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Reforming Islam? Mission impossible

Reader comment on item: Foreword: Why Islam's Reformers are Vitally Important

Submitted by Carl Goldberg (United States), Jul 18, 2017 at 17:41

With all due respect, this review is, at best, muddled. First of all, before any discussion of Islam can take place, we must distinguish between Islam and Muslims. Islam is the Koran plus the Sunnah, and these sacred sources do not come in different versions. As Turkish President Erdogan said: "Islam cannot be classified as moderate or not..." "These descriptions are very ugly, it is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that's it."

Therefore, while there are moderate Moslems, like the ones interviewed for this new book, there is no such thing as "moderate Islam". Nor can there be.

When Pipes refers to the "anti-Islamic Right", he is just name-calling without substance. The basic question here is whether Islam can be made moderate, whether Islam can be reformed. If it can't, then the moderate Moslems who claim to be reformers are, indeed, "outliers, fabulists and frauds" for making unsuspecting and ignorant non-Moslems think that Islam can be reformed.

Because of the harsh reality of the logic of Islam, the high hopes for reform are nothing more than empty wishful thinking. The fundamental premise of Islam is that the Koran is Allah's literal word — perfect, complete, unchangeable and valid for all of eternity. Everything about Islam follows from that premise, and, if that premise is ever abandoned, then the whole theological and ideological edifice of Islam collapses like a house of cards.

You write that "Shireen Qudosi challenges the near-worship of Muhammad and wrestles with problematic Koranic passages." O.K., let's have some examples of her wrestling match with Allah's literal word! How, exactly, is she challenging Muhammad? What, exactly, is her plan to "re-interpret the Koran and other problematic Islamic texts" when those texts are considered by the entire Islamic religious establishment to be sacred and untouchable ?

In his review of the book, Robert Spencer rightly cites Koran 5:3: "This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed my favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion." There are many other passages from the Koran and the Sunnah which prevent, not only rejection, but also any thought of rejection of any portion of the sacred texts. Even the notion of historical contextualization collides with the logic of Islam's premise, namely, that Allah's words are prescriptive and valid for all of eternity. The very notion that the Koran is perfect (because it is Allah's literal word) means that it is logically absurd even to consider reforming it. No one can escape that logic. Either the Koran is Allah's literal word, or it is not. If it is, then no human being dare change it; and, if it is not, then none of it is sacred anymore.
You finish by saying that Williams' book puts "contemporary modernizers on the map as never before, thereby boosting their cause." Is this good?

If these "reformers" had the courage of their convictions, they would open a "reform" Mosque like the one which was recently opened in Berlin by a Turkish-German woman who has come under enormous criticism and threat from the Islamic community. What is stopping our "moderate Moslems" from opening a "reform" mosque if they believe that their ideas are viable? Which parts of the Koran and the Sunnah would they reject in their moderate reform mosque?

Why should we boost their cause??? The so-called reformers have zero influence on the Islamic religious establishment and on religious Moslems. They are roundly rejected by the Islamic community. Therefore, they are an irrelevant distraction. Because the notion of reforming Islam is nothing more than wishful thinking, we must not allow the so-called reformers to divert our attention from formulating our proper defense to the harsh reality of Islam as it is and as it has been for 1400 years.

The preservation of our civilization depends on defeating Islam, not wasting our time and resources on these "moderates" who are claiming, in vain, to reform it.


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Daniel Pipes replies:

Ah, I see the anti-Islam brigade straps on its boots for another campaign of essentialism, ahistoricism, and futility.

Just to take a single point: The last sentence refers to "defeating Islam." What does that mean? It sounds like converting, quarantining, or murdering every Muslim, not exactly a feasible or desirable goal. In contrast, I speak of "defeating Islamism," which is comparable to defeating fascism or communism - a totalitarian ideology that can be discredited.

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