January 24, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 10438

Algerian Researcher Said Djabelkhir Proposes Extensive Changes In Islamic Scholarship, School Curricula: Islamic Heritage In Its Current State Contradicts Modernity, Human Rights; We Need Enlightenment

January 24, 2023
Algeria, North Africa | Special Dispatch No. 10438

Algerian researcher Said Djabelkhir said in a January 15, 2023 show on Sky News Arabia (UAE) that in its current state, Islamic heritage starkly contradicts modernity and human rights. He said that the school curricula produce extremist religious fanatics instead of instilling students with acceptance, tolerance, and coexistence. He also said that the concept of the "fatwa" should be abolished and that Islamic scholars should only provide Muslims with information, analysis, and opinions so that Muslims can choose their own opinions. He stated: "The Muslim masses need enlightenment." In addition, Djabelkhir proposed that Islamic scholarship should get rid of some hadiths and revise some of the ancient jurisprudential Islamic reasoning. He added that students of shari'a should study comparative religion in an open-minded way, as well as various subjects from the humanities.

To view the clip of Algerian researcher Said Djabelkhir, click here or below:

"There Is A Direct Conflict Between Many Notions In Our Heritage And Human Rights, Freedom Of Opinion, And Freedom Of Belief"

Said Djabelkhir: "The aura of holiness that surrounds the religious texts – be it foundational texts like the Quran and the Hadith, or texts that constitute ijtihad, like the views of the jurisprudents – prevents the renewal [of religious discourse] and the advent of a new perspective. The problem is that [our] heritage, in its current state, is in direct conflict with modernity and with the new human condition. For example, there is a direct conflict between many notions in our heritage and human rights, freedom of opinion, and freedom of belief.

"For example, we can no longer speak [favorably] about slavery, which is to be found in our heritage and religious texts, where it is legal. We can no linger speak about offensive Jihad, Islamic raids, capturing and enslaving people, the jizya poll-tax, and all those things."


"School Curricula Are Not Focused On The Concepts Of Citizenship, Like Acceptance Of Disagreements... They Must Be Reexamined To The Core"

Host: "Do you think that the way that imams are trained is the cause of the religious fanaticism that numerous Arab countries are facing? It's not only Algeria. We are talking about Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, and some of the other [Arab] countries."

Djabelkhir: "There are three main reasons for this. The first reason is the school curricula, which help produce extremist and religiously fanatic people rather than [good] citizens. School curricula are not focused on the concepts of citizenship, like acceptance of disagreement and the freedom of opinion, accepting the other, tolerance, coexistence despite differences, and diversity.


"The school curricula need to be reexamined to the core. Then there is the discourse in the mosques, which should also be reexamined to the core. The religious training, whether for imams or in general... The shari'a faculties also need to be reexamined to the core. The concepts I mentioned before should be reexamined. The hadiths and many concepts of the jurisprudence should be reexamined.


"Muslims Do Not Need Anyone To Supervise Their Behaviors And Views"

"The concept of 'fatwa' should be abolished, because the age of patronage over the Muslim mind is over. It should be over. We should put an end to this. Muslims do not need anyone to supervise their behavior and views. Muslims need experts who will provide them with full information, their analysis, their views, and nothing more. Then, Muslims will have the freedom to choose what to believe and what to do, without anybody's patronage. The problem today all over the Islamic world is that when experts are talking about religious issues, whether in the media, in mosques, in conferences, meetings, or the press, they are not providing the religious information in its entirety. They provide partial information only. They hide from the masses things that would upset them, and do not ideologically match their views. In my view, this constitutes betrayal. This big problem must end.


"We should not hide upsetting opinions. We should tell the Muslims everything there is in the [religious] sources, and let them choose freely, without governing their views or behavior."

Host: "What about the shows that are prevalent in the Arab world, in which a man who calls himself a 'religious scholar' or 'mufti' receives phone calls for a full hour about worldly and religious issues? It got to a point where there are programs for interpreting dreams. How do you view this phenomenon which has become widespread in the Arab world over the past two decades?"

Djabelkhir: "To be completely honest, I call this 'religious doping.' This is the doping of the masses. The Muslim masses need enlightenment. They need to receive the full religious information, which includes [different] views and critical analysis. They do not need people who interpret their dreams, because we want to have accomplishments, to be productive, and to produce citizens who are rational and open-minded human beings, who will accept the other, will accept dissenting views. He can adhere to his religion, to Islam, but at the same time, he should accept the other, be open to disagreement, believe in [good] citizenship, believe in freedom of opinion, and avoid excluding others and labeling them 'infidels.'


"When a woman tells her daughter that she should follow the instructions of her younger brother, just because she is a female and he is a male... What is the mother actually doing in such a case? She is reproducing backwardness, making it eternal and immutable.


Our Curricula Should Include Logical Thinking, Comparative Study Of Other Religions Based On Their Own Sources,  Anthropology, Psychology, Sociology — These Are Required In Order To Have A Renewed Interpretation Of Islamic Religious Texts

"I suggest that we dispose of some religious texts – some hadiths, for example, and that we change and revise some of the ancient opinion of the jurisprudents. We should also add [to our curricula] some basic material, like logical [thinking], as well as the comparative study of the other religions, not from Islamic sources, but from their own sources. Shari'a students should study Christianity from Christian sources, Judaism from Jewish sources, and other religions from their own sources. This should be a comparative and open-minded study. We should also add the study of humanities – anthropology, psychology, and sociology. These are required in order to have a renewed interpretation of religious texts."

Host: "Most constitutions in the Arab world stipulate that Islam is the state religion..."

Djabelkhir: "I believe that we can drop this clause, because the state is not religious – it does not fast, pray, or go on a pilgrimage. States do not have religions. It is the people who become religious."


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