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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 August 2005, 00:31 GMT 01:31 UK
Rushdie urges Islamic reformation
Salman Rushdie
Rushdie argues the Koran should be seen as a historical document
Islam needs to be reformed to bring it into the modern era, the Indian-born Muslim novelist Salman Rushdie argues.

A broader interpretation of the Koran would lead to better relations and cut alienation, he writes in the Times.

This would also combat jihadist ideologies that led to the 7 July London terror attacks, Rushdie argues.

Rushdie spent years in hiding because an Islamic fatwa ordered his death over allegedly blasphemous passages in his book The Satanic Verses.

The former Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued the religious edict calling for his execution in February 1989.

The Islamic Reformation has to begin here, with an acceptance that all ideas, even sacred ones, must adapt to altered realities
Salman Rushdie

In his comment piece for the Times, Rushdie says Muslims in some parts of Britain lead lives separated from the rest of the communities.

In such insular circles, "young men's alienations can easily deepen", he argues.

"What is needed is a move beyond tradition - nothing less than a reform movement to bring the core concepts of Islam into the modern age.

"A Muslim Reformation to combat not only the jihadi ideologues but also the dusty, stifling seminaries of the traditionalists, throwing open the windows of the closed communities to let in much-needed fresh air."

He also argues that the Koran should be studied as a historical text rather than treated as "infallible".

21st Century

This has rendered all scholarly discourse impossible, he says.

"If, however, the Koran were seen as a historical document, then it would be legitimate to reinterpret it to suit the new conditions of successive new ages.

"Laws made in the seventh century could finally give way to the needs of the 21st.

"The Islamic Reformation has to begin here, with an acceptance that all ideas, even sacred ones, must adapt to altered realities."

The novelist's forthcoming tale, Shalimar the Clown, is about a young Muslim boy who is guided by a radical mullah to become an Islamic terrorist.

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