By Amil Imani
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, and a host of others believe that Islam can and should be reformed. But how?
The idea of reforming Islam is not entirely new. But Islam cannot be reformed the way Christianity was. For one, Islam claims that it is the perfect eternal faith for mankind. Divisions have happened and will continue to occur in Islam. Yet reformation has not happened in nearly 1,400 years and is not going to happen. In the mind of millions of Muslims, Islam is carved in granite, just the way it is. No change. Allah's book is sealed.
About the only universal agreement that exists among Islamic scholars is that every word of the Qur'an is the word of Allah and is not subject to human modification, ever. The Hadith enjoys a similar sacrosanct standing. And of course, the faithful Muhammad's conduct as recorded in the Sunna is the model to be emulated. Hence, one can pick and choose, but one cannot discard or revise any part of the Islamic scripture. For this reason, a Martin Luther-type reformation has not happened and will not likely ever happen within Islam.
Numerous people have tried it in every imaginable way. The Mu'tazelis tried it, the Sufis tried it, and hundreds of old and new schools tried it, and they all failed. Many open-minded Muslim intellectuals have tried reforming Islam, including Muhammad Ali of Egypt, Sayyid al-Qimni, Nasr Abu Zayd, Khalil Abdel-Karim, Abdolkarim Soroush, Mohammed Arkoun, Mohammed Shahrour, and Ahmed Subhy Mansour. Sheikh Mansour was fired from Al-Azhar University after expressing his Hadith rejector views. Edip Yuksel, Gamal al-Banna, Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, Ahmed Al-Gubbanchi, Mahmoud Mohammed Taha, and Faraj Foda, Taha were hanged in 1985 under the sharia regime of Jaafar al-Nimeiri, and Foda was assassinated in 1992 by al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya. Persian scholar and historian Ahmad Kasravi was also assassinated by Fada'iyan-e Islam (the devotees of Islam).
Thus, Islam is not reformable for the following primary reasons:
* At the heart of the problem is the Qur'an, Islam's sacred book, considered as literally perfect and the immutable words of Allah.
* Islam is a perfect religion.
Qur'an 5:3: Today have I perfected your religious law for you, and have bestowed upon you the full measure of My blessings, and willed that self-surrender unto Me shall be your religion.
How can fallible, limited humans possibly reform or improve the handiwork of the all-knowing, all-wise Author of the Universe?
Freedom of all forms is anathema to Islam, which is squarely based on total submission to the dictates and will of Allah. Muslims must obey Allah and His Messenger.
Qur'an 33:36: And it behoves not a believing man and a believing woman that they should have any choice in their matter when Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter; and whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he surely strays off a manifest straying.
* Violence is part and parcel of Islam.
Qur'an 2: 216: Fighting is ordained for you, even though it be hateful to you; but it may well be that you hate a thing the while it is good for you, and it may well be that you love a thing the while it is bad for you: and God knows, whereas you do not know.
* Reforming Islam requires discarding sharia, and also purging the Qur'an itself of enormous suras that are not only patently false, but totally repugnant to a civilized humanity. This line of thinking, to sanitize Islam, is explicitly forbidden in the Qur'an.
Qur'an 2:85: Do you, then, believe in some parts of the divine writ and deny the truth of other parts? What, then, could be the reward of those among you who do such things but ignominy in the life of this world and, on the Day of Resurrection; they will be consigned to most grievous suffering? For God is not unmindful of what you do.
* Islam is a super-religion.
Muslims consider Islam a super-religion and the final religion of Allah. Judaism and Christianity are the only other two religions that are granted a grudging minimal recognition by Islam. All other religions and those without religion are blasphemy and blasphemous.
In short, Islam is not reformable. Reforming Islam requires purging of its sacred book, the Qur'an. In so doing, we have a different religion, not Islam.
Muslim leaders advance to their positions of leadership in Islam Inc.'s numerous subsidiaries by cleverly and ruthlessly navigating their way through the hierarchical labyrinth of cutthroat competition. Kissing up and demonstrating unconditional loyalty to the higher-ups is required. Undeviating, total devotion to the charter of the corporation as defined and promoted by the particular subsidiary, while vigilantly exploiting any opportunity for climbing up to the next rung of the ladder of leadership is a prime requisite of staying in the game.
The individuals who attain high leadership positions in Islam have invested their all with great acumen and gone through a tortuous wringer for years to attain their positions. They deeply covet that position and will do absolutely nothing to rock the boat.
The individual who ascends to a high leadership position must craftily and successfully work his way through a maze of high intrigues for many years. These leadership positions are greatly coveted, and the person would hardly be inclined to do anything that would endanger his status. The slightest deviation by any of the Islamic high clergy entails tremendous risks. The late grand Ayatollah Ali Montazeri of Iran, for instance, who was initially tapped by Khomeini to become his successor, was disgraced and placed under house arrest for daring to voice his concerns about the Islamic government's summary mass execution of political prisoners.
The profession of a clergy is to attract a select segment of men, men who have already significantly bought into the Islamic charter and its methods. As these men undergo formal indoctrination, a culling process takes place. Hundreds of thousands of these men, for a variety of reasons, do not advance very far. A great number of Muslims function in lower positions for the rest of their lives. They are the drones, so to speak. They loyally keep working the rank-and-file Muslim believers in villages and towns, making them toe the line and pay their tributes and cash to their parasitic handlers, who continue their highly successful smoke and mirror charade. A significant number may leave the ordination altogether, for a variety of reasons, and begin earning their living like the rest of the people.
In short, those who claim that they want to reform Islam want to transform it by stripping it of a great many provisions that are anathema to civilized humanity. These people are trying to make a new religion out of the old, with none of the divine authority that was supposedly bestowed upon Muhammad to form and launch his religion.