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The First Steps Toward A Reform Of Islam

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During the last few months, bloody attacks perpetrated in the name of Islam have been again at the heart of international issues. What do those tragedies tell us? What are the answers to the questions raised by those growing tensions? In addition to the challenges related to public safety, what could be the eagerly awaited reform of Islam destined to reconcile our communities? In other words, how can we retrieve a cultural Islam without political aims?

There is no miracle solution. Unfortunately, the absence of a clearly identified clergy in the Muslim world (particularly in the Sunni world) does not favour a reform of Islam. To reform this religion, the various representatives of Islam all around the world should cooperate, coordinate their action to find common ground on major issues. It may sound a bit unrealistic, but we should hope that it happens. To be legitimate, the reform of Islam expected by many observers cannot only come from the West: change must be mostly initiated by Muslim people.

It is clear that the vast majority of Muslims have already chosen to live their faith according to the peaceful surahs of the Quran.

The first point various Muslim representatives should address is the legal nature of Islam in itself. Indeed, Islam comes historically with a legal system named Sharia. Islamic law is contained in the Quran and the Sunna -- numerous texts which can be regarded both as Civil code and Criminal Code by extremists and terrorists. Without a review of its legal nature, it is unlikely that Islam can modernize itself. In a democratic system there cannot be a competition between two separated regimes: the Islamic law and the Common law.

The second point various Muslim representatives should address is the violent nature of a certain number of Quranic verses. Contrary to surahs revealed in Mecca (610-622), some of the surahs revealed in Medina (622-632) show a will of power. The reason for this is that Prophet Muhammad has evolved in two different historical contexts in the seventh century in the Arabian Peninsula. If Muhammad was really peaceful in Mecca (610-622), he was more belligerent in Medina (622-632), which explains why a certain number of Quranic surahs are vindictive.

It is clear that the vast majority of Muslims have already chosen to live their faith according to the peaceful surahs of the Quran. However, it remains true that the various representatives of Islam may decree that the vindictive surahs are not intended to be prescriptive. In order to do this, an extensive theological work must be initiated.

Finally, Islam should abandon its legal ambitions. Otherwise, it is in danger of losing its spirituality for the sole benefit of its political aims. Ideally, the various representatives of that religious tradition should also encourage the recovery of a peaceful Islam, which is liberated from political and ideological pressure.

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