After writing the post below, I discovered this article on Sandro Magister’s site “A Glimmer of Light in an Egypt of Revolt”.
Magister’s lead into the article is not very hopeful, and stresses the real dangers of the situation – a danger the Copts understand well.
But then he zeroes in on something that Fr Samir Khalil Samir has been posting about on Asia News (his full commentary is here). Apparently 23 leading Egyptian Muslim scholars (including a former Grand Mufti of Egypt, the brother of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood) have proposed a “Document for the Renewal of Religious Discourse”, which, since it was first released on January 24th, has been reposted on more than 12,000 other Arab websites.
Here is Fr Samir’s translation of the proposal. It contains some real “bombshells” – but if such a proposal had a snowflake’s chance in Hades of being implemented in a “new Egypt”, it would have amazing consequences for Islam internationally and for Christian-Muslim relations.
Document for the renewal of religious discourse
• Review the books of the Hadith (the words attributed to Muhammad) and Koranic commentaries to purge them.
• Fine tune Islamic political-religious vocabulary, such as the gizyah (the special tax required of dhimmi, the second-class citizens).
• Find a new expression for the concept of fraternisation between the sexes.
• Develop the Islamic vision of women and find suitable ways for marriage laws.
• Islam is a religion of creativity.
• Explain the Islamic concept of gihâd, and clarify rules and requirements that govern it.
• Block attacks on external piety and foreign practices that come from neighbouring states [a euphemism that aims to expose the influence of Saudi Arabia-ed.]
• Separate state and religion.
• Purify the heritage of the “first centuries of Islam (Salafism), discarding the myths and attacks against religion.
• Give adequate preparation to missionary preachers (du’ât) and in this field open the doors to those who have not studied at the University of Al Azhar, according to clear criteria.
• Formulate the virtues common to the three revealed religions.
• Eliminate incorrect practices and provide guidance with regard to Western ways.
• Articulate the relationship that should exist between members of religions through schools, mosques and churches.
• Redraw in a different way [adapted] to the West the presentation of the biography of the Prophet.
• Do not keep people away from economic systems with the requirement not to deal with banks.
• Recognising the right of women to the Presidency of the Republic.
• Combat sectarian claims, [underling] that the flag of Islam [must be] one. Invite people to come to God through gratitude and wisdom, not through threats.
• Evolve the teaching of Al Azhar.
• Recognise the right of Christians [to have access] to important positions and [also] to the presidency.
• Separate religious discourse from power and restore the bond with the needs of society
• Establish the bond between the Da’wah (the call to conversion to Islam) and modern technology, satellite chains and the market for Islamic cassettes.