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When it comes to Islamic reform probably Bangladesh is the leader

Reader comment on item: Is Sisi Islam's Long-Awaited Reformer?

Submitted by Prashant, Sep 22, 2018 at 14:00

Dear Dr Pipes,

If we take Quran as a constitutional document it will be as far from secular thinking as anything can be. It is not a surprise that all of today's Muslims have lived in or have come from overwhelmingly Muslim-majority societies (like 98%) and in which respect for other religions is hardly a matter of concern. Islamic ethnocentrism and supremacy is so ingrained in the thought process of modern day Muslims that it is hardly ever questioned. Countries like Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, and most other Islamic countries have been so for centuries. It is not much of a surprise that no Islamic-reformist movement of any significance has come out of any Islamic nation/society. And the non-Muslim world has been all too happy to oblige giving all privileges bestowed by democracy to the very nations who have no respect for secular democracy. In 2015 you hoped that el-Sisi the President of Egypt could be the Islamic reformer that we all have been waiting for.

I think a political reformer of a religion cannot be. A religion has to be reformed by a religious leader. Jesus, Martin Luther, Gautam Buddha, Guru Nanak, Dayanand Saraswati (who was a reformer of Hinduism as late as in the 19th century), were all religious figures first and politicians later (if at all). So a politicians will not reform a religion ever. Politicians can, however, help create circumstances in which thought processes that eventually lead to religious reforms can take place and a religious reformer can work freely for many years without his life and well being be threatened.

In this respect I have deep respect for the power of the written constitution. Words written in the constitution of a nation become guiding principles for her citizens for centuries to come. ('We the people' may or may not have been the guiding philosophy of people of the united states in 18th century but just look how far these words have brought us.).

From this point of view, Bangladesh --for all the Islamism prevalent in its society-- may be the most reformist of the Islamic nations. Bangladesh was formed in 1971 when it won independence from Islamic Pakistan. Immediately after that it declared itself a secular republic and adopted a secular constitution (Bangladeshi constitution mentions Islam at only two places). Article 12 of Bangladeshi constitution (pasted at the bottom of this message) is exactly what we will wish should be added to the constitutions of all Islamic theocracies. Since 1971 Bangladesh has dabbled between being an Islamic or a secular nation (depending on who is in power) but that is exactly the kind of debate we will like to see in all free societies. I believe currently Bangladesh is a secular nation and does not call itself an Islamic nation.

I am writing this message because I want the world to pay attention to the reformist policies of Bangladesh. Just imagine how much better our world will become if Palestinian and Kashmiri terrorists change the focus of their fight from religious to political and economic. If --the so called- Palestine were to become a freedom loving secular nation, it will not be very much objectionable. Same is true for Kashmir.

I will go to the extent of saying that non-Muslim people and governments should insist that Islamic theocracies and societies adopt freedom and secularism as their guiding principles. Not making a distinction between the church and state makes a nation inferior. We should tell this to all Muslims and all Muslim nations.

If political reforms enter Islamic nations, only them circumstances for religious reform can be created and sustained.

Article 12 of the Constitution of Bangladesh (http://bdlaws.minlaw.gov.bd/sections_detail.php?id=367§ions_id=24560):

1[ 12. The principle of secularism shall be realised by the elimination of -
(a) communalism in all its forms ;
(b) the granting by the State of political status in favour of any religion ;
(c) the abuse of religion for political purposes ;
(d) any discrimination against, or persecution of, persons practicing a particular religion.]


Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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Daniel Pipes replies:

News to me. I hope you are right.

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Reader comments (35) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
When it comes to Islamic reform probably Bangladesh is the leader [670 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
PrashantSep 22, 2018 14:00244999
1el-Sisi v Nasser and the regressive left and "Virtue Signaling"! [309 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
dhimmi no moreSep 19, 2018 18:19244933
Is he a Nasserist? [362 words]dhimmi no moreSep 21, 2018 09:22244933
1طاءفة البهرة الهندية Or The Indian Bohra Sect in Egypt! [340 words]dhimmi no moreJul 21, 2018 06:38243826
"Diplomacy: An intra-Arab relationship that's good for Israel" By HERB KEINON [170 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
RobertApr 16, 2016 21:31228986
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w/response from Daniel Pipes
Vince EmmerAug 29, 2015 11:34224860
1The strange case of al-Jazeera so called journalist Ahmad Mansour [186 words]dhimmi no moreJun 28, 2015 10:43223980
WSJ Article: "Islam's Improbable Reformer" (i.e. The Case for Sisi as Muslim Conservative, not Islamist) [98 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
PezDispenserMar 22, 2015 14:39222457
My enemy's enemy ? [14 words]infosifterFeb 18, 2015 21:45221170
1Egypt Should Conquer Lybia [84 words]LudvikusFeb 15, 2015 23:17221095
2Sisi Is A Decent Person Riding A Wave [110 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
DaveJan 27, 2015 07:05220706
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4Coptic Minority - A Source of Hope [345 words]LudvikusJan 22, 2015 20:50220609
1Christians in the Middle East; New king in KSA [179 words]Michael SJan 23, 2015 08:49220609
Explaining why it's hard for an Islamist be a moderate [72 words]Steve ChambersJan 22, 2015 13:36220605
Islamism- or ISLAM [34 words]ayatollahowmanyJan 21, 2015 22:21220581
1Is el Sisi a Reformer [104 words]samJan 21, 2015 21:52220578
1Dr. Pipes' Definition of "Islamist" [160 words]AlexJan 21, 2015 15:50220569
1The very early Islamic literary sources an islamic law [198 words]dhimmi no moreJan 23, 2015 09:22220569
Agree and Disagree [122 words]AlexJan 27, 2015 17:50220569
Res Ipsa loquitur and Omar al-Faruq [165 words]dhimmi no moreFeb 1, 2015 07:31220569
A Call for a Moderate Islamic Counter-Argument to Radical Islam [118 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Richard H. ShulmanJan 21, 2015 09:37220557
Why Islam Itself Must Go [106 words]DaveJan 20, 2015 19:44220533
3Applying logic to Islam [330 words]Sirocco110Jan 20, 2015 19:38220532
Good things are in store for Egypt [728 words]Michael SJan 20, 2015 17:51220528
not possible [8 words]HermanJan 20, 2015 16:12220527
Context and history noted [63 words]Mark WerfelJan 20, 2015 14:52220526
Muslim World's reaction to Sisi [141 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
AndrewJan 20, 2015 14:41220525
Does the West need separation of Mosque and State? [31 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
Anon.Jan 20, 2015 14:31220524
Adherence to reality has real value [36 words]Doug MayfieldJan 20, 2015 14:20220523
1ikhwanonline, Pope Tawadros and el-Sisi [147 words]dhimmi no moreJan 20, 2015 14:16220522
1el-Sisi and ahl al-Qur'an [271 words]dhimmi no moreJan 20, 2015 13:13220515
1NO, but still valuable and praiseworthy [440 words]Ron ThompsonJan 20, 2015 12:49220514
"Israel is a cancer" stated Khomeini and Kamenei! Look who is talking: Ignorant clerics. [83 words]steven lJan 20, 2015 12:22220513

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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