There is this discussion on and, as happens always, Muslims are being asked to reform Islam. For some reason I am mentioned among those who will bring light to the dungeon that is the religion. My questions remain: Why do we have to feel defensive about being westernised or secular? Who the heck cares if someone from another belief system has to wait for years for the so-called reform in Islam, when there are dozens of interpretations already in existence?
I don't know why Islam needs to be reformed. If you have some element of intellect, then you choose what floats your boat; if not, then you sink with it or swim with whatever tide takes you wherever. Islam is more a way of life than Hinduism; it tells you how to wash your elbows, for god's sake...how much more can an instruction manual do?
Religion is a belief system and therefore in the public domain. You visit places of worship, sing hymns, and become part of a community. What you do in private is take this public learning and transport it in your homes - whether it is a puja room, a picture of Christ or Quranic sayings and then you pray. It is akin to a closed-door meeting about the declaration of a mutual fund's progress.
Westernisation is consumerist progress. So if you have call centres where people speak in American accents rather than madrassas where they shake their heads, they call it progress. But, the call centre employee can be a fanatic and the madrassa student need not be. Secularism is not a rejection of religion. Secularism is an acceptance of various religious streams of thought, whether one practises any one or not. And secularism does allow you to be able to say that the works of Neruda or Shakespeare have equal validity and sanctity in your life as any holy book might. It does not reduce the latter in any way, unless one is heavily into reductionism.
This whole ‘moderate’ behemoth puts me off. Once again, two nights ago, I was invited for another such TV panel discussion and I told the person that if I chose to appear in purdah would she still think of me as a 'liberal'? She kept quiet. Then she said, "What sort of subject should I approach you for?" I told her, "Sex." Silence again.
My Muslimness is one part of my identity, just one. If some people wish to fall in this trap of playing to the stereotype of ‘people on the mend’, then please do so. Leave me out of this.
I won’t even deny that the basis of Islam is violence as it is of all religions. Islam has just polished its sword to look shinier. It does not mean that the others are playing chess…heck, if you read some of the epics even chess has a violent and devious motive.
So, I am not interested in reforming Islam at all. Besides being ill-equipped to do so, it just does not make logical sense to me. If Islam says live by the sword, and I think it works for me, I shall sleep with one by my side. It does not mean we cleave whatever comes in the line of the sharp edge. Some of us are very picky.