Recently in the media I have noticed this word used in conjunction with Islam a lot. At first I didn’t pay any mind to it till one day, while I was reading a transcript of Khalid Yasin’s interview with John Cleary, I quaked at the word. Reform originally meant ‘restore the original form of something’. An example to illustrate this, as far as I can go back historically, is Protestant Reformation that occurred circa 16th century. Martin Luther at the time was at the head of this reformation. He nailed his 95 theses on the door of a church in Wittenburg, Germany. The movement occurred all over Europe but more particularly in Germany, where the princes were pre-occupied with a threat of invasion from Muslims to notice the unrest in their fiefdoms. The reformation was supposed to restore the church to its purity and from this usage we can clearly see that reformation was used in a sense of decline rather than progress. This view prevailed for most of that century to about the 17th century. From the 18th century onwards reform begun to mean something new. It now meant progress and a change for the better. The users of the word ranged from the moderate leftist and later neoliberalist.
To get to why the word was causing me tremors in my chest, you would just have to look at the difference in meaning. The media uses this word when explaining what Khalid Yasin wants; Sharia Law to prevail and Islam to go back to the golden age of Medina.
“What we want in a society is where everyone has access to the resources of the society, we want a society where there is a reasonable coexistence, peaceful coexistence. Here in a society we want progress, in a society we don’t want the imposition of a class system; in a society we want to know that the law is equally applied to everyone, and we go on and on and on. And I say that there is a historical paradigm. OK now if the Christians or Western civilisation say that they have a historical paradigm of a nearly ideal state, I mean Socrates, Plato and all of these guys, they kind of articulated things towards it, but they never reached such an ideal republican state. But we have a historical paradigm, not only just in the person of the Prophet peace and blessing upon him, but in that Medina state. Now how long it lasted is not the issue, the fact that it is a paradigm, so an apple is an apple, however long it stays on the tree, it’s still an apple, whether it falls on the ground and rots it’s still an apple. So I say we have a historical paradigm and for all arguments’ sake, we can look at that and then compare it with other examples.”
The media also uses the word when speaking of Irshad Manji’s book, The trouble with Islam. It is used to explain Indonesia’s political party of Liberal Islam Network, Morocco’s new revision of Islamic family codes and the new group that is cropping up The queer muslims. My question arises as to whose definition should we follow and for that fact does Islam even need reformation?
In other news, the Muslim Ummah unite in boycotting Danish products due to Jyllands-Posten publishing 12 cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Starting from Saudis to Libya and now Egypt. It is actually heartening to see this unity but sad to see it took such drastic circumstances for it to occur. I don't know if anyone has actually seen the cartoons but I am wondering if its unwise for me to post the link. I will post it until I find out for sure.Aside from pulling their ambassador from Denmark,Kuwait pulled Arla's (a danish company) products from the shelves of their largest chains. The newspaper apparently asked for cartoons depicting the Prophet (PBUH) in response to the fact that a writer couldn't find an illustrator/picture of the Prophet for his book. No one would do it so the newspaper took it upon itself to stand up for freedom of speech. I fail to see how taking a stab at someone's religion could be used as advocacy for freedom of speech. Islam is already getting enough of a bad reputation from the media, particularly the west, without having to add blasphemy to it. Is it testing of waters that we are seeing? I am inclined to think yes. Its hard to believe that a public medium like a newspaper wouldn't have reviewed and doublechecked what consequences of publishing those cartoons would be. Maybe its a case of Monkey See, Monkey Do. I for one am very happy that muslims decided to stand up because enough is enough. We have to draw the line somewhere and if not when it comes to our Prophet (PBUH) then when? Inshallah may this be a start of a unified nation of Islam under one banner.