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Strangers but Bedfellows. Chapter Three The Protestants. Chapter Seven Islam and Civil Liberties. Chapter Eight Human Rights for Muslims.

Selected Bibliography. Maybe Not.

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Western Civ. An Islamic Reformation? He is a former vice president and interior minister who published the most popular reformist newspaper. Nouri probably would have been speaker of the new parliament that opened last summer--had he been allowed to run. But in a blatant move to get him out of the way, the Special Court for Clergy last year charged him with apostasy and sentenced him to five years in prison. Mohsen Kadivar, a charismatic young seminary professor, is another.

The most unusual case, however, may be that of Hadi Khamenei, a tall man with an elegant, leonine face who can often be found in his office wearing an open-neck shirt with rolled-up sleeves. A clerical robe and a long piece of cloth that is his unwound turban--black, denoting his descent from the prophet Muhammad--hang on a coatrack. And that means no one, whatever his position, is above it. The younger Khamenei has taken his message to seminaries around the country. He launched a newspaper to provide alternative coverage to the mainstream media, which is dominated by conservative clerics.

And he registered to run for the Assembly of Experts, which selects the supreme leader. But Hadi Khamenei has paid a heavy price. His newspaper was banned.

Iran Now a Hotbed of Islamic Reforms - Los Angeles Times

Which of the Khamenei brothers could win more votes is much debated in Iran. In February, the younger Khamenei ran for the seat parliament and garnered the fourth-highest tally. The only bigger winners were siblings of Nouri and Kadivar, the two imprisoned clerics, and the brother of President Khatami. Mohsen Mirdamadi has come a long way from the chaotic days of when he and two other rather scruffy engineering students masterminded the takeover of the U.

Reforming The Prophet The Quest For The Islamic Reformation English Edition

Embassy--and then held 52 Americans and a superpower hostage for days. But these days Mirdamadi, a diminutive man with a neat salt-and-pepper beard, prefers pinstriped shirts and somber gray suits. Once willing to take the law into his own hands, Mirdamadi earlier this year ran for parliament on a platform of restoring the rule of law. And now we want to be more of a republic. Our tactics have shifted too. Before, we carried out a revolution. The transformation of the former hostage-taker reflects the profound political change unleashed by the Islamic reform movement.

As clerics reform the faith, politicos are trying to create a new model of democracy that combines freedom with Islamic values. The impact of political change in Iran could be sweeping for the more than 50 nations of the Islamic world. All have a long way to go; many have suffered military coups, civil wars or manipulated elections.

Iran is different because Islam here is the idiom of political transition.

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Instead of adopting or adapting political systems from the West, Iran is using Islam to define and justify a new kind of democracy. The key is the idea of interpretation. For more than a millennium, Muslims have accepted the concept that Islam has a single path. Reformers contend, however, that Islam is adaptable through constant reinterpretation. In other words, reformers argue, Islam has many paths. Emergency listings in Iranian newspapers still include numbers for the hour Dial-a-Koranic-Verse and a hour prayer schedule.

At the same time, Iran is now a society where Grand Ayatollah Saanei has his own Web site and communicates by e-mail.

Monireh Ghorji is a grandmother of six and great-grandmother of two with an appropriately wholesome face and gentle demeanor. A whole new breed of Muslim feminists has emerged over the past three years to challenge revolutionary dictates that stripped women of rights in the family, segregated classrooms, imposed strict dress codes and endangered their lives.

A generation later, record numbers of women have joined society and politics, become engineers, doctors and lawyers, and even entered seminaries. Iran now has a female vice president, Masoumeh Ebtekar.

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About women ran for parliament this year, and more than 5, ran in municipal elections last year. Almost half the university student body and a third of the faculty are female.

Revolutionaries once invoked religion to justify their clampdown on society; today reformers cite Islam to justify new activism and participation.