Sunday, March 9, 2008

Is an Islamic Reformation Possible? Towards a Vatican II of Islam by Ibn Warraq

1. What is a Reformation?
Defined from the UDHR 1948 perspective

Since there is no Pope or even, in principle, an organized clergy in Islam, how would we ever know if an Islamic Reformation had taken place? One person’s reformation will be another person’s decadence. My perspective will be from The Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, which many Muslims still do not accept—indeed several Muslim countries got together in 1981 and issued their own Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights, where individual freedoms are denied. Muslims were particularly horrified by Article 18 of the UN Declaration which guarantees the right for anyone to change her or his religion. I think those who do accept the United Nations Declaration would agree that a de facto reformation had taken place in Islamic societies, as for example in Pakistan or Egypt, if the tenor of its major articles were respected, especially the rights of women and non-Muslims, and freedom of thought, conscience, expression, and religion, including the right to change one’s religion, and the right not to believe in any deity; if no person is subjected to cruel punishments such as mutilation of limbs for theft or stoning to death for adultery; if copies of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses and Ibn Warraq’s Why I Am not a Muslim are freely available...


Ophelia Benson said...

And now Blair is going to be lecturing on 'faith' at Yale. How useful.

RobertHalfhill said...

You say that orthodox is incompatible with human rights. But so is orthodox Christianity. And orthodox Judaism.
As you point out, universal education, economic progress, human rights quaranteed by law, etc can eventually lead to most Muslim becoming secular in practice. But it will remain incompatible with their religion. But, even though the factors mentioned above have led to the majority of Christians in the West becoming secular in practice, orthodox Christianity is still incompatible with their secularism.
As long as the majority believes in any kind of religion, there will always be the potential or danger of the religion promoting a right wing backlash such as we now have to contend with in the United States with the current outbreak of fundamentalism. We can all hope that the counter reaction to the current outbreak of religious extremism will lead to the majority of humans freeing themselves from the prison of religious belief.