Islam Under Scrutiny by Ex-Muslims

Do we want an Islamic Reformation?

Here's an article by Dutch writer Margriet de Moor looking at Islam in Europe. Perhaps the most grotesque quote from this essay is that she sees the Netherlands as a large-scale laboratory, and says so with obvious approval. A great example of why Multiculturalism is a massive experiment in social engineering, every bit as radical and dangerous as Communism. Ms. De Moor lives in some kind of alternate reality where "Europe's affluence and free speech" will create an Islamic Reformation. But Muslim immigration constitutes a massive drain on the former, and is slowly, but surely destroying the latter.

Dutch MP Geert Wilders, who lives with constant death threat from Muslims, was recently told by the National Coordinator for Anti-terrorism that he would do better to express his political message in a milder manner. Is that a healthy sign of free speech? Wilders has said provocative things such as that the country faces being swamped by a "tidal wave of Islamization," that if Muslims want to stay in the Netherlands, they should tear out half the Koran and that "If Muhammad lived here today, I would propose he be tarred and feathered as an extremist and driven out of the country."

Wilders claims that a climate of "hate and aggression" has been created in which someone might think that "illegal means are justified to stop me and my people." Left-wing columnists dismiss him as "someone outside of the law, as the leader of a fascist party, that is anti-democratic and similar in some respects to the Nazi's," he said. One should remember that another Dutch politician, Pim Fortuyn, was murdered following similar treatment by the media. Poultry veterinarian J. Plantema was ordered to pay damages of a massive 200,000 euros to animal rights group WakkerDier, after he described them as "a bunch of terrorists" who do not shrink from murder, arson, vandalism and intimidation. Wakker Dier is headed by Sjoerd van de Wouw. At another action group, VMO, he was the right-hand man of Volkert van der Graaf, who assassinated politician Pim Fortuyn in 2002. Currently, Van de Wouw is assistant to the Party for Animals (PvdD), which has two seats in the Lower House. PvdD leader Marianne Thieme has forbidden the laying of poison to deal with a mouse infestation in its parliamentary offices, and stated that they "wish to combat it using traps that keep the mice alive."

A school in Amsterdam has halted lessons on rural life because the Islamic children refused to talk about pigs. Various pupils, 9 or 10 years old, began to demolish the classroom when the pig came up for discussion. A survey recently revealed that some 40 percent of the Dutch consider that they cannot always say what they want, especially when it comes to issues related to the Multicultural society. The Netherlands, which for centuries was a haven for those seeking more freedom of thought, is becoming an increasingly totalitarian society, as a direct result of Muslim immigration. This is the reason why Hans Janssen, Professor of Modern Islamic Ideology at Utrecht University, stated that a peaceful society that wishes to remain existent "will have to find a way to defend itself through non-peaceful means from people who are not peaceful." According to Jansen, Muslim fundamentalists frequently make threats, but the Dutch media remain silent about them.

Margriet de Moor states that "a scholar living in our part of the world is less likely to be subjected to the fate undergone by the Sudanese politician, theologian and writer Mahmud Taha. Taha, who for sound, scholarly reasons proposed recognising only the Koran texts from Mohammed's time in Mecca – and these are peaceful texts without the obligatory Jihad –, was executed in Khartoum prison in 1985 after being accused of having lost his faith."

But she thus points the finger at the problem: The only way you could, even theoretically, create a peaceful, tolerant Islam would be to permanently ignore all teachings, contained in the Koran, the hadith and the sira, originating from the violent Medina period. I doubt whether this is practically possible, and even if it was, it would mean that Muslims quite literally have to get rid of half of the Koran, which again means that Mr. Wilder is correct. Dr. Daniel Pipes is among those who have praised Mahmoud Muhammad Taha as a key to moderate Islam, but Taha presented unconvincing arguments for his case and was anyway killed because his ideas were considered heretical.

As I've demonstrated in my writings, the question of whether Islam is compatible with democracy largely hinges upon your definition of "democracy." If this simply means voting, with no freedom of speech or safeguards for individual rights or minorities then yes, it can, as a vehicle for imposing sharia on society. But such a "pure" democracy isn't necessarily a good system even without Islam, as critics from Plato to Thomas Jefferson have convincingly argued. Likewise, the question of whether or not Islam can be reformed largely hinges upon your definition of "Reformation." I usually say that Islam cannot be reformed, and by "reformed" I thus implicitly understand this as meaning something along the lines of "peaceful, non-sharia based with respect for individual choice and freedom of speech." In other words: "Reform" is vaguely taken to mean less Islam.

However, Robert Spencer and others have argued that there are similarities between Martin Luther and the Christian or Protestant Reformation in 16th century Europe and the reform movement started by Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab in the Arabian peninsula in the 18th century. Wahhab's alliance with regional ruler Muhammad bin Saud and his family later led to the creation of Saudi Arabia. There was also another modern "reform" movement within the Islamic world, the so-called Salafism of 19th century thinkers such as Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and Muhammad Abduh. Whereas the former was an internal reform movement triggered by calls for removing "corruption" from society, the latter was clearly a response to external, Western pressures.

Although Abduh's ideas were continued in a secular direction by individuals such as Egyptian writer Taha Hussein, clearly the most successful strands were those developed into what was later termed "Islamic fundamentalism" in the 20th century. Muhammad Abduh's pupil Rashid Rida inspired Hassan al-Banna when he formed the Muslim Brotherhood. Rida urged Muslims not to imitate infidels, but return to the Golden Age of early Islam, as did Abduh. Rida also recommended reestablishing the Caliphate, and applauded when the Wahhabists conquered Mecca and Medina and established modern Saudi Arabia. The two reform movements thus partly merged in the 20th century, into organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

The fact that two initially separate calls for reform, started under different circumstances and for different reasons, produced somewhat similar results is worth contemplating. Protestant reformers such as Martin Luther and John Calvin also called for returning to the Golden Age of early Christianity. Although the Reformation was a turbulent period while it lasted, it did pave the way for more tolerance and religious freedom in Christian Europe in the long run. This was, in my view, at least partly because Christians could return to the example, as contained in the Gospels, of an early age where the founder of their religion and his disciples led a largely peaceful movement separate from the state. Muslims, on the other hand, can find a similar example only in the Mecca period. As long as the writings from the violent Medina period are still in force, a return to the "early, Golden Age" of Islam will mean a return to intolerance and Jihad violence.

Some Western observers are searching for a "Muslim Martin Luther" who is expected to end the resurgent Islamic Jihad. But one could argue that we already have a Muslim Martin Luther: He's called Osama bin Laden, deeply inspired by the teachings of Muslim Brotherhood thinker Sayyid Qutb. If "reform" is taken to mean a return to the historical period of the religious founder, Muhammad, and his followers, it will lead to an inevitable upsurge of Jihadist violence, since that was what Muhammad and his followers were all about. The question of whether Islam is reformable is an important one. But perhaps an even more crucial one is whether an Islamic Reformation would be desirable from a non-Muslim point of view, and the likely answer to that is "no."

Alarm bells in Muslim hearts, by Margriet de Moor

I currently live in one of the most interesting countries in Europe. I am an inhabitant of a remarkable country, one that first of all is tiny and over-populated, that secondly has four big cities – Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Utrecht and The Hague – half of whose populations already consist of people of foreign origins, most of them Muslims, and that thirdly has witnessed two political murders, one of which was committed directly in the name of Allah. I am thus an inhabitant of a country that has all the makings of considerable social, political and religious trouble and yet has managed to stay calm.

If Islam is ever to experience a Reform at all, it will not happen in the witches' cauldron where religion comes from, but in the affluent West. And then it could very well happen that the Martin Luther of this movement will be the voice of a woman. How I miss Ayaan Hirsi Ali! A female Islamic Luther, and a black one to boot, wouldn't it have been wonderful? Or rather, since she isn't a theologian, perhaps a black Voltaire?

There are two reasons why I think that a reform of Islam will take place in the West. The first is the flourishing of Islamic studies. Research into the sources, into the story of Muhammad as a historic figure and the doctrine of Islam is currently taking place independently of Islamic orthodoxy.

But a scholar living in our part of the world is less likely to be subjected to the fate undergone by the Sudanese politician, theologian and writer Mahmud Taha. Taha, who for sound, scholarly reasons proposed recognising only the Koran texts from Mohammed's time in Mecca – and these are peaceful texts without the obligatory Jihad –, was executed in Khartoum prison in 1985 after being accused of having lost his faith.

The second reason for a possible Islamic reform here in the West is the social conditions that Fareed Zakaria has already talked about. Conditions in the Netherlands are the opposite of a dictatorship. This country is probably the freest, most liberal in the world, and one of the most prosperous to boot. I belong to the unrestrained generation, the generation that in 1960s protested passionately against almost all holders of power of that time.

When I'm feeling optimistic I sometimes see the Netherlands, a small laconic country not inclined towards the large-scale or the theatrical, as a kind of laboratory on the edge of Europe. Now and then the mixture of dangerous, easily inflammable substances results in a little explosion, but basically the process of ordinary chemical reactions just continues.

I am thinking of the novel 2084 still to be written. Historical developments often come about very abruptly. The question of whether the teaching of Mohammed can coexist peacefully with that of Jesus, the hero of the Gospels, will probably have been answered by then.

Fjordman is based in Norway. He contributes in Brussels Journal, Gates of Vienna and Faith Freedom International amongst other Websites. His personal blog (currently inactive):

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