Written by Randeep Singh
This is a summary of talk I was scheduled to give at the White Rock Philosopher’s Cafe on November 9, 2016.
Does Islam need reform?
Do Christianity, Judaism or Sikhism need reform?
Like these religions, Islam is concerned with the mystery of the universe. It teaches love, justice and mercy. It reforms its followers through rituals like prayer, charity, fasting and pilgrimage. It gives one hope of a world to come. As a religion, Islam needs reform no more than any other.
Islam has no supreme ecclesiastical authority to reform. There is no intermediary between God and the believer to purge. The ulama, the class of clerics of Islamic law and religion, should and can be reformed. Changing who interprets Islamic Law, invariably changes the interpretation as it has under the feminist interpretations of Aisha Abd-al Rahman and Asma Barlas. This, however, is a question of reforming Muslim communities, not of Islam.
What also needs reform are the conditions of Muslim societies. Societies that continue to burn in the fires of hunger, war and oppression cannot engage in any meaningful or sustainable self-improvement, let alone reform.
Perhaps we need to shift our focus on “reforming” Islam to reforming those political and social conditions of societies like Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Syria, which deprive Muslims societies of life, dignity and opportunity.