Allama Iqbal & Abdolkarim Soroush: Two losers or tools for a change of the face of Islamic Republic(s)?

The clergy and the state in Pakistan have had problems with Allama Iqbal’s view of the state in his Sixth Lecture. Iran too has had to deviate from the thought of Imam Khomeini on what is “permanent” and what is “changeable” in Islam. The man who has highlighted the issue in Iran is Abdolkarim Soroush – “foreign-trained” just like Allama Iqbal – who was appointed by Imam Khomeini to the Advisory Council on Cultural Revolution, charged with re-opening the universities and restructuring their syllabi.

In the book, New Directions in Islamic Thought: Exploring Reform and Muslim Tradition (I B Tauris 2009), Soroush discusses the subject of “changeable” and “unchangeable” in Islam with reference to two scholars, Shia Allama Tabatabai and Sunni publicist, Rashid Rida. Both discuss the concept of daruri (zaruri in Urdu) and think that law is “changeable” if it is ghair-zaruri (non-essential). Soroush says Muslims are agreed on the concept but not on its application. We are therefore back in the realm of interpretation. He says: “Islam is nothing but a series of interpretations of Islam” (p.14).

He tells us that the Shia did not say the Friday prayer for centuries despite clear reference to it in the Quran. Then he drops the bombshell: “Khomeini did not consider belief in an afterlife an essential” (p.10). He continues: “Cutting off the hands of thieves is in the Quran, not in a Hadith. Stoning is not in the Quran, but of … >>>

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