Peter Hoskin

A call for reformation

A call for reformation
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There's an incredibly important comment piece by Dr Taj Hargey in today's Times.  Hargey is chair of the Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford and the Imam of the Summertown Islamic Congregration, and describes the "McCarthyite" campaign which the "Muslim heirarchy in Britain" have waged against him.  In the face of fundamentalism and Wahhabism, he calls for a reformation of Islam:

"We need a reformation that saves Islam from foreign-inspired zealots. That reformation is already under way, with Muslims going back to the pristine teaching of the transcendent Koran, not taking on trust the hadith (a compilation of sayings of the Prophet Muhammad recorded some 250 years after his death by non-Arabs) or the corpus of medieval man-made Sharia (religious law). But because this reformation is still in its infancy, the reactionary clergy and its supporters is doing everything to strangle it.

Most if not all the thorny problems of faith that British Muslims face today - whether it is apostasy, blasphemy, jihad, women's oppression, homosexuality, religious intolerance or the democratic deficit in and outside the community - can be traced either to fabricated hadith or the masculine-biased Sharia.

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The rampant oppression of women in Muslim society does not stem from the Koran but is chiefly the product of misogynistic hadith. For example, a famous 'authentic' hadith declares that there will be a preponderance of women in Hell. But the facts here on earth suggest otherwise - male criminality far exceeds that of females.

These anti-Koranic perspectives will continue to predominate in the British Muslim community as it becomes more directly tied to ultra-conservative and extremist sects - such as the Wahhabi, Deobandi, Jamati Islami and the Tabligh Jamaat. These ideological radicals propagate a highly toxic caricature of Islam. They regard creed and culture as indistinguishable, refusing to grasp that Islam is a global religion, not a faith that is linked to one particular people or place." The whole article is at once uplifting and depressing.  Uplifting, that people like Hargey are fighting against what he calls "a virulent and backward-looking brand of Islam."  Depressing, that he has to fight at all.