Sunday, January 11, 2015

State-Backed Modernization of Islam in Egypt Will Help

The president of Egypt has come out forcefully for modernizing Islam on religious, rather than nationalist, grounds.

He has already enlisted al-Azhar University, the great seat of Sunni learning and, in effect, an arm of the Egyptian state to make small steps.  For example, "texts on slavery and on refusing to greet Christians and Jews, for example, have been removed" from Egyptian textbooks. 

I don't think a religious reform initiated by the state can work by itself.  I don't think President el-Sissi can be the Muslim Martin Luther.  But he could be the Muslim Frederick the Wise, who sheltered the reformer from political attack.  

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