Modernity and Islam

Islam is currently at war with itself. Most obvious is the fight between Shia and Sunni. However, this is merely a manifestation of the war between what Islam was, and what Islam should be. The flag waved by those who defend and try to perpetuate what Islam was are predominantly carried by fundamentalists. Many of their banners were written not in the Koran, but in teachings through the ages, adopted as laws. Those who seek to reform Islam wants it modernized, but still within the teaching of Mohammed. I find this article in Asharq Alawsat very interesting (HT Xroad Arabia):
The juristic opinions expressed by Sheikh Gamal Al Banna, the brother of Sheikh Hassan Al Banna who founded the Muslim Brotherhood caused much controversy last week as the conservatives considered Banna's views daring and unacceptable. Gamal is an Islamic intellect well known for his conflicting opinion of the tradition of interpretation. Al Azhar had condemned his book entitled, "The Responsibility for the Failure of the Islamic State in the Modern Age." The book reflects what he had once said in an interview with Al Arabia Net, that if a Muslim woman in European society felt it was safer not to wear the veil in light of recent events then she is permitted religiously to wear western headgear rather than the traditional hijab.

What is positive about this Sheikh is that he insists on declaring that he is a religious scholar despite the fierce attacks waged against him by traditional scholars and religious figures. He persistently defends the image of his late brother Hassan Al Banna that many, he states, seek to "distort."

In his most recent statements (which are not new, as they have been expressed in his books) Gamal Al Banna regarded free-mixing between the two sexes as not only permissible religiously but in fact necessary. He views the connection of men and women as natural because separation in his words is a "vicious process."

However, Gamal Al Banna has not been the first Sheikh to express such surprising and bold statements and he will certainly not be the last. Why should such bold opinions be oppressed when they are derived from the same sources as those of traditionalists and not from Western literature. This is especially the case relating to women, which many believe (including myself) is the battleground for social modernity in the Islamic world. The fact remains that the widespread fear of the modernist discourse is caused by the redefinition of the female role i

One of the major point of contention pertains to the role of the sexes. If one think about it, the hallmarks of modernity rely on equality and rights. Equality of men and women, as well of the races, thus the social fabric that binds together the community. The rights and freedoms define how individuals may act within that fabric. Seems that many if not most Muslims have already accepted in idea if not in practice the value of individual, i.e. human rights. The battle of the sexes continues.

Related post:
All Things Beautiful

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