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Islam IS and ISN'T compatible

Reader comment on item: The Citizen of the 21st Century: How Far, How Fast?

Submitted by Waleed Shirzoi (United States), Nov 22, 2002 at 16:55

Dr. Pipes,

Your comments are very interesting however, I think that one should clearly look at religion in general when discussing whether it's compatible or not with democracy.

All people have their own distinct views on how they view their religion. Although many people may have similarities, there are also differences as to the ways one practices or sees one's religion. Within every religion there are also divisions between traditionalists, moderates, and liberals.

Christianity, Judasim and Islam all have radicals within them. Look at the state of Israel. It was founded on a religious basis in 1948 because that is what "God" had dictated to the Jewish people. The chosen land for the chosen people. It's even in the Holy Qu'ran. Today, Israelis face serious problems internally because of those who want to impose Rabbinic laws over secular ones. The same principle can be said about Islam. If a leader wants to impose secular democracy it would be un-Islamic. To who? The fundamentalists of course.

There can never be separation of church and state in any country for even the United States doesn't truly have a complete separation of church and state. What the Islamic world needs is reform within the ulumma or religious community and needs to begin opening the doors to interpretation rather than closing them. This is seen in Iran under Shia rule. However, the Hanifi and other "Sunni" schools closed their doors in the 8th and 9th centuries. If a Muslim considers himself Muslim, then I think what's important is to realize that the word of God overrides the words and doing of the Prophet, peace be upon him. I am not saying that we shouldn't follow his sayings but what I'm saying is that God is the ultimate and omnipotent, not the Prophet.
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