To put it bluntly; we are convinced that, unless the entire ideology of Islam disappears, Islam will always be a threat to humanity. On the other hand, inside Islam, there is a minority of sincere individuals and movements that say they want to reform Islam. These brave people are to be applauded and encouraged in their efforts to change the minds and hearts of Islamists. Unfortunately, we do not believe that there is any reasonable possibility of reforming Islam on any large scale.
Because Islam is well designed to self-perpetuate. Muslims are taught that disagreeing with the religious teachers and with Islamic scripture is evil and, often, punishable by death. Apostacy, or leaving Islam should also be punishable by death according to Mohammad and according to advocates for Sharia law. Mohammad promised great benefits in the after-life to people who sacrifice and die for the sake of Islam. Obviously, he never had to do anything at all to fulfill those promises. But these promises are powerful to a person who believes that they are coming from the so-called ultimate prophet of the one true god. Nobody was ever able to return from the dead after becoming an Islamic martyr to tell people that, instead of waking up to 72 virgins for his exclusive use, he woke up to eternal punishment. Finally, compliance with Islamic religious requirements is a very public thing. Non-compliance is easily noticed and, often vigorously punished. For example, consider the reaction of people in strongly Islamic countries to a woman who fails to wear the required face-coverings.
Consider also the situation of a child born into a “Moderate Muslim” family. Although his parents may be peace-loving and may totally reject the call to jihad that is implicit in Islamic scripture, they still acknowledge Allah, the god that Mohammad portrayed in the Islamic scripture. They still revere (or appeared to revere) Mohammad as a true prophet and as the best example for a Muslim to follow. The child’s education will be strongly influenced by the religious authority. Can such a child be relied upon to be moderate like his parents? Can we be confident that such a child will never decide that it is more appropriate to follow the instructions of his god and of his god’s favored prophet? Is there not a very high probability that such a child will be “radicalized” and adopt the strategies advocated by his false prophet to fulfil the will of his false god?
The path of a movement to reform Islam would be littered with obstacles.
The first issue to be addressed in a reformation movement would have to be the direction in which reformation would take Islam. ISIS and other radical Islamist movements are already trying to reform Islam, though most of us, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, do not agree with the direction that they want to take Islam. To me, acceptable reformation of Islam would have to take it to the state where there is no compulsion for belief in Allah, Mohammad or Islam, whether for non-Muslims or for Muslims. And there could be no political aspect of Islam. Actually, there is a verse in the Koran that declares that there should be no compulsion in religion. But since Mohammad’s relocation to Medina from Mecca, this verse was abrogated and has not been applicable for almost 1400 years (see the page on "abrogation" elsewhere in this site).
The teachings of Mohammad and Islam are, above all things, incompatible with the doctrine that all humans are endowed with free will. But acceptable reformation of Islam would require all Islamic clerics and other devout Muslims to acknowledge the right of other humans to exercise free will in what they believe and in what they do. A reformed Islam would have to stop punishing or killing apostates and other Muslims who failed to comply with the dictates of Islam. Muslims would have to stop oppressing people of other faiths. They would have to accept Jews, Christians, Polytheists, and atheists as equals. And, of course, they would all have to stop violent jihad. An acceptably reformed Islam would have to decide to accept the possibility of a world where not all people are submissive to Islam. Such a reformation would make Islam “just another religion” that would be safe to associate with. But these changes are so fundamental that we think there is little likelihood that these changes would be acceptable to any significant number of Muslims.
Why do we doubt that Islam can be reformed to remove all compulsion from their ideology? Because all of Islam is built on the words, actions and character of Mohammad. His example and influence define the ideology of Islam. We see Mohammad as being deceitful, vicious, warlike and, most of all, controlling. The cult he founded is the same. As mentioned previously, Islam is well-designed to maintain control of the people that accept Islam. Islam mandates continued and absolute submission to Allah and demands compliance with the teachings of Mohammad. Mohammad taught that Allah has given the entire world to Mohammad for his soldiers to pray in. That is; Islam has the right to control the entire world.
Mohammad taught that nobody could leave Islam after declaring their submission to it. Apostates were to be killed. Mohammad taught that all non-Muslim peoples must eventually submit to Islam or die. Jews and Christians, as “people of the book”, were not necessarily killed if they submitted, considered themselves dominated and humiliated, and if they continued to comply with certain rules imposed by their Islamic conquerors. All of these requirements came from Mohammad but he claimed to have received them as instructions from Allah. Therefore, for Islam to change these requirements it would have to reject both their god and their cult-leader. This is essentially an impossibility because to do so would completely eliminate the basis for the ideology of Islam.
There is no true religious hierarchy within Islam that can speak with authority for the entire cult. Leadership within Islam is fragmented to a huge degree. Thus, it would be essentially impossible to even create a functional forum within which discussions about a reformation effort could take place. Religious leadership and political leadership are sometimes both vested in the same person or group of people but, because Islam is dominant in more than 50 countries, no entity exists that could provide effective leadership in a reformation program. This fragmented leadership is, we think, a formidable obstacle to any attempt at reformation. Even if one or more of the Islamic-dominated countries was able to develop a viable reformation program, there is little likelihood such a program would be widely adopted in all other Islamic countries.
Since many devout Muslims believe that they have a responsibility to enforce compliance with Islam’s teaching on others, individuals and very small groups can arise to stand against reformation of Islam in a very definite and final manner. Any serious reformation effort would stand a very real possibility of murderous attack by any number of radical Islamists who disagreed with the idea of reformation. It could be extremely dangerous for anyone involved in a reformation movement.
Our final comment on the reformation of Islam comes from our Christian perspective. As we have previously pointed out, we believe that Islam is a false ideology initiated by Satan. Satan’s objectives are to kill, steal and destroy. In Islam; in radical Islamists, he has willing and effective tools for doing these things. Satan will not easily let these tools be disabled. This is a struggle that is being fought in the supernatural realms as well as here on earth. We need to remain aware of the identity of the real enemy. We believe that, even if Islam was able to convince the world that it was willing and able to reform itself, it would remain a satanic tool. As such, it will always be a danger to all humans, both those within the cult and those outside it.
- Can Islam Be Reformed?