Wahabism IS the Reformation ?

One of the clearest voices in my coments section is that of Ikram Saeed. He posted this excellent comment in a post below which I felt needed a wider airing.

Ikram writes:

Wahbism _is_ the reformation. Traditional Sunni Islam has four Madhabs (schools of thought), and the interpretation of religion is only permitted by religious scholars in that Madhab. To become a scholar requires many years of work, and an understanding of some 1400 years of religious thought and commentary. Traditional Sunni-ism is somewhat centralized and "Catholic" (though not nearly as mush as Shi'ism -- "the fifth madhab?").

Wahabis smash this hierarchy, and go extreme "protestant" They argue that the 1400 years of interpretation has clouded and distorted the original message of the Prophet. Muslims need to go back to the fundamentals, to Islam the way it was practiced at the time of the prophet. Each Muslim should read the Quran, and particularly the Hadiths, and reach his own, correct, understanding.

It so happens that Wahabis believe the correct understanding is one that, by the standards of America's relaxed morality, is reactionary and repressive. Religious authority is being decentralized among hatemongers and fanatics.

And, for Christians who know their own religious history, this shouldn't be surprising. Calvin was an intolerant religious bigot. And Luther has long been accused of being a grade 'A' anti-semite. Both Luther and Calvin launched Europe into 300 years of religious warfare (that still continues in N.Ireland).

300 years of religious warfare -- is that the reformation Den Beste wants?
The Christian Reformation occurred as a reaction to corruption in the catholic church, not as a reaction to strict morals. If anthing, teetotalling moralistic protestants were more violent and more strict than Catholics. Similarly, Wahabis are more strict than "Madhabis" to coin a term.

Ikraam also has some important observations on Wahabism (and its detractors within Islam) in a second comment in the same thread. Take a look for yourself, in the comments section on this post.

UPDATE: Al-Munaqabah also has posted a comment, distinguising between a Renaissaance and a Reformation. I like this distinction, but I hope Bill or someone equally qualified can comment on it.

If you want the Muslim world to discover the virtues of secular humanism, then what you want is an Islamic RENAISSANCE. If you want the Muslim world to go through convulsions of violence and war as it struggles within itself to define the proper practice of the religion, you want an Islamic REFORMATION.

I strongly feel that there is no Reformation needed, but another (not a) Rennaisannce would be a good thing.

UPDATE2: Bill Allison has commented! In a length post he lays out his case for why he disagrees with Ikram. Rather thanb excerpt him, I urge everyone to read it in full, as the argument is typically subtle and insightful. It motivated me to add a question mark to the post title :) I hope it will generate healthy debate in the comments section, which is now directly linked from the sidebar.

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