Aggregating Skeptical Thought

An Islamic Reformation?

As a subscriber to’s eSkeptic newsletter I was pleased to find the following feature article. Hitchens and God is a review by Rayyan Al-Shawaf of Christopher Hitchens’ new book god is Not Great. The review is definitely worth the read since it does an excellent job summarizing the book.

But one of the comments by the reviewer also reminded me of a thought I had while reading his book. While it’s true that “only in Islam has there been no reformation”, it may not be a lost cause. Much of the backwards behavoir we see in the Muslim world is not a result of the Koran directly but through it’s interpretations through Sharia law. Here is in a nutshell (from Wikipedia) what Sharia covers,

“Sharia deals with all aspects of day-to-day life, including politics, economics, banking, business law, contract law, sexuality, and social issues.

There is not a strictly codified uniform set of laws pertaining to Sharia. It is more like a system of devising laws, based on the Qur’an, Hadith and centuries of debate, interpretation and precedent.”

So not only does Sharia law interpret the Koran but also the Hadith (which are stories about Muhammed from people who heard stories about him from someone who knew him or knew someone who knew someone who knew him or something) . And not only does Sharia law interpret second- and third-hand stories about the prophet but also the debate about the Koran and interpretations are then further interpreted into Sharia law. Talk about getting further and further from the source.

If this doesn’t sound like a direct parallel to the conditions that gave birth to the Protestant Reformation I don’t know what is. Once you have the reformation ( and a couple hundred years of political progress) you will get secularism. Sounds simple let’s get started.

Step 1 – Someone in say Syria write the muslim version of Luther’s 95 thesis stating that Sharia law is a source of oppression and is a perversion of the Koran.

Step 2 – Nail your thesis to the local mosque (or put it on a website, it is 2007 after all).

Step 3 – Try not to get killed

Step 4 – A new muslim protestant reformation begins.

Step 5 – “Protestant” muslims and “Catholic” muslims hate each other

Step 6 – Try not to get killed

Step 7 – oh screw it

Ok fine it sounded good in my head but now that I’ve thought it out it’s a bad idea. Nevermind.

For more reading on this try

The Right Time for an Islamic Reformation by Salman Rushdie (via Washington Post)

Dispatches: The Muslim Reformation (via Channel 4)

A Muslim Reformation? (via

Symposium: The Islamic Reformation? (via

An Islamic Reformation by Thomas Friedman (originally in the New York Times but this is the only ungated copy)

Technorati Skeptic

Filed under: Religion, Reviews

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