This isn’t really a rant, but there’s no other category about religion. To almost wrap up our month reading Infidel, and to end on a positive note, I’d like to point out a recent article on the idea of modernizing Islam:
Turkey is engaged in a bold and profound attempt to rewrite the basis for Islamic sharia law while also officially reinterpreting the Qurâ€™an for the modern age.
The exercise in reforming Islamic jurisprudence, sponsored by the modernising and mildly Islamic government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, is being seen as an iconoclastic campaign to establish a 21st century form of Islam, fusing Muslim beliefs and tradition with European and western philosophical methods and principles.
The result, say experts following the ambitious experiment, could be to diminish Muslim discrimination against women, banish some of the brutal penalties associated with Islamic law, such as stoning and amputation, and redefine Islam as a modern, dynamic force in the large country that pivots between east and west, leaning into the Middle East while aspiring to join the European Unionâ€¦
Fadi Hakura, a Turkey expert at the International Institute of Strategic Studies, described the project as an attempt to make Turkish Sunni Islam â€œfully compatible with contemporary social and moral values.”
Although I’d personally prefer to see all people give up their belief in invisible spirits and their attachment to ancient dogma and holy books, finding a way to modernize these beliefs is better than nothing. Hugely better.
In comments on another post a few weeks ago, I questioned the idea of criticizing Christians for “cherry picking the Bible” — that is, ignoring the parts they find abhorrent and clinging to the parts they find inspirational. It seems to be popular these days, perhaps in a weird way a side effect of the arguments of writers like Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, to think that moderate Christians are less sincere or less “real” than fundamentalists. In this way, unbelievers seem to be buying into a very dangerous part of the black-and-white fundamentalist mindset.
Ignoring parts of the Bible or Koran should not be ridiculed. It is a good thing that leads away from fanatical violence. We should be encouraging this type of behavior. Those who begin to ignore parts of their holy books may ultimately come to ignore the entire volume (that happened to me), but if not they are still hugely better off ignoring large parts than following it all literally and blindly.