Can Islam undergo its own Reformation?

“Osama Bin Laden didn’t strap on any explosive vest or learn how to fly himself, you know.”

Posted by Cliverton

Marcus left this comment on a recent post Freedom, Understanding and the Middle East: One Muslim’s view. I think it’s worth a separate post…

Hello everyone,

I’m off to work shortly, so I must be brief. Perhaps I’ll expand upon this train of thought later…

1/ There was a time in Christendom when to announce you were “Catholic” in England or “Protestant” in Spain would get you burned at the stake, imprisoned, tortured etc.. That violence in the name of God was supposed to be about what God wanted, but it was really about achieving or maintaining temporal power by the elites of the day.

2/ Much of what we later called “The Reformation” was about power groups and not about spirituality, beliefs, God, Jesus etc. It was about the economic, political and social power that accompanied commitment to one side or the other. Yes, the foundation of the Reformation was a dispute about religious beliefs, but on many levels it was about power, control, money, territory. Call it “Political Religion” as opposed to “Spiritual Religion”.

3/ Similarly, much of the turmoil, violence and confrontation happening between the various Islamic sects and also directed at non-Muslims is about power, control, money, territory. Yes, there is disagreement about spiritual religion – often violent disagreement – amongst Muslims and by Muslims against non-Muslims, but we in the West and many Muslims themselves often ignore how much of the violence is about power, not religion. Religious fervor in young (primarily male) Muslims is cultivated and whipped up to be used as a weapon by the Islamic elites. Osama Bin Laden didn’t strap on any explosive vest or learn how to fly himself, you know.

4/ At the end of the Christian Reformation (or more accurately after several hundred years of turmoil following the great split within Western Christianity) there was a general recognition and acknowledgement by both Catholics and Protestants that persons should not be killed for their religious beliefs, or for questioning dogma or religious texts. There was also a recognition that the religious texts had been subject to a thousand and more years of revision, translation and modification and, even if the texts had not been modified – they were created within certain cultural, linguistic and historical contexts that might not be valid now.

5/ The freedom to study and openly discuss the foundations of one’s own beliefs, and the beliefs of others, was one of the great benefits and results of the Christian Reformation. Even within the Catholic side of the divide, the impacts of this new freedom were strong and positive. The benefits of the freedom can be seen throughout Western society.

6/ Islam needs its own Reformation.

Could go on but I must be out the door or I’ll never make it.

How interesting it is that our friend Ahmed from Pakistan is willing to visit with all of us at BFP and to discuss and perhaps disagree with obvious good will – to foster understanding all around…

…YET some Bajans say that the mere mention of our concerns with Islamic violence and human rights abuses is somehow racist and we should not discuss these things.

How interesting.

Now I’m late! Bye!



Filed under Human Rights, Religion

12 responses to “Can Islam undergo its own Reformation?

  1. The Baha’i Faith is actually a Reformation of not only Islam, but Judaism and Christianity – it allows for the use of Pork, it insists on equality of women but does what BFP abhors – insist on abstention of Booze… This is why I say I’m not a very good practitioner of Baha’ullah and the Bab, it is the development of a religion into the 21st Century which is actually documented by both Western & Eastern methods, look it up – you may be surprised?

  2. Muslims consider Baha’is as Infidel or Apostates, yet it insists on the same fasting for Naw Ruz or New Year (March in Occidental calendars) just like Islam, marriage needs only Four Witnesses – divorce from either side is accepted, but only as last resort (Even Intervention before dissolution is recommended) and is simultaneously more complex yet more civil & brief than a Muslim separation…

    In a Baha’i family if there is money to educate only a single child it is expected for the girl to be taught as she will very likely be a mother and therefore Parent Education is considered paramount; NO SEX BEFORE MARRIAGE – AS MOST RELIGIONS (another bugbear for me, yes, like Rev Chas Morris); No convents or monasteries are felt to be worship of God – the act of Procreation is a Prayer to Ullah.

    Baha’ullah is not considered a Son Of God nor a Prophet but a Manifestation of Divine Right… Previous Manifestations were Zoroaster, Ahura-Mazda, Buddha, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Mohammed and Baha’ullah – the next manifestation may even have a Restriction on smoking! The fervent wish of Abdul Baha’ son of Baha’ullah who visited the USA in early 20th Century.

  3. Last thing – every child is shown benefits of Baha’i faith but allowed to decide what Faith they prefer at 15, even if it is to “revert” to Christianity, etc.

  4. BFP

    Hi Ian,

    You said “Last thing – every child is shown benefits of Baha’i faith but allowed to decide what Faith they prefer at 15, even if it is to “revert” to Christianity, etc.”

    Translation of what you said: “The Baha’i faith and its adherents believe in the basic human rights of freedom of religion and freedom to worship. Baha’i adherents act upon their beliefs by allowing others, including their own children, to have freedom of religion and freedom to worship as they choose.”

    Would that be a fair statement?


  5. My point is this – the Baha’i faith an Islamic Reformation which is right under everyone’s noses

  6. BFP


    So it is a fair statement then that you believe that Muslims should allow their children and others to have freedom of religion and freedom of worship?


  7. I realise you’re trying really hard to prevaricate on my old dentures here, I have revealed what the Baha’i Faith does in terms of Islamic Reformation – what you do with the info is another matter, I believe that everyone should have their choice to not only worship but who they love … remember, I said by no means am I a perfect Baha’i!

  8. HH

    There you have it bfp. Ian say so ‘everyone’ should have choice of worship and ‘everyone’ mean de muslim too. Ian dosnt want to say so directly else de muslim mad dey get!

  9. I said “everyone should” as my own personal choice, if I also do not wish to offend Muslims that is ALSO my personal choice? What is your problem? I was addressing Cliverton from an article BFP wrote, not dealing with an alleged Harold Hoyte – who everyone knows detests Free Press (Unless that is a cover? What Irony, Hoyte a BFP-ite?)

  10. Those who sought Confirmation will understand this cryptic statement – thx, great ideas!

  11. Does not matter what faith you follow. There will be endless bickering, over and over ,between and betwixt, going nowhere except inducing further bloodshed, mal intention, moral degeneration of every kind. People living the dreams of their holy scriptures, as though every word was cast iron truth, instead of metaphor and myth. You’d think it was about time Man had grown up enough to recognize his inchoate reasoning and what causes his mayhem and disfunctioning.
    We are each permitted to each find ‘The sublime power’ . But we must turn inward, beyond reasoning, therefor beyond the mumbling of discourse, frettage, and bloodshed.

  12. car313

    If barbados is discussing islamic reformation then its about time…