Friday, February 29, 2008

Emergent Islam?

Some journalists and authors have noted that Islam has never had the equivalent of what might be called the Reformation, the development of a Protestant type movement, which some believe may explain why Islam has retained a militant and violent aspect similar to the violence and racial isolationism often endemic in European Christianity for centuries. Now whether or not that is the case in either situation (or the extent to which it is true and historically verifiable) is hardly something a blogger who has a modicum of a life has any reason to write about.

But that Islam picked up a variety of traditions that are not necessarily inherent to Islamic belief that involved cultural syncretism is something I've come across here and there. Muslim views about women did seem to change after contact with Indian cultures and some have argued that the chauvinism and misogyny that sometimes appear may be less a sign of inherent Islamic views than culturally assimilated views from adjacent cultures. A similar argument could be made that early Christians did not endorse the kind of slavery that white American Christians often endorsed prior to the Civil War. And of course there's a niche market and niche element in historical research that points out that racism was at least as bad or worse in the North. So in that respect noting progressive elements within Islam suppressed by militant groups is not surprising to learn about. We Christians have similar stories within our own history.

In terms of framing this in the broader context of wars of religion then it may be the sometimes labelled new atheists would prefer this all goes further than reform to the elimination of religion entirely. That such a world is imaginable simply proves that such a world is imaginable. We are all tempted to wish for a land ruled as a single-party state, our party. This gets me thinking of some comments by Frank Schaeffer in chapter 57 of Crazy for God that I'll blog about later.

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