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Thursday, 23 May 2013

Do we need an Islamic Reformation?

After the terrible events in Boston (USA) and Woolwich (UK) , many Islamic organisations have united in condemning the attack. Forgive me for being cynical, but in the bad old days of the 'Troubles' in Northern Ireland, Rome and the USA would routinely condemn the SinnFein/IRA/Noraid atrocities, but the terrorists were never handed over.

Islamism, radical Islam or whatever you chose to call it is the unacceptable face of Islam. There are those who call for a reformation. After all, it did a lot of good for the Christian Church (I'll deal with the antisemitism in a series I'm planning for later). For the most part, the reformers were a peaceable crew. Yes, there were some Roman Catholic martyrs and that was wrong, but a body count will prove my point. In due course, the Protestant Church abandoned force and subsequently the Roman Church has. The other denominations also followed suit.

Could this be a model for Islam?

I used to teach religion in schools. (Reminder to US readers, this is a UK blog). On one occasion, some 25 years ago, I taught Islam to muslims using Islamic source material. That way, when we did Christianity, we could use the Bible and not refer to the Qur'an. They were great kids, genuinely interested in religion. I used to have to throw them out of the classroom at the end of the lesson! They were determined to prove me wrong and used the writings of one Ahmed Deedat to try to do it. A complete failure, Deedat, his writings and their efforts.

I used to plant thought bombs. Little ideas and questions that if followed through logically would completely undermine their worldview. I couldn't evangelise but I could try to make them think.

As I taught the subject, I realised that a clash between Islam and the West was inevitable. Sooner or later we would have to fight, not because the West wanted to but because it's at the heart of Islam. Park that for a moment and let's look at the Protestant Reformation.

The Reformation, was a back to the Bible, back to basics movement. Jesus was rediscovered by the masses and the core doctrines of salvation by grace through faith in the risen, crucified Lord Jesus Christ were preached and believed. In other words, the gospel as proclaimed by Jesus and His Jewish Apostles right at the start of the Church.

Now let us apply that model to other faiths.

It doesn't work for Hinduism as there is no agreed founder and a massive set of writings.
In Buddhism, you will discover that Siddartha Gotama wasn't really interested in this world or God.
Sikhism, which is a lot like Judaism, takes you back to a peaceable founder and a reasonable ethic, but no clear plan of salvation.
Judaism takes you back to Moses, to the Torah and the Tenach, to God's clear commandments and the hope of the Messiah.
Islam takes you back to Mohammad, the Qur'an and the unknowable Allah.

If you want to judge a religion, start with its founders. (Goodson's law of Comparative Religion - don't google it. You found it here)

Hinduism - no deal. Buddhism - traumatised youth leaves his wife and family and gets enlightenment after nearly starving to death.  Sikhism - Guru Nanak, a good man and peaceable. I wish he had encountered Jesus. Judaism - Moses. The meekest man who ever lived.God's friend.

Islam - Mohammed. Go and read their own accounts. 

A Reformation, in Islam, would be a back to basics, back to the Qur'an, back to following the example of Mohammed. 

Oh, we've got one.

We are in the middle of the Islamic Reformation...

And that's the problem.

See also my new post, "Built-in bias at the BBC"

1 comment:

  1. Greetings.

    Years ago I studied a lot of the Hadith in order to understand Islam's founder.

    It was a very, very ugly experience.

    I then started studying Christianity and was shocked at how thoughtful and "clean" it was.

    In fact it was an article in an Australian newspaper by Mark Durie, discussing what Matthew 10:34 did and did not mean that got me started on studying Christianity.

    I agree that "Goodson's Law of Comparative Religion" is an indispensable tool for understanding any religion.

    PS: Found your article via the comment you left on Rev Dr Mark Durie's blog.