More food for liberal delusionists on the prospects of reforming Islam

Melanie Phillips is encouraged by a report by anti-Islamist scholar Patrick Sookhdeo, which says:

Recent months have seen a number of unexpected and extremely encouraging statements coming out of the Muslim world. Respected, mainstream Muslim leaders in a variety of countries have voiced opinions which are at odds with traditional, conservative Islam. They have challenged aspects of shari’a and are calling for a liberal, modernist, enlightened Islam compatible with Western norms.

What these reformers and champions of reform never seem to learn is that attempts to reform Islam are almost as old as Islam itself—understandably so, given that Islam is such a tyrannical, hate-drenched, violent religion; and, further, that these attempts have always failed, for the simple reason that Islam is Islam. Islam is defined by the Koran, the Hadiths, and the exemplary life of the fighting prophet Muhammad. Any belief system not defined by the Koran, the Hadiths, and the life of Muhammad would not be Islam.

Naturally, as Islam has come into contact with the liberal modern world, the desire on the part of some Muslims to create a moderate version of Islam increases, and so we hear of calls by Muslims for a “liberal, modernist” Islam. But Islam cannot be made liberal and modernist, any more than a lion can be made into a lamb.

Thus, just as there are certain unchanging facts about Islam, there are certain unchanging facts about Islamic reform:

  1. Given the exceedingly unpleasant nature of Islam, there will always be calls to reform it, efforts to reform it, and hopeful announcements of efforts to reform it.

  2. These hopeful announcements will always encourage naive and reality-averse Westerners into believing that Islam is reformable, which will further encourage them to believe that the West must support all efforts to reform Islam, instead of simply defending itself from Islam.

  3. These calls, announcements, and efforts to reform Islam, notwithstanding all the hopes placed on them, will always come to nothing.

  4. The naive Westerners will never learn anything from these repeated failures.

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Ferg writes:

Hard to add anything to your analysis. My naiveté was of a different sort. Having read the Koran in my twenties I just assumed that Muslims were not allowed to become permanent residents, let alone citizens of the U.S. And of course, prior to the change in our immigration law, I was largely correct. Imagine my surprise some fifteen years ago when I found out how out of touch I was. It was plain to me after reading the Koran that Islam was completely incompatible with the culture of America and with our political and legal traditions. Therefore I assumed that other people, particularly those in government, could see this too. And having seen it, would act accordingly. Of course I lacked a real understanding of liberalism then and of its goals, and also of the lamentable state of education in this country. So, I can add nothing new to what you have so aptly put.. The last liberal in the country will go down shouting, but I am your friend!

Jed W. writes:

It is not our business to “reform” Islam. Melanie Phillips is a fool. How about reforming National Socialism? There’s just as much chance of that happening. Our business is to keep the barbarians out and prevent them from bringing Sharia to our society.

November 1

Robert in Nashville writes:

From what I have read, including this article, “Waiting for Islamic Reform,” Islamic philosophers themselves tried for centuries between 800-1125 or so, (I think this period has also been referred to as the Golden Age of Islam) to make Islam open to empiricism and open thought. Even they failed.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 31, 2009 03:23 PM | Send

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