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A Reformed Islam?

December 29, 2007

Moderate
In my wanderings of the blogsphere I came across a blog that criticized the Toronto Star, the most read newspaper in Canada, for downplaying the role of Islam in the ritual murder of Aqsa Parvez, a Muslim girl killed by her father for dishonoring their family. A link in the site led me to Muslims Against Sharia, a site that promoted the formation of a Reformed Islam.
Before I came to the site, I didn’t know that brave moderate Muslims existed! I had thought they were too afraid of their Fundamentalist brethren to even contemplate speaking against terrorism and fanaticism. I believed that should they say one word against the jihad movement, then the terrorists would blast them to what they’d believe would be a 72-virginless eternity.
Although I do not believe the site portrays the the majority-held belief of Moderate Islam, I must admit that I was surprised to see that it existed. It seemed too radical, even more radical than Radical Islam.
The actions of Islamic radicalism is not surprising. In fact, it shouldn’t even be called Radical Islam at all. Anyone who follows the Koran to the letter sets as his goal to convert the world to Islam be it through violence or other means of coercion. Someone who has at least listened to a fraction of high school history lessons knows that Islam was not spread by wandering prophets who preached about peaceful living through the denial of self. It was spread through conquest, subjugation, and forced conversions.
Moderate Islam, or at least the branch of Moderate Islam preached in the link should be labeled Radical Islam. It preaches peace, love, and light; terms that are preached in Islam but is not reflected in the actions of Islamic fundamentalists. It also portrays the Crusades, religious wars mostly forgotten by Christians but still fresh in Muslim memory, in a neutral light; saying that the Christians were merely trying to reconquer formerly Christian lands then controlled by Muslims.
But perhaps the most radical of its claims is that the Koran used today has been corrupted by Muslims through the centuries as evidenced by these violent verses. As a solution to this, they propose to excise these verses from the Koran thereby forming a Reformed Koran and eventually a Reformed Islam.
I do not know how exactly Islamic Fundamentalists would take that news, but I’m thinking that a parallel act done on the Bible would be considered by devout adherents as blasphemy! Strong curses and prohibitions are spelled out in the Bible prohibiting such an act*. Furthermore, changing the text of scripture of any religion would also change how such a religion is practiced. Moderate Muslims of that persuasion may claim they’re only restoring True Islam. They may even become model citizens because of their belief in Reformed Islam, and I know I’d become good friends them.
Yet what if their basic premise is wrong? What if the words of the Koran had not been corrupted after all? Something which may not sound good, or politically correct in our times, may not necessarily be corrupted through time.

* Deut. 4:2, Rev. 22:18, 19

13 comments

  1. I’m familiar with Muslims Against Sharia. They’re wonderful. I suspect Muslims who believe the Quran is the perfect word of Allah would consider them to be heretics, but considering the source, that’s a compliment. As I see it (from a non-Muslim perspective) the problem with reforming Islam is there really aren’t a lot of good options. At least Muslims Against Sharia are willing to do whatever it takes to fix it. I frankly don’t know if their efforts can succeed, but they are heroes for at least trying, which most do not do.


  2. I also don’t think that their effort would be successful. Changing religious texts is too radical for any religion. Yet I’m happy to hear that there are people like them. I just hope their presence encourages doubting Muslims to refuse the call of fundamentalism and thus give terrorism a fatal blow.


  3. We have two basic premises for reforming the Koran.
    1. When two verses contradict themselves, it means that at least one of them did not come from God, because God is infallible.
    2. When violent verses contradict peaceful verses, we choose peaceful verses because God is the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate.

    “Furthermore, changing the text of scripture of any religion would also change how such a religion is practiced.”

    That’s the idea.


  4. I must admit that I haven’t read the Koran as it is known today or the reformed Koran that you guys have made. Yet I believe the excision of vital passages has the potential of dangerously portraying a different God from the God who revealed himself through the prophets? Editing of what you believe to be God’s word, could potentially arouse the wrath of God if done in a way that is contrary to what He wills.
    By what authority do you even claim gave you the right to choose which verses to remove and which verses to retain?


  5. By what authority do you even claim gave you the right to choose which verses to remove and which verses to retain?

    They have no authority to change the Qur’an whatsoever. The Qur’an warns against this type of “editing”:

    And there are among them illiterates, who know not the Book, but (see therein their own) desires, and they do nothing but conjecture. Then woe to those who write the Book with their own hands, and then say: “This is from Allah,” to traffic with it for miserable price!- Woe to them for what their hands do write, and for the gain they make thereby. (2:78-79)

    Muslims accept the entire Qur’an as it is, not bits and pieces of it. To deny any part of the Qur’an is to deny Islam; i.e., they are not Muslim.

    He it is Who has sent down to thee the Book: In it are verses basic or fundamental (of established meaning); they are the foundation of the Book: others are allegorical. But those in whose hearts is perversity follow the part thereof that is allegorical, seeking discord, and searching for its hidden meanings, but no one knows its hidden meanings except Allah. And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: “We believe in the Book; the whole of it is from our lord:” and none will grasp the Message except men of understanding. (3:7)

    You have to beware of people like “reformislam.” They may claim to be Muslim, but their whole M.O. is to deceive non-Muslims by exploiting a popular non-Muslim prejudice: “Why can’t Muslims be like us?” Islam is not going to be “reformed” in a way non-Muslims want; Islam is going to remain the way it is (or it wouldn’t be Islam). Anyone who tells you differently is selling you snake oil.


  6. Yet the problem with accepting the Koran to the letter is that it breeds terrorism. I no longer even believe that the fundamentalists are a small minority in Islam. Oh, they may be a minority yet, but their influence is pretty strong. They could manipulate and bully masses into action. One minor remark from any source against Muhammad, the Koran, or Islam in general; could incite church burnings, killing of Christians and Jews, and burning of their establishments. All this they do while shouting that Islam is a religion of peace. Who are they deceiving but themselves.
    If Muslims are to show to the world that their religion is a religion of peace, then they must show it with their actions and not their words. Let the fruit show the evidence of the quality of the tree from whence it came from.
    I believe Islam must be Reformed for the world to know peace. Following the Koran to the letter will not solve the terrorism crisis. Changing the Koran, on the other hand, would produce a different Islam from the Islam of history. Perhaps a more liberal interpretation of the Koran is needed, but I don’t know how on Earth could they explain off the killing and unequal treatment of unbelievers.
    If the Moderates don’t fight against their Fundamentalist brethren, Fundamentalist Islam would win the soul of world Islam. It will then be only a matter of time before the rest of the world realizes that Fundamentalist Islam seeks its total annihilation. A resulting worldwide jihad wouldn’t be surprising.


  7. Yet the problem with accepting the Koran to the letter is that it breeds terrorism.

    So sorry, but as you yourself said, you’ve never read the Qur’an; you’re not in a position to judge whether “accepting the Qur’an to the letter” … “breeds terrorism.” In fact, I would suggest that it’s the exact opposite, that not accepting the Qur’an “to the letter” breeds terrorism. Don’t make the mistake of judging Islam and Muslims by the same criterion you would judge the Bible and Christians.

    One minor remark from any source against Muhammad, the Koran, or Islam in general; could incite church burnings, killing of Christians and Jews, and burning of their establishments.

    Yes, unfortunately, this does tend to be true; on the other hand, it’s equally unfortunate that non-Muslims keep making irresponsible comments about Muhammad (pbuh), the Qur’an and Islam. A lot of non-Muslims just don’t know when to keep their mouth shut.

    If Muslims are to show to the world that their religion is a religion of peace, then they must show it with their actions and not their words. Let the fruit show the evidence of the quality of the tree from whence it came from.

    The vast majority of Muslims show that Islam is a religion of peace through their actions (and words); the same can be said for people of most other religions. Likewise, the same criticism can be applied to all other religions as well. Best to cast that log out of your own eye first.

    Changing the Koran, on the other hand, would produce a different Islam from the Islam of history.

    Pipe dream; ain’t gonna happen. No Muslim would ever accept an edited “Qur’an.” See my comment above regarding verse 3:7. “And those who are firmly grounded in knowledge say: ‘We believe in the Book; the whole of it is from our lord:’” An edited “Qur’an” is not the Qur’an; a person who accepts an edited “Qur’an” is not a Muslim.

    Perhaps a more liberal interpretation of the Koran is needed…

    No, it’s that the extremists need to return to the orthodox interpretations of the Qur’an as espoused by the five primary madhhab (schools of thought). These madhhab are your “more liberal” interpreters of the Qur’an.

    If the Moderates don’t fight against their Fundamentalist brethren, Fundamentalist Islam would win the soul of world Islam. It will then be only a matter of time before the rest of the world realizes that Fundamentalist Islam seeks its total annihilation. A resulting worldwide jihad wouldn’t be surprising.

    Fearmongering doesn’t impress.


  8. Yes, unfortunately, this does tend to be true; on the other hand, it’s equally unfortunate that non-Muslims keep making irresponsible comments about Muhammad (pbuh), the Qur’an and Islam. A lot of non-Muslims just don’t know when to keep their mouth shut.

    Please don’t confuse the victims with the perpetrators. Sympathy should be extended to the ones who suffer and not to those who made them suffer. The majority of these victims are innocent, and got mixed into the fray because they refuse to become Muslim in Muslim held lands. And what do Muslims have against Christians and Jews anyway? Perhaps not a few atheists made the Muhammad drawings yet churches got burned. The Pope was quoted out of context, and not a few churches and practitioners who do not recognize him got burned. And to think these perpetrators claim to be practitioners of the most logical and peaceful religion on Earth.

    No, it’s that the extremists need to return to the orthodox interpretations of the Qur’an as espoused by the five primary madhhab (schools of thought). These madhhab are your “more liberal” interpreters of the Qur’an.

    I don’t exactly know the historic timeline of the evolution of Islam, but did these schools of thought become rigid during the Early Caliphate period? I seem to remember that it was a time when open dialog between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam was allowed. I believe Arabic science, architecture, and medicine thrived because a modicum of the freedom of conscience was practiced. Compare this to the Dark Ages of Europe, where only Catholicism was allowed, and you get the picture.
    Returning to the Islam as practiced in olden times, albeit with complete freedom of conscience, would solve the terrorism crisis and allow minorities in Muslim held lands to lead better lives.


  9. Please don’t confuse the victims with the perpetrators.

    I find it ironic that you should write this because that’s precisely what you’ve been doing. I’m not interested in a pissing match to list the abuses peoples of various religions have suffered from the hands of people of other religions. Nor am I interested in trying to excuse people of my own faith from the bad things they’ve said or done against people of other religions. I’m not going to refer to them as “atheists” or claim they were misquoted. But if you can’t see that your own co-religionists have flaws, having instigated (purposefully or not) their own problems, then perhaps you’re not worth talking to.

    …but did these schools of thought become rigid during the Early Caliphate period? I seem to remember that it was a time when open dialog between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam was allowed.

    Open dialog between Christianity, Judaism and Islam has always been allowed; the schools of thought have never been rigid (the so-called “closure of the gates of ijtihad” is a myth).


  10. Open dialog between Christianity, Judaism and Islam has always been allowed; the schools of thought have never been rigid (the so-called “closure of the gates of ijtihad” is a myth).

    I do hope this is right, but I haven’t encountered such a dialog before. Nobody can say what he really thinks of Muhammad or Islam to devout Muslims without expecting grave repercussions.
    PS What about the case of those who belong to non-Abrahamic religions e.g. Hinduism and Buddhism. The Koran treats them lesser than Jews and Christians?


  11. These people need to be ignored and shunned by the Islamic community. They are nothing more than Hypocrites and Apostates in disguise, and they seek to replace God’s Law with Secular Law. How disgusting.

    They have the audacity to believe that the Quran is here to be “politically correct” and any verse openly criticizing the Jews and Christians must be removed. For example, the Verse denying Jesus’s Crucifixion was removed from their Reformed Quran!

    They think that the Quran should be a book that should have all of it’s violent verses thrown away…..but when you look into the Bible, all of the intolerant and murderous verses are still there intact! So why don’t I see people lobbying to have these passages removed?

    These people will never succeed. I hope Allah Destroys them for Trying to reform the Quran….


  12. Nobody can say what he really thinks of Muhammad or Islam to devout Muslims without expecting grave repercussions.

    I find it difficult to believe that you really think this. You think we Muslims haven’t heard it all? People are unbelievably rude to Muslims all the time, but there are very few times that some Muslims become unhinged. Why would you want to denigrate the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in front of Muslims in the first place? Would you like Muslims to denigrate your religion or prophets? (In fact, we wouldn’t as we revere all prophets (pbut).) Do unto others? Isn’t that the appropriate response for such impulses?

    PS What about the case of those who belong to non-Abrahamic religions e.g. Hinduism and Buddhism. The Koran treats them lesser than Jews and Christians?

    Neither Hinduism nor Buddhism is mentioned in the Qur’an so there’s no treating “them lesser than Jews and Christians,” at least from a Qur’anic standpoint. Of course we Muslims don’t accept their beliefs, but I’m sure they feel the same way toward us. No matter. That doesn’t mean that Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus can’t get along (along with Christians and Jews). Personally, I’ve had friends of all five faiths. Living in S’pore as I do, I’ve worked with a lot of Buddhists and Hindus (as well as many Christians and Muslims; there aren’t a lot of Jews here). I’ve visited a number of Hindu and Buddhist temples over the years as well. Do unto others. Respect for everyone, even if you don’t agree with their beliefs.


  13. I find it difficult to believe that you really think this. You think we Muslims haven’t heard it all? People are unbelievably rude to Muslims all the time, but there are very few times that some Muslims become unhinged.

    It’s just that it’s what I have observed here in my country. Someone, a few years ago, made some offhand remark about Muhammad. I must admit that she should have said it in a more appropriate way. Yet, death seemed to harsh a sentence for her. A bomb killed her along with many innocent bystanders.
    Perhaps only a few Muslims get unhinged, but the damage they do isn’t limited to a few.

    Why would you want to denigrate the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in front of Muslims in the first place? Would you like Muslims to denigrate your religion or prophets?

    I believe that religious dialog is possible without resorting to denigrating Muhammad and the other prophets. This is because I do not want others to denigrate who and what I believe. In fact, I also believe that everyone must practice:

    Respect for everyone, even if you don’t agree with their beliefs.



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