Do you believe that a reform of Islam is necessary? Perhaps the questions are: Is Islamic reform possible? And if it is possible how can it be accomplished? Only Muslims can make reform a reality.
Knowing the questions does not solve the problem
We in the West cannot remain on the sidelines. It is not as though the outcome of this struggle has nothing to do with us. More than half of Sharia defines how Muslims deal with non-believers.
If the jihadists win the hope for a reformed Islam dies. If that happens the world will pay a terrible price. The terror attacks in New York, London, Madrid, Paris, etc. are a preview for what is to come. It’s foolish to insist that violent acts committed in the name of Islam can be divorced from the religion itself. Look, Islam is not a religion of peace.
Everyone isn’t the same
By this it should not be understood that Islamic belief makes all Muslims violent. This is not the case. There are millions of peaceful Muslims in the world. However, the call to violence and the justification for it are explicitly stated in the sacred texts of Islam. At least half of Muslims worldwide hold radical beliefs.
Theologically sanctioned violence is there. Activation can come from any number of offenses. Those offenses include but are not limited to; adultery, blasphemy, homosexuality and apostasy. Apostasy is leaving Islam. Those who tolerate these acts of intolerance do so at their peril. Appeasement will not work.
Are you liberal?
Today those who call themselves liberal make common cause with forces posing the greatest threat to the freedoms and those very minorities they should protect. Aren’t liberals people who claim to believe fervently in individual liberty and minority rights? What are we doing?
By labeling critical examination of Islam as inherently “racist,” we make the chances of reformation less likely. There are no limits on criticism of Christianity at American universities… or anywhere else for that matter. Why should there be limits on criticism of Islam?
Who are your allies?
Western intellectual traditions should not be contorted or abandoned. That certainly should not happen to avoid offending our Muslim fellow citizens. We need to defend both those traditions. More importantly we need to protect and defend the Muslim dissidents who take great risks to promote them. We should support these brave men and women in every way possible.
Imagine a platform for Muslim dissidents that communicated their message through YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. These are the Muslims we should be supporting. We should support them for our sake as much for the sake of Islam.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali observes something to the effect that, in the Cold War, the West celebrated dissidents. People such as Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Andrei Sakharov, and Václav Havel. They had the courage to challenge the Soviet system from within. Today, there are many Muslim dissidents who challenge Islam.
The West either ignores them or dismisses them as “not representative.” This is a grave mistake. Reformers such as Tawfiq Hamid, Asra Nomani & Zuhdi Jasser and many others must be supported and protected.
Do we in fact support political, social and religious freedom? If so, then we cannot in good conscience give Islam a free pass on the grounds of multicultural sensitivity. We need to say to Muslims living in the West: If you want to live in our societies, to share in our material benefits, then you need to accept that our freedoms are not optional. We require assimilation. Islam is at a cross roads of reformation or war. But so is the West and we have our heads in the sand. A time of choosing is upon us.