January 15th, 2006

Islamic reform: is it an oxymoron?

Many have looked to the possibility of reform of the Moslem religion for the best hope of avoiding a coming conflagration. After all, the other monotheistic Abrahamic religions have all grown and changed over time; why not Islam?

Alexandra of All Things Beautiful offers some discouraging news about the possibility of Islamic reform (taken from a Hugh Hewitt radio interview):

Father Fessio [provost of Ave Maria University in Naples, Florida], described a private seminar on the subject of Islam last year at Castel Gandolfo, the Papal summer residence:

“The main presentation by this Father [Christian] Troll was very interesting. He based it on a Pakistani Muslim scholar [named] Rashan, who was at the University of Chicago for many years, and Rashan’s position was Islam can enter into dialogue with modernity, but only if it radically reinterprets the Koran, and takes the specific legislation of the Koran, like cutting off your hand if you’re a thief, or being able to have four wives, or whatever, and takes the principles behind those specific pieces of legislation for the 7th century of Arabia, and now applies them, and modifies them, for a new society [in] which women are now respected for their full dignity, where democracy’s important, religious freedom’s important, and so on. And if Islam does that, then it will be able to enter into real dialogue and live together with other religions and other kinds of cultures.

And immediately the holy father, in his beautiful calm but clear way, said, well, there’s a fundamental problem with that because, he said, in the Islamic tradition, God has given His word to Mohammed, but it’s an eternal word. It’s not Mohammed’s word. It’s there for eternity the way it is. There’s no possibility of adapting it or interpreting it, whereas in Christianity, and Judaism, the dynamism’s completely different, that God has worked through his creatures. And so it is not just the word of God, it’s the word of Isaiah, not just the word of God, but the word of Mark. He’s used his human creatures, and inspired them to speak his word to the world, and therefore by establishing a church in which he gives authority to his followers to carry on the tradition and interpret it, there’s an inner logic to the Christian Bible, which permits it and requires it to be adapted and applied to new situations…

Hebrew and Christian scripture claim to be the report of human encounters with God. After the Torah is read each Saturday in synagogues, the congregation intones that the text stems from “the mouth of God by the hand of Moses”, a leader whose flaws kept him from entering the Promised Land. The Jewish rabbis, moreover, postulated the existence of an unwritten Revelation whose interpretation permits considerable flexibility with the text. Christianity’s Gospels, by the same token, are the reports of human evangelists.

The Archangel Gabriel, by contrast, dictated the Koran to Mohammed, according to Islamic doctrine. That sets a dauntingly high threshold for textual critics. How does one criticize the word of God without rejecting its divine character?”

How, indeed? A great deal may be riding on the answer.

39 Responses to “Islamic reform: is it an oxymoron?”

  1. Dlanorrenrag Says:

    Re: “The Archangel Gabriel, by contrast, dictated the Koran to Mohammed, according to Islamic doctrine. That sets a dauntingly high threshold for textual critics. How does one criticize the word of God without rejecting its divine character?”"

    Answer:

    Easily! All that God manifests to us while we are imperfect and incomplete mortals is necessarily incomplete and metaphorical to our perspectives. Being incomplete, we cannot relate directly to God, nor does God manifest directly to us. Even a Muslim may consider it blasphemous for a mortal to claim ability to directly comprehend the Mind of God. Regardless of whether the words of the Quoran (or all words, for that matter) are of God or serve some large or small purpose for God, all non-trivial words are stand-ins, i.e., metaphors, for seeking ways to relate to Something that is ultimately beyond the direct approach of mortals.

    Regarding criticism: One does not directly criticize metaphors. One seeks to fit metaphors as well as one is able to one’s time and circumstances, which change in regard to one’s relationship with God. While God has an unchanging essence, God is active in how such essence is manifested to us. The words of a holy book may remain constant, but their applications, shades, and connotations necessarily and constantly change as our existential context (“jihad”) changes. Whether words are or are not of God, one need not “criticize” words. Rather, one may, while receptive to God, seek to appreciate words as context changes. Insofar as God is constantly active, one does not reject a constant divinity by recognizing that It actively changes contexts, constantly.

  2. Cowgirl Says:

    Interesting!! :-)
    Cowgirl

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  4. Anonymous Says:

    Amen to that papa ray from a fellow West Texan. Here is the book that is proof of that and more. It is called Prophet of Doom http://www.prophetofdoom.net/.You can find it onliene and print it from there if you like. It is an unflatering account of mohammed taken directly from the quoran and hadiths (religously authoritive early history of islam) as a caravan raider, terrorist, murderer, political assassin,pedofile( he married one wife who was 6 years of age and claimed to recieve visions when having sex with her) anti-jew, anti christian. These supposedly holy books of Islam give instruction on topics such as how to properly beat your wife, to ejaculate into a women you are raping when taken in jihad or not to, that allah will forgive you for prostituting out your slave women (captured by holy war) to conquer all Christians and Jews and not to have them convert to islam so you may extort the sacred jihzah extortion protection tax ( they even have a term for it dhimmitude http://www.jihadwatch.org/dhimmiwatch/see ), to use treaties as a ruse, to break oaths that are not in your favor,to execute muslims that do not wage jihad, to exectute muslims who leave the faith or attempt reform and even more. Islam is a sick mafia like suicide death cult. Once you are in you can never leave and you can never question or reform it. Other wise you are a heretic(reformer) and an apostate(one who leaves islam) and executed ( as mandated by the quoran and hadiths). There have been several other groups in history that closely resemble Islam. Communism with its anti-God atheistic message as a political movement of world domination. Nazism with its mystical germanic cult circle of followers teaching the supremacy of the aryan people and the extermination of all so called unpure people. The World War II japanese bushido following of their emperor god and the belief in the supremacy of the japanese over other supposedly lesser people. The thugee death cult of india who murdered an estimated 2,000,000 people according to the Guinness Book of Records, to satisfy their Gods and steal peoples goods. It was eradicated by the British through a process of selective assassination, covert operations, infiltraion,solid police work and a clemency for former thugees who turned states evidence (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thugee). We all would like to believe that there are no bad religions. No bad people. Just misguided ones. This leads us to the tendancy to believe that people like osama bin laden are just deranged fringe leadership in the Islamic world. This is not accurate. They are the faithful few. They are jihadists who are bringing to fruition the quoran and hadiths message of death , suffering, conquest, terrorism and immorality to accomplish Islams goals.To conquer and enslave the world by the heart or the sword. that is to say by conversion or compuslion through terrorism and threat of death. There are good muslims but there is no good in Islam. If you read Prophet Of Doom and fact check it against what muslim apolgists say and directly to the quoran and hadiths I believe you will come to the same inescapable conclusion as I have. That the greatest lie ever told is that Islam is a peaceful religion, and that the greatest conspiracy every perpetrated on the world is preserving this lie. Islam is the 3rd fastest growing religion in the US (http://www.adherents.com/rel_USA.html). We have seen all to well in europe what happens when muslims become a large minority in your population. The london train bombings, the madrid bombings,the assassination of the documentatian Theo Van Gogh, and worst of all in my opinion the days on end of rioting by muslims all over France. Read Prophet of Doom and you will understand islam and it will put these events in a better light. The west Has put a nail in the cofin of nazism,the japanese bushido suicide death cult, the thugee death cult, and at least put communism on its heals for now. It’s about time we realize the threat of Islam to all free people everywhere and answer it.We cannot allow a murderous political party masquerading as a religion to conquer the world and eliminate our freedom. We made the same mistake with communism in the cold war as we are making in this war being waged by islam. Communisim at its core is a revolutionary movement advocating class warfare and the destruction of all freedom,all other forms of government,enslaving the masses in a police state, siezing wealth and world domination. That is not a political party. That’s a terrorist group masquerading as one. Replace Atheism with Islam, the infalibility and superiority of the state with Allah, the red banner with a green one and you have Islam. Islam and communism, are terrorism.As such, neither of them are protected under the U.S Constitution as a religion or political party. We made a great error in allowing communism a protected status as a legitimate political party. We are doing the same thing labeling islam as a legitimate religion today. Those that want to exterminate us are using our own culture, laws and traditions to organize, recruit and preach hatred and intolerance.I am a soldier in the United States Army who has just returned from serving in Iraq. I swore an oath of enlistment to uphold and defend the constitution of the united states from all enemies both foreign and domestic. I take that oath very seriously. I didn’t take an oath not to hurt peoples feelings, to be politicaly correct, to just go along get along, to live for today and not worry about tomorrow. I took an oath to uphold and defend the constitution of the United States from all enemies foreign and domestic.Islam seeks to tear down all faiths, all countrys and subject them to islamic law. That makes them the enemy of everyone who has ever taken that oath,every American, and every non muslim. I believe in every persons religious freedom but the constitution is not a suicide pact and terrorism is not a religion or political party. It is simply terrorism mascarading as something more acceptable.You can dress it up, wrap it in a pretty red or green banner, prance it around on an arabian stallion or wheel it around as a T72 tank, spin it,flip it, dunk it, shake it all about, call it politics or religion.It’s still just terrorism. We must wake up now and educate ourselves and all others of Islam and the threat it poses now , or else wait till our children and childrens children are fighting and dying in our own streets against an islamic jihad.I for one will never be a Dhimmi, and neither will my future children. I leave you with a quote from Theo Vahn Gogh, Our very own western martyr , shot 9 times in the chest,stabbed, and then nearly decapitated by an Islamic Terrorist carrying out a quoranic mandated assasination against all that that speak against the mohammads word. All because he made a documentary about women being mistreated in Islam .”It is time we stoped tolerating the intolerant.”- Theo Van Gogh. The french have not embraced this idea and they are about to loose their country. If anyone is interested in dicussing this issue more or organizing online to educate people of what islam truely is you can contact me at wakeuptoterror@yahoo.com

  5. Papa Ray Says:

    Makdom said: ‘There will be no change in the text of the ‘Quran’, but one must be wise enough to extract its meanings. ‘”

    In order to understand the Qur’an you must be able to read it in its original language (at least it’s oldest language, as most of the original writings are lost). The Qur’an has been a secret with only a small portion translated by a select few. Even those translations are different. But in the last couple of years, more and more translations have been started and what is being found out is that Islam is much more than a religion, it is a cult, with all the instructions and rules and regulations on how to live one’s life, deal with other believers, deal with lax believers and deal with non-believers.

    It is also being found out to be a cult of destruction, conquest and subjugation of others.

    There is only one G-D, and in the Qur’an, he is Allah and all other gods and religions are false and must be destroyed or subjugated.

    There are in the eyes of Allah only three classes of people. The True believers, the believers that have lapsed in their faith and non believers.

    There are rules and requlations on how each must act, be dealt with, with detailed instructions that must be followed.

    There can be no reforming this cult. Because to even speak of it, is the highest crime there is and is punishable by death.

    Deception is taught throughout the Qur’an. How to use it in different situations and with the different classes of people.

    Everything is dictated to the believer, down to which hand to wipe his arse with, even what to do and how to do it if that hand is gone.

    Islam is the most destructive evil cult ever placed on this planet.

    And it must be destroyed in total.

    Papa Ray
    West Texas
    USA

  6. douglas Says:

    Thinking about this a few days- perhaps I am wrong. Islam can ‘reform’. If Islamofascists are defeated soundly by the west, then Muslims who desire to remain Muslim must contend that clearly, the defeated Islamofascists were not practicing ‘true’ Islam (the will of Allah cannot be defeated)and so their brand of Islam was the wrong one, and they will then proceed to find the new ‘true’ Islam- hopefully one more amenable to religious freedom.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    it looks like i’m late to the party, but hey….

    for Islam to reform, it needs a base to reform from. the protestant reformation was a serious return to the Scriptures. The past 500 years have been spent developing the rules for the actual interpretation of the Bible. (actually, there are several sets of rules, but that’s off topic). what is the base for Islam? that is, what are principles used to interpret the Koran? to what extent have they been systematized?

    In general, Christianity recognizes the difficulty of the interpretation of God’s words in the light of modern circumstances. Does Islam have the same interpretive freedom to do that? Clearly there are sociological pressures that limit that freedom, but if the sociological pressures weren’t there, what are the bounds on the interpretation of the Koran?

    At its heart, what i’m really asking is: what are the hermeneutics of the Koran? I’m not sure there really are any, but until we can see what the process(es) for interpreting the Koran are, then i see no hope for any reform. (though it may well be there)

    yet another rice alum

  8. Ymarsakar Says:

    I think Algebra was named after a Sultan however. Al Gebra.

    Al Islam, Al Jazeera, don’t know why Arabs like the Al so much.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    “There is no reason that Islam cannot similarly deliver a “fulfilling” revision of itself.”

    Platitudes are nice, but Islam has resisted 1400 years of change, always reverting to its primitive roots no matter what forces are exerted from within and from without.

    Just because you can see no reason Islam cannot deliver a “fulfilling” revision of itself, does not mean there is none. It only means that you can not – or will not – see it.

  10. Ben-David Says:

    Ironic that the head of the Catholic Church is making this argument. This church has, itself, made enormous changes in both doctrine and policy over this past century, all the while preserving the illusion that it all grows out of previous doctrine and is therefore a “fulfillment” rather than a reformation.

    This is exactly the way enormous revisions have been presented – and accepted – in the Halachic structure of Judaism.

    There is no reason that Islam cannot similarly deliver a “fulfilling” revision of itself.

  11. douglas Says:

    Ahh, yes, Islam is rather younger than Christianity- but they are tow different creatures entirely…Their respective ages are irrelevant. Don’t look at everything as relative to the things you are familiar with (as much as possible).

  12. Brad Says:

    Unknown,
    Then you misread his comment. Follow the links to his blog to see the nature of the mindlessness, or flip back though the comments in other posts here to see the arrogant spam.
    He is right up there with aqualung and troutsky for insipid and vacuous commentary.

    (ahem)

  13. the Unknown Blogger Says:

    Brad,

    I read Steve J giving credit to an Islamic scholar not for inventing algebra, but rather for giving algebra it’s name in European languages.

    And he did it in a rather un-inflammatory and polite manner.

    (*ahem*)

  14. kung fu Says:

    Forgive me if I get my dates wrong, but isn’t Islam about 700 years younger than Christianity? What was Christianity like in about 1300? Should we all start reading Chaucer?

    And I’m still not sure that all matters anyway.

  15. terrye Says:

    I agree with nowhere girl, Arab culture has had a disastrous influence on Islam.

    Most Muslims do feel that literal interpretation of the Koran is essential, but the Koran was originally written in the Arabic and the translations are somewhat problematic. It is also true that literacy rates in many Muslim countries are low and the people rely on imams for religious instruction.

    Islam has jihad at its core and because of this reform is in question, but I also think it is necessary. Islam has a history of constant conflict with other religions, and when it takes hold in a region everyone else is reduced to dhimmitude.

    Hence Islam becomes the bringer of death and stagnation. If it is to survive I think it must change.

  16. Brad Says:

    More stupidity from Steve J., the prize-winning serial spammer, and creepy Peeping Tom of the net.

    There were numerous advances in mathmatics, over hundreds of years, that led to algebra, not the least of which was Diophantus (BTW, the so-called arabic numerals have their origins in Buddist and Hindu math and predate Islam). Even Newton acknowledged his predecessors (and no one claims that calculus is Christian). Steve J’s mindless attempt to give Islam credit for algebra is typical juvenile PC horse manure; if any “group” deserves credit for al-Khwarizmi’s work it is Persia, once a great culture (until about the 7th or 8th century).

  17. Motor 1560 Says:

    Three interesting links. The first is a short review of a very controversial thesis.

    A starting point for Koranic origins.

    ‘Uthman’s Recension

    The article in the Atlantic, payment required, for the whole article, about early Koranic fragments The basis for the much of the work done in the first link.

  18. Promethea Says:

    Christian missionaries need to do some serious proselytizing among groups of Muslims. Islam won’t disappear unless there is something to replace it that has a true moral code.

    Right now, the Koran says whatever you want it to say. “Be tolerant.” “Kill the kufrs.” Etc. There is no moral center, only a strategy for conquest.

  19. Anonymous Says:

    Makdom, what happens if people decide to reject Muhammed, the Koran and the very idea that one god created everything?

  20. Motor 1560 Says:

    Where “errancy” appears above, substitute “inerrancy”. The brain is always faster than the fingers.

  21. Huan Says:

    Islam will reform because it has no choice:

    1. for nearly a thousand years now it as tried and failed to subjugate all to its perspective. this will not change anytime soon.
    2. now pressure for change comes from both external and internal sources. even the words of God is suject to human interpretion.
    3. change, or be changed.
    4. or wait for the 12th Iman to change islam.

  22. Motor 1560 Says:

    I would love to write a link rich essay on this topic. The problem is that most of the source material is not linkable and comments are no place for a literature review that would have about ten pages of footnotes and bibliographic citations. I’ve been reading; and occasionally writing; on this topic, in fits and starts since writing a seminar paper on the relationship between messianic thought in Islam and messianic political movements in the New World.

    The closing of the Islamic mind, has for the most part, been a deliberate and overt process.

    When Muhammad(?) wrote the text of what became the Qur’an, supposedly as revealed to him, Mecca was an Aramaic settlement in which the language was a sort of proto-Arabic/Aramaic spoken language with no real written script. Until the much later development of classical Arabic, the Qur’an was possibly an oral tradition under which the very language was shifting.

    Recent research into the Aramaic fragments and variant versions that were not destroyed by the 3rd Caliph ‘Uthman in the great “purification”, suggest that the origin of the Qur’an may have been badly translated and interpreted from a Christo-Syriac tract circulating in Mecca at the time. The errancy of the Qur’an is derived from efforts by political leaders to solidify their power base.

    And, most subsequent efforts to “freeze” Islam and make it resistant to both internal and external “reform” have derived from political efforts to seize and hold political power or support political viewpoints. Much of this was necessary since, from the beginning, as a foundation for spreading Islam, mostly by the sword and as a pretext for conquest and riches. It is no mistake that Muhammad used it to raise a group of banditti to raid and loot caravans it was first used as a way of giving these bandits “holy cover” and as a recruitment tool for a very long time afterward.

    It is also no mistake that there is so much discussion with the Qur’an about divisions of loot and the taxing of the conquered.

    The closing of the Islamic mind, so wonderfully illustrated above, has always been based on efforts to turn it into a tool of consquest and power. Recently, militant Islam has used the Jews and Israel as rallying and recruiting tools and is now shifting over to its ultimate goal, world conquest. Expecting it to change and get “softer” or to produce, internally, a Luther are like prayers for protection from the Viking raids before the Vikings became business men.

    Giving Islam status as a major religion, in the West, has always been about recognizing and trying to placate its power. If the Mafia had developed a theological exegesis over many centuries the West would have done the same thing.

  23. makdom Says:

    Islam is not a religion. It is a reality. It is a fact as clear as you can see whatever that is around you. All the prophets of ‘The one God’ starting from Adam right down to Abraham , Moses, Jesus and Muhammad teaches us the righteous path to ‘God’, because that is where we are all heading to sooner or later. Islamic teachings is based from the Quran and the sayings of the prophet Muhammad. Muhammad and all the other prophets are examples of decent human beings and we are encouraged to fallow them in their good intentions, their good faiths, their good behaviour and their actions. The purity of Islam will be preserved till ‘The one God’ends it all together with this world we live in. There will be no change in the text of the ‘Quran’, but one must be wise enough to extract its meanings. ‘The one God’ that creates this universe, the world we live in, with everything in it including you and me, loves and appreciates everything ‘He’ creates and the good that you have been recieving are all from ‘God’ except the bad ones, that is from you.

  24. maryatexitzero Says:

    Blaming Islam for the persistent totalitarian leanings in the muslim world is like blaming European culture for their persistent totalitarian leanings. The Europeans still haven’t reformed themselves – they still find ideas like Marxism and Fascism attractive – but the military and economic defeat of those two political movements has forced Europe to become a civilized place, for the time being.

    Europe created Nazism and Communism. If, in 1941, we had responded to Pearl Harbor by wondering how European culture was ever going to reform itself, we would have been waiting a very long time. We didn’t fight European “culture” we fought destructive, totalitarian political movements by using proven military means.

    Like Muslims, many Europeans are willing to passively accept authoritarian regimes. The current authoritarian political movement in the Muslim world, Islamism/Wahhabism/Salafism, could be easily defeated (if we tried) by using military means.

    We have every right to destroy a political movement, Islamism, that promotes and practices ethnic cleansing, apartheid and oppression. But ‘reforming’ a religion is a faith-based idea, like pacifism. Like pacifism, the concept of reforming another person’s religion is whifty, unproven, subjective and has no place in politics.

    Europe has never, and probably will never reform itself to our satisfaction. Neither will Islam. But, once the Islamists/Wahhabis/Salafists are defeated, I’d be happy take a neutral attitude towards Islam. Like all religions and cultures, it has some good and some bad points. As long as they’re not bothering anyone but themselves, live and let live.

  25. PastorEd Says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for over a year now without commenting, but this post has provoked me. I have read elsewhere of this encounter of the Pope concerning Islam. I beg to differ with the analysis: not that I consider myself in any way equal to the man’s learning, but because on their face the comments are incorrect.

    The Roman church believes that their interpretation is binding, including the ex cathedra pronouncements of the Pope. The protestant Reformation was a reaction against that ongoing interpretation. Martin Luther (referred to in the comments) was one who famously said that popes and councils can and do err, but the Word of God is forever true.

    The reason that Christianity has adapted to changing social conditions is that from the top down it is designed to do so. Jesus abrogated dietary and ritual aspects of Jewish law invoking his authority as God incarnate. I am not qualified to write about Jewish mechanisms for adaptation, but most certainly, in the Christian tradition the Messiah fulfilled a literal law and left behind it general principles of love and compassion.

    This difference is precisely why no “reformation” of Islam is possible. Any attempt to take the sloppy, easy-going pacific rim version of Islam and generalize it will run head-on into those who argue, “but that’s not what the Koran says.” In the Christian historical analogy, it is the late medieval RC church, with its practice of excommunicating entire nations whose leaders did not bow to papal authority, which is the easy-going Islam of today. The protestant Reformation defanged the governing excesses and “reduced” Christianity to a movement whose primary appeal is to individual conscience, based on an unchanging truth from God.

    BTW, textual criticism (which you mention) is an entirely separate matter from Reformation. It is interesting, although depressing, to see how questioning the accuracy of modern-day Korans is dangerous to one’s health. More than one professor’s records have been burned.

  26. Paul Says:

    Why should Islam reform itself if it’s followers think that it is the perfect religion? I do not forsee reform anytime soon if at all .

  27. nowhere girl Says:

    It is an Arab problem, but much older than 60 years. The problem is that Islam is taught as an extension of Arab culture, which was xenophobic and mysogynistic well before the arrival of Mohammed. But everywhere that Islam is taught, it is taught in Arabic. Especially where the Saudis fund the teaching.

    This Arab culture has not transplanted well to Asian countries such as Indonesia, so it’s not entirely useful to compare them to the Middle East.

    The question in my mind is, how did Turkey and Lebanon overcome these issues to become both modern and Islamic?

  28. Steve J. Says:

    YMAR:The only thing from Islam originally, that the West used was their Arabic numerals.

    al-Khwarizmi also wrote a revolutionary book on resolving quadratic equations. These were given either as geometric demonstrations or as numerical proofs in an entirely new mode of expression. The book was soon translated into Latin, and the word in its title, al-jabr, or transposition, gave the entire process its name in European languages, algebra, understood today as the generalization of arithmetic in which symbols, usually letters of the alphabet such as A, B, and C, represent numbers. Al-Khwarizmi had used the Arabic word for “thing” (shay) to refer to the quantity sought, the unknown. When al-Khwarizmi’s work was translated in Spain, the Arabic word shay was transcribed as xay, since the letter x was pronounced as sh in Spain. In time this word was abbreviated as x, the universal algebraic symbol for the unknown.

  29. SteveR Says:

    Everyone here has skipped over reliapundit’s point, but it deserves some thought.

    I agree, the problem isn’t Islam, the problem is and has been for 60 years the Arab Problem.

    And not even the whole Arab world, but that centered a few hundred kilometers in any direction from Saudi Arabia – Egypt, Syria, the PLO, and until 2003, Iraq.

  30. Anonymous Says:

    The one problem as I see it: how many Muslims are here joining in the discussion?

    No kidding … ing … ing …

  31. waltj1960 Says:

    Good comments all, and the topic is certainly a critical one these days. The one problem as I see it: how many Muslims are here joining in the discussion? Judging by the text of the comments, none, at least not here, not yet. We who are not Muslims can talk about reforming Islam until we’re blue in the face, but a significant percentage (10, 30, 50, 75?) of the Muslims have to decide their faith needs to change. Until then, we’re just blowing smoke.

  32. Ymarsakar Says:

    The only thing from Islam originally, that the West used was their Arabic numerals.

    And you don’t need a living philosopher, you just need to stop hating the West long enough to learn from it. If Aristotle was Islamic, then the Arabs would have no trouble learning logic and freedom of thought. But they do, because Greece belongs to the West and is the foundation of Western Civilization. In addition to the Roman Empire of course.

    There’s no reason it requires a Muslim Aquinas, though a living Martin Luther might help.

  33. douglas Says:

    “Philosophy is not a novelty to Muslims; they had it once, and threw it away, because it apparently threatened their faith.”-Michael B

    Pretty much says it all, no?
    there can be no reform of Islam, it either mutates into something else which is still called Islam, or dies. But obviously, they recognize the threat, which also means things can change, or they wouldn’t fear us/our culture.

  34. Michael Brazier Says:

    Ymarsakar: the Western Europeans got most of their Greek logic and philosophy from Islam, along with a chunk of philosophy by Muslims. Averroes’ commentaries on Aristotle were translated and read by Christians, and basically inspired Scholastic theology. Philosophy is not a novelty to Muslims; they had it once, and threw it away, because it apparently threatened their faith. A reform of Islam would require a Muslim Aquinas, and how often do first-class philosophers appear?

  35. jack Says:

    I have personally spoken to 1000′s of muslims over the years about Islam. In all this time I have yet to hear one muslim say that Islam is not perfect. The answer is always … muslims are not practicing “true” Islam … Islam is perfect.

    With this mindset there will never be any reform in Islam.

  36. Ymarsakar Says:

    Islam can reform the same way Christianity reformed. By adapting the principles of Greek logic and philosophy into the Reformation.

    Islam is still immature in the theological sense.

    Iraq is the attempt to force Islam to change by educating the Iraqis in self-governance, Enlightenment principles, and Western culture.

    Whether Bush knows this or not, he won’t tell us.

  37. reliapundit Says:

    indonesia is the largest muslim nation and soemwhat democratic and “reformed.”

    india has the secind largest muslim population, and most fucntion well within that pluralist democracy.

    so: islam and democracy can co-exist.

    i think the problesm in the arab-muslim world are tougher/deeper.
    but they can be addressed and repaired.

    i think many of the social and ideologocal ills in arabia are due to: consanguinous matrimony and polygamy and misogyny (forced marriage/sex discrimination, lack of female education, etc).

    i think the arab nations which ermit these practices can be pressured to stop them.

    the slave trade was ended; these practices can be eneded too.

    nations which permit consanguinous marriage, forced marriage, and polygamy should be banned from the WTA, any free trade arrangements, world bank and imf loans and memebership in the un.

    in a word: they should be OSTRACIZED.
    want another word? isolated.

    i have posted about 3-4 detailed lengthy hyperlinked filled posts on my blog about the impact consanguinous marriage, forced marriage, and polygamy have on societies which allow them.

    come by and google them at my blog.

    gnite.

  38. TmjUtah Says:

    The Japanese went from city-slaughtering (not by bombs, but with swords, guns, and rape) to a representative democracy that eschews offensive war by constitutional mandate.

    It took four years and change, and the odd millions dead on all sides to make it happen, but that’s where they are today.

    I don’t see Islam reforming itself.

    I see populations in muslim regions possibly divesting themselves of theocrats and dictators… possibly getting some breathing room to consider reformation… but the end is going to be a clear “strong horse/weak horse” pragmatic solution.

    And I fear that the odd millions dead price is going to have to be met before it’s all over, too.

  39. DSmith Says:

    I haven’t seen too many Aztecs around letely.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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