I believe that we should help the Muslim reformation to enhance the ability of American Muslims to accept the parts of Islam they want and to reject the parts they don’t want.
This is an issue that I have been grappling with for some time. I have watched many debates and listened to the opinions of ex-Muslims versus Reformist Muslims, most recently in Gaad Saad interviews which I find very informative. I have studied Islamic Doctrine contained in the trilogy as well as the important and influential works by Sayyid Qutb, Abdullah Azzam, S. K. Malik and Ayman Al-Zawahiri. One of my main areas of focus has been the Muslim Brotherhood and their insidious ciilization jihad.
While I usually limit my comments on this blog, having made the decision early on to maintain a “just the facts, Ma’am” approach to a counter jihad news aggregation site, I feel it is time to lay out my position on reform of Islam and the political considerations in official government support of reformists.
First of all, I think we need to be careful with our terminology. I will refer to Islamic Doctrine instead of “Islam” because when people hear the word Islam they automatically think we are referring to the doctrine as well as all Muslims. Second, I do not believe it is helpful to add qualifiers such as “radical” before the words Islam or jihad. Individual Muslims may be “moderate” but Islamic Doctrine is radical. Qualifiers are used in order to not offend Muslims. The terms Islamism, Islamist and political Islam are okay with me because in my mind they denote orthodox Islamic activism.
We must not conflate what indvidual Muslims believe with what Islamic Doctrine says. Islamic Doctrine is fixed. There are many passages in the Quran that warn Muslims against using critical thought to reinterpret the word of Allah. The Sunnah of Mohammad (Hadith and Sira) also warns against this and Muslims scholars have declared the “gates of ijtihad” to be closed. Therefore, I consider reformists to actually be “rejectionists” who will have to somehow abrogate all of the content they deem to be incompatible with modernity. This is probably an impossible undertaking since Al-Azhar, the only central authority on Islam, will never agree to it. And it would take generations to achieve the type of cultural and political changes that would be required to effect a reform that the majority of Muslims could agree on. My personal wish is that more Muslims will leave Islam as they learn more about the misogyny, jihad and bigotry in their doctrine.
Most Muslims are not well versed on Islamic Doctrine and rely on their Imams to inform them. This includes some reformers. Westernized Muslims are loathe to confront the ugly truth inherent in their religion. But a public awareness campaign is absolutely necessary and reformers must be held to account on what Islamic Doctrine actually says. This includes sharia. So far, I have not been convinced that reformers like Zhudi Jasser, Raheel Razza and Majid Nawaz are being totally honest about it. But they are at least trying. And to the extent that their efforts are publicized, the worldwide debate advances. More debate is a good thing!
I agree with Dan that we should not judge who is a real Muslim or not. Muslims themselves do enough of that with violent consequences. Rather, we should recognize that some self-identifying Muslims do not adhere strictly to Islamic Doctrine. With support in the West, their numbers may grow. There are probably many Muslims who are secret apostates.
This brings me to the central question I am pondering here. Should Western governments empower Reformist Muslims? Would their numbers increase enough to make a difference with government sponsorship? Would this be a waste of taxpayer money? Whether you believe that Islamic Doctrine can be reformed or not, should we at least support those who are willing to try? Should we try to help create a safe space for Muslims to criticize their religion? Can reformist Muslims help with counterterrrorism efforts? If the Muslim Brotherhood is declared a terrorist organization, could we transfer control of American Mosques to reform minded Muslims? As long as we are strictly honest about what Islamic Doctrine says, I am inclined to say yes.
What do you think?