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  1. Bruce says

    Thanks for letting us know about this three-part video. I just now watched it.
    At the end of the first video, it explains that IJTIHAD is an arabic word that refers to thinking or re-thinking about the meaning and interpretation of Islam. I thought the series made some thought-provoking points.

    I guess the central message is that a lot of what people today think of as “Islam” is really about the version of it promoted by the Saudis, and that this version is not inherently any more authentic than a lot of other views that are a lot more progressive. For example, it was noted that the term “sharia” would not have been recognized or understood at all in the same way as now back in the first three centuries of Islam. Since there is no one pope or central authority figure in Islam, this video is essentially about a movement to promote a view of Islam that is free of Saudi influence, and is free to select interpretations that are consistent with the views of modern pluralistic Muslims in societies such as Denmark, Britain, and America. The film notes that most mainstream media promotes the most controversial views because they are the best for ratings and ad sales. Thus, media figures such as Thomas Friedman who simply trust what they see on TV and in the mainstream media end up being mislead and manipulated into promoting the idea that the Saudi view is the only true view of Islam.

    As I am not a theist, and not from an Islamic culture, I have no special insight into the likely strength of the views expressed in this video. But I know that Mona E. and Reza Aslan are two very different sorts of progressive Muslims who were part of the nine people interviewed for this film. So I think the film (which was made in 2011) should have some credibility and influence. It remains to be seen how things go in the future, with young people in Islamic societies gradually having more free access to the internet and thus to materials such as this video.

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