Can Islam ever be reformed?

In case you missed it:  you can view Jasser’s rant here, Robert Spencer’s response here, and Pamela Geller’s response here.

American Thinker, by Nonie Darwish, April 29, 2017:

Muslim reformer Zuhdi Jasser has recently attacked leaders of the anti-Jihad movement in America. He equated them with jihadists when he called them the derogatory word, alt-jihadists, meaning that Americans who speak and write against the evils of Islamic jihad and sharia are just as bad as jihadists. Jasser attacked by name freedom fighters like Stephen Kirby, John Guandolo, Diana West, Clare Lopez, Andrew Bostom, Robert Spender and Pamela Geller.

Jasser claims that he coined the word ‘alt-jihadists’ but in fact Arab media beat him to it when they equated vocal anti-jihad leaders with jihadists. To silence critics of jihad and Islam, Muslim media have habitually come down hard on critics of jihad and Islam and treated them worse than terrorists.

Traditionally, Arab media placed terrorists on a pedestal and called anyone who discouraged jihad “apostates.” But after 9/11, when the evils of Islamic jihad became clear to the world, Arab media was caught in a quagmire; it could no longer openly applaud jihadists who were the heroes of Muslim society. They had to blame critics of jihad who were exposing Islam’s dirty little secret. Thus Arab media started a campaign to equate critics of Islam, sharia and jihad with terrorists.

In 2007 a horrific article was written against Wafa Sultan and myself in the cover of a prominent Egyptian magazine Rose El Yousef, in which we were both condemned as “apostates” who are just as bad as Muslim terrorists, Taliban leaders and the blind Sheikh, Omar Abdel-Rahman, who caused the 1993 world trade center bombing. Note that the Egyptian magazine did not place a photo of Usama Bin Laden, because he was popular among many Muslims.

The article which was entitled “American Style Islam” had Sultan and myself together with three well known Islamists and terrorists wrapped in an American flag that insinuated that America was responsible for creating both terrorists and apostates. The message to the average Arab reader was that Islam had nothing to do with all this worldwide fear of Islam and that America is allowing apostates to speak out against the peaceful Islam. The article warned Muslims against listening or reading such claims coming from America regarding Islam and that all this evil by terrorists is a creation of America.

Articles like that in Arab media were also aimed at scaring and silencing both Sultan and myself. Death threats became a daily part of our life that we had to put up with as price for speaking out to warn America. The progressive Left in America even believed Arab media and joined them in branding us “Islamophobes.”

I have always respected what Zuhdi Jasser was trying to do and avoided contradicting him in public, even though I do not believe that Islam is reformable. I have kept my opinion to myself regarding the false hope Muslim reformers are giving to the Americans regarding Islam. But when Jasser attacked leaders of the anti-jihad movement in America I decided to speak out.

Jasser knows that Arab media calls him ‘apostate’ and ‘Islamophobe’ for his efforts to reform Islam and for his attacks on jihad and sharia. Islam by its nature is considered perfect and unchangeable and any attempt to reform it is considered apostasy.

The majority of Muslims and Arab media have shunned Zuhdi Jasser as an apostate and an Islamophobe. Some of Jasser’s Muslim supporters whom I know personally are in fact apostates, but are trying to help in any way to reform Islam.

Below is an article in Arab media in which critics of Islam, reformers and apostates are all called traitor ‘Islamophobles’ and guess who was included in this attack? Yes Zuhdi Jasser, Walid Shoebat, Walid Fares and myself.

I am not sure what is Jasser’s motivation in attacking leaders of the counter-jihad movement in America, but my guess is that Jasser wishes to get on the good side of Islamic leaders and media in the hope they will start accepting him as Muslim.

Jasser’s reformation movement and criticism of Islam, sharia and jihad have mostly brought Jasser rejection and isolation from the Islamic community. Jasser’s movement, however, have succeeded in convincing US media that there is good and reformable Islam. The West is desperately trying to find that ‘good’ Islam and Jasser is an eloquent representative of that  who meets that need in the West.

But suddenly Jasser discovered that all he has was approval from Western media, but total rejection by the Islamic community, and he had to start appealing to Islam. The seeming solution was to throw a bone to the Muslim community by attacking leaders of the counter-jihad movement. But I refuse to stand by watching the reputation of honorable Americans being smeared in order for the Muslim community to approve of Jasser. I also do not think that this will work, because Jasser has gone too far in his criticism of sharia and jihad and he will not be able to take that back.

The reform Islam movement is nothing new and Muslims have attempted to reform Islam for fourteen hundred years and always failed. Leaders of such movements were often beheaded for apostasy. Jihad and sharia are foundational principles of Islam and no mincing of words will change that. That in addition to lying, deception and terror as approved Islamic tools to stay in control, could never help any reform movement to build on. How can anyone build on a foundation of lies and violence? But the so-called reformers tell us they can and that keeps American media happy and that is all that counts.

Nonie Darwish Author “Wholly Different; why I chose Biblical Values over Islamic Values”


 Dr. Stephen M. Kirby’s response in Militant Islam Monitor March 18, 2017:

Zuhdi Jasser Blames “Alt-Jihadists” For The Failure Of Aspiring Muslim Reformers

“Fantasy Islam: A game in which an audience of non-Muslims wish with all their hearts that Islam was a “Religion of Peace,” and a Muslim strives to fulfill that wish by presenting a personal version of Islam that has little foundation in Islamic Doctrine.”

I read Dr. Zuhdi Jasser’s recent article titled “There’s An Emerging ‘Alt-Jihad’ Movement in the U.S. – But It’s Not Muslims Who Are Pushing It.” The fact that he repeatedly mentioned me as one of the “Alt-Jihadists” was no surprise, as he has done this previously. What I found disappointing was his reliance on vague, sweeping statements such as:

“The insidious, myopic, and extreme nature” of the Alt-Jihad.

“The alt-jihad is simple, simplistic, self-serving and dangerous.”

“Alt-jihadists live in a world where truth and intellectual credibility are optional.”

“…the alt-jihad are useful idiots for Islamist jihadists…”

These are not useful phrases if one is serious about discussing the viability of his quest for “Muslim reform.”

However, they are useful phrases for deflecting folks away from the real reasons aspiring “Muslim reformers” like Jasser are failing. As I wrote in an article sometime back, there arereasons why “Muslim reformers” are failing that have nothing to do with the “Alt-Jihad”:

1.”Reformers” create their own new versions of Islam, relying on their own personal opinions and interpretations,and arbitrarily dismissing aspects of Islamic history and centuries of established Muslim scholarship. An example of this is when Jasser recently told Glenn Beck that in order to “reform” Islam, they needed to “come up with” modern myths about Muhammad in order to create “an American type of Islam”; here is what Jasser said:

“We have to come up — call it mythology. Call it what you want. We have to come up with narratives of the Prophet Muhammad that are 21st century narratives and call that reform and renew the branding of Islam to an American type of Islam that’s compatible with our Constitution.”

Jasser is saying that the history of Muhammad, reported over the centuries by authoritative Muslim scholars, is disturbing to 21st Century readers and therefore needs to be recreated.

2.”Reformers” claim to follow the Koran, but actually go against verses of the Koran by arbitrarily dismissing one of the two columns upon which Islam rests: the Sunnah of their Prophet Muhammad (the examples, ways, and teachings of Muhammad that have become rules to be followed by Muslims). Verses in the Koran (e.g. 4:80, 4:115, 33:21 and 59:7) command Muslims to obey and follow the example of Muhammad; Muhammad’s commands and examples are found in the Sunnah. Jasser has not talked about dismissing the entire Sunnah, but with his quest to come up with a new “mythology” about Muhammad he will have to dismiss the parts which make folks uncomfortable in the 21st Century; this means most of the Sunnah will have to go under Jasser’s plan. 3.”Reformers” go against the commands of Allah in the Koran and the teachings of Muhammad by picking and choosing among, and actually dismissing verses in the Koran. For example, in his book “A Battle for the Soul of Islam” (2013 Paperback Edition, p. 252) Jasser made the following statement:

“Nowhere in the Qur’an does God tell Muslims that they must repeat and thus emulate the Prophet Muhammad’s role and actions as a military or governmental leader.”

What Jasser ignored was Chapter 33, Verse 21 of the Koran:

“Indeed in the Messenger of Allah (Muhammad) you have a good example to follow for him who hopes for (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much.”

There are no limitations here on the circumstances in which Muhammad is to be considered a good example. In fact, as authoritative Koran commentaries (tafsirs) have pointed out for centuries, this verse was actually “revealed” as a result of Muhammad’s military leadership and the example he set for his Muslim warriors during the Battle of the Trench in 627 (Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vol. 7, p. 658; Tafsir Al-Jalalayn, p. 900; Tafsir Ibn ‘Abbas, p. 546; and Tafsir Ahsanul-Bayan, Vol. 4, p. 374).

4.”Reformers” personally decide which hadiths (reports about the teachings of Muhammad) are authentic, again arbitrarily dismissing centuries of established Muslim scholarship. For example, in a 2010 radio interview Jasser said he didn’t believe that Muhammad had really spoken what was in the hadith about killing a Jew hiding behind every stone (Time: 17:58). Here is that hadith:

Narrated Abu Hurairah: Allah’s Messenger said, “The Hour will not be established until you fight against the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say, ‘O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.'”

Sahih Al-Bukhari, Vol. 4, Book 56, No. 2926, p. 113

The collection of hadiths by Bukhari has been considered by Muslim scholars to be the most authoritative collect ofhadiths since the 9th Century. Jasser simply had no doctrinal basis for dismissing Bukhari; it was just his personal opinion.

5.As a result, according to Jasser’s prophet Muhammad the “reformer’s” beliefs are heretical. Here is what Muhammad had to say about this:

Muhammad bin Jarir reported that Ibn ‘Abbas said that the Prophet said, ‘Whoever explains the Qur’an with his opinion or with what he has no knowledge of, then let him assume his seat in the Fire.’

Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vol. 1, pp. 32-33

It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas that the Messenger of Allah said: “Whoever denies a Verse of the Qur’an, it is permissible to strike his neck (i.e. execute him)…”

Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol. 3, No. 2539, p. 455

Muhammad said: The most truthful speech is Allah’s Speech, and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad. The worst matters are the newly invented (in religion), every newly invented matter is an innovation, and every innovation is a heresy, and every heresy is in the Fire.

Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vol. 2, p. 588

6.Because these “reformers” are heretics, they have little, if any support for their reforms from the greater Muslim community in the United States. 7.Consequently, the “reformers” have to appeal to non-Muslims to help them reform Islam. This would be as if Martin Luther had relied on Muslims for his main support during the Reformation. 8.So what are the chances of success for a Muslim heretic and his non-Muslim followers to change Islam from that which was taught by Muhammad to that which is advocated by the heretic? Zero.

I am not against the theory of “reforming” Islam. At our debate in Omaha some time back, I even told Jasser that I liked his version of Islam better than the version of Islam taught by his prophet Muhammad. But the reality is that the vast majority of the world’s Muslims follow the Islam of Muhammad, not the Islam of Zuhdi Jasser. And I also pointed out that he had noIslamic Doctrinal authority for how he wanted to change Islam and that, in fact, the changes he wanted to make actually violated Islamic Doctrine; Jasser disagreed because he maintained that each Muslim had the right to determine their own Islam. Such is Fantasy Islam, and this is why Zuhdi Jasser and his ilk are failing, all by themselves.

Dr. Stephen M. Kirby is the author of four books about Islam. His latest book is Islam’s Militant Prophet: Muhammad and Forced Conversions to Islam.


8 thoughts on “Can Islam ever be reformed?

  1. Very good articles. Thank you for posting these.

    “Can Islam be reformed?” is an extremely important question. Personally, I don’t see how it can be; Ms. Darwish’s and Dr. Kirby’s articles lay out cogent and well-grounded reasons why not. I do not know Islam as they know Islam, but I know enough to follow their arguments and understand/agree with their conclusions.

    IMO, the desire to believe in a “good Islam”, a “fantasy Islam” (as Dr. Kirby describes) may well be one of the biggest reasons that Europe has allowed–and continues to allow–hundreds of thousands of Muslims to freely enter their countries, with little or no proper vetting for possible militant backgrounds. With predictable results: ongoing violence in every country.

    • Mary, I’m watching that debate video again with all the knowledge I have gained since I first saw it. I have now come to the conclusion it is folly for non-Muslims to prop up the reform movement.

  2. I contend in a recent article that there is no viable alternative to the Muslim reform movement in America and that we should at least explore ways to give it a fighting chance in America. My article was linked by the site administrator here and there were several comments.

    Many experts and various commenters here and elsewhere have contended that no Islamic reformation is possible. However, none have offered any viable alternative for America.

    I agree that no significant reformation of Islam as practiced throughout much of the world may be possible, ever or at least for a very long time. In some places, adherence to one version or another of Islam is mandatory and divergence from it is punishable severely. Even without that problem, Islamic countries and Muslims in general tend to look upon free thought and speech — even questioning the views of their imams and other teachers — as a great sin not to be tolerated. That was among the reasons why Ayaan Hirsi Ali left Islam and became an Atheist after exposure to freedom of thought and speech in Holland.

    America is different from the rest of the world in many ways and, of particular relevance, America has freedom of religion per the First Amendment to the Constitution. We have no state religion, and no beliefs are mandatory. America may, therefore, provide relatively fertile ground for the Muslim Reform Movement in comparison to the Islamic nations.

    In much of Europe, Islamic immigration and Islamisation are proceeding apace and the majority populations are suffering quite substantially from the violence and financial burdens both impose. In America, even modest efforts by the present administration to limit immigration from Muslim majority countries where violent jihad is endemic have been thwarted at least temporarily. Even if we could exclude all future Muslim immigration, we would still have those already present, including first, second and later generation Muslims as well as converts to Islam. The previous administration boosted CAIR and other Islamist organizations financially and otherwise. Our Department of Education has been promoting Islam (and no other religion) for years. It should promote no religion.

    Among my suggestions for giving the reform movement in America a fighting chance are withdrawing all support from, and consultation with, CAIR and other Islamist organizations; designating the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates as terrorist organizations; consulting with activists in the American Muslim reform movement on countering both violent Islamic extremism and cultural jihad, and providing them as much support as we have given CAIR, >et al. Perhaps neither these suggestions nor any others will work. Even so, what have we got to lose by trying? We have much to lose by not trying.

    • Dan if we are considering “viable” alternatives, then that viability needs to be carefully considered. I don’t think Islamic reform is viable no matter how much support it gets. Do you realize that to actually change or throw out the majority of the Quran and Sunnah would necessitate in effect a grand book burning? The Muslim world would never agree to such a thing! And there is no amount of “reinterpreting” that can change the basic message of Islamic Supremacy, anti-Semitism, misogyny, etc. Unless Jasser claims he is receiving new divine revelations from Allah and Muslims believe him it is just a no go.

      You ask what we have to lose by supporting reformers. We lose the absolute honesty and clarity on what Islamic doctrine really says. This is the space in which stealth jihadists operate. They are betting on lack of knowledge and political correctness to give them cover for their influence oprations. It is information warfare.

      The only viable alternative I can see is to focus on the enemy threat doctrine contained in Islamic texts that Muslims are acting on NOW. Our counterterrorism policies must reflect the realities on the ground NOW. Hopefully, after repeated military victories over jihadists and targeted legislation to combat civilization jihad, we will see the numbers of Muslims leaving Islam increase.

      • “The Muslim world would never agree to such a thing!” I agree and said substantially that in my initial comment as well as in my original article. America, however, is not yet part of the “Muslim world” and should not become a part of it. Simply recognizing that Islamist doctrine is based on the Quran and Sunnah won’t diminish the chances of that happening. Nor will contending that Islamists are the only true Muslims.

        I still have seen no suggestions for a viable alternative to the American Muslim reform movement.

        If reform-minded American Muslims are content to reject aspects of Islam related to violent jihad and cultural jihad (including Sharia law), and some appear to be, that’s good. It took Christians a very long time to implement the Christian reformation and that required reinterpretation of aspects of Christian doctrine. Eventually, Christians rejected putting Christians holding different views on the Trinity to death and Roman Catholics are now among the few adhering to the doctrine of Transubstantiation of communion wine into the actual blood of Jesus and the wafer into his actual flesh. For Muslims to follow suit is likely to take at least as long.

      • I agree, any reform will take generations and must be done by Muslims themselves. I had considered the advisability of our government supporting the reform movement with grant money and switching from MB to them as advisers in CT efforts but I’m not so sure anymore.

        Thank you for your comments here Dan. I value your opinion and will continue to post opposing views on this subject.

  3. Jasser gives a great performance TRYING to moderate Islam. For instance, he’s articulate in his cause. But let’s face it, even moderated, there is nothing compelling about Muhammad’s lifestyle that is laudable. Even if he started out ‘nice’, he sure got more than a little testy about being rejected. So, he turned to using force.

    I don’t care if Muhammad was given a message straight from an angle (which he claimed). Even Satan masquerades as an angle of light. Judging from the fruits of Muhammad’s message, among which is major bloodthurst. Jasser’s message ought to be: Muhammad was duped. (Don’t believe me? Look at the man’s character!)

    I have read and seen enough of the Islamic religion to know from whence it came and where it’s headed. Surely the leaders of our nation are as educated on the topic. It’s time for the western world to stop minimizing the Muslim Brotherhood and any other group that thinks we’re nuts for rejecting Islam or even considering it a viable religion. Islam poses a great danger to the world, and we’re fools pretending not to notice it or think they’ll change.

    As a Christian, I find it insulting whenever I hear: “we all worship the same god.” No we don’t! The ‘fruit’ of Islam is a hate. They kill anybody who denies their bloodthirsty god, they deny women their human dignity, abuse children as humans with a mind and will of their own. Only speaking truth to the lies of Islam will make a difference. The Lie of Islam must fall.

  4. We can all agree that Islam cannot be reformed, and I hope we can agree that we can only allow Islam and Muslims into our countries at our great detriment…so what is left? Muslims have been waging a never ending jihad against the kuffar for over 1400-years and nothing we do or say (with the exception of converting to Islam) will cause them to reconsider their modus operandi.

    danmillerinPanama says that “none have offered any viable alternative for America.” Well, from my vantage point, the only “viable alternative” is to fight back and get them the hell out of America!! Why do we have to sit here and allow them to wage jihad against us?? The answer is…we don’t. Americans are so obsessed with trying to find the politically correct, multiculturally sensitive, feel-good “viable alternative” that we cannot see the 800 pound Muslim gorilla waging jihad against us every day of the week! Islam and Muslims are not here in America to assimilate; rather, Muslims are here to dominate!! What is it about that you do not understand?????

    Given the way Islam feels about us, why in the hell should we try to appease them, apologize to them, coexist with them, do anything for them?? I mean come on now….time for a reality check…really!!! Islam and Muslims are the enemy of the kuffar and they need to be treated as such…America and her Western allies need to wage unconditional and total war right back at them at all levels and on all fronts until Islam has been totally subdued. This, by friends, is the only “viable alternative,” anything short of this is cultural suicide.

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