Reformation in Islam

There are hints of a spread of reforming (some might say liberalizing) tendencies in Islam. Ziauddin Sardar presents several movements in this direction in the New Statesman. Islam is a complex tradition (and a complex of traditions), as is any other major “religion.” If Islam can learn to incorporate historical progression and find acceptable theories of cultural diversity (by “acceptable” I simply mean “acceptable in terms of Islam”), that would be progress. There has been a strong tendency in modern Islam (I am not an expert in any form of Islam), to see a lack of differentiation between the various levels of society (self, family, clan, state, religion, etc.) but rather to conceive of them monolithically. Thus Sharia is understood to apply on all levels and in all situations without deviation – and apparently without admitting that the Sharia of one culture or country differs from that in another, and both differ from 7th century Arabia.

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