Interpretation and the Quran

The doctrine of the infallibility of the consensus, far
from allowing some liberty of reasoning as one might have expected,
worked in favour of a progressive narrowing and hardening of doctrine.
By the beginning of 900 C.E., Islamic Law became rigidly fixed because
Muslim scholars felt that all essential questions had been thoroughly
discussed and finally settled, and a consensus gradually established
itself to the effect that henceforth no one might be deemed to have
the necessary qualifications for independent reasoning in law, and
that all future activity would have to be confined to the explanation,
application, and, at most, interpretation of the doctrine as it had
been laid down once and for all. This closing of the gate of
independent reasoning, in effect, meant the unquestioning acceptance
of the doctrines of established schools and authorities. Islamic Law
became increasingly rigid and set in its final mould.
Ibn Warraq. From Islam-watch

Great article for those who think that the Quran and the ahadiith (plural of hadith) can be reinterpreted in a way that will be more amenable to life in the 21st Century. Islam cannot be reinterpret. There is no room for interpretation. Period. An attempt to reinterpret is to transgress the boundries of Islamic orthodoxy.

BTW, the Islamic word for interpretation of the Quran is ijtihaad. It is a gerund, and is actually derived from the same trilateral root as the word jihad.


SocietyVs said…
"Islam cannot be reinterpret. There is no room for interpretation. Period. An attempt to reinterpret is to transgress the boundries of Islamic orthodoxy" (Abu)

I think if change is going to come from Islam it needs to start from within it's own faith system. Muslims need to start challenging the faith ideals that seem to be 'set in stone'. They need to condemn terrorism once and for all - even issue fatwa's against people within it.

But I get your point, this religion think's it is staying true to it's roots (and how would I know they are not - I have not studied the Quran inside and out)...and this is a real problem. It seems if the laws they propose are an adequate view of what is in the Quran then women are less then men, war is acceptable, brutality of other faiths is acceptable, etc. It is a scary ideology on some levels but Muslims themselves need to start speaking out against it...that's why I like Irshad Manji.
Abu Daoud said…
I kind of like Irshad Manji too, though really her brand of Islam is far outside of what most Muslims think of as Islam that I don't see her getting too far. Of course she will always do well on news programs because what she says gives the impression that Islam can change and is in fact changing.

I would compare her to folks like John Spong who deny the Trinity and Virgin Birth while still calling themselves Christians. It's just too much of a stretch.

Also, once the gates of ijtihaad (interpretation) have been close for 1000 years it's awfully hard to get them opened again. But the Quran only movement is encouraging, as it does seem to open up interpretation again. But that is just a small movement right now.

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