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Islam’s ‘Protestant Reformation’

Can Islam be reformed? Part 1 of 2.

by
Raymond Ibrahim

Bio

June 20, 2014 - 12:12 am
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In order to prevent a clash of civilizations, or worse, Islam must reform.  This is the contention of many Western peoples. And, pointing to Christianity’s Protestant Reformation as proof that Islam can also reform, many are optimistic.

Overlooked by most, however, is that Islam has been reforming. What is today called “radical Islam” is the reformation of Islam. And it follows the same pattern of Christianity’s Protestant Reformation.

The problem is our understanding of the word “reform.”  Despite its positive connotations, “reform” simply means to “make changes (in something, typically a social, political, or economic institution or practice) in order to improve it.”

Synonyms of “reform” include “make better,” “ameliorate,” and “improve” — splendid words all, yet words all subjective and loaded with Western references.

Muslim notions of “improving” society may include purging it of “infidels” and their corrupt ways; or segregating men and women, keeping the latter under wraps or quarantined at home; or executing apostates, who are seen as traitorous agitators.

Banning many forms of freedoms taken for granted in the West — from alcohol consumption to religious and gender equality — can be deemed an “improvement” and a “betterment” of society.

In short, an Islamic reformation need not lead to what we think of as an “improvement” and “betterment” of society — simply because “we” are not Muslims and do not share their reference points and first premises.  “Reform” only sounds good to most Western peoples because they, secular and religious alike, are to a great extent products of Christianity’s Protestant Reformation; and so, a priori, they naturally attribute positive connotations to the word.

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Top Rated Comments   
Mohammed's creation of Islam was itself a species of what drove and continues to drive Protestantism.

There was in his day a pre-existing and stable doctrine of Christianity, but he was unable to grasp it, either because the traders passing through who exposed him to Christian thought did not fully understand themselves or because Mohammed simply wasn't all that bright. He was arrogant and ambitious though.

Mohammed was, like Martin Luther, a presumptuous fairly ignorant know-it-all. And so, lo and behold, he proclaims an improved version of Judeo-Christianity, a more "true" version that conformed to his ever-changing illogic, that he justified by angelic visitations. In short, it was half heresy and half half-baked make-it-up-yourself theology to justify his militaristic ambition and personal lustful desire.

There is no reforming of patent error. There is only rejecting the error in favor of truth.

In the meantime, for the sake of the rest of us, there is making the error toothless so that it doesn't bite us all.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
Have you read the Koran? The only way Islam can be reformed is if it is wiped out. It is inimical to the Constitution and western civilization. What has Islamic civilization given to the world? Scores of millions of murdered and mutilated bodies, millions of slaves, a few interesting buildings. Any Shakespeares? Any Newtons, Wright Brothers, Einsteins ? Any philharmonics? Operas?
Islam should be outlawed for the same reason that that Mormon extremist who married the 14 year old girls was jailed. It doesn't belong here.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
A lot of what's being discussed here, while rooted in Christianity, is also deeply rooted in the Enlightenment, which also drew on the works of the ancient Greeks and on scientific discoveries. I don't see Islam reaching out to those sources of wisdom.

I don't know that Islam can "reform", so much as perhaps find its way back to its previous "compromise". I don't know that this can happen, either.

What Islam perhaps needs more is a thorough defeat, such as what happened to German and Japanese militarism. We came very close indeed to delivering exactly that, but now the current administration seems to be backing off.

I'm not all that hopeful.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (162)
All Comments   (162)
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You can't reform something that is inherently evil. There isn't going to be any Islamic reformation.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
A few years ago Jonah Goldberg at NRO addressed this issue with a terrific article "Islamic Rites - Why Muslims need a pope".
http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/205173/islamic-rites/jonah-goldberg
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Interesting. If Islam is reforming comparably to the Reformation, it is right on schedule, isn't it? Luther put up the 95 Theses in 1517, 597 years ago. If we count the founding of Islam at the hijira, that was in 622AD. Off by 25 years. Which, of course, is meaningless but cool.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
You talk about Islam as if there is one that can reform. If Shia reforms that affects no Sunni. If Al-Ahzar University in Cairo reforms that does not affect Wahhabism or the Qutibist Muslim Brotherhood, nor Al-Queda. What is affected if the Taliban reformed, Malaysian and Indonesian Islam, Turkish Islam, Alawites?

Al-Ahzar is probably the most globally influential and least anti-Western. After all they and Al-Ahzar adherent new Egyptian President El-Sisi threw out Morsi, and he still sits in jail.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
The puritans are not the majority. They are a very large and very vocal minority supported by Saudi and Gulf State money. But Islam is brittle and hollowed out because there is another equal large minority who adhere in their outward words and actions, but have no faith. The puritans know they exist and are determined to force adherence of the faithless by violence. But as the puritans rack up repeated losses and make themselves repulsive to the larger uma'a by their intolerance and oppression, Islam will start to collapse from within. The real enemy of Islam is secularism, not the West.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
The problem is of course that these Cultural Muslims see themselves as superior to Non-Muslims and entitled to Supremacy, which the Violent Jihadists provide the gateway to implementing. Which is why they are widely supported by the Ummah.

Sorry EM
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Islam is an evil and destructive political movement, akin to Nazism, it should be treated accordingly.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Part1of "should Islam be reformed?" NO. No need for Part 2
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Mohammed was the L. Ron Hubbard of his time...and like his namesake, he just made it up as he went along!
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
Speaking of Islam...
When Qatar says jump, Obama says, how high?
http://nyyrc.com/blog/2014/06/if-qatar-says-so/

What’s the difference between Iraq today and Libya in 2011? Qatar, the tiny Gulf state sponsor of terror, was for intervention in Libya, but is against intervention in Iraq. In Libya, Obama preemptively ordered NATO airstrikes on the forces of Muammar Gaddafi, allegedly to prevent genocide. Obama explained this reasoning in a speech on March 28, 2011, saying that he acted to stop a massacre that would have “stained the conscience of the world.” Obama continued, “I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.” In Iraq today, we have photos and videos of mass slaughter by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Obama’s response to an actual genocide, complete with broadcast evidence, is to rule out airstrikes.

22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
The barbaric supremacist ideology of Islam must be eliminated.
22 weeks ago
22 weeks ago Link To Comment
At the very least can we all agree that mass importation of the Agents of Islam into the West is not in th ebest interests of the host population. As if fighting the Islamic Reformation on our streets, in our institutions, schools, and neighborhoods is somehow beneficial for European Christians.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
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