Saturday, August 09, 2003

Tom Friedman of the New York Times had a very interesting dinner with two Shi'ite clerics this week in Baghdad (Dinner With the Sayyids). One of them was the grandson of the Ayatollah Khomeini (!), the other was an Iraqi Shi'ite named Sayyid Iyad Jamaleddine. The most interesting thing that Jamaleddine said (in my opinion) was this: "I call for opening the door for Ijtihad [reinterpretation of the Koran in light of changing circumstances]. The Koran is a book to be interpreted [by] each age. Each epoch should not be tied to interpretations from 1,000 years ago. We should be open to interpretations based on new and changing times." The ability to reinterpret sacred scripture for new and changing times is a crucial tool for any religious tradition and it is most welcome to hear these words coming from a Muslim cleric.

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