Being a Muslim, I take Islam as the ultimate guidance from Allah. Allah can only be God if He has knowledge beyond the knowledge of all His creations, including humans, the most intelligent of all creations. The knowledge acquired by men has never been completed and it never will. We learn new things everyday.
But God's knowledge is ultimate and complete. Today's rationality may question that of the past. It is just a matter of time before today's rationality would also become ancient. It is certainly not rational enough to hold today's rationality as the ultimate truth as the ultimate truth could only come from The Creator, whose knowledge is complete.
While rational debate is good to address matters within our knowledge, we must also acknowledge that much of the religious aspects are beyond our existing knowledge. Why would I need religion if everything could be resolved through rational debate? It is only logical that our faith must go beyond our limited ability to acquire complete knowledge.
The Quran clearly indicates that a true believer must believe in the 'al-ghaib' (the unseen). The Quran also says some aspects of its teaching is 'muhkamat' (to just be accepted as it is) and some are 'mutasyabihah' (open for interpretation and rational debate by the learned men).
Thus, the question of whether or not Islam should accept a modern interpretation is a non-issue as long as we recognises this boundary. Umran Kadir may think that all aspects of religion should be placed under rational scrutiny. While he is at his full liberty to ask all questions he wants to, he must also respect the rights of others who choose to leave some of those answers only to Allah.
In life, sometimes, it is much wiser to leave the answer to those who know best about the matter. Pretending to know more than we actually do is self-deceiving.
This brings me in total agreement with Elya Lim Abdullah that we should respect knowledge specialisation in all our discourses. For example, doctors are humans and they may, sometimes, make mistakes. So too the lawyers and engineers. But for someone who has never acquired specialised knowledge in those fields to rewrite medical procedures, or to give arbitrary interpretations to legal provisions, or to revise engineering standards is certainly absurd and unacceptable.
All too often, those who get involved in Islamic discourse fail to proof their worthiness in discussing matters which require specialised knowledge in Islamic jurisprudence. Islam has been for so long open for various intellectual discourses. As it has always been proven, only those worthy players in the discourse deserve recognition by the ummah.
People like Imam Syafie, Abu Hanifah, Ahmad bin Hambal and their like were very active in Islamic intellectual discourses and they had proved their worthiness by mastering specialised knowledge in the Islamic jurisprudence.
In our times, we have also big names such as Maududi, Muhd Natsir, An-Nursyi, Iqbal, An-Nadwi, Qardhawi, Ghanauchi, and many more. This tradition has been continued throughout time and has never ceased. It has grown tremendously under the banner of knowledge, piety, and honesty.
Clearly, Islamic discourse has never subscribed to arbitrary interpretations by those who have the wishful thinking of becoming an instant scholar in Islamic jurisprudence.
I'm of the opinion that Islam is dynamic enough to face the challenges of the ever-changing world. The key is to learn and practise its teachings in full. All the confusion and misunderstanding about Islam today, I believe, stems from the fact that people are looking at 'partitioned Islam', instead of Islam as a complete way of life .
The accusation that existing Islamic practises and worldview had been moulded and corrupted by the medieval Arabs chauvinists couldn't be further from truth. Certainly, it is not up to those who have very little knowledge about Islam to dictate how Islam should be shaped in the modern world. Wallahu a'lam.