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Benazir Bhutto’s final chapter in her anthology talks of Reconciliation as the key to solve both the internal and external differences of the Islam. In her opinion, there are a number of things that hamper development and democracy. This summary breaks down the entire chapter into the main points she discuss in a series of concise paragraphs.
Islam, Democracy and the West
The world is experiencing a split between the Muslims and the western world. The interpretation of the Sharia is hardly the problem. Neither is the language used in the Holy Quran, nor the succession of the Holy Prophet by the divided Shiite and Sunni communities.
In fact, these differences can be attributed to the Muslim-on-Muslim violence and the rigidity of the Islamic nations’ cultures, as well as their beliefs. These beliefs and cultures prevent Muslims from adopting modernism. She asserts that unless reforms happen, Muslims might not survive long enough to prosper in the current evolving times.
Observational reviews on suggested reform
The Muslim intelligentsia has constantly addressed the issue of reforms through speeches and poems in forums. Other facets regarding necessary reforms include mass education, economic progression, and democracy. Unfortunately, such changes require that democracies come up to protect reformists so that they do not get swayed by their dictatorial regimes. Dictatorial regimes in Islamic nations choke off the nations from the freedom of innovation.
Mohammed Iqbal, a Muslim reformist and author, related the problems of non-reformism in Islamic nations to the traditional teachings/schools of Islam-ism. Iqbal asserts that old Islamic teachings should be overcome by modern twentieth century reforms. By so doing, he urged for the revision of the principles of faith. Iqbal called for textual reconstruction of the Prophet’s ultimate principles so that Islamic nations can achieve spiritual democracy.
Professor Fazul Rehman affirms Iqbal’s postulation that the modern negativity exhibited by Muslims in the medieval centuries contrasts the Quran’s teachings. He asserts that one might simply be appalled upon juxtaposing the two.
It is important to note that Nurcholish Majdid also pushed for review, reinvention, and reinvigoration of Muslim theology based on the evaluation of both social and historical factors used in the original precepts. His reason is that they ought to get rid of erroneous doctrines.
Another reformist is Abdul Karim Soroush asserts that text alone has no weight if it does not continuously evolve and reflect understanding and new construction on the text. It is important to note how similar and bland the Quran’s teachings are in comparison to the Islamic extremities experienced in recent years.
According to Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, Muhammad forbids Muslims from making any visual depictions of Him in a bid to discourage idolatry. He also urges that Islamic beliefs should not be imposed on people of other faiths, thus even in Islamic nations, Muslims cannot impose their legal precepts or culture on others. Other reformist thinkers who share these views include Muhammad Khalid Masud, K. H. Abdurrahman Wahid, and Dr. Muhammed Arkkoun.
Changing the Islamic beliefs and Culture
One of the propositions fronted by Islamic reformists is the inclusion of modern teachings and reforms on traditional theology. These modern teachings are to be taught to young ones in society and in schools. It is feared that the Islamic extremism has risen of late and that the threat of terrorism has resulted in the intimidation of reformists such that their messages are lost in the din of violent messages. Democracies help by providing protection to reformists whose intentions are modernizing the theology of Islamic teachings.
Bhutto believes that if extremism and militancy are defeated, then the internal battles and the divide abound Islamic states can be eradicated. Additionally, she states that Islamic nations should adopt democracy if they wish to succeed.
In so doing, the various social classes are equally catered for, and they acquire opportunities for prosperity. She supports this by giving an example of the Indian democracies that are at the vanguard of Indian technologies used globally. Democracy and development are linearly related. Similarly, introducing modern education systems enhances reforms on Islamic theology and gives hope and a real opportunity as a prerequisite for democracy (Bhutto, 287).
Another pillar that supports democracy in Islamic nations is the eradication of the militant Madrassas, which focus on training Muslims in militant training camps. These deny the children time to acquire the necessary primary education. Madrassas brainwash the children into soldiers.
Teaching hatred and violence does not achieve the democracy for which reformists urge Islamic nations to seek. Economic development and education participate in improving the economy of a nation. Examples given where education is denied to children suffer poor economies.
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Gender Equality is another fundamental change that must be adopted to equalize society and offer equal opportunity to women in Muslim nations for a democracy to thrive. This ought to be introduced in schools to ensure it is instilled in children as they grow up to form a stable society. Eventually, such a society will not tolerate gender inequality.
Micro credits are widely used in other parts of the world. Bhutto suggests that the establishment of banks was good, but she also believes that microcredit institutions should come up in a thriving democracy in order to assist in the development of better businesses and eradication of poverty.
She also believes that women’s rights groups have gone beyond simply seeking equality for women, and established human rights groups that help in fighting for the rights of everyone in society from the vanguard. In this way, they play a big role in establishing a strong civil society.
Additionally, she believes that civil societies give democracy strong ties and enhance pluralism. Strong civil societies act as the society’s watchdogs in events such as elections. They merge with NGOs and assist each other in rectifying the ills in society.
Bhutto attributes excellence to trusting the Almighty God. Zakat is a term used in Islam meaning charity. She asserts that everything is gifted to us by God, and that nothing on earth is truly ours. It is, therefore, important that Muslim societies learn to be charitable.
In her belief, the Muslim world’s decline can not be fully attributed to the negativity and injustices of colonialism. It also cannot be attributed to power distribution to other states and economies around the world. It is partially due to the roles and cultural beliefs of the Islamic society. Muslims must, therefore, take responsibility and remain accountable for the type of progress or regress that happens in their states.
One approach they can use is by drafting agendas and taking measures in the eradication of poverty. She asserts that the Muslim states must support each other and share teachings as well as their wealth with all members of society. This is the only way they can clear differences between themselves in society to create a worldwide united front. This way, they can achieve wealth and financial assistance from each other to secure a good future for their unborn children.
Reconciliation involves facing out the internal differences before facing the outward pressures that split the Western cultures and the Muslim nations. Bhutto asserts heavily that the internal problems are buried within the ignorance and rigidity of the Islamic religion. For the Islamic nations to achieve development, they must embrace change, charity, development, micro credit systems, and acquire responsibility.
These among other minor steps will carry them out of the modern extremities associated with Islam. I believe that the eradication of militant training camps would be the first and most crucial steps because that is where we need to start. Giving the children hope and education will eventually set a basis for the introduction of the other points of change required to reform Islam.
Bhutto, Benazir. Reconciliation – Islam, Democracy & the West. New York: Simon & Schuster UK Ltd, 2008. Print.