Author Topic: Long, bloody road to Islam reform  (Read 1690 times)

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Offline GAP

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Long, bloody road to Islam reform
« on: February 27, 2010, 09:32:52 »
Long, bloody road to Islam reform
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Two notable Muslim leaders died late last year.

Though the deaths of Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, 87, of Iran, and Indonesia’s Abdurrahman Wahid, 69, were widely reported, the significance of who they were and what they represented in life was not fully appreciated in the West that is rightly bewildered with the violence tearing apart the world of Islam.

Montazeri was a student of Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic in Iran, and his designated successor. But when Montazeri questioned the direction of Khomeini’s politics, he was demoted, stripped of his title and banished.

In exile from power, Montazeri became a symbol of rebuke of what Khomeini built. His popularity soared, especially among the young, as he defiantly repudiated the entire edifice of political Islam by providing the religious and intellectual support for reform and freedom.

Wahid became Indonesia’s first democratically elected president in 1999 following the fall of Suharto’s dictatorship. Indonesia is the largest Muslim country, the world’s fourth largest by population and the third largest democracy after India and the United States.

Under siege

Though Wahid’s stint as president was short, his role as a Muslim religious leader was much greater than that of any politician. He was the head of the largest Muslim organization in Indonesia, the Nahdatul Ulama (NU), with membership estimated around 40 million.

The NU belongs to the mainstream majority Sunni sect and is characterized by a history of tolerant, humane, inclusive practice of Islam as a faith tradition. This tradition is under siege by those who have perverted Islam by turning it into a political ideology with totalitarian characteristics.

Wahid devoted his life in opposing Muslim fundamentalism, and since 9/11 spoke and wrote with increasing urgency against political Islam and the fanaticism, bigotry and violence of the Islamists.

Both Montazeri and Wahid insisted true belief could not be divorced from freedom. They preached tolerance, as the Qur’an teaches, “for you, your religion; for me, my religion,” and that there can be no compulsion on matters of faith.

They understood freedom is at the core of Islam’s moral teachings — a value that needs rediscovering for Muslims to live in peaceful coexistence with people of different faiths and cultures and, equally important, for Muslims to tolerate and respect each other.

They did not represent just another face of Islam; instead, they were its true face. Their efforts stood for renewal of Islam through reform consistent with modern times in terms of science and democracy.

Wahid repeated the words of Muhammad Iqbal — a poet-philosopher from undivided India in the early decades of the last century and one of Islam’s greatest scholars — who wrote Muslim progress required ridding Islam of the stain of Arab imperialism from its early history.
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Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: Long, bloody road to Islam reform
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2010, 10:30:09 »
Most, if not all, of the Muslims I know are defiantly modern; they are about evenly divided between religious and secular persuasions.

One religious Muslim acquaintance, a man with a PhD in engineering, told me a bit about the peasants' revolt he had to organize and lead in order to reform his Mosque so that women, his wife and three daughters, were no longer second class citizens. It was the last Mosque in his city; he had tried and left all the others. he counts himself a devout, religious man and he can find no scripture that mandates an inferior status for women. A lot, he told me, suggest that women are inferior or can be interpreted to say that, but his reading of his Koran convinces him, a well educated, modern man, that his God intended no such thing. His Iman, now leading a much smaller congregation, agrees - but they are the only and smallest modern, liberal Mosque in their city.

The one common attribute of my modern Muslim acquaintances is that they are in Canada, not the Middle East or West Asia; above all they want to be good, prosperous, happy Canadians, with happy, prosperous, successful, patriotic Canadian families; many want to be good Muslims, too, and they do not believe the two are mutually exclusive. They do not go back North Africa, the Middle East or West Asia - not even for family visits; they severed their ties and some (most?) no longer recognize their homelands.

Too bad.

One pities the modern Muslims in the Islamic Crescent (stretching from Morocco to Indonesia) who will, inevitably, be caught up in the conflagrations when religious reformations, more than one I'm guessing, and social enlightenment movements clash with the Islamic fundamentalists who want to turn the clock back 1,000 years or so.
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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