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Eteraz: Careful What You Wish For

Ali Eteraz has started a fascinating series for The Guardian on the notion of "Islamic Reformation." The case is often made (indeed, as I have done) that Islam is in need of its own kind of reformation, similar to the kind Luther and Calvin brought to Christians around the world.

Eteraz believes we have the wrong idea, and the second piece in his series on The Islamic Reformation explains why we should be leery of more fundamentalism couched in the rhetoric of reform. He hints at some alternatives:

While there has been some attempt by the Salafis - such as Tariq Ramadan and Salman al-Audah, Bin Laden's former (now repentant) mentor - to contain the excesses of this "total" Wahhabism, they have proven unable to do so. Not only that, but the best that even the moderate wing of the Salafi organisations like the Muslim Brotherhood can do is turn a jihadist into an Islamist - ie someone who wants to have the power to veto all legislation under the authority of a certain kind of Sharia.

That simply won't do. Not when Islamist organisations (except for the anomalous one in Turkey) have exhibited no compatibility with international human rights norms or dominance-free communication or for that matter learning pluralism.

So now that we know how extremists came to dominate Muslim dissent (and Salafism failed to check it) what are we to do about it? Three things.

First, reject all juvenile calls for so-called reformations.

Second, consider the necessity of a Sunni Pope.

Third, consider the possibility of a liberal literalism (a sort of ideological inverse of extremist literalism).

You can read the first part here, and check out Ali's blog here.

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