated the call to return to a “true, pure and unadulterated” Islam of the Qur’an and Sunna. Their “reforms” have been about halting change and erasing innovation rather than welcoming them. [Sedaa.org] Read more