Monday, February 16, 2009

Yoga And The Islamic Reformation

In Malaysia, where religious authorities recently issued a fatwa against yoga, Muslim women from 47 countries gather to grapple with the Islamic dimension of timeless theological questions about how to live modern lives in the light of scripture. While Muslim reformers have some catching up to do, similar questions among Christians are hardly settled:
The repression comes not from the Koran, the women argue, but from the human interpretation of it, in the form of Islamic law, which has ossified over the centuries while their globalized lives have galloped ahead. So they are going back to the original text, arguing that its emphasis on justice makes the case for equality.

“Feminist Islamic scholarship is trying to unearth the facts that were there,” Ms. Mir-Hosseini told a room of eager activists Sunday. “We can’t be afraid to look at legal tradition critically.”

She referred to the work of Muslim intellectuals, like Nasr Abu Zayd of Egypt and Abdolkarim Soroush of Iran, reformers who argue that the Koran must be read in a historical context, and that laws derived from it can change with the times. Their ideas are controversial, and both are in exile in the West.

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