Islamic Reform Movements Essay

Behind all Islamic reform movements is the rejection of the western idea of nation-state and the principle of separation between the church and state.

All Islamic reform movements seek to change Islam and society on the basis of a return to a strict adherence to the Qur’an and the Hadiths. To reform Islam and society, reform movements advocate the taking of political power in order to command that which is proper and forbid that which is reprehensible. In brief, this means that life and societies have to be governed by the Shari’a. Governance according to the Shari’a can only be realized and guaranteed by a government based upon it. An Islamic government ensures the application of the Shari’a thereby preserving the moral order upon which the integrity of the community of believers depends. Contemporary

The following beliefs provide the ideological framework for Islamic reform movements:

Islam is a total way of life. Therefore religion is integral to politics, state and society.

The political, military, and economic weaknesses of the world of Islam are due to having strayed from Islam and followed western, secular and materialistic ideologies and values. Both western liberal nationalism and Marxist socialism have failed, because they are antithetical to Islam.

Islam as found in the Qur’an and the Hadiths, and in the example of the early Islamic community/state provides the true alternative ideology for Muslims.

Muslims must re-establish God’s rule, the sovereignty of God on earth by re-instituting Islamic Law, the blueprint for society for all time.

The new Islamic order does not reject science and technology. However, modernization is subordinated to Islam to guard against the westernization and secularization of Muslim society and community.

The process of Islamization requires organizations or societies built around dynamic nuclei of committed and trained believers who call on all to repent and turn to Allah’s path and who are prepared, when necessary to fight against corruption and unbelief.

The method for renewal and reform of Muslim society is an Islamic political and social revolution, like the prophet Muhammad and later 18th century Islamic movements that cause an Islamic system of government and society.

Besides the above characteristics, “radical Islam” assumes a kind of culture that can be summarized in the following way:

A jihad mentality that pits Islam against a western Judeo-Christian conspiracy.

Legitimacy for Muslim governments is based on the Shari’a.

Jihad against unbelievers is a religious duty.

Christians and Jews are considered unbelievers rather than people of the Book.

The realization that Islam may serve as a powerful spiritual and political force or help catalyze such forces is much in our minds these days. In a large part, this phenomenon is given attention, because of the contemporary developments in the Islamic world, especially, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Iran, Iraq, Libya and other Middle East and Asian countries. Throughout the Western world there is a spreading awareness that Islam is resurgent. It is accompanied, however, by a sense that this development is somehow fearsome and ominous, to say the least.

Wherever Islam manifests itself politically or religiously in the contemporary world, popular Western and Christian perceptions of these developments are either distorted or antagonistic. The first contributing factor to this type of perception is the negative view associated with Islamic revolutions in Iran and Libya. The second is the whole legacy of adverse Western and Christian attitudes towards Islam since the time of the crusades. Such distortion and antagonism certainly affect the reporting about the Islamic revival which has begun in the early ‘70s. Media headlines continue to highlight the Western perceptions of fanaticism and Puritanism that accompany the Islamic reform/revival.