Saturday, May 06, 2006

27 Propositions for Reforming Islam

Nathalie Szerman wrote in MEMRI In his Manifesto for an Enlightened Islam (Manifeste pour un islam des lumières), Chebel puts forth 27 proposals for extensively reforming Islam. He turns to the values of the 18th-century European Enlightenment for guidance, when rationalism and secularism guided the drive towards cultural, social and political progress. Chebel's first two propositions set the principles of reform: a new interpretation of the Koran, and the preeminence of reason over creed. However, he dismisses atheism, noting that "nothing very important is achieved outside the framework of religion."

Chebel calls for putting an end to violence in the name of Islam;

I agree
for renouncing Jihad, which is, in his eyes, immoral;
I agree
for abolishing all fatwas calling for death;
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and for abolishing Islamic corporal punishment. Chebel stands against female genital mutilation and for banning slavery and trafficking in human beings in the Arab world; for strict punishment of the perpetrators of honor crimes and for promoting the status of women.

Most of Chebel's propositions deal with politics: He advocates an independent judiciary, the preeminence of the individual over the Islamic nation, and the struggle against political assassinations in an effort to promote democracy in the Arab world. He also advocates fundamental cultural changes, such as turning freedom of thought into a Muslim value, renouncing the cult of personality, respecting the other, and fighting corruption.

His other propositions address technology, bioethics, ecology, and the media. The last one reaffirms the preeminence of human beings over religion. Chebel's propositions aim at providing keys to a modern, reformed, enlightened Islam.

Read the whole thing

Robert Spencer blogged Chebel's other recommendations are excellent. I hope they are adopted. But will a return to the original Islam really result in an intellectual flowering and enable the idea of violent jihad to be discarded? The Qur'an considers death "not a noble thing"? Yet it instructs Muslims to "kill the unbelievers wherever you find them" (9:5), promises Paradise to those who "kill and are killed" for Allah (9:111), and taunts the Jews that if they are really chosen of Allah, they will love death: "Say (O Muhammad): O ye who are Jews! If ye claim that ye are favoured of Allah apart from (all) mankind, then long for death if ye are truthful" (62:6).

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