Thursday, December 17, 2015

Is Islam Reformable?

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.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Islam: Not Just a Religion

By Tom Trinko

Americans are having a hard time discussing the problem of Muslim immigration and assimilation because Islam is not just a religion; it's a whole way of life, civil and spiritual.

The First Amendment was written because Christians of all denominations believed that while people's religious beliefs are the basis for the law, no one Christian group should be supported by the power of the federal government.  After all, that's why many Americans had fled England.

Islam, according to many Muslims, rejects that principle and declares that all authority belongs to Islam.  It's as though Catholics believed that the pope should be the ultimate authority for setting the fine you have to pay if you get a speeding ticket.

It's important to note that it doesn't matter what Islam "really teaches" so long as there are a lot of Muslims who say Islam supports theocracy and terrorism.  We have to deal with reality, not some hypothetical "pure" Islam.

Because Islam demands Muslims' full civil as well as spiritual assent, it's fundamentally different from any faith that Americans are truly familiar with – which makes discussing it difficult.  Is someone saying we should reject Muslim immigrants because of their religion, as Americans understand it, or because some Muslims believe that the Constitution must bow before the Quran, or because some Muslims believe that violence can be used in honor killings and to avenge insults against Mohammad?

While it's true that the majority of American Muslims are quite comfortable with the Constitution, the reality is that Islam lays claim to worldly authority in every nation.  That means that it's possible to reject Muslim immigrants not because of their faith, but because it's not irrational to assume that the first civil loyalty of at least some Muslims, especially those from Muslim-majority countries, is to Islam, not the Constitution.

The current Muslim situation is not the first time America has been concerned with immigrants because of their faith.  Historically, America discriminated against Catholics and Catholic immigration because many Protestants erroneously believed that Catholics wanted to establish a theocracy in America.  Many laws with a religious test resulted from that concern.

But unlike the baseless scare over something the Catholic Church did not teach – namely, that the pope should be running America – Islam does teach, at the very least in the minds of many Muslims, that all countries should be theocracies.  If anyone doubts that a large fraction of Muslims believe that Islam calls for sharia law, one only has to look at how things are run in most Muslim-majority countries.  One can look in vain for all the Catholic-majority countries run by the pope or his bishops.

Pakistan is nominally a democracy with religious freedom, but non-Muslims can be killed for preaching their faith – hardly compatible with the American view of religious liberty.  On the other hand, Ireland legalized so called same-sex marriage – hardly an indication of Catholic theocracy.

The critical question is, what fraction of Muslims who wish to come to America reject the idea that their first civil loyalty is to Islam?  It's hard to tell, since there seems to be a dearth of polling of American Muslims where they are asked about sharia law.  But according to a Pew survey, support for sharia law is fairly common among Muslims in a wide variety of countries.

For the first time in its history, America is facing the question of how to deal with people whose religion is often interpreted by many of its adherents, as opposed to its detractors, to reject the principles of democracy and religious liberty.

With nearly 3,000,000 Muslims in America and a major terror attack requiring the support of only a handful of people, it doesn't take a large percentage of radicals to create serious problems.

In the end, the real question – considering that whenever and wherever Muslims have a chance, at least some of them try to institute sharia law, even if only for Muslims, and considering the widespread belief that advancing Islam justifies terrorism – is, is it reasonable to let a lot of poorly educated hardcore Muslims into the U.S.?  Even if Islam does not teach that a Muslim's first civil loyalty is to Islam, the reality is that it appears that a lot of Muslims think that it does.  Contrary to liberal beliefs, America is not strengthened by bringing in people who disagree with our founding principles.

Most Americans support the commonsense solution of differentiating between radical Muslims and those Muslims who can accept the Constitution instead of sharia law.  Liberals, however, are causing controversy by condemning Christians for crimes of the ancient past while ignoring real issues with Islam.

Liberals have a strong incentive to ignore Islamic extremists because Muslims in America tend to be Democrats (70%) and not Republicans (11%).  However, it is strange, if one assumes that liberals are trying to be coherent, that the same liberals who condemn Christianity because of the Crusades, defensive wars designed to free Christians from Islamic oppression that occurred centuries ago, become strangely silent in the face of modern radical Islam.

It's odd that liberals who tar all Christians for the crimes of one nutcase who attacked Planned Parenthood are unwilling to admit that some terrorists are inspired by the writings of a fanatical conqueror who advocated slaughter of those who opposed him and who married a six-year-old girl.

Saying we are at war with those who have an extremist view of Islam and not with all those Muslims, and there are a lot, who don't believe in the use of violence to spread Mohammad's heresy seems to make excellent sense, yet liberals reject associating Islam with people who say they are killing in the name of Islam and who can cite chapter and verse where the Quran supports them.

Perhaps we could have a better national dialog if liberals didn't ban Christian refugees while ignoring the potential problem associated with bringing in Muslims, whose faith may lead them to put Islam ahead of America on civil matters.  That doesn't mean we have to ban Muslim immigration, and it certainly doesn't mean we should condemn all Muslims, but it does mean we should have a plan in place to ensure that the Muslims we let in share our view of civil authority vis-à-vis religious authority.

While liberals are right when they say that declaring that all Muslims, especially all American Muslims, are evil is playing into the hands of extremists, it's also wrong to simply ignore the links between Islam and terrorism and the fundamentally different natures of Christianity and Islam.  We can't be safe if we bury our heads in the sand and ignore the root cause of Islamic terrorism.
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