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Approaching an Islamic Reformation

Reader comment on item: Islam's Future [Can Be Modern]

Submitted by Daanish Faruqi (United States), May 11, 2004 at 09:23

Dr. Pipes,

Speaking as a Muslim secularist (I don't consider that a contradiction in terms, but rather as analogous to secular Judaism), I wholeheartedly agree that Islam is desparately in need of reform. Initially I concluded that the only means for accomplishing this was to disregard Sharia law altogether and replace it with secular law. However, given that the overwhelming majority of Muslims, including the moderate ones, still demand that Islam be imbued in their public and private lives, I'm beginning to rethink that position. Hence, there is need for a qualitatively Islamic alternative to the current draconian version of the Sharia.

In my opinion, Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im provides an excellent reform methodology in his "Toward an Islamic Reformation: Civil Liberties, Human Rights, and International Law." Here he argues that the Sharia as currently understood is by no means divine, but was developed by 3rd century Muslim jurists through abrogating earlier Meccan surahs, which preached eternal love and peace, with Medinan surahs, which emphasize the use of force, gender discrimination, and the like.

Further, he argues that the same principle of abrogation can be used today to develop a legal corpus based on the Meccan surahs.
Dr. Pipes, are you familiar with Professor An-Na'im's work (or with this methodology, as An-Na'im isn't the only jurist I've read to advocate the use of Meccan surahs over Medinan ones)? If so, would you consider his work a viable mechanism for reform?
Submitting....

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".

Daniel Pipes replies:

Yes, I am familiar with the work of Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, but the ideas he has forwarded are ultimately those of the Sudanese thinker Mahmoud Muhammed Taha. Taha's ideas are certainly one important way to excise the Islamic law from Muslim life.

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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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