Friday, 4 December 2015

The Difficulty of Reforming Islam

Amongst those who have come to the realisation that Islam is not in fact a religion of peace at all, there are a strand of optimists who think it can somehow be reformed in the way Christianity was reformed in the middle ages. American reformist Muslim Zuhdi Jasser appears to be of this belief.

Reform is clearly necessary. 1.5 billion Muslims are not just going to disappear, and after 1,400 years it's deeply ingrained in the culture of huge chunks of the human race. It is not, like fascism or communism just going to evaporate or collapse under it's own weight.

It's almost impossible to overstate the difficulty of reforming Islam though. Reforming Christianity already took several centuries and much bloodshed. It's important though to understand how Islam is inherently anti-reform. One of the fundamental premises of Islam as a religion is that Mohammed was the final prophet and that the 'People of the Book' - the term the Quran uses for Jews and Christians - had over the years perverted and forgotten important parts of the message given to them by previous prophets,

In a sort of divine 'for the last bloody time' God decided to dictate his commands word for word, via the angel Gabriel to the prophet Mohammed and this became the Quran. Not only is it unchangeable, perfect and complete according to every extant Islamic tradition, but it was actually brought about by our bad habit of reforming previous revelations. How then, can you significantly alter the meaning without undermining the very purpose of the book?

The way in which a phrases in the bible such as "let he who is without sin cast the first stone" can readily be taken as an example in a certain historical context and applied to warn followers against hypocrisy or over zealous moralising. The direct, divine command in the Quran to "slay the non-believers where you find them" has no historical context. It is just that, the word of God as revealed to Mohammed.

To reform this will require either a fundamental shift more profound than anything experienced by Christianity, or a gradual withering to replace the ideological components with a vague cultural Islam which largely ignores the actual teachings of Mohammed.

Either of these could take centuries and have huge overspill for the rest of the world. The important thing at this stage is to understand this and have our own strategy for protecting our culture and security at home and our interests and allies abroad.