Wednesday, March 29, 2006

What is religious reform?

Siggy posted Nietzsche said that reformations happen in places where there is the least corruption. The Arab world has been trying to reform Islam for 150 years (and has failed). Clearly Nietzsche was right.

I believe that 'reforming Islam' means:

  1. making Muslims who live in non-Muslim and/or secular countries (America, England, the West), the ability to live harmoniously there,
    If they want to live in western countries, they need to follow the laws and customs of that country, i.e. they need to assimilate. They should not expect Sharia law to apply. If they want to live under Sharia law (and who in their right mind would), they should go to a country which is controled by Sharia law
  2. making Muslims who live in predominantly Muslim countries which do not have democracies (Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, Syria), the ability to agitate for change using moral, just, and humane methods,
    That would be nice.
  3. making Muslim who are agitating for authonomy (Kurds/Palestine/Chechnya), the ability to use Islam as a liberation theology, not as a death theology,
  4. making Muslims who live in theocracies (Iran, Saudi Arabia), redefine the Shariah under which they live in such a way that their laws comport with the current human rights norms of the world. Finally, there is
  5. an independent element of reforming Islam: that is, to engage the world-wide community of Islamic Jurists and have them figure out why the theoretical Shariah ( i.e. the framework of the Shariah) has ossified in the 11th century.
    It is because they had power then, and want power now, and they think that the way to do that is to go back to the 11th century way of doing things.
Personally I operate in elements 1 and 5, and often get pulled into element 2. I believe I cannot be of help to elements 3 and 4, because their reformation must be internal.

To follow up on that Nietzsche quote: as it stands, American Islam is the least corrupt Islam in the world. This I can tell you empirically because I am a very global Muslim....

You have a chance to write three undisputed Hadith. What would they say?

I only need one.

"Narrated the Prophet Muhammad, "There are no hadith. Read the damn Quran. The hadith are informative but they are not a source of law."
The "law" that the Afghan who accepted Christ as his Saviour was accused of breaking is based on the hadith, not the Quran. (“Whoever changes his religion, kill him).
That's the problem when talking about fixing Islamic Law. For a 1000 years Muslim scholars have been using hadith to expand/explain/clarify the Quran. That's the rationale they give. They don't tell us 1) that the concept of a hadith didn't exist until at best 150 years after Muhammad's death. They dont tell us 2) that the original hadith scholars themselves said that a hadith cannot overrule the Quran (which it magically can nowadays).
I wonder if the idea of killing innocents (even Muslims) getting you a free pass to Paradise comes from the hadith, since the Quran 4.93 says "If a man kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell, to abide therein (For ever): And the wrath and the curse of Allah are upon him, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for him."
They don't tell us 3) how many hadith were invented along the way to suit the purposes of rulers, kings, and morons. They don't tell us 4) how many alzheimer patients were narrating hadith (seriously, think about it). Let's see, for a 1000 years Islamic Law hasn't advanced, and for a 1000 years hadith has been considered a source of Islamic Law. Something's rotten in the state of Shariah.

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