“Islam” and “Muslim” are tainted brands to many non-Muslims across the world. This isn’t about to go away. There continue to be Muslims who do things in the name of Islam that many people rightly condemn.
This doesn’t mean that most Muslims agree with those things, or would ever consider doing them. In fact, lots of Muslims clearly wish that they could be dissociated from those activities. And they would certainly prefer that non-Muslims could appreciate their less objectionable perspective on Islam. Hence campaigns and websites such as:
The fundamental flaw in such campaigns is that they fail to acknowledge what is blatantly clear: Islam inherently has serious problems. These campaigns typically act as though the problem lies with those who view Islam with suspicion, and that this can be countered with spin and gloss. But Islam “in its natural state” is currently at best medieval, and at worst intolerant and barbaric.
If a company had a tainted brand, it might consider re-branding itself. This has to be more than just a publicity campaign or a re-naming exercise. It has to demonstrate awareness of the original problems, and show evidence that they are being avoided or resolved.
Imagine a Muslim saying:
“I am not a Muslim, I am a 21st Century Muslim!
“I don’t follow Islam, I follow 21st Century Islam!
“Here are the things we reject, and here are what we believe. See for yourself”.
Such a deliberate attempt to make a break with the past might be convincing to a lot of people. Especially if their material stood up to scrutiny.
(It doesn’t have to be “21st Century Islam”, of course. But “British Muslim” is already widely used without the same degree of reform, so isn’t suitable. You couldn’t credibly say “I’m not a Muslim, I’m a British Muslim”).
There are several Islamic-reform organisations, for example:
- Islamic Reform
- Liberal movements within Islam
- Muslim Heretics Conference
- Islamic revival
- Islamic Reformation
- Zentralrat der Ex-Muslime | “Not Possible to Modernize Islam” |
Wikipedia: Central Council of Ex-Muslims
- MECO: Muslim Educational Centre of Oxford
- Amazon: Quran: A Reformist Translation
- Quilliam Foundation
But I haven’t spotted that any of these go as far as re-branding. (There are also separately identifiable sects, such as the Ahmadiyya, who could be argued to have re-branded themselves, but by taking a larger leap than most Muslims would be willing to accept).
What is in and out of 21st Century Islam?
There was a website for an organisation called “Muslims Against Sharia”. The website is no longer available, but it was at “reformislam.org”. Here it is at the Internet Archive WayBack Machine:
Here is the “starter for 10″ for 21st Century Islam!
Why am I writing this?
As an atheist, I would prefer that Muslims accepted that Allah doesn’t exist, and act accordingly. (See: Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain). But it is not realistic to believe that will happen to vast numbers of Muslims this century, nor that those Muslims would be happy without the social and cultural aspects of Islam. (I don’t mean harm to “modern” Muslims, and see them partly as victims of the nasty bits of Islam).
So I am casting this thought to the blogosphere in the hope (but not expectation) that it will trigger some progress, and at least cause people to realise that mere propaganda and spin, without identifiable material change to what is being followed, are futile.