Seek Islamic spirit, not state, say Muslim scholars

by Isabelle Dana

First published in the Common Ground News Service

The Islamic state is a controversial issue in
the West, as recent news confirms. Last October, an imam was killed and
six men arrested by the FBI in Detroit for allegedly conspiring to
establish an Islamic state in the United States. In the United Kingdom,
government officials worry that extremist groups like Hizb-ut-Tahrir
have infiltrated Muslim schools to propagate their vision of an Islamic

Public opinion in the West reflects the fear that radical Muslims are
trying to impose their values on the rest of the world. But the
nebulous term “Islamic state” is not merely a concern for the anxious
Western world, it is actually a point of discord and contention within
the Muslim world itself.

For many Muslim theologians, the Islamic state actually represents an
obstacle to Islamic ethics and values. In Iran, pre-eminent scholar
Abdulkarim Soroush, also a former political figure, emphasises how
difficult it is to sustain civil, political and religious rights in the
current Islamic Republic of Iran. Even the new wing of the Muslim
Brotherhood in Egypt believes that an Islamic state is not feasible in
today’s world.

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