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Islam: Reformation May not be the Answer

Reader comment on item: A Muslim reformation?

Submitted by SAbry Fawzy Gohara, M.D. (United States), Oct 5, 2003 at 14:11

Although it seems that it makes sense to initiate and implement a reformation process in Islam, yet there are many challenges that are difficult, if not impossible, to tackle before a favorable outcome of such a reform can be achieved if at all.

Unfortunately, the Koran itself contains verses that clearly urge the "believers" to fight and kill the infidels (the Jews and the Christians). No Moslem is capable of or will be willing to abrogate a single word from Islam's holy book. Removing these hate inducing verses from the Koran, as should be the first step towards any attempt to implement a permanent reform, is simply impossible.

Moreover, the Koran tells every believing Moslem that the only accepted religion to Allah is Islam, and that Abraham, Moses and Jesus were Moslems!

Another difficulty with a possible Islamic reformation and its chances to succeed is that there is no, and there will never be, a recognized authority to interpret and implement such a reformation. Islam prIdes itself on the fact that it does not have a priestly class which can shape up and carry out such a reform. Any Moslem is encouraged to interpret his faith the way he understands it. The end result is that there are as many versions and variations of Islam as there are Moslems in this world. And as the world will never cease to produce fanatics and eccentrics, it will always remain under the threat of an aggressive interpretation of Islam that spawns acts such as those masterminded and executed by Ben Laden and his likes.

It is not a surprise that the calls for an Islamic reformation are arising from the West.
Here, Moslems are a tiny minority that lives in a society that does not assume that any one faith is superior than others, and which does not emphasize organized religion as the axis around which the world revolves as is the case in the parts of the world inhabited by Moslem majorities. Western Moslems not only benefited from their experience living in an open world where accepting the other the norm, and understood that this is the basis upon which any successful society must operate, but also those among them who still harbor ideas of hatred and aggression towards the "infidels" know that they can't express these views in the open with impunity .

The fact that there were 70 libraries in Moslem Cordoba, as indicated by Miss Irshad Manji, does not mean much. It only points to the fact that there was so much talk then about the superiority of Islam and the need to subdue the "infidels" and convert the whole world to the religion of Allah regardless of the means by which such a conversion is imposed. As a matter of fact, the Moslem fanatics of today often refer to these writings to justify their acts of aggression and violence. One may therefore conclude that the roots of the suffering that the world is currently experiencing at the hands of some Moslems, in every corner of the planet, go back to some of those books that were sitting one day on the shelves of Cordoba's many libraries.

On a more optimistic note, a reformation that is destined to succeed will need Herculean efforts and a vast expanse of time to penetrate through the minds of the billion Moslems or so who are living under Islamic rule in states that have proven their failure since they were "liberated" from the Western influence.


Sabry Fawzy Gohara, M.D.
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