A lot of people agree that the faith of the Muslim world today is in urgent need of reformation. In the minds of the vast majority of non-Muslims, the word Islam is directly associated with violence, terrorism, oppression of women and violation of human rights.
The world is gone global for some time now, this has both positive and negative correlations whether one likes it or not. So, if a stereotype is formed about a given culture or religion, it is undoubtedly insured global spread. The truth of the matter is that today Islam is equated with violence, dictatorship and terrorism.
Urgent need for renewal of Islamic thought
Considerable importance is granted by Muslim scholars to the issues of renewal and ijtihad (jurisprudence), particularly the renewal of Islamic intellectual thought and heritage. This renewal is the constructive process, which continues the action of ancestors and benefits from the ijtihad of contemporary scholars in rebuilding cultural identity and entrenching its principles and lofty references, as well as, the divine revelation which guides man onto the straight path. This revelation is the referential framework and knowledge regulator in the Islamic civilization’s view of all concepts and matters. It is the factor most likely to propel it towards shedding the manifestations of backwardness which emerged during past historical phases, spread the culture of ijtihad which promotes complementarities and the unity that defies conflict, and repositions the Islamic Ummah (global nation) on the scene of cultural action and human contribution.
Activating brotherhood of men
At this age of globalization, where challenges are growing in size and number, revitalizing Islamic intellectual heritage, renewing it and shedding light on its riches that contributed to the march of human civilization seem to be of utmost importance. The standardization and alienation attempts and centralist cultural tendencies that negate the multiplicity of historical courses in shaping human civilization are to be countered with force. Islamic thought needs new blood and a reformist boost. Thus, can be edified the civilization of the religion of the middle way, known in Arabic culture as: wasatiyya (tolerance), which stands witness to all mankind and carries the universal message of Islam: brotherhood of men.
Muslim countries will have to focus their action on programs and activities aimed at entrenching the culture of dialogue and the respect of cultural specificities and cultural diversity in consolidating human rights, understanding and concord between cultures. And working towards ensuring democratic governance and the respect for cultural rights of ethnic and linguistic minorities, as well as combating all forms of fanaticism and withdrawn attitudes.
Safeguarding human rights
Recognition of human rights include civil and political rights, such as the right to life and liberty, freedom of expression, and equality before the law; and social, cultural and economic rights, including the right to participate in politics and culture, the right to food, the right to work, and the right to education, is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) provided basic foundation to proclaim that ALL human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
A woman equal to a man in pursuits of knowledge. The status of women in Islam constitutes no problem. Islam grants equal right to woman to contract, to enterprise, to earn and to posses independently. Efforts will have to be continued to promote gender equality and balance. Acknowledgement of social rights of women is an urgent necessity and has, undeniably, to be followed by projecting women’s role in social development, keeping in view Islamic principles and values.
Advocating inter-cultural dialogue and inter-faith understanding and tolerance
As a result of new threats and the outbreak of violent inter-ethnic conflicts in many parts of the world in recent years, violent terrorist incidents, international level propaganda against Islam, as well as the introduction of new technologies and certain scientific developments and the process of globalization, an increased surge in social problems has been observed. Societies and communities have, also, observed an increase in intolerance and hatred among human beings on the basis or fundamentalism, extremism, racial social justice discrimination, xenophobia and related Intolerance. In order to respond to the challenges emerging in modern societies, it is necessary to adopt an integrated approach to combat racism, discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance. Islamic countries will have to take step to combat all forms of racism, xenophobia and discrimination and to promote dialogue among civilizations, in order to resolve all kind of differences and bring conformity in the creation of peaceful social conditions.
A final word
Today, it is axiomatic that the development of education, science, culture and communication hinges on security and peace, within or between states both at the regional and international levels. No development will be conceivable under a climate filled with ethnic, sectarian and religious tensions. The same is true for the lack of justice and mutual respect, which are key elements for creating international relations that could promote prosperity and human development.
A renewal of the Islamic thought is undoubtedly an urgent task that has to be undertaken, at once, by Muslim thinkers and decision makers for the benefit and the wellbeing of the Muslim people, in particular, and the world community, in general. Islamic reformation will, undoubtedly, stifle extremism, reduce hate and promote inter-cultural understanding, and economic wellbeing.