- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 19, 2006

If you ever wondered where the moderate or reformist Muslims are — or if they even exist — here’s some proof. A philosophy professor in Egypt was recently called criticized for comparing the Quran to a supermarket “where one takes what one wants and leaves what one doesn’t want.” He explained that the Quran is “often contradictory.”

He’s not the first thinker to be sidelined in the religious debate. Even the late Nobel literature Prize Winner Naguib Mahfouz had one of his books banned as blasphemous by Cairo’s Al-Azhar University.

But another Muslim scholar (who is,

ironically, the younger brother of the Muslim Brotherhood’s founder), agreed with the philosophy professor. “I have to say it wasn’t very intelligent comparing the Quran with a supermarket, but in the end he’s not wrong. One finds different opinion in the Quran,” he told AFP. His book “The Responsibility for the Failure of the Islamic State in the Modern Age” was banned in Egypt.

A third thinker was sidelined when his book “Modern Sheikhs and the Industry of Religious Extremism” was likewise banned.

The book is a collection of essays that criticize a new generation of “modern” Muslim preachers hosting TV shows and advocating the Islamization

of society and science.

What is great about Islam is the call for Ijtihad, the process of making one’s interpretation of the text through deep reflection. The Quran is open to everyone to examine. There is no central authority as such. But the other side of the coin is the spread of many different and sometimes contradictory interpretations. They range from moderate to extreme depending on the person making them. It’s all in the interpretation.

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