Ameer Ali touches the Islamic third rail — but this subject must be broached if anything effective is ever going to be done about the violence inspired by the words and deeds of Muhammad. From The Australian, with thanks to Ronin:
A LEADING adviser on Islam, Ameer Ali, has attacked Muslims who “blindly” follow their faith and fail to question the veracity of the Koran, saying that even Mohammed had “flaws”.
The chairman of John Howard’s Muslim advisory board yesterday warned that Islamists would continue to breed jihadis unless the Koran was “reinterpreted” for today’s society.
He also said mosques were increasingly being used by imams to deliver sermons that were not open to discussion.
Dr Ali said the majority of Muslim clerics had for centuries imposed a “literalist” teaching of Islam, telling their followers that deviating from the written message would ultimately lead to their admission into hell.
“The times are changing and with the change of times, you also have to reinterpret the Koran,” he told The Australian.
“Because if you believe that it’s a book for all the times and all the nations, then that book must be yielding new meanings.
“There are verses about slavery, and the Koran says you must be kind to the slaves. So are the Muslims saying we must have slavery to be kind?
“The jihadists are interpreting the Koran literally and that’s the problem … Popular Muslims, because of their lack of knowledge about religion, are vulnerable to these sort of teachings.”
I do think a retreat from literalism is the only hope for the creation of any genuinely and lastingly moderate Islam. Some commentators point to the fact that for centuries — notably, although not universally, in central Asia, Eastern Europe, and West Africa — jihad supremacism largely lay dormant and even dropped out of the Muslim consciousness. But simply to point out that that happened is not enough anymore, precisely because Wahhabi and Iranian Shi’ite recruiters are going into those countries and using chapter and verse of Qur’an and Sunnah to teach their Islam to these cultural Muslims. So for those cultural Muslims, and for any true moderates, it’s no longer possible simply to ignore those jihad verses. They have to be explicitly rejected, and a non-literalist Islam constructed.
But also because of the mainstream character of literalism within Islam, this will be very, very difficult. Watch and see, for example, what kind of reception Ameer Ali’s words get.