Tariq Ramadan, Oxford academic, says Muslims should reform their minds

An extended interview in the Guardian with Muslim academic Tariq Ramadan provides fresh debate about the state of Islam and whether it should adapt to modern society.

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Ten Things You Thought You Knew about Islam is the catchy name of the appendix of Ramadan’s new books where he states his beliefs about Islam’s need to change…

Ramadan explains that Sharia is a guide to ethics, not simply a legal code. Corporal and capital punishments are the result of a “brutal and literalist” application of it and should be suspended. His approach to gay people seems to be love the sinner, hate the sin – a conservative one in the context of very recent progress in the west, but hardly incompatible with life here, as millions of traditional Christians demonstrate. Islam considers modest dress for men and women an obligation, although not an essential one. Ramadan wants Muslims, particularly western ones, to think of themselves as absolutely part of modern society, and to push it in the direction of human rights and equality of opportunity. He is clearly frustrated by the reduction of his faith into questions of hijab or homosexuality by non-Muslims.

Let’s just clarify what Sharia Law is. It comes from a combination of sources including the Qur’an (the Muslim holy book), the Hadith (sayings and conduct of the prophet Muhammad) and fatwas (the rulings of Islamic scholars). People often hear of the gory elements of Shar’iah when severe punishments like having your hand chopped off for stealing are spoken about. Students doing about crime and punishment for the RS GCSE will need to know something about Shar’iah.

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