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Last minute heads-up for Brits - documentary this evening.

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tjwmason Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-01-06 01:46 PM
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Last minute heads-up for Brits - documentary this evening.
Channel 4 at 8:05 - Dispatches: The Muslim Reformation.

From the station's web-site:

Dispatches: The Muslim Reformation
Academic and Islamic reformer Tariq Ramadan argues that Islam's future can only be secured by rereading its teachings in the context of the modern world, and that this process is already underway in Europe. Julia Bard reports

The violent protests against a Danish newspaper's publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammed, reflect a global climate of resentment and mistrust between Muslims and non-Muslims. In the Channel 4 Dispatches programme,The Muslim Reformation, Tariq Ramadan argues that, despite the attacks on Madrid and London, European Muslims will ultimately determine how the religion survives in the next century.

He challenges fundamentalists and radicals who, he says, are misusing such grievances to justify killing, and contends that sticking rigidly to literal and unchanging interpretations of Islamic texts is not the way to secure the future of the faith.

A historical view
Ramadan explains that in medieval times it made sense for the relatively small community of Muslims to see the world as divided into the House of Islam defending itself against the rest of the world the House of War. Today, though, for the first time in their history, many Muslims are living as a minority in Europe, where they are free to practise their religion. This new situation requires new, relevant answers.

He speaks to traditionalist and radical fundamentalist Muslims who disagree. They argue that the outside world is as hostile as it ever was and that the teachings of the Qur'an are literally true and immutable. In response, Ramadan invokes the ancient Islamic concept of Ijtehad a re-examination of Qur'anic texts and Muslim teachings in a new context. This is what is needed, he says, and, indeed, it is being revived in Europe where the very term 'Muslim' is part of a complex and shifting identity.

Travelling across Europe, Ramadan talks to young Muslims who are working out how to live according to Islamic principles in a changed and changing world. They are analysing texts and teachings, and discussing issues that are provoking intense debate within the Islamic world: identity, education, the position of women, violent protest and more.

The European experience
In France, he meets a group of young Muslims who are examining one of the most controversial chapters in the Qur'an, which radical Muslim groups use to justify their violent attacks. The group concludes that these verses are being read in isolation from the many other Qur'anic texts and teachings, distorting the Islamic principle which forbids terrorism and the killing of civilians.

In Germany, Ramadan talks to a group of women who are rereading Muslim texts that have been used to discriminate against women. They argue that the exclusion of women from many mosques is both relatively recent and contradicts the principles of Islam. Rejecting what they describe as second-hand interpretations handed down by a male-dominated establishment, they are demanding the right to pray alongside men, as women did during the time of the prophet Muhammed.

In Britain, Ramadan visits a Muslim supplementary school where children are encouraged to read, question and discuss the religious teachings. This is very different from the traditional Madrassas or religious schools, where pupils are taught by rote, whether or not they understand what they are learning. The parents say they value this school because it is inclusive, open and diverse. Here their children learn to be confident about being Muslims and can also hold their own in the outside world.

The future of Islam

Finally, Ramadan travels to Pakistan the place of origin of many British Muslim families to see what impact these debates are having on a country where Muslims are in the majority. Here, he finds little desire for change or reinterpretation of Muslim thinking. This reinforces his conviction that the reformation he believes is necessary to the future of Islam can only take place is in Europe and will be led by European Muslims.


I'd be very interested to hear any Muslim's views on this, I realise that the above doesn't give very much information but I don't know whether/when this will be aired in the U.S. x(

If folk are interested I'll post my (sympathetic non-Muslim observer) views after I've seen the programme.
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Hatalles Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-02-06 07:50 PM
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1. Thanks for posting this.
Edited on Tue May-02-06 07:52 PM by Hatalles
I would love to see it... will keep an eye out for an online version or a torrent.

I'd recommend watching it along with the "Secrets of the Koran" History Channel documentary that was mentioned in one of the posts here. I had been given a copy but unfortunatley it doesn't seem to work on the PC... just DVD players. Anyways, the documentary really hammered home the point that Islam has always been a very personalized religion -- there can be no ONE interpretation.

My only qualm with this Tariq Ramadan program is the use of the word "reform" or "reformation." I think the word connotes change in the most literal sense. This "change" is viewed (and incorrectly I think) by many as an attempt to change Islam or the Quran itself -- quite a 'no-no' since most Muslims believe the previous books/messages of Christians and Jews have been changed over the years... so though it may be a little problem with semantics, it's quite an important one in this context.

It was on a CSPAN show that I first heard Dr. Akbar Ahmed, the American University professor, (who is also featured in "Secrets of the Koran") use the term "Islamic Renaissance" in place of "Islamic Reformation." I believe he made a similar point about connotation. IMHO, the word "renaissance" does a much better job of characterizing what is going on today, not with Islam (an important distinction I feel the need to make), but with the much of the worldwide Muslim community.
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tjwmason Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-03-06 03:42 AM
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2. I know what you mean about the title.
I think that it was used simply because it's a term which would be familiar to potential viewers. From the content of the film, I agree that the term Islamic Renaissance would be far preferable.

I saw two points as standing above all others:

First, this isn't new, the process of ishtahar (sp?) has always been going on and its absence from much of current Islam is the real anomaly.

Secondly, that although this is a fairly new development in Islam - nonetheless it's a genuine "grass-roots" development from among unconnected groups across Europe.
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DemExpat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-04-06 02:41 AM
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3. I find this encouraging
gives some hope among perceptions of deep-seated conservatism among European Muslims.

Thanks for posting this, I'll keep my eyes open to see if it is aired here in The Netherlands,

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khashka Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-08-06 04:07 PM
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4. I'd love to see this
Having lived in a Muslim country I know for a fact that the West's views of Islam tend toward the monolithic. But if you study the history of Islam and the way it is variously practiced.... it is an evolving religion and as varied as the different Christian denominations.

I'd be very interested in your views on the documentary. Islam in Britain is very different than in the US. It's much more public, much more political and much more socially contentious. So you already have more experience with Muslims socially, politically, etc. than most Americans.


(Have you read Fay Weldon's "Sacred Cows"? Islam vs Christianity vs secular society in the UK. I'm not sure I agree with her conclusions. In fact I absolutely disagree with some of them. But thought provoking.)
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