But in that case why not just convert to Islam?
Claire Khaw advocates “Secular Koranism”—the idea that the Qur’an should become the basis of secular legal systems. Its rules, she says, should apply to everyone, not just Muslims.
That’s not as crazy an idea as it sounds. Claire has some provocative and persuasive insights into the underlying causes of Western decadence and how the Qur’an’s guidance could help fix things. Listen to this interview and you’ll discover that Claire and I agree that patriarchy is basically a good thing, not a bad thing. (For more heretical talk on patriarchy, check out my article on the woke crusade against girls’ sports, and don’t miss Charles Eisenstein’s excellent new piece making some of the same points.)
But I’m not really on board with secular Koranism, and I especially disagree with Claire’s argument that Muslims should be its leading advocates. I also disagree with her list of reasons why, she says, Muslims reject it:
Claire Khaw’s REASONS WHY MUSLIMS REJECT Secular Koranism
- Because it is unorthodox and being promoted by a non-Muslim female.
- Because they don’t want to be labelled radical or extremist.
- Because they are not interested in promoting their religion.
- Because most of them have never heard of such a thing and don’t know what to think of it.
- Because many Muslims in the West enjoy its sexual liberation and don’t want it restricted by Koranic principles.
- Because most of them are not independent thinkers.
- Because even independent thinkers are afraid of the mainstream Muslim opinion who will reject it unless approved of by Islamic scholars.
- Because most Islamic scholars are already co-opted and compromised.
- Because most Muslims think it is enough to get to heaven just because they are Muslim and see no need to involve themselves in the dirty business of politics.
- Because most Muslims would rather not deal with the necessity of denouncing the idolatry and blasphemy of Christianity which would alienate their Christian overlords.
- Because most Muslims are confused about the proper position to take on the idolatry and blasphemy of Christianity and prefer not to take controversial positions.
Kevin Barrett’s REASONS WHY MUSLIMS REJECT Secular Koranism
- For Muslims, secular Koranism is reinventing the wheel so that it doesn’t roll quite as well. (Islam gives us everything SK could, and much, much more.)
- Muslims have an admirable 1400-year history of not forcing their rules on non-Muslims, since “there is no compulsion in religion” (2:256).
- The word secular means “denoting attitudes, activities, or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis” (Oxford Languages) and the Qur’an’s rules obviously DO have a religious and spiritual basis.
- The word secular has a negative connotation for most Muslims, who link it to attempts to remove religion from its rightful place in the public square. (There is no “separation of church and state” in Islam.)
- The word Koranism implies radically revising Islamic law to make it derive entirely from the Qur’an without reference to ahadith or any other contextual material. That sharply conflicts with the Islamic scholarly consensus, which holds that the Qur’an must be understood in context, most obviously in terms of asbab un-nuzul (occasions of revelation, i.e. the issues in the early Muslim community that the Qur’an addresses in specific verses).
- Secular Koranism concerns itself only with the legal dimensions of the Qur’an without reference to its indispensable spiritual dimensions.
- Secular Koranism’s interpretation of certain legal dimensions of the Qu’ran departs sharply from Islamic scholarly consensus.
- Secular Koranism, as Claire presents it, seems linked to the Noahide laws (a short list of laws that some Jews would like to impose on all non-Jews). Muslims generally sympathize with the content of the Noahide laws, but given their history of not imposing their own laws on non-Muslims, they are not likely to sympathize with Jews who want to impose Jewish laws on non-Jews.
- Islam has shown remarkable resiliency over more than 1400 years, despite lacking an official bureaucracy, because Muslims have been able to forge a consensus on the most important issues. Secular Koranism radically departs from that consensus in many ways. Check out this refutation of SK by William Breiannis.
So I think Claire is a bit naive in expecting Muslims to lead the charge for Secular Koranism. I urge her to instead systematically summarize the universal principles she derives from the Qur’an, and explain to non-Muslims how and why their legal codes should be revised according to those principles.
Muslims certainly wouldn’t object to Western societies reforming their legal codes to align them more closely with Qur’anic principles.