Wednesday, August 10, 2005

A changing Islam?

Just finished reading The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. It’s a story about a child growing up in 1970’s Afghanistan, seeing his country fall apart with the Russians and then the Taliban taking over, all the time nursing a traumatic childhood regret. Ultimately, the story takes a redemptive turn, and the figure of the kite lifts the spirit of the text upwards.

The portrayal of the Taliban is shocking in its account of their brutality, sadism and sheer hypocrisy. As with the Wahabi virus in Saudi Arabia, one is forced to confront how severely Islam has been bastardised by warped minds and Islamism in the past twenty years. Sometimes it feels that the enlightened Islam that reached its height during the School of Baghdad and Cordoba nearly a millennia ago disappeared when the brutalities committed on the Arabs in Jerusalem during the Crusades pushed the Middle-East into a reactive Jihadism.

However, it looks like there are positive things emerging within global Islam which challenge the Western mindset that Islam is stuck in a medieval pre-scientific world-view. Ziauddin Sadar in this week’s New Statesman reports on his travels round Muslim lands that a progressive, rationalist (ie non-literal) Islam is on the rise, from Morocco to Indonesia. If the shoots he observes continue to grow, together with the united western front against the perverse interpretation of the Koran from the mad mullahs who were allowed for too long to spin their spiel of hatred of the West (all the while claiming unemployment and housing benefit in the UK), a contemporary form of Islam may yet become dominant. An Islam at ease with its own pluralisms, from the intricacies of Sufism to the Shia/Sunni divide. At which point, Abraham's three squabbling monotheistic sons will realise that their similarities and shared history were always much greater than their differences.


segovius 3:21 pm  

Great post - I think that people of all faiths and none are getting fed up with the madness but at the same time they are realising that extremism is a wrong response to a real need: the whole issue of spirituality and meaning in life.

We can be hopeful - it is always darkest before the dawn.

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