Thursday, September 07, 2006

Taha is The Man

[posted by Callimachus]

I was delighted to see a big piece in next week's New Yorker about the work of Mahmoud Mohamed Taha, the Islamic reformer executed in 1985 by the Islamist Sudanese regime.

Unfortunately, the New Yorker didn't see fit to put the article online.

I first encountered Taha in reading Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im's 1990 book "Toward an Islamic Reformation." An-Na'im figures largely in the New Yorker article.

I've alluded to Taha before. He seems to me to present the perfect path for a viforous, modern, moderate Islam. I'd love to see his ideas realized. I wonder what Eteraz thinks of him, but he seems to have gone on hiatus.

In the larger sense, though, I wonder whether a religion can be reformed toward reason and reasonableness, and whether the religious instinct in human beings can be steered with guiderails of reason. And I wonder whether it's not a sign of the chimera here that Taha gets a fuller airing in the New Yorker than in any magazine published in Saudi Arabia, or that An-Na'im is writing in English and teaching and publishing in the West.