There is a ‘metal band’ in Iran called Confess (picture below). The context is music, and I assume that a metal band plays music on a spectrum that has heavy metal at one end. It’s also referred to as a ‘thrash band’. I know about Confess because its members are in prison, charged with a list of offences including blasphemy, which is a capital offence in the Islamic Republic of Iran. You can read the story here.
You can even hear the band playing at this same site. I think it’s god-awful music, but I wouldn’t condemn the perpetrators to death.
I’m stroppy because we are being drawn into something like an alliance with Iran, since the Revolutionary Guard, Hezbollah and the Kurdish Peshmerga seem to be the only people with boots on the ground who are effectively opposing Daesh.
I’m sure the people of Iran, the great majority anyway, are decent sensible folk who take their religion with a pinch of salt and are interested in much the same things that we are. I don’t know if Fawlty Towers has been translated into Farsi, but if it has I’m sure it has a huge following. (‘We’ means secular westerners like me, by the way.)
But let us never forget that Iran’s leaders are staunch theists who claim to be guardians of the only true interpretation of Islam; and therefore anything they do, no matter how cruel or loony, must be right. I’m not saying they’re worse than the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia but I don’t think they’re significantly better.
I’ve read and heard several commentators lately, either advocating an islamic version of the Christian Reformation or arguing that such an event has already happened and the results are not pretty.
Former Australian PM Tony Abbott leads the advocacy pack, implying that a reformation would be a modernising influence, moving Islam away from the beliefs and practices that make it barbaric in many people’s eyes. I don’t want to put words into Mr Abbott’s mouth, but I assume he would share my hope that modernisation would do away with animal sacrifice, pointless dietary rules, punitive mutilation, oppression of women, suppression of other beliefs, contempt for infidels, and capital punishment of individuals categorised as blasphemers, apostates and heretics.
Waleed Aly, a young Australian Muslim who has become my second favourite radio journalist, argues that “Islam’s own version of the Reformation already occurred in the 18th century” and led to Wahhabism, a form of Sunni Islam which is enforced in Saudi Arabia and is the philosophical platform for al-Qaeda, DAESH and other extremist organisations.
Paul Monk disagrees with Waleed Aly in many things but agrees with him in this. I commend his article in the Sydney Morning Herald.
The UK’s Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, also agrees. In a recent interview on Australian radio he pointed out that the Christian Reformation was a reaction against corruption in the Catholic Church. The reformers wanted to return to true Christian values. This is how Md ibn Abd al-Wahhab saw his 18th century reformation: a return to true Islamic values.
It is as erroneous as it is understandable that we tend to equate ‘reform’ with ‘improvement’, ‘progress’ and ‘becoming more like us’.