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Islamic Reformation

Reader comment on item: Cartoons and Islamic Imperialism

Submitted by Jason (United States), Mar 8, 2006 at 14:44

For those who keep pointing out the hypocrisy and over-the-top behavior of Muslims, you're wasting your breath thrying to talk to them. The problems within Islam will only be solved from within Islam. And yes, they will eventually be solved.

For those who don't believe me, I suggest you look at the history of Christianity. There was no more narsacistic, violent, or infantile organization on Earth than the pre-Reformation Catholic Church. The three centuries before the appearance of Luther, Calvin, Weslley, et al, are a black mark on the development and history of the Christian faith.

BUT THINGS CHANGED! And that change came from within Christianity. Men of true faith started to challenge the existing order. Papal encyclicals and Church tradition came into question and the Scripture was held up as the ultimate source of all knowledge about God and our faith. Yes, the period was brutal. Yes, it created some permanent divisions with Christianity. However, everybody living in the Christian world ended up better off as a result of the Reformation, Including the Catholic Church itself.

The same thing is occurring in Islam today. Men and women of true faith are challenging hadiths that have been accepted for centuries. These are the equivalent of the Papal encyclicals, and have as little value to Muslims as the latter had for Christians. Even Mohammad warned against relying on hadiths for spiritual guidance: only the Koran mattered.

So where is this Islamic Reformation occurring? In Europe and the U.S., where else. In fact, understanding this Islamic Reformation is the key to understanding 9/11. You see, America was not attacked just because it was America. It was attacked (along with Spain and Englan) because our tolerance and acceptance of others, to include Muslims, is a direct threat to the established order in the Muslim world. An established order that includes the use of religious police, brutal suppression of other religions, killing of internal dissenters, etc. (Gee, that sounds an awful lot like pre-Reformation Catholicism.)

However, in America and Europe, Islamic Luthers and Calvins are starting to appear (very slowly, just as Christian reformers did in the beginning). Muslims who insist on practicing their religion based on faith and the Koran, just like Luther and Calvin did with the Bible. And because these Muslims can practice their religion as they see fit in America and Europe, without fear of some official abuse, America and Europe become "evil" in the eyes of the established order in the Muslim parts of the world.

Yes, the Islamic Reformation will result in a stronger, but more mature, Islam. And yes, it is going to be a violent process, just as the Christian Reformation was. But it will happen, and the whole world will, if history repeats itself, be better off when it is finished.

Now there are two wildcards this time that did not influence the Christian Reformation. The first is high-speed mass media. In Luther's time, it took years to spead even the most basic information. Today, we can spread that information in seconds. This is already having a profound effect on Muslims all over the world.

The second wildcard, and certainly the most controversial to discuss, is the violent roots of Islam. Now before anybody jumps down my throat, I ask that you please look at the first 300 years of each faith. Christianity was a pacifist cult that was brutally supressed. Christ went to his death, at the hands of his enemies, with a sense of joy in doing the Father's will. Ten of his original disciples were murdered for their faith. Only John died of old age, and he was in exile (the traitor Judas committed suicide). During this entire period, Christianity was spread by peaceful missionaries. The use of force associated with the spread of Christianity did not appear until after Constintine made it the official religion of Rome. Even then, the use of force was more to advance the policies of Rome itself, rather than to advance Christianity.

Then there is Islam. It was spread on the tip of a sword from its very founding. Mohammad thought nothing of killing his enemies, or using violence to expand the area of influence of his teachings. That is a historical fact. If it upsets people to see it in writing, too bad. As Ghandi said, "Facts don't change just because they are inconvenient". It was this willingness to use violence, both by Mohammad and his follwers, that allowed for the advance of Islam across Christian dominated North Africa and the Mid-East. Yes, folks, these were Christian regions (The Mediterranian Sea had gone from being a Roman lake to being a Christian lake by the time Mohammad was born). In fact, it was as much the pacifism of the Christians as the violence of the Muslims that allowed Islam to spread so quickly.

Now how will this history influence the coming Islamic Reformation? I really don't know. I do believe that it will be even more violent than was the Christian Reformation. I think we are seeing that already. However, what Islam will look like coming out the other end of the Reformation tunnel is still up in the air, though I still believe we will all be better off when the process is complete.

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