Chennai: Islam happens to be a moderate religion and completely compatible with modernism where religion is accepted as a necessary existence. This was said by a non-Muslim expert on Islamic Studies while delivering a lecture in an Indian city.
The expert in the field of Islamic studies said that if modernism means a framework where existence of religions is accepted, Islam is completely compatible with it.
While delivering a lecture on “Rethinking Islam within modernity” at the University of Madras, Bruce Lawrence, Emeritus Professor of Islamic Studies at the Duke University, said that it is essential that a differentiation is made between the terms “modernity” and “modernism.”
He said that if the concept of modernism is one that gives space to religious beliefs, Islam is compatible with such a framework. But, when modernism is interpreted as something that is based on the rejection of religion itself, that might not be acceptable to Islam, he pointed out.
The professor said that works of scholars such as Abul Kalam Azad in the Indian post-Independence period indicated how the concept of democracy could easily co-exist with Islam.
Lawrence said that the position of women in the holy text of the Muslims is often cited as an issue when dismissing Islam as archaic. However, much of the interpretation of passages in the holy book, that somewhat indicates a superior position for men, is superficial.
He stated, “They have to be seen within the context of the time of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). Men in those times were expected to take the lead in the political sphere. The passages indicate this and not a sort of natural superiority.”
In his concluding remarks, he pointed out that parda or the veil too is a misunderstood issue, and it is largely a symbol of modesty rather than a tool of suppression.