Islamic reformation?

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.


2 thoughts on “Islamic reformation?

  1. …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…

    Christianity became civilized, westernized and modernized within a half century of the death of Jesus. Civilized: Jesus instituted a new system of belief that allowed the poor and outcast to be recognized for salvation. He even went as far as attracting Palestinian and Syrian Jews who were dissatisfied with their hardened traditions. It wasn’t a belief system that set parameters for admission: it was more civilized than that and allowed admission to all.

    Westernized: Fundamental westernization means following and developing Aristotelian thought which includes argumentative theory. Jesus, being moved by money changers, formed an argument against their way of conducting business. His argument caused a rift within a society that was already suffering from internal strife, and it eventually caused him his life. Followers of Jesus would continue to expand their arguments using Aristotelian logic.

    Modernized: Modernization is a method of adapting to the latest advancements. Paul, a Hellenized Jew and considered the most important figure in Christian history, used missionary work to promote the ideas of the new Jewish sect. Taking guidance from the first Jerusalem Christian Council, Paul took the ideas of Jesus and adopted them into the language and ideas of Greek philosophy. That was a pretty bold and modern approach using Greek philosophical ideas.

    Thus, Christianity provided an alternative path to salvation to “gentiles” quite early around 50 AD, and it established a new civilized, westernized, and modernized form of human rights for all, including Jews.


    • Although your comment is undoubtedly sincere, you are not facing the facts. Christian sects were declared heretical at the Council of Nicaea in 325 ce and some were perecxuted, including the Jerusalem branch or sect of Christianity that was exclusively Jewish. There were many wars between Christian sscts, including those between Catholicism and Protestantism that lasted hundreds of years. Jews were persecuted and Conversos were tortured and murdered by the Inquisition for hundreds of years and burnt at the stake. Then the Fascists movements of Europe in modern times had a strong Christian element that underpinned their anti-Semitism. These are the facts, showing an absence of those elements that were supposed to be Christian but in practise were not.


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