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12/3/08

Islamic reforms... oh no the R word!


Assalam aliakum & Peace to all

Ok, controversial and political (kind of ) post ahead. I came across an interesting video last night where a Saudi anthropologist talks about how Islam has to be 'reformed' (somewhat). At first (because of my prejudices and seeing past videos)when I saw the guy in the typical saudi clothing, I feared the worst and assumed that he is going to be very judgemental and flaming with rage - yeah I know I shouldn't assume anything! He starts out by saying: "Our educational institutions are very deficient in various aspects." Hmm, now that was totally unexpected! Aalya continues to watch with a sense of fascination of where this talk will lead to. "You are not meant to think, but to memorize and repeat by rote." (this was said about critical philosophical thoughts) I had my eyes glued to the screen and couldn't quite believe what I was hearing, this man was making such sense !! I have always disagreed with just 'memorizing' things without learning about them! He later goes on to talk about how things have to be re-interpreted for today's times and that the fundamentals of Islam are fine, it's just how we will interpret them that can and should be encouraged to change.

Watch the Video Here

I have always thought about these things, it never made sense to me to not interpret things for the here and now. Islam is a great religion and the basics are the basics which will never change, the 5 pillars will always be the 5 pillars! What I have a problem with is when people try to live life as it was 1400 years ago. We do not ride camels, nor do we trek around in the desert and set up camps, nor do we have to dress as they dressed then (should we choose to that is another matter all together) So why are some people clinging to that lifestyle, does it make people feel closer to Islam and Muslims, should it? (immitaion is the sincerest form of flattery comes to mind but really are we that in need to imitate people who lived 1400 years ago in a place very far away - well for those who live far away from the Middle East) As Muslims are we forbidden to 'move with the times' and use technology? Are we not allowed to have a phone, computer or electricity? As these all were not available at the time when Islam came into the world. Why does it seem that the moment the word 'reform' is uttered someone somewhere automatically hears the word 'bidah' - innovation! Oh no... the 'I' word!! Ahh, run for your lives, change is around the corner!! I mean seriously! If we did not innovate things we would still be riding around on camels, horses, and have no electricity. Ok, I do realize that 'bidah' is mostly in terms of religious innovations, as said by the Prophet (saw)
“Whoever innovates something in this matter of ours [i.e., Islam] that is not a part of it, will have it rejected.”
[1] [2]

I know that lots of people take innovation in 'wordly' matters as something that should be avoided. Hmm, well there has to be a balance somewhere, somehow, right?
RIGHT! (Inshallah)

Now here comes Turkey and its movement to 'reform' Islam - sweeping statement that that is! But let's just examine exactly what these scholars want to do.

Since the 19th century, the demand for a re-evaluation of the hadith has become common among Muslim intellectuals. But it is Turkey's official religious authority, the Diyanet, which took the first authoritative step toward a hadith revision. Why? .... Turkey has a growing Muslim middle class - also described as "the Islamic bourgeoisie" - which is becoming modern in many ways, but which also wants to be loyal to its faith. Hence comes the demand for "modern Islam". In the past two decades, Turkey has seen the rise of popular modernist theologians who argue that "the Islam in the Qur'an" is much more rational and liberal than "the Islam in the tradition".
I like to think of these reforms as a step to look at the Quran again and have it reflect our lives of today, instead of bogging down Islam with `cultural`issues that never had any basis in Islam whatsoever!

Actually most Muslims don't like the term "reformation". Ali Bardakoğlu, the president of the Diyanet, has emphasised that "this is not a reform". The term sounds to Muslims as if it implies that Islam's divine sources are or have a problem, and that they need to be fixed by people. No Muslim worth his or her salt would say that. But a believer can well accept that there are problems in the "cultural baggage" of Islam - and that the time has come to deal with them. This is what the "Turkish Islamic reform" is all about. By revising some of the hadith that have been used to suppress women, and putting some of the others in their historical context, the theologians in Ankara are really taking a big step.

Keep reading here...


All I will say on this is that Inshallah people are doing this for the right reasons, and not for political manipulation. Looking for knowledge, gaining knowledge and spreading knowledge comes at a price and that price can be very high. You may land yourself in a pit but if you have the knowledge you will climb out of that pit and above all you will seal up the pit so that nobody else will fall into it!

1 comment:

Umm Travis said...

I think "innovations" refers only to innovations in deen - like in behaviour and practices. I never heard of anyone mentioning using planes or phones etc (technology) is innovation as it has nothing to do with our religion.

As for Turkey, I wouldnt trust much of what comes frm there as they have openly admitted to their preference of secularism to Islam. If something in Islam is opposing to secularism (ie dunya) it is suddenyl unIslamic... uh - what? Priorities, please!

And from that site, the first thing I read was "Open democracy free thinking for the world" sheesh. The problem with democracy is that it is putting ppls desires above Allahs divinely revealed law. SubhanAllah. In a democracy, the laws change according to what the ppl want or think they need at the time... it leaves the environment entirely unstable. In a true Islamic state, only the knowledgeable ppl have rights to leadership, and interpreting laws according to Shariah. Not the common folk.

Just my two pennies worth ;)

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