The Voice of Reformers

So I was listening to my Sam Harris podcast

 It was a pretty good conversation with Sam Harris and Fareed Zakaria (CNN). I enjoyed most of it, but then they got stuck on a point of how to reform Islam. In essence, it boils own to the following:

  1. Sam Harris wants to talk honestly about the Koran from a religious and textual point of view
  2. Fareed Zakaria (also non religious) wants to emphasize that less and focus on politcal and social reform and let the religion play catch up. He believes talking about the 'truth' of the religion just causes people to resist and is not productive.

I've had this conversation numerous times, and the one thing that always puzzles me is why there has to be a single way of reform. Just as there are lots of path into religion. There are many paths to reform it. There are many paths out of it.

There is a role for the one who exposes the religion/texts/core beliefs for its flaws and falsehood.
There is a role for the one who want to change things from the inside.
There is a role for the one who wants to impose political change.
There is a role for the one who wants to get social change.

I know myself, as someone who has left the religion, my role is not to play games of interpretation. Yet, just because I don't do it, doesn't mean it is not done. Liberal imams, regular Muslims... will do the reform themselves. It's a role that they must play for their own faith and community. It is simply not my role.

The other thing to consider is that different people respond to things differently.
When I was a believer, the kind of 'liberal games of interpretation' sounded pretty false to me. I didn't respond well to it. A voice like Sam Harris entering my world view would have been great. Oh... how I wish I had podcasts back then :P There are many people like me as well.

On the other hand, I know a lot of people who like the way of interpretation. They like the change to come from Imams and community. To them, the reformists work well.

This is perfectly good. I know I lose a lot of influence the moment I say I have left the faith with some people. With others, I gain for my honesty. The same goes for interpreters and politicans. They lost the trust of people like me, but gain the faith of those who value the communal change.

It is this that I wish was at least given a line on the podcast. That both positions might actually be needed. Different people take different paths and different people respond to the different paths.


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