Islamic Culture in Danger

Shahrur Muhammad

in Islam in Transition: Muslim Perspectives

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780195174304
Published online November 2007 |
Islamic Culture in Danger

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Born in Damascus, Shahrur studied in Damascus and Moscow, and he earned a doctorate at University College in Dublin, Ireland. A civil engineer, he joined the faculty at the University of Damascus in 1972. In 1990, Shahrur published The Book and the Qur'an, an 800-page treatise, which became a best-seller in the Arab world, calling upon Muslims to reinterpret Islam through a fresh reading of the Quran that is not shackled by medieval interpretations and jurisprudence. Thus, his basic approach is to reread Islam in the context of historical developments. Labeled by some an Islamic Martin Luther, he has also provoked much criticism.

In this interview from 2001, Shahrur talks of a sick Islamic culture, by which he means a culture of violence justified in Islamic terms. He calls for a thorough critique by an official Islamic organization of the thought of violence-prone Islamic groups like al-Qaida and the Taliban. He believes that this has not been done because it would require the ulema (clergy) to reconsider the foundations of Muslim jurisprudence. In short, he calls for an immanent critique of Islamic thought. Only in this way could the harmful tendency be defeated whereby broadly compassionate and timeless verses in the Qurnsuch as 2:256, there is no compulsion in matters of religionare overridden by narrow appeal to verses revealed in emergency situations and clearly bound to a specific historical periodsuch as 9:5, kill the polytheists wherever you find them.

Chapter.  4171 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture ; Islam

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