As you rightly surmise (“Islam and democracy”, August 26th), there appear to be varied and shifting positions among Islamists and Muslims on the question of democracy as well as broader Western principles.
During the Golden Age, Islamic scholars were open to knowledge and wisdom from other cultures, and the libraries of the Muslim world were replete with ancient works of the Greek philosophers, which were studied and debated in the Muslim world. The Golden Age expired because, beginning with Al Gazali, successive scholars of Islam argued that the Koran was the only source of wisdom. For most of the past 700 years and in the Muslim world today, there is only Islamic jurisprudence, derived solely from the Koran, the Hadith and interpretations of Islamic jurisprudence which are the domain of four schools of Islam. Reason has no place.
It is true that many enlightened and educated Muslims adhere to democratic principles. But democracy cannot prevail in the Middle East until enlightened and educated Muslims are bold and willing to overthrow the firm grip that Muslim clergy have on the minds of ordinary Muslims. This needs a new Ataturk; a Muslim Reformation; and, above all, a return to Reason.
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