Friday, July 14, 2017

Calling for a Muslim Reformation

In her book Heretic Ayaan Hirsi Ali calls for a reformation among Muslims, a reformation she compares to that which occurred in Christianity in the 16th century. She's doubtless correct that Islam needs a reformation but I'm not sure comparisons to the Christian reformation are quite apposite.

For one thing, the Christian reformation was a call to the Church to set aside papal authority and tradition and return instead to the teaching of Christ and the authority of the Bible. It would seem that precisely the opposite is needed in Islam. The radicals are those who are committed to the Prophet and the Koran, and the reformers are in the position of having to entice them away from some of the more embarrassing teachings of both.

Indeed, it's hard to see how a reformed Islam, one in which both Mohammad and the Koran are subjected to critical examination, can survive. If Muslims come to believe that Mohammad is not a perfect model for their emulation and that the Koran contains much that must be rejected, Islam, being a religion based on a conviction of the perfection of both, would doubtless lose much of its attraction.

In any case, there are other courageous Muslim reformers out there besides Hirsi Ali, and one such is a physician, author, and former naval officer named Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser. Dr. Jasser was interviewed for The Federalist last January by Steve Postal.

The whole interview is enlightening, but a couple of things are worth highlighting here. For example, Dr. Jasser supports what he calls Trump's "travel pause" and adds this:
Some studies report around 23 percent of those seeking refuge here have sympathies for ISIS. Those individuals have no right to come to the United States. Those who come to the United States should not do so solely out of humanitarian need, but also to share our values. Those with sympathies for Islamists (e.g., Muslim Brotherhood or ISIS) as well as those with sympathies for fascist dictatorships (e.g., Assadists or those with allegiances to the Russian government) should never be given the freedom to come to the U.S.
He also believes that reform must change people's minds, not just subdue those who take up arms and resort to terror:
Islamists know that the greatest threat to their supremacist program is when we advance the ideas of liberty, freedom, and universal values of human rights protected by secular national identity. That is the only antidote to Islamism (political Islam and the idea of an Islamic state). The means of terror has now morphed from suicide belts and bombs to vehicular jihad and machetes. While we must learn to confront this changing landscape, we must see all these attacks for what they are: the very tip of the iceberg, the militant violent expressions of the massive global Islamist movement.

We can and will continue to fight this war in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya. But victories there are only pyrrhic and fleeting. In order for the West to see a day free from wars against Islamist terror and its caliphate(s), we must wage an ideological war to influence the minds of Muslims against political Islam.
This seems right. All the military victories over Islamic extremists our armed forces can achieve will not entirely remove the threat, it will only push it underground. Islamist violence will subside only happen when Muslims, both the violent jihadis, those who sympathize with them, and those on the fence are convinced that murder and torture is not at all the will of God. The belief that holy war and killing is what God wills is what motivates them, our previous administration's unwillingness to acknowledge this uncomfortable fact notwithstanding, and it is only when Muslims come to question the basis for that motivation that acts of violence will diminish.

This means an active global effort to counter Islamic doctrine as it relates to violence should be undertaken, an effort which engages the resources of both our government and private institutions like mosques, churches and schools. The Church, in particular, is in an especially propitious position to educate the American people, who are still largely ignorant of the nature of Islam, on the threat posed by sharia to our basic freedoms like freedom of religion, speech and press, as well as the threat it poses to the dignity of women.

In my opinion, the Church is the only institution which can offer devout Muslims, who not unreasonably deplore many of the fruits of Western secularism, a compelling religious alternative to violence and conquest, but it must do so with love and humility.

The left, of course, will see the foregoing as anti-Muslim bigotry. That's an absurd allegation but one nevertheless sufficient to provoke loud protests among Islamist groups like CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations) and intimidate those in government and elsewhere who lack confidence in the values articulated by our Founding Fathers.

Perhaps the Trump administration will prove itself to be comprised of people with stiffer spines and stronger convictions than we've seen in our public servants heretofore.

In any event, read the rest of the interview with Dr. Jasser at the link. It's very good.