Islam: ¿Reforma o Ilustración?
The notion of contemporary Islam standing in need of a Reformation reflects a particular view of both Protestantism and pre-Reformation Catholicism that has become part of the folk memory of the educated in most of the historically Protestant nations, particularly the US and UK.
In this perspective the late medieval Church was backward, obscurantist and dogmatic. The Reformers burst open this closed system of thought and opened up dogma to individual judgment and criticism. The Reformation is thus connected with freethought, individualism, and the decline of religious authority in the secular sphere. To this way of thinking there is a direct connection between Protestantism and the later emergence of modern liberalism.
In fact this radically misunderstands the nature of mainstream Protestantism and the motives and ideas of the majority of Reformers. It also caricatures the actual condition and quality of late medieval Catholicism. It makes more sense to see the Reformation, not as a 'progressive' movement but as a conservative reaction to the humanism, rationalism and scepticism of the Renaissance, and also as a response to the increased contact between Europe and other parts of the world. The Reformers saw the Church as too worldly, contaminated by pagan survivals and philosophy, and too interested in abstract reason rather than faith. They wanted literally a Re-Formation, a restoration of the church to its original pristine and apostolic condition. They also wanted to purify society and to use the secular power to enforce Christian practices and ethics upon the general population. Where they had power, as in Geneva, the result was a theocracy. They did argue against the need for a distinct clergy, but this did not mean support for unrestrained individual judgement. Rather it meant submission to the consensus of the learned and the rule of the 'Elect'.
In fact, far from contemporary Islam being like the late medieval Church and in need of a Reformation, it makes more sense to apply the analogy in a different way. Islam, we may say, is having a reformation right now. (...) Like the Reformers, they wish to restore an imagined pristine and uncorrupted original version of their faith. There are other similarities as well, such as the fervent iconoclasm, the stringent personal morality and the demand that it be imposed by the civil power, and the declaration that many nominal believers are in fact infidels. If we apply this kind of analogy, what conclusions might it lead us to?
Lean las conclusiones en su anotación. Yo creo que tiene un punto de razón. Por cierto, no creo que haya que entenderlo en el sentido de que el mundo islámico tenga que adoptar la Ilustración occidental. Tampoco es que hubiera sólo una Ilustración occidental, muy al contrario.
Arthur Chrenkoff se ocupó del tema hace ya tiempo en términos parecidos. Este artículo de Salman Rushdie también desarrolla una idea afín.
(1) Por cierto, acabo de descubrir el Dictionary of the History of Ideas y tiene una pinta estupenda.