Salman Rushdie bravely — yes, bravely — calls for a reformation in Islam:
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 jihadi ideologues but also the dusty, stifling seminaries of the traditionalists, throwing open the windows of the closed communities to let in much-needed fresh air….
It ought to be fascinating to Muslims everywhere to see how deeply their beloved book is a product of its place and time, and in how many ways it reflects the Prophet’s own experiences.
However, few Muslims have been permitted to study their religious book in this way. The insistence within Islam that the Koranic text is the infallible, uncreated word of God renders analytical scholarly discourse all but impossible. Why would God be influenced by the socioeconomics of 7th-century Arabia, after all? Why would the Messenger’s personal circumstances have anything to do with the Message?
The traditionalists’ refusal of history plays right into the hands of the literalist Islamofascists, allowing them to imprison Islam in their iron certainties and unchanging absolutes. If, however, the Koran were seen as a historical document, then it would be legitimate to reinterpret it to suit the new conditions of successive new ages. Laws made in the 7th century could finally give way to the needs of the 21st. The Islamic Reformation has to begin here, with an acceptance that all ideas, even sacred ones, must adapt to altered realities.
Broad-mindedness is related to tolerance; open-mindedness is the sibling of peace. This is how to take up the “profound challenge” of the bombers….
Yes, it is the reformation Christianity needed (and in some quarters needs still) against the fundamentalism, the literalism, that supports the authority of the self-chosen few.