Step Into the Light

Salman Rushdie has a few suggestions. Let’s hope his meet up with Irshad Manji’s and those of other reformers and start to displace the putative ‘leadership’ and ‘representativeness’ of the MCB. Let’s hope the whole project thrives.

Reformed Islam would reject conservative dogmatism and accept that, among other things, women are fully equal to men; that people of other religions, and of no religion, are not inferior to Muslims; that differences in sexual orientation are not to be condemned, but accepted as aspects of human nature; that anti-Semitism is not OK; and that the repression of free speech by the thin-skinned ideology of easily-taken “offence” must be replaced by genuine, robust, anything-goes debate in which there are no forbidden ideas or no-go areas.

Doesn’t that sound blissful? Wouldn’t it just make a huge difference if Islam were like that?

Reformed Islam would encourage diaspora Muslims to emerge from their self-imposed ghettoes and stop worrying so much about locking up their daughters. It would emerge from the intellectual ghetto of literalism and subservience to mullahs and ulema, allowing open, historically based scholarship to emerge from the shadows to which the madrassas and seminaries have condemned it.

Ghettoes, locking up, subservience, shadows. Reform is about emerging from all that. It’s a hopeful vision. Let’s hope people can start to see it that way.

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