A Letter To Reformist Muslims
"It is conceivable, yes, that there are those in the West with as much sadomasochim (or courage, if you will), as the reformists of Islam; with as great a penchant for human rights as the reformists of Islam; with as great a willingness to face off against the edifice of a corrupt theology as the reformists of Islam. We must embrace them as our brothers, be they Latino, Black, or dare I say, white; be they Hindu, Jew, Christian, or dare I say, secular-humanist"Click here to read the full piece
The extract is taken from an open letter written by Ali Eteraz to fellow reformist muslims. His argument is that while there may be some 'Westerners' with ulterior motives, to be successful the reform project has to accept those non-Muslims who show an interest in changing the world for the better.
Overcoming the threat of those with ill-intent, is a powerful idea which is applicable not just to non-Muslims. One finds it amongst those who are reluctant to let ijtihad devolve outside the exclusive preserve of religious scholars. There is an understandable fear that if religion is to be democratised then there would be widespread chaos which would undermine the basic tenets of Islam.
However as Ziauddin Sardar has eloquently put, when engaging with religion and making progress we must not be constrained by the banks of a river. Instead the future should be imagined as an ocean, where every assumption may be challenged and people can shape their own destiny.
Of course this may lead to the conversation within Islam occasionally veering towards areas which are uncomfortable. Mistakes will definitely be made, but this criticism makes the assumption that things are fine the way they are right now, they are not. In a way, Ali's piece demonstrates that for reformists to be both consistent and successful, we need to open their movement to those who are willing, just as we argue that the application of Islam should also become more open.