Jonathan Sacks on religion, politics and the civil war that Islam needs
Sharing his views on the resurgence of religion in modern society, Jonathan Sacks, the UK’s chief rabbi emeritus, also discusses how Judaism and Christianity have learned to shun gratuitous violence and how Islam might someday do the same. But Muslims, he argues, must reform their religion themselves, not least by wrestling with its “hard” texts; devotees of other religions can provide little help. (Interview by Douglas Murray):
There is no way that one religion can prescribe for another. I think that change of heart has to come from within. Judaism went through that crisis in the first century C.E. Josephus, who was an eyewitness to those events, said that the Jews inside the besieged Jerusalem were more intent on killing each other than Vespasian and Titus and their forces outside. Within two centuries, Jews and Judaism had become a pacific religion—not a pacifist religion but a pacific religion—so that in the third century or around then, when faced with a verse about military virtues, they could no longer understand the process. You can trace it. The same thing happens with Christianity in Europe between the 16th and the 17th centuries . . . Out of that there emerges again a formal or substantive separation of the religion and power. Religion moved from power to influence. It follows that it takes a civil war within a religion in the broadest sense to make that religion realize that it must divest itself of power.