Can Islam be Reformed?
21 Jan, 2007
We ,at ‘islam-watchorg’, received the following comment from a
Hindu reader from India:
Can Islam be reformed?
I often wonder whether Islam can ever be reformed the same way as Christianity came out of dark ages.
I firmly believe that the chance of this happening is Nil. Because, the main necessity for any society to achieve reformation is the ability of the society for introspection. Now this is possible if the concerned society believes in Golden Rule and has conscience. These two are completely absent in case of Islam. Koran tells Muslims that they are best people raised for mankind and their religion is perfect. With this inflated ego how is introspection possible and hence no reformation. In 1400 years of existence Islam never produce men of stature of Lincoln or Gandhi. Only Bin Laden and Zarqawi can be found. Only total annihilation of this Evil ideology is the solution.
Here is our response:
Thank you for the very thoughtful comments.
I have to agree with you 100%. Islam can probably not be reformed. As you say, ‘their religion is perfect‘ – this most fundamental belief of the Muslims makes the idea of reformation totally irrelevant to Islam. Islam is not only a personal spiritual guidance; it is also the complete and perfect code of life. A complete code of life covers the solution for every aspect of life: social, spiritual, moral, political and everything else a person faces in his/her entire life on earth. So Islam has specified prescription for everything one does and needs, be it shitting, farting, sneezing, bathing, doing sex and washing after sex and what not. This one-stop perfect solution and guidance for everything in life also has descended directly from the heaven. Now, Islam is not only a simple solution for one’s all problems in this world, following the prescription of Islam in toto also land Muslims in eternal bliss of the next life. More importantly, slightest of doubt about any precept of Islam lands the wrath of Allah on the person. The problem doesn’t stop here; simply believing in the perfect-ness of Islam is not enough. Muslims must act upon every edict of Allah as listed in the Quran. If they don’t they are doomed. Allah says [Quoted from Why Muslims have greater rights in Australia? - by Alamgir Hussain]:
.. (those who) desire to make a distinction between Allah and His messengers and say: We believe in some and disbelieve in others, and desire to take a course between (this and) that. These it is that are truly unbelievers, and We have prepared for the unbelievers a disgraceful chastisement. [Quran 4:150-51]
A persistent Allah repeats the warning:
… Believe ye in part of the Scripture and disbelieve ye in part thereof? And what is the reward of those who do so save ignominy in the life of the world, and will be consigned to the most grievous doom in the next. [Quran 2:85]
It’s a simple logic that ‘there cannot be anything to reform in
something which is perfect’. The idea of reforming Islam is a term
in contradiction. Islam should be the standard or ideal and
everything else on earth must reform according to the Islamic
The thing is: Muslims are a very logical and intelligent people, at least so long it concerns their religion. A perfect thing does not require change or reformation. For this very reason, we do not see the birth of a Rammohan Roy or Ishwar Chandra Bidyasagar as in Hinduism or a Martin Luther as in Christianity.
So Mr Raj, you have been correct in your hunch about the impossibility of reformation of Islam – at least from the logical point of view. That is exactly why many ex-Muslims like me, who have been active in analyzing Islam from the critical perspectives, are not focusing on reformation of Islam in particular. We are saying what Islam in reality is and it is not worth a religion or ideology to be followed by decent human beings.
We feel that if Muslims read our essays for some time, they will either become angry and more attached to Islam or leave it altogether. There is probably no middle path, which falls in the ‘reformation track’. When an ideology is claimed to be perfect, there cannot be a middle path. It can only be ‘true or false’. We are logically analyzing the fundamental precepts of Islam. I personally feel that if Muslims find some credibility in our analysis of Islam, they will leave it altogether. If not, they will become stuck to it even more as a symbol of defense of what is a ‘perfect guidance to life’ for them. There could be some deceptive Muslims, who might seek to find a middle path. That will, however, remain a track of deception, disillusion and dishonesty. I believe there a few already in the field, but I personally doubt they will be able to solve the problem they want to, once and for all.
However, what is needed is to smash the myth about Islam that 'it is a religion of peace'. This assertion frequently comes even from the mouth of ignorant Imams of Islam, like Tony Blair and President Bush, who probably have never read the Koran, forget about the Sunnah/Hadiths. Imam Blair told recently “…Islam is the true and peace loving religion, some forces are defaming it….” [DailyIndia.com, 18 Jan, 2007]. Most Muslims are ignorant of their religious precepts, while others never have analyzed those precepts against the modern rationalistic and humanistic ideals and values. They just take everything at face-value, without ever critically analyzing them. If we be successful in clearing this thick smokescreen around Islam (as peace) amongst the general populace, Islam (the virulent traits in the least) will wither away, either through reformation (whatever that may mean) or complete abolition.
What the razor-sharp ex-Muslim critics of Islam have been doing, through websites like islam-watch.org and faithfreedom.org, is simply creating pressure – a pressure which Muslims have little or no answers. There is little scope for them to logically shut these critics up. Any attempt to shut them up through pens is to take recourse of deception, lies or the lame excuse of the sensitivity of their belief, which are all too evident in the responses some Islamists (the moderate variety) write to our criticisms and articles. Those efforts have been proved toothless on their part. Ali Sina of faithfreedom.org left a number of scholars of Islam looking for rat’s holes for cover in debates with them. One must go through the on-going debate between Ali Sina and the Pakistani scholars of Islam to have a grasp of how toothless and often silly the Islamist side of the debate is. Yet, others have not dared taking up his challenge for the obvious reason.
The alternative answer Muslims have is to shut themselves off completely from our criticisms, change those precepts of Islam we take on or leave Islam altogether. Our experience over the last few years suggests that Muslims are either shutting themselves off from our criticisms or are leaving it altogether. The middle path which is the reformation or moderation track (changing those illogical and unacceptable precepts) appears to be absent. We have not read a single testimony or letter from Muslims, in which they wrote that they have either reformed or become moderate. We have received letters of either abuse/threats or testimony of leaving Islam. Even fanatic Muslims, who contemplated of becoming suicide-bombers, after the United State’s Iraq invasion have written testimony of how they changed after reading faithfreedom.org and have expressed resentment of being deceived by Islam for so long.
About the effectiveness of this campaign, we are slowly but surely
making some progress. For a Muslim, leaving Islam after reading a
few essays of whatsoever type is just unthinkable. Unthinkable is
becoming reality through the writings of ex-Muslims. However, we are
heavily handicapped by the lack of exposure of the missiles we are
shooting at the theological core of Islam. We wish we could get into
the mainstream media. In the Islamic and the third world countries,
that’s impossible but quite possible in the West. But for the West,
a little bit of comfort they gain through trades with the Islamic
world appears more important than the very dangerous future their
society faces. Of course, there is that ignorance or naivety that
‘Islam is peace’ or that Muslims will eventually enlighten
themselves, given that accommodated/appeased well enough.
Yet again, Western world is where lie hopes. Countries like India, China and Russia – despite suffering from Islam (which can only get worse) is no position or mood to confront Islam. So far, they are only appeasing or even assisting the resurgence of Islam. This week, Russia fortified Iran with all its missile defense capability against any possible attack from Israel or USA. At least, we can hide in the West, get protection when needed (Rushdie, Taslima) and do our bit through internet, which is relatively obscure but receiving an increasing momentum.
We do believe that defanging of Islam can be achieved only through the no-nonsense and bullet-proof criticisms of Islam we have been doing. Of course, there are others working on different strategies and they must be thinking that only their strategy would work. For us, it only matters that Islam dies off (at least its virulence) once and for all by whichever strategy it may.