NYT Excerpt: Ruud Peters in “Indonesians Seek to Export a Modernized Vision of Islam”

From The New York Times, May 1st, 2017

“…The 2006 painting has become the symbol of a global initiative by the Indonesian youth wing of Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest mass Islamic organization in the world, that seeks to reinterpret Islamic law dating from the Middle Ages in ways that conform to 21st-century norms.

Among other things, it calls for a re-examination of elements of Islamic law that dictate relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, the structure of government and the proper aims and conduct of warfare.

Leaders of Nahdlatul Ulama’s youth wing, known as Ansor, say that elements of Shariah, which Muslims consider divine law, are being manipulated by groups like the Islamic State and Al Qaeda to justify terrorist attacks around the world, invoked to rally fighters to battle in the Middle East and elsewhere, and distorted by movements that seek to turn Islam into a political weapon…

…Nonetheless, some Islamic scholars and experts note that because there are so many diverging interpretations of Islamic law and the Quran, it would be difficult to reach an international consensus on reforms.

‘There’s a whole library of interpretations of jihad — Muslims must fight non-Muslim states to expand territory, for example,” said Ruud Peters, an emeritus professor of Islamic law at the University of Amsterdam. “But since the 19th century, there have been interpretations followed by many Muslim states to only defend against attack from non-Muslim states.'”

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