My intellectual mentor and hero, Dennis Prager, has a new column out in which he makes the case that Islam must be reformed and it can be reformed.
After having studied Arabic at college and lectured on comparative religion for decades, and having devoted years to writing my upcoming book comparing American values with leftist and Islamist values, I have become convinced of two things regarding Islam: It must be reformed, and it can be reformed.
Both suppositions are highly controversial. Few believing Muslims think that Islam needs to be reformed; the suggestion would strike most religious Muslims as absurd, if not insulting and ultimately blasphemous. And it would strike many non-Muslim critics of Islam as naïve. As Lord Cromer, British consul-general in Egypt 1883 to 1907, put it in a quote known to all Western students of Islam, “Islam reformed is Islam no longer.”
Continuing on, Dennis gives some reasons why it is Islam does need reforming:
• Majority-Muslim and Islam-based countries are not, and have not been, free societies. According to the 2010 Freedom House “Freedom in the World” survey, of the world’s 47 Muslim-majority countries, only two are free, 18 are partly free, and 27 are not free. There is no honest explanation for this nearly total absence of liberty in Muslim countries that does not reflect in some way on Islam.
• Muslim treatment of Jews and Christians in places such as medieval Spain was morally far superior to the treatment of non-Christians by European Christians during the same period. But in the modern period, nowhere Islam controlled afforded non-Muslims anywhere near the equality that non-Christians came to take for granted in the Christian world.
• Regarding women, one cannot name a culture or religion in which the status of women is as low as it is in many Muslim societies. Moreover, the status of women has actually declined in many Muslim societies in the present generation. For example, the veil is more common in Egypt today than it was a hundred years ago.
• In nearly every Muslim country in which non-Muslims live (usually Christians) — from Nigeria to Egypt to Iraq — they suffer persecution.
• A very small percentage of Muslims are terrorists. But nearly every international terrorist is Muslim. And according to every poll I have seen, at least 70 million of the world’s more than 1 billion Muslims support Islamist actions and theology.
Then, pivoting to what needs to happen in order for Islam to be reformed, Dennis lists:
1. Honestly acknowledge the Muslim moral record, i.e., the lack of liberty in Muslim nations, the killing of large numbers of non-Muslims, the low status of women, etc. This does not necessitate rejecting the Koran or Islam.
2. Eschew incorporating sharia into state law and oppose the establishment of any Islamic theocracy (which is not, in any event, Koran-based, according to moderate Muslims).
3. Publicly and unambiguously condemn all violence in the name of Islam, including violence against Israel.
4. Express a deep appreciation of the moral record of America, including its superb treatment of both its Muslim citizens and Muslim immigrants, along with a complete rejection of the Islamist notion that America is hostile to Muslims.
5. Fully accept the existence of Israel as a Jewish state, and distance themselves from the Muslim/Arab obsession with Israel.
You can read the entire column here, and I recommend that you do.