In his Manifeste pour un Islam des Lumières, Malek Chebel, a luminary in the field of Islamic studies, makes 27 proposals for extensively reforming Islam. Frustrated by the prevalent notion that all critique of Islam is negative and heretical, Chebel supplies a positive vision of reform. For inspiration he turns to the values of the Enlightenment, when reason and rationality took the forefront in the drive towards social, political, and religious progress. While he admits that Islam’s core values have become “nebulous, without structure, almost hallucinatory,” he points to the early 19th century movement led by prominent Islamic philosophers (Muhamaed Abduh in Egypt, Rashid Rida in Syria) who applied the same methods of reform, often at great risk to their lives, as evidence that the principles of the Enlightenment can be applied to the Muslim world.
Chebel’s propositions address a wide range of issues vital to the future of Islam: free speech, secularism, equality of the sexes, tolerance, democracy, authoritarianism, reinterpretation of the Koran, modernization, adaptation to Western values and the place of Islam in Western societies, fatwahs, holy war, radical clerics, work, bioethics, justice, and corporal punishment to name a few. The reforms are clear, concise, and concrete. If followed, they could lead to a new and enlightened Islam.