Islam 'not sustainable' in its current form and must 'reshape' to modern values, says religious expert

'Why do we base the image of Muslims on women with headscarves? They are just a small section of it.'

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The Independent Online

Islam is "not sustainable" in its current form with religious teachings that are "out of touch with the present", according to a leading Austrian professor.

Ednan Aslan, professor of Islamic religious education at the University of Vienna, proposed several changes to a religion he said he wanted to "reshape" with modern values.

With that in mind, Mr Aslan is currently developing a curriculum for an Islamic theology course to be taught across Austria, to encourage scholars to "question" the nature of the faith.

"Islam, as it is now, is not sustainable," Mr Aslan told the Kurier. "We want to reshape the face of Islam. It is important that Islam is given a new face in order to be able to remain visible. It is out of touch with the present.

"Currently, Islam is unfortunately a religion of isolation. A religion of migration. A religion of Turkey, of Saudi Arabia. But no religion of Europe, which advocates pluralism or prepares children accordingly for a plural society.

"Why do we base the image of Muslims on women with headscarves? Organisations which shape our image of Islam, but they are just a small section of it."

Mr Aslan said European countries must lead the way in helping to amend the reputation of Islam, as certain Middle Eastern and African nations lacked the democratic freedoms necessary for such a debate.

"Unfortunately, this is not possible in Islamic countries. They simply cannot lead this debate in Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia," he added. "Democracy is an invention of the Enlightenment."

Islam is the second most widely observed religion in Austria, practiced by 7% of the population according to a report from 2014. The largest proportion live in the capital Vienna.

In September last year, a leading Austrian cardinal courted controversy by claiming “many Muslims” were trying to “conquer” Christian Europe by importing their practices.

In November, a right-wing trade union in the country provoked outrage by suggesting Muslim workers should not be entitled to Christmas bonuses on account of their religion.