Does Islam need a Reformation?

There already has been Islamic reform many times actually. It is not a question of whether there is Islamic Reform  it is a question of WHICH Islamic reform is needed. 

Some reformers were calling for a return to the original sources and removing the “fact” of accumulated interpretations from the medieval scholarly tradition. These are “Reformist” Muslims  Sayyid Ameer Ali and Sayyid Ahmad Khan in India  who called for adopting Western science and some Western ideals and an emphasis on using more rational tools to interpret Islam. They saw no conflict between Western progress and Islam. Another group of Reformists were Muhammad Abdu and Rashid Rida. They also called for a return to fundamentals, brushing aside some of the legal interpretations from the past, and a renewed sense of rational interpretation or ijtihad to engage the original texts in a modern context. Today, there is a kind of reformist view called Progressive Muslims who are inspired by the above but also critically engaging modern scholarship and various streams of Muslim tradition to advance a 21st century, humanistic and highly intellectual interpretation of Islam. Their thinkers include Khaled Abu al-Fadl, Adis Duderija, Farid Esack, Omid Safi, and others. Below is a list of prominent Muslim thinkers who take a modern, progressive, and rational approach to the interpretation of Islam:

Now, the real problem is when a type of reform comes along that is bad reform and seeks to move into an excluvist and intolerant kind of Islam. In the 1700s, the Wahhabi movement was started by Abd al-Wahhab. He wanted a reformation too  but it was one that declares anyone who disagrees with him as an infidel. This Wahhabi movement selectively cherry picked ideas from pre-modern Muslim scholars who held very unreasonable, uncharitable, and exclusivist interpretations of Islam  that called people non-Muslims for not agreeing with him. One such scholar was Ibn Taymiyya – an extremely conservative scholar who held unusual views. Abd al-Wahhab often cherry picked from him. This Wahhabi ideology was so bad that the brother and father of its founder Abd, al-Wahhab, disowned him and called him a heretic. This movement itself was marginal in the backwater of Arabia - but it allied with the House of Saud and when the House of Saud with British support created the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Wahhabism per their agreement became the state enforced interpretation of Islam in Saudi Arabia. Then the oil profits were used by the Wahhabis to spread their ideology abroad. Combine Wahhabi ideology with devastated war-torn regions in Asia and Africa post-colonial and post-Cold War, and you get the breeding ground for violent Islamist ideologies.

Still need help? Contact Us Contact Us