Tuesday, September 13, 2005

A Vision of a Reformed Islam

In Monday's Times of London, novelist Salman Rushdie offered his vision of how Islam needs to change in order to adapt to the 21st century and reject the barbarism of Salafist jihadism:

Reformed Islam would reject conservative dogmatism and accept that, among other things, women are fully equal to men; that people of other religions, and of no religion, are not inferior to Muslims; that differences in sexual orientation are not to be condemned, but accepted as aspects of human nature; that anti-Semitism is not OK; and that the repression of free speech by the thin-skinned ideology of easily-taken “offence” must be replaced by genuine, robust, anything-goes debate in which there are no forbidden ideas or no-go areas.

Reformed Islam would encourage diaspora Muslims to emerge from their self-imposed ghettoes and stop worrying so much about locking up their daughters. It would emerge from the intellectual ghetto of literalism and subservience to mullahs and ulema, allowing open, historically based scholarship to emerge from the shadows to which the madrassas and seminaries have condemned it.

There must be an end to the defensive paranoia that led some Muslims to claim that Jews were behind the 9/11 attacks and, more recently, that Muslims may not have been behind the 7/7 bombings either (a crackpot theory exploded, if one may use the verb, by the recent al-Jazeera video).

Having been sentenced to death by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989 for his novel The Satanic Verses, Rushdie has plenty of experience dealing with the intolerant fanaticism of the Islamists. The democratic, pluralist vision of Islam put forth by him and others, such as Irshad Manji, offers the best long-term hope for defeating the jihadists and their ideology of death.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Mr. Rushdie has been through a lot and this simplistic depiction of an Islam for the rest of us proves it.

Please file all similar comments under the heading: In Fairy Tale Land.

Perhaps we in the West don't know what attracts converts to such a bloodthirsty belief system anyway. Is it all just as simple as poverty and the disenfranchisment of millions of desperate and starving people who need champions?

You might want to check in with the Freedom From Religion Foundation at: www.ffrf.org

7:47 AM  

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