Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Reform of Islam

One of the stark contrasts I've noticed, particularly between christianity and islam, is that practitioners of islam are much more inclined towards the "book is perfect" philosophy. I'm guessing that the predominant reason for this, is that while the Bible was pieced together from many sources and translated many times, the Quran is still considered absolutely pure... ie, the purported original document written by those scribing mohammed's words is actually in arabic and in the hands of islamic clerics in Saudi Arabia. There are muslim students in my department here who describe the Quran as a 'perfect text'.... yes.. with a straight face... and yes.. PhD physics students.
This is coupled with the way mohammed effectively check-summed his work by requiring that the Quran be the only source for learning about islam, and that it can never be read in a translated version. Muhammed goes on at length in the Quran about how 'the jews rewrite the holy books to serve their purpose', so it's not surprising he put this in as a safeguard to his religion. As a result, muslim scholars will never refer to one of the several Quran translations with the term "Quran".

What this makes very *very* difficult, is any attempt to reform the religion. It basically puts Islam, by itself, into a 'take it or leave it' category.
If you have a beef with catholicism, you can take that beef up with the catholic church. And if you are compelling, you could actually have catholicism change.
I do believe that no such reformation will ever reach islam. I say this because to my knowledge, there has yet to be any reform in islam's 1400 year history. There's an offshoot in shia beliefs, but it's a very small minority (something like 10:1 population-wise), and they don't claim the Quran to be up for interpretation either.

Soon after 9/11, I really thought muslims needed to go through an 'enlightenment'-like period in their cultural evolution, but the more I read and learn, the more I think that Mohammed effectively locked out any possibility of that occurring through particularly deft maneuvers in his text.

This really bothers me, because it suggests that we eventually will face a war of extermination between 'everybody else' and 'islam'. ie, it's not just that nobody has convinced me that there are people reforming islam, but rather, nobody's convinced me that there is any possibility of reforming islam.

Here's hoping that I'm wrong.


At 11:22 PM , Blogger Christina LaPenna said...

I agree. Liked your post! =D


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