The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Friday, July 20, 2007

Islam, governments and such

I tend to go by personally known examples, when possible. The reason I don't think Islam is fundamentally flawed despite the fact that most Muslim countries have governments we wouldn't want, is that the actual Muslims I've met, whether Middle Eastern or American converts, have seemed as fine and decent as Christians or anybody else. Possibly my sample was filtered and invalid for some reason. But I don't think so. At any rate, Dinesh D'Souza, for whom I have no love, published an interesting article on the subject of an Islamic Reformation. His thinking seems sane to me.

Can Hirsi Ali Lead An Islamic Reformation?

Posted Jul 19th 2007 6:53PM by Dinesh D'Souza
Filed under: Religion, Islam, Islamic Radicals
I admire Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who suffered female circumcision and escaped an arranged marriage to a much older Muslim man in Somalia. Ali fled first to the Netherlands and then to the United States. Given what she endured at the hands of her Muslim family and community, I can't blame her for becoming an atheist.
But now this atheist seems to be trying to lead an Islamic reformation. Speaking at the Sydney Writers Festival, she called on Muslims to "review the example of the prophet Muhammad. Muslims are not used to criticizing Islam, they are not used to criticizing the prophet Muhammad." Well, Buddhists are not used to criticizing the Buddha either. Jews aren't known for their denunciations of Moses. Nor do believing Christians typically criticize the founder of their religion, Christ. Attacks on the founders of religions usually come from other religions, or from the enemies of religion.
I'm not suggesting that Muhammad or Islam are beyond criticism. I'm not suggesting that Ali's call for change is wrong. I am suggesting that it will never happen in response to the agitation of people like her. An atheist's call to Muslims to change the theology and practice of the Muslim religion is unlikely to fall on receptive ears in the Muslim world. Of course it will rally critics of Islam in the West, which is really Ali's constituency.
Imagine if Luther were not a devout Christian but rather an atheist. Could he have led the Reformation? The very idea is absurd. It took an Augustinian monk in some ways more devout than the Pope to bring about the transformation of Christendom. So it is with Islam. Change, if it comes, will be wrought by devout Muslims who combat the Islamic radicals by showing fellow Muslims a better way to practice their faith.

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