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French Muslim scholar calls for rejection of violence, reformulation of Islamic thought

April 12, 2012

An influential Muslim thinker in France has argued that Islamic violence—dramatically illustrated by the recent slaughter of Jewish children in a French school—reflects “an illness within Islam itself.”

Abdennour Bidar argues that Salafic extremism has twisted the meaning of Islam toward violence. While French opinion leaders generally have continued to emphasize that Islam is not an intolerant faith, Bidar questions whether a healthy religious body could have produced so many calls to bloodshed. “What is the real state of the forest in which trees like this take root?" he asks.

The fundamental problem, Bidar says, is that Islam has turned inward on itself, and the Salafic branch especially looks only to the past, not to the future. The result is a pervasive tendency toward intolerance, he says. Bidar concludes that Islam can be saved from extremists only by a courageous willingness to judge the faith by the standards of reason and to “reinvent a spiritual culture from the ashes of the material death of its traditions.”


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  • Posted by: hartwood01 - Apr. 14, 2012 1:04 PM ET USA

    Dissident Catholics take note. This is what happens to a religion when there is no one person to answer to. Of course Jesus Christ is our head,but Islam is a free-for-all obedient to one. They have no earthly guidance,as we have our clergy,(flawed as they be).