The reform of Islam and the Koranists, persecuted in Saudi Arabia
Sharia derives from medieval interpretations of the Koran, based on inadequate knowledge. It is also exploited by political power. Mohammed Arkoun called Sunnism a political deception. The reform program: keep only the Koran and abandon hadith and sunna; re-evaluate role of women; eliminate violence and corporal punishment; guarantee freedom of conscience. Averroé, Ibn Khaldoun are the reformers of the past. Today there are Mohamed Sharour and Ferhane El Maliki, who risks being beheaded in Saudi prisons.
Paris (AsiaNews) - It is not a sleep but a long-lasting hibernation that has had negative effects on contemporary Islam and on the religiosity of the Muslims themselves. Unfortunately, these effects always manifest themselves with varying intensity. Verbal violence is less intense; the worst being a bomb in a crowd, slitting a child's throat or stoning a woman to death. In Muslim communities that support sharia as a legislative source, or in those that are inspired by sharia to elaborate their constitution, these phenomena are not at all recent.
I always try to explain to non-Muslim readers that they totally or partially ignore what Sharia means: the latter means all the Islamic laws derived from medieval interpretations of the Koran, taken from the apocryphal texts attributed to the Prophet and often constituted by a set of opinions of wise theologians approved by the political powers in place. That is to say: laws with origins linked to societies that on the one hand have scales of values completely alien to those of contemporary societies, founded on freedom of conscience, dignity and human rights; on the other, very narrow and minimal knowledge and epistemological means compared to those available in the modern world.
Sharia, enslaved for political purposes
In other words, sharia does not faithfully represent the Koran and most of the rules that embody it are in clear violation of what the Koran establishes as laws. The role of the caliphs and the various political regimes must not be overlooked. Religion has been and will continue to be used for ideological and political ends. This is visible from the fact that in every country where sharia is established, there is growing hostility towards the West and the values it embodies, such as freedom of conscience, of expression, of religion, of believing or not believing , secular society; at the same time, acts are carried out against other Muslims who have a different view of religion and way of life.
If I say that the negative and harmful effects are still evident in the Muslim world, it is because these conceptions of an authoritarian God - who makes distinctions and prefers man to woman, loves only the Muslim and hates those who are not - are always present in the Islamic spirit. They are preached in mosques, broadcast by religious channels and taught in state schools.
If things continue in this way, spiritual Islam is destined to totally and definitively disappear, giving way to an ideologized, traditional and rigorous Islam. To avoid this cataclysm, reform necessary as well as a change of the founding myths of this Islam founded between the ninth and the beginning of the X century.
In my opinion, to do this we need to initiate a scientific analysis of history and rewrite it according to the current methods and instruments, based on material evidence and the anthropological study of this legacy.
For a spiritual Islam
This work was carried out considerably by Mohammed Arkoun, professor emeritus of Islamic thought at the Sorbonne, who died on September 14, 2010. He had made a brilliant philosophical analysis of Sunnism, seen as a political deception by the companions of the Prophet, as well of the first generations that came after Muhammad's death.
Secondly, we must refrain from considering the companions of the Prophet as infallible beings and recognize their errors of analysis and their failure to find a correct methodology of interpretation. This failure is certainly due to the level of knowledge available in their day, as well as to the interpretations that were influenced by the context of culture and social norms of the time. This means that they no longer have value. That is: these are people who belong to their era.
Thirdly, it is necessary to review the relations established between Islam and political powers, as well as the evil use of this religion by the various empires and caliphs, for purely political purposes. In my opinion, what remains primary in this process of reform is to review the treatment of women, generally placed second, and enslaved by men in the name of religion; ban all forms of violence and corporal punishment towards women, homosexuals, stoning, amputation of hands for thieves, as well as execution for those who abandon Islam.
Fourthly, stop taking the apocryphal texts, known as the "hadith" or the "sunna" of the Prophet as a source of religious legislation and return to the Koran as the sole and only source for religious laws. In short: it is necessary to stop attributing to the Prophet what he has never said and put an end to this arrogance of forbidding Muslims what God has not forbidden. It is a way for Sunni or Shiite scholars to proclaim themselves representatives of God on earth.
In this perspective and throughout history, there are great thinkers, intellectuals and scholars who in the past have carried out unique research and reformist reflections to save this Muslim world. But they have been marginalized, or excommunicated, or beheaded.
Reformers of the past and present
These include Averroes, or Ibn Rochd, and the historian, economist, geographer, demographer and statesman Ibn Khaldoun. The first had proposed an interpretation of the Koran in a manner appropriate to reason, according to three levels of linguistic analysis: the apparent, the background, the image, until the interpretation is in accordance with the reason.
The second, with his book "Prolegomeni", which remains valid as a historical and socioeconomic analysis for a diagnosis of the state of Muslim societies.
Nowadays, there is a current of thought called "the Koranists" who take only the Koran as a source of religious legislation. They have a linguistic analysis method based on advanced knowledge. They categorically reject sharia, which remains a human product for them. Mohamed Sharour (photo 2) is one of the great thinkers of this current of thought that gives an adequate reading to reason, to modern culture and to universal human values. In the Muslim world, this path is still unknown and is often demonized by imams and political regimes because it constitutes a danger for those who make religion their business.
Mohamed Sharour’s books are prohibited in Saudi Arabia. Moreover, the rulers of the Kingdom have imprisoned Koranist thinker and university professor Ferhane El Maliki (photo 3). He risks decapitation for questioning the five pillars of Islam and his opposition to the Saudi offensive in Yemen.