Enlightenment or Submission
Many people and groups have called (especially, for obvious reasons, recently) for the secularization of Islamic societies, for reform of Islam and Koranic laws, and for less attention and publicity for fundamentalist groups and putative ‘leaders’ and ‘representatives’ like the Muslim Council of Britain, and more for secular and rationalist groups and individuals.
However, this is the same [Iqbal] Sacranie who, in 1989, said that “Death is perhaps too easy” for the author of “The Satanic Verses.” Tony Blair’s decision to knight him and treat him as the acceptable face of “moderate,” “traditional” Islam is either a sign of his government’s penchant for religious appeasement or a demonstration of how limited Blair’s options really are…The Sacranie case illustrates the weakness of the Blair government’s strategy of relying on traditional, essentially orthodox Muslims to help eradicate Islamist radicalism. Traditional Islam is a broad church that certainly includes millions of tolerant, civilized men and women but also encompasses many whose views on women’s rights are antediluvian, who think of homosexuality as ungodly, who have little time for real freedom of expression, who routinely express anti-Semitic views…What is needed is a move beyond tradition — nothing less than a reform movement to bring the core concepts of Islam into the modern age, a Muslim Reformation to combat not only the jihadist ideologues but also the dusty, stifling seminaries of the traditionalists, throwing open the windows to let in much-needed fresh air.
Irshad Manji for another, in May 2005:
A Muslim woman author, once described as Osama bin Laden’s worst nightmare, is to call for the setting up of an Islamic reform movement to press for a change in the faith’s attitudes towards human rights, women and pluralist societies at a public meeting this week. Irshad Manji, a Canadian-based writer and broadcaster, is to launch her campaign for Ijtihad (independent thinking) with a claim for Islamic pluralism and the aim of setting up a foundation for young, reform-minded Muslims to explore and challenge their faith. “No community, no ethnicity, no culture and no religion ought to be immune from respecting the universality of human rights,” she said. “This, of course, is a controversial message in an age of cultural relativism. I truly believe we can become pluralists without becoming relativists. Through our screaming self-pity and conspicuous silences, we Muslims are conspiring against ourselves. We’re in crisis and we are dragging the rest of the world with us. If ever there was a moment for an Islamic reformation, it is now.”
Islam as compiled in the Qur’an and Hadith could be viewed as static. The way Muslims believe or practice their religion is dynamic. The individual Muslim can choose to change. As humans they are endowed with reason and, if free, Muslims can, as Christians and Jews have done in the past and still do, progress by means of critical self-reflection.
There is an Institute for the Secularisation of Islamic Society:
We share the ideals of a democratic society, and a secular state that does not endorse any religion, religious institution, or any religious dogma. The basis for its authority is in man-made law, not in religious doctrine or in divine revelation. In a theocracy of the type that Islamic fundamentalists wish to establish, sovereignty belongs to god, but in a democracy sovereignty belongs to the people. We therefore favor the firm separation of religion and state: without such a separation there can be no freedom from tyranny, and such a separation is the sine qua non for a secular state…We endorse the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenants on Human Rights without qualification. We are particularly concerned to promote and protect the rights of women and those with minority beliefs: all should be equal before the law.
Maryam Namazie, an Iranian exile who was imprisoned in Iran, speaks tirelessly for reform:
The urgent question we must all ask ourselves is how can we defend secularism, universalism and values worthy of 21st century humanity? I believe it is only via another transformative enlightenment by this century’s avant-gardes. We must give no more concessions to religion, superstition and cultural relativism; we must no longer respect and tolerate inhuman ideals, values and practices. An uncompromising and shamelessly aggressive demand for secularism is only a minimum, though, if we are to ensure that women’s rights are safeguarded and that the human being is put first and foremost. Today, more than ever, we are in need of the de-religionisation of society.
That’s just a small sample. B&W has a large collection of articles and links on the subject, so it’s time to collect them in one place.
Homa Arjomand on Sharia Law and the Globalization of Political Islam
Political Islam in the heart of secular Europe.
Time for another transformative enlightenment.
Political Islam v Secularism.
Azar Majedi says Islamism is best understood as political rather than fundamentalist
Maryam Namazie points out that defending secularism has nothing to do with racism
Maryam Namazie on The Politics Behind Cultural Relativism
Azam Kamguian on what the hijab does to young girls
Ibn Warraq takes Edward Said to task for a one-eyed view of the relationship between the Arab and Western worlds
- Arab Feminists on Women’s Rights
Laws permit beating and caging within four walls, allow them to be bought and sold.
- Ayaan Hirsi Ali Has Conveyed Her Message
There are atrocities performed in the name of culture and religion.
- Ayaan Hirsi Ali Interview in the Guardian
Condition of women in Muslim communities an intractable problem which liberals and multiculturalists refused to address.
- Ayaan Hirsi Ali Returns to Parliament
Index on Censorship
- Ehsan Masood on Hizb-ut-Tahrir
Many parents, asked about the ban, are likely to wonder what took Blair so long.
- Fatwa on Rushdie Reaffirmed
‘History shows that the Muslims have in no era accepted their sanctities being defiled.’
Links to similar organizations.
- Ian Buruma Talks to Ayaan Hirsi Ali
‘I have nobody to accuse me of being decadent, westernised, a traitor, a… slut.’
- Irshad Manji Against Routinely Low Expectations
And assumption that challenging a group’s religious convictions equals undermining their dignity.
- Irshad Manji Calls for Muslim Think Tank
Author wants changes in Islam’s stance on issues such as human rights.
- Irshad Manji on Multiculturalism as Orthodoxy
Neither the watery word ‘tolerance’ nor the slippery phrase ‘mutual respect’ will cut it.
- Kenan Malik on Exaggerated Islamophobia
People struggling to defend basic rights within Muslim communities are called racist.
- Kenan Malik Questions Islamophobia
Is hatred of Muslims being exaggerated to silence critics of Islam?
- Mona Eltahawy on Shabina Begum Case
Instead of standing up to growing conservatism among some Muslims, many liberals simply give in.
- Ni Putes Ni Soumises
Neither sluts nor submissives: Fadela Amara offers respect instead.
- Outrage at Murder of Hatun Surucu
‘This tragedy has shaken us awake,’ says Eren Unsal from the Association of Secular Turks.
- Politics of Religious Appeasment
Salman Rushdie laments the collapse of liberal principles before religions’ strident demands.
- Repeal of Blasphemy Laws Urged
Ashiq Nabi the latest killed because of the blasphemy laws.
- Salman Rushdie on the Danger of Taboo-thought
The moment you say any idea system is sacred, freedom of thought becomes impossible.
- Salman Rushdie on the Need for Reform in Islam
Closed communities are places where young men’s alienations can easily deepen.
- Saudi Women Speak
‘Young girls here are so oppressed. They receive this education that means you never think about your rights.’
- Secular vs. Sacred, Universal vs. Multicultural
Azam Kamguian says it is getting harder to argue against Hijab and women’s subordination.
- Sharia TV
Whatever you’re doing, stop.
- Three Women Speak Out Against Sharia
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Homa Arjomand and Irshad Manji spoke at Toronto conference.
- Women Protest Talibanization of Pakistan
‘These mullahs want us to just stay home, have children and God knows what else.’