Aayan Hirsi Ali, a Muslim originally from Somalia, has published a book entitled “Infidel: why Islam needs a reformation,” and also several widely noted articles in which she calls for a reformation within Islam to bring it into line with civilized Western behavior. I agree, we would all like to see Islam westernized, modernized and defanged, so that things like beheadings, mistreatment of women, mass rape, female genital mutilation, murder and repression of minorities and general societal violence are expunged from their society. But, let’s see, how long did it take for Christianity to become “civilized, westernized and modernized” so that they accepted human rights for all (even Jews) and stopped murdering everyone who didn’t agree with them. The answer is a hell of a long time.
Of course, there are several sects of Christianity as there are of Islam, and they fought each other for hundreds of years, just as the Islamic sects, mainly Sunni and Shia are still doing now all over the Middle East from Libya, Syria, Iraq to Yemen. But, the Reformation in Europe did not stop the wars, the Catholics and Protestants fought and killed each other with abandon until the era of nationalism took over and the adherence to country took precedence to adherence to religion. But, this did not stop the wars, for example German nationalists fought for control of continental Europe, partly because they failed to obtain an Empire with colonies around the world as the British and French did.
But, what was the crucial element that brought about a cessation of these wars for religion and nationality in Europe, it was secularism. Indeed the power centers in Europe basically fought themselves to a standstill by killing millions in WWI and WWII, but the concept that everyone has the right to life, that minorities, even of the enemy, must be protected, and that democracy is the best policy, was what brought about the comparatively rare period of peaceful coexistence in Europe since WWII.
So the question arises, can the Muslim world become secularized, can they give up the ridiculous idea that their version of religion is better than anyone else’s, can they learn to tolerate minorities (yes, including Jews) and can they concentrate on developing their separate countries. If they could, then maybe there could be that reformation that might transform their culture into one that is relatively civilized, westernized and modernized. I do believe that this is possible, for example look at the Gulf countries, such as Qatar. Nevertheless Qatar is meddling in the affairs of its Arab neighbors and has been supporting terrorist groups. Currently the lines are being drawn in the proxy wars between the Sunni States (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan) and the Shia States (Iran, Syria, Iraq, Yemen) and the terrorist armies of the Sunni (IS , al Qaeda, Hamas) and the Shia (Hizbollah). Perhaps the best policy is to let them fight it out and when the dust settles see what is in our own interests. If we wait for an Islamic reformation we might wait forever.