The Islam Reformers vs. the Muslim Zealots

March 30, 2015

The Islam Reformers vs. the Muslim Zealots

by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

A Hirsi AliAyaan Hirsi Ali is a Fellow of the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, a visiting fellow of the American Enterprise Institute and founder of the AHA Foundation. She is the author of the newly published book “Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now.”

The ferment we see in the Muslim world today is not solely due to despotic political systems, and it is not solely due to failing economies and the poverty they breed. Rather, it is also due largely to Islam itself and the incompatibility of certain of that faith’s key tenets with modernity. That is why the most important conflict in the world today is between those who are hell-bent on preserving, and even increasing, these incompatibilities, and those who are bravely prepared to challenge them — not to overthrow Islam but to reform it.

Forget the crude distinction between “extreme” and “moderate” Muslims. Rather, we should distinguish among three groups of Muslims.

The first group is the most problematic. Those in this category envision a regime based on sharia, or Islamic religious law. They aim not just to obey the Prophet Muhammad’s teaching but also to emulate his warlike conduct after his move to Medina. Even if they do not themselves engage in violence, the people in this group do not hesitate to condone it.

The second group — which composes the clear majority throughout the Muslim world — is loyal to the core creed of Islam and worship devoutly but is not inclined to practice or preach violence. Like devout Christians or Jews who attend religious services every week and abide by religious rules in what they eat and wear, these “Mecca Muslims” focus on religious observance. Sometimes some members of this group are mistakenly termed “moderate.”

In the third group is the growing number of people who were born into Islam but who have sought to think critically about the faith in which we were raised. These are the Muslim dissidents. A few of us have been forced by experience to conclude that we could not continue as believers yet remain deeply engaged in the debate about Islam’s future. But the majority of dissidents are reformist believers who have come to realize that their religion must change if its followers are not to be condemned to an interminable cycle of violence.

The first group — the Islamist zealots — poses a threat to everyone. In the West, the existence of this group promises not only an increasing risk of terrorism but also a subtle erosion of the hard-won achievements of feminists and campaigners for minority rights: gender equality, religious tolerance and gay rights. And anyone who denies that this threat is growing — not only in Europe but in North America, too — just hasn’t looked at the data on immigration and on Muslim immigrants’ attitudes.

But the zealots’ vision of a violent return to the days of the prophet poses an even bigger threat to their fellow Muslims. They are undermining the position of the majority who simply want to lead a quiet life. Worse, they pose a constant lethal threat to the dissidents and reformers. We are the ones who face ostracism and rejection, who must brave all manner of insults, who must deal with the death threats — or face death itself.

Western policymakers today are so fearful of being accused of Islamophobia that they generally won’t touch Muslim reformers with a 10-foot pole. They would much rather make nice with the self-proclaimed representatives of “moderate Islam,” who on close inspection often turn out but to be anything but moderate. For this reason, our leaders are missing the boat on the Muslim Reformation.

“It is not your job,” Western governments are told, “to help bring about religious change.” So Western leaders stick to their decade-old script: “Islam is a religion of peace.”

But during the Cold War, no American president said: “Communism is an ideology of peace.” None said: “The Soviet Union is not truly communist.” Rather, the West celebrated and supported dissidents such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Andrei Sakharov and Václav Havel, who had the courage to challenge the Soviet system from within.

Today, there are many dissidents who challenge Islam. Yet the West either ignores them or dismisses them as “not representative.” This is a grave mistake. Reformers such as Asra Nomani, Irshad Manji, Tawfiq Hamid, Maajid Nawaz, Zuhdi Jasser, Saleem Ahmed, Yunis Qandil, Seyran Ates, Bassam Tibi and Abd al-Hamid al-Ansari must be supported and protected. These reformers should be as well known in the West as Solzhenitsyn, Sakharov and Havel were generations earlier.

The reformers’ task will not be easy. Nor was that of the Soviet dissidents. Nor, for that matter, was that of the Protestant reformers. But the Muslim Reformation is the world’s best shot at a solution to the problem President Obama calls “violent extremism.” The time for euphemism is over. The time for reform of Islam is, at long last, now.

A Response to Western Interventionism

Why Islamic Reform is Delayed

by Ismael Hossein-ZADEH

Recent geopolitical turmoil in the Arab/Muslim World, and the resulting proliferation of radical movements and groupings such as Al-Qaeda and ISIL, seems to have provide plenty of incendiary fodder for the propaganda mill of the proponents of the theory of “the clash of civilizations,” according to which the roots of conflicts in the Muslim world must be sought in Islam itself, in its alleged “incompatibility” with modernization and Western values [1].

Instead of calling the Charlie Hebdo or the 9/11 terrorist attacks mass murder criminal acts, proponents of this pernicious theory do not seem to be able to resist the politically expedient temptation of calling them acts of “war on our way of life” [2].

Although questionable, this explanation of terrorism and the concomitant justification of war and militarism harbor an element of dangerously misleading plausibility: once the public is convinced that the “hostile and irredeemable Islam or Islamists are out in force to drown our civilization,” pre-emptive war would be hailed as the logical response. The danger is further compounded because this explanation of terrorism possesses the power of self-fulfilling prophecy, the power to make what is theorized appear real.

Not only do such explanations tend to sow the seeds of hatred and ignorance, and are bound to poison international relations, but they also fail the test of history. The history of the relationship between the modern Western world and the Muslim world shows that, contrary to distorted popular perceptions in the West, from the time of their initial contacts with the capitalist West more than two centuries ago until almost the final third of the twentieth century, the Muslim people were quite receptive of the economic and political models of the modern world.

During that period of more than a century and a half, the majority of the political elite and/or national leaders viewed the rise of the modern West, and its spread into their territories, as an inevitable historical development that challenged them to chart their own programs of reform and development. Not only did the political elite, the intellectuals, and government leaders view reform and modernization as the way of the future, but so did many Islamic leaders and scholars, known as “Islamic modernizers” [3].

It was only after more than a century and a half of imperialistic pursuits and a series of humiliating policies in the region that the popular masses of the Muslim world turned to religion and the conservative religious leaders as sources of defiance, mobilization, and self-respect. This historical background indicates that for many Muslims the recent turn to religion often represents not so much a rejection of Western values and achievements as it is a way to resist or defy the oppressive policies and alliances of Western powers in the Muslim world. It also means that explanations of derailed and delayed historical transitions in the Muslim world, that is, of an Islamic reformation, rest more with the policies of the Western powers in the region than the alleged rigidity of Islam, or “the clash of civilizations.”

Early Responses to the Challenges of the Modern World

Not only did the early modernizers of the Muslim world embrace Western technology, but they also welcomed its civil and state institutions, its representational system of government, and its tradition of legal and constitutional rights. For example, the Iranian intellectuals Mulkum Khan (1833-1908) and Agha Khan Kermani (1853-96) urged Iranians to acquire a Western education and replace the Shariah (the religious legal code) with a modern secular legal code. Secular political leaders of this persuasion joined forces with the more liberal religious leaders in the Constitution Revolution of 1906, and forced the Qajar dynasty to set up a modern constitution, to limit the powers of the monarchy and give Iranians parliamentary representation [4].

Even some of the Ottoman sultans (kings) pursued Western models of industrialization and modernization on their own. For example, Sultan Mahmud II “inaugurated the Tanzimat (Regulation) in 1826, which abolished the Janissaries [the fanatical elite corps of troops organized in the 14th century], modernized the army and introduced some of the new technology.” In 1839 Sultan Abdulhamid “issued the Gulhane decree, which made his rule dependent upon a contractual relationship with his subjects, and looked forward to major reforms of the empire’s institutions” [5].

More dramatic, however, were the modernizing and/or secularizing programs of Egypt’s renowned modernizers Muhammad Ali (1769-1849) and his grandson Ismail Pasha (1803-95). They were so taken by the impressive achievements of the West that they embarked on breakneck modernizing programs that were tantamount to trying to hothouse the Western world’s achievements of centuries into decades: “To secularize the country, Muhammad Ali simply confiscated much religiously endowed property and systematically marginalized the Ulema [religious leaders], divesting them of any shred of power” [6].

In the face of dire conditions of underdevelopment and humiliating but unstoppable foreign domination, these modernizing national leaders viewed reformation not only as the way out of underdevelopment but also out of the yoke of foreign domination.

Not only the secular intellectuals, the political elite, and government leaders but also many Islamic leaders and scholars, known as “Islamic modernizers,” viewed modernization as the way of the future. But whereas the reform programs and policies of the political/national leaders often included secularization, at least implicitly, Islamic modernizers were eclectic: while seeking to adopt the sources of the strength of the West, including constitutionalism and government by representation, they wanted to preserve their cultural and national identities as well as Islamic principles and values as the moral foundation of the society. These Islamic modernizers included Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (1838-97), Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905), Qasim Amin (1863-1908), and Shaikh Muhammad Hussain Naini in Egypt and Iran; and Sayyid Ahmad Khan (1817-98) and Muhammad Iqbal (1875-1938) in India.

To be sure, there was resistance to change. But, by and large, nationalist reformers in many Muslim countries did manage to pursue vigorous agendas of social, economic, and political change. John Esposito, one of the leading experts of Islamic studies in the United States, describes the early attitude of the political and economic policy makers of the Muslim world toward the modern world of the West:

Both the indigenous elites, who guided government development programs in newly emerging Muslim states, and their foreign patrons and advisers were Western-oriented and Western-educated. All proceeded from a premise that equated modernization with Westernization. The clear goal and presupposition of development was that every day and in every way things should become more modern (i.e., Western and secular), from cities, buildings, bureaucracies, companies, and schools to politics and culture. While some warned of the need to be selective, the desired direction and pace of change were unmistakable [7].

Distorted, Derailed and Delayed Reformation

Resistance to change is not limited to Muslims or the Muslim world; change almost always generates resistance. In fact, the Christian Church’s nearly 400-year resistance to capitalist transformation in Europe was even more traumatic than that of the Muslim world. The resulting travail of transition created more social turbulence than has been observed in the context of the Muslim world. Whereas the Church of the Middle Ages anathemized the very idea of gain, the pursuit of gain and the accumulation of property are considered noble pursuits in Islam.

Opponents of transition to capitalism in Europe not only tried (and almost hanged) Robert Keane for having made a six-percent profit on his investment and “prohibited merchants from carrying unsightly bundles” of their merchandise, but also “fought for the privilege of carrying on in its fathers’ footsteps” [8]. As Karen Armstrong, author of a number of scholarly books on religious fundamentalism, points out, during the nearly 400 years of transition, the Western people often “experienced . . . bloody revolutions, reigns of terror, genocide, violent wars of religion, the despoliation of the countryside, vast social upheavals, exploitation in the factories, spiritual malaise and profound anomie in the new megacities” [9].

Muslim societies, like less-developed societies elsewhere, are expected, or compelled by the imperatives of the world market, to traverse the nearly four hundred-year journey of the West in a much shorter period of time. Furthermore, the travails of transition in the case of these belatedly developing countries (vis-à-vis the case of early developers of the West) are often complicated by foreign interventions and imperial/colonial pressures from outside.   External pressure has included not only direct colonial and/or imperial military force, but also covert and creeping pressure exerted from the more subtle market forces and agents such as the International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization and credit rating agencies like Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s.

Despite its turbulence, the painful process of transition to capitalism in the West was largely an internal process; no foreign force or interference could be blamed for the travails of transition. And the pains of transitions were thus gradually and grudgingly accepted as historical inevitabilities. Not so in the case of belatedly developing countries. Here, the pains of change and transition are sometimes perceived not as historical necessities but as products of foreign designs or imperialist schemes. Accordingly, the agony of change is often blamed (especially by the conservative proponents of the status quo) on external forces or powers: colonialism, imperialism, and (now) neo-liberalism.

Actual foreign intervention, realizing and reinforcing such perceptions, has thus had a retarding or delaying impact on the process of reform in the Muslim world. For intervention from outside often plays into the hands of the conservative, obscurantist elements that are quite adept at portraying their innate opposition to change as a struggle against foreign intrusion, thereby reinforcing resistance to reform, especially religious reform. Today, for example, U.S. and European interventions in the internal affairs of many countries such as Egypt, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Jordan, Turkey, and Nigeria far from facilitating the process of reform or helping the forces of change in these countries, are actually hurting such forces and delaying reform as they plays into the hands of their conservative opponents and strengthens the forces of resistance.

Contrary to the rising political influence of “radical Islamists” in recent years/decades, radical Islamic circles of the earlier periods did not sway much power over the direction of national economies and policies. Their opposition to Western values and influences was often in the form of passive “rejection or elusion” [10]. They simply refused to cooperate or deal with the colonial powers and their institutions (such as modern Western school systems) spreading in their midst: “They did not attempt to assume direct political control but used their position to preserve tradition as best as they could under the rapidly changing conditions of the time.” And while they “remained an important factor in influencing public opinion . . . , they basically used their position to encourage obedience to those in power” [11].

To the extent that conservative Islamic figures or groups actively opposed policies of change, such obscurantist challenges were almost always defeated, coerced, or co-opted by the modernizing, reforming, or revolutionary secular nationalist leaders. Thus, in all the major social movements of the first two-thirds of the twentieth century (that is, in the anti-colonial/anti-imperial national liberation movements as well as in the subsequent radical reform movements of a “non-capitalist” or “socialist-oriented” character of the 1950s and 1960s) national leadership and economic development programs lay with secular nationalists.

Those programs were fashioned either after the U.S. model of economic development, as in the case of the Shah of Iran and the King of Jordan, or after the Soviet model of “non-capitalist development,” as in the cases of Nasser’s Egypt, for example. While it is now relatively easier to see, in hindsight, the shortcomings and the failures of those development programs, such programs did at the time hold promises of lifting the respective societies out of dependence, poverty, and underdevelopment.

As long as the hopes and aspirations that were thus enlivened remained animated, the appeals of vague promises of an “Islamic alternative” were not strong enough to challenge the rule of the secular nationalist leaders and their development programs—and that meant, as mentioned earlier, the first two-thirds of the twentieth century.

By the late 1960s and early 1970s, however, it became clear that the largely US-sponsored industrialization and development programs in the Muslim (and other less-developed) countries were highly selective, extremely uneven and mostly geared to the interests of transnational corporations and their elite comprador allies in the host countries. All the propitious factors and circumstances that had until then nurtured the dreams of economic progress, democratic rights, and political sovereignty seemed unreal and disappointing. And as those hopes and dreams turned sour, the promises of an “Islamic alternative” began to sound appealing—hence, the resurgence of “political Islam” since the 1970s.

In brief, historical evidence refutes the claim that Islam and/or the Muslim world are inherently incompatible with modernization, and that, therefore, the rise of an Islamic militancy in the last several decades, and the violent reactions such as the Charlie Hebdo and 9/11 terrorist attacks, are essentially manifestations of “the clash of civilizations.” Close scrutiny of the Muslim world’s early responses to the challenges of the modern West reveals that, despite sporadic resistance, the overall policy was moving in the direction of reform and adaptation. That policy of adaptation and openness continued from the time of the Muslim world’s initial contacts with the modern world in the late eighteenth and the early nineteenth centuries until approximately the last third of the twentieth century. The recent resistance to Western values and the quest for a return to the Islamic ethos—and the concomitant delay in the Islamic reformation—are therefore more the products of interventionist geopolitical policies of Western powers than the purported rigidity of Islam.

Ismael Hossein-zadeh is Professor Emeritus of Economics (Drake University). He is the author of Beyond Mainstream Explanations of the Financial Crisis (Routledge 2014), The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism (Palgrave–Macmillan 2007), and the Soviet Non-capitalist Development: The Case of Nasser’s Egypt (Praeger Publishers 1989). He is also a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion


[1] Samuel Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York: Touchstone Books, 1997); Bernard, Lewis, What Went Wrong: Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).

[2] This essay draws heavily on Chapter 5 of my book, The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism (Palgrave-Macmillan 2007).

[3] John O. Voll, Islam: Continuity and Change in the Modern World, Second ed. (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1994).

[4] Karen Armstrong, Islam: A Short History (New York: The Modern Library, 2000).

[5] Ibid., p. 150.

[6] Ibid., pp. 150-51.

[7] John Esposito, The Islamic Threat (NY: Oxford University Press, 1992), p. 9.

[8] Robert Heilbroner, The Worldly Philosophers (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1972), p. 35.

[9] Armstrong, Islam: A Short History (cited above) p. 145.

[10] Wu Guying, “Middle East: The Roots of Conflict,” Asia Times (22 November 2002): <;.

[11] John O. Voll, Islam: Continuity and Change in the Modern World (cited above), p. 94.

42 thoughts on “The Islam Reformers vs. the Muslim Zealots

  1. Read this thread to understand the significance of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)’s move from Mecca to Medina (hijrah). :

    Quote: A religion contains within itself entirely all that it needs for its later growth and development. The ‘Hijrah’ migration of the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) and those of his Sahaaba (Radhiyallaahu nhum) who were ‘the first to lead the way’ from Makkah Mukarramah to Madinah Munawwarah in order to settle down there was not only an important event but a turning point in the history of Islam which evidently contributed to the progress and generation of Islamic heritage.

    Undoubtedly the Hijrah took place according to Allah Almighty’s Will; since the Prophet of Allah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) would take no such step except under Allah’s instructions in Whose Knowledge migration must have been the required course. In the eyes of the Muslims, the birth of the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) and forty years later, the beginning of the revelation of the Noble Qur’an were two events of singular importance but the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) signified neither of the events as the commencing epochs of a calendar reckoning. Before the Hijrah to Madinah Munawwarah, a number of companions of the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) had migrated to Abyssinia and were there when the Hijrah took place. But the migration to Abyssinia too was not made the starting point of the Islamic calendar. Thus, after the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) having signified the beginning of the calendrical reckoning from Hijrah (migration from Makkah to Madinah). The second Khalifah, Hazrath Umar (Radhiyallaahu nhu) made it compulsory for the dates to be inscribed on all official correspondence.

    Basically the Hijrah institutioned three important aspects of life: social, economics and political. In the social aspect when the first revelation was made to Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) a period of twelve (12) years was devoted by him to inculcate religion in the minds of individuals while no pattern of a collective life based on true religious concepts could be presented to the world. The situation in Makkah Mukarramah during the earlier part of the Prophet’s (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) career was that in a house-hold while the father was a believer, the son was an infidel, or the wife a believer and the husband an infidel. There were only a few houses where the entire family were Muslims. The status of the Muslim individuals in Makkah Mukarramah gave rise to the misconception that Islam, or believing in, the Noble and in the prophet was one’s personal affair; it pertained only to the hereafter and had nothing to do with collective life. It was only after Hijrah that people began to see clearly that Islam is a way of life which pays attention to and reforms every facet of human existence, giving directions regarding almost every moment of one’s conscious time. The Hijrah also made the Arabs in particular, to see as to what was a Muslim house-hold and a Muslim society. Hence, only after this event the world could see the aspect of social decency and decorum under Islam.

    A second reason for the importance of Hijrah is in view of its economic aspect. The economic effects were due to the permanent migration to Madinah Munawwarah by the Muslims. The matchless hospitality of the people of Madinah Munawwarah to the migrating Muslims, not only provided a shelter and a new peaceful home for the newcomers, but the Ansars (of Madinah) with a note-worthy passion of self-sacrifice accepted the incoming Muslims with great zeal and love. When after Hijrah, the companions and the followers of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) shifted from Makkah Mukarramah to Madinah Munawwarah, trade came into contact with agriculture and artisanship resulting in an economic revolution for the place. The migrants from Makkah having been taught and reformed by Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) himself for nearly 13 years, were not carefree and irresponsible men; they were God-fearing and righteous. The Ansars helped the migrants to the extent of being ready to divide all their belonging between themselves and the Muhaajirs. But the latter were not prepared to accept a status of mere idle dependants; so every one of them adopted ways and means to earn righteously for their own selves and did not like to be permanent burden on others. Initially, the Muhaajirs worked as labourers in the fields and gardens and construction works. Later they, being traders, started small trading activities which brought them into an economic competition with the Jews of Madinah Munawwarah.

    One aspect of the economy revolution was that the Muhaajir traders paid the right price to the growers for their produce since Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) had forbidden the practice of acquiring products on reduced prices in return of loans given to the artisans or to the cultivators. Thus, it was only after Hijrah that agriculture, industry and trade freely helped one another to bring about an integrated, balanced and unfettered economy for the Muslims.

    The third reason which made the Hijrah a very important event is the political freedom for the Muslims.Before Hijrah the Muslims had no say in any matter, internal or external. They were a minority against whom the hearts of the majority were full of enmity – the Muslims were an insignificant part of a set of dominating unbelievers in Makkah Mukarramah. The Hijrah made the Muslims Masters of their internal affairs, external relations and matters relating to war and peace. There was great understanding among the Muslims, for instance, in case a difference occurred between the Muslims and non-Muslims, the final decision was to be made by the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam). This showed that an autonomous Muslim set up was coming into existence. This was a beginning of a city-state which, within the life-time of the Prophet (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) or within a period of ten (10) years, expanded so as to encompass the entire Arabian peninsula. It is thus evident that the event of Hijrah turned a few hundred persons into a highly successful society. The expansion of Muslim dominations during the following centuries is a historical record. All this was possible due to the shaping of events as the result of Hijrah.Unqoute

    In my view, Ayaan is wrong to suggest the Prophet’s strategic retreat to Medina was to make war. It was to create a true Muslim society.–Din Merican

  2. So Ubermensch, as conceptualized by Nietzsche, wasn’t original, but were niches occupied by the likes of Hellenized Alexander the Great, Emperor Qin Shi-Huang, Cyrus and so on?? Okay. I can accept that. Not exactly Archetypes.

    Ms Ayaan already confessed she’s a ‘heretic’. Her characterization and labeling might not be accurate or even valid to the folks she needs to reach out to. So there’s No need trying to flog a dead messenger camel.. Everyone concerned, gets confused – not that 80% of the World cares One whit?

    She is already ‘fringed’, is she not?

  3. The Hijrah of & by the Prophet and his companions is not to be seen & understood merely as in the physical move over time & space but it was more involving a complete & comprehensive paradigm-shift in attitudes, perspectives and mental construct towards a new way of life. The success achieved within the short span of time of only 10 years could never ever be imagined possible in that era of human civilization. Certainly Ms Ayaan, who admitted having left the Faith & being a ‘murtad’, was intentionally trying to paint a misleading picture of Islam.

    It is NOT Islam that needs to be reformed but the Muslims, many of whom have already introduced too many innovations (bidaah) in the Faith. Instead of reforms, which could further corrupt or perhaps even ‘bastardize’ it, Islam needs to be RETURNED TO ITS ORIGINAL PRISTINE STATE AS FOUND IN MEDINA AFTER THE HIJRAH.
    A very good comment, my friend. We have allowed intermediaries to bastardise our religion. Today, we are dictated by their interpretations of what constitutes Islam. Politics has also corrupted it and it is now impossible to see how we can go back to the glory days of Islamic enlightenment.–Din Merican


    Perhaps someone is kind or brave enough to describe in some detail what this “pristine state” was like in reality, and not a romanticized version?

    Speaking in generalities is easy.

  5. “Western policymakers today are so fearful of being accused of Islamophobia that they generally won’t touch Muslim reformers with a 10-foot pole. They would much rather make nice with the self-proclaimed representatives of “moderate Islam,” who on close inspection often turn out but to be anything but moderate. For this reason, our leaders are missing the boat on the Muslim Reformation.”

    See it’s this kind of bullshit that makes Ayaan Hirsi Ali the kind of heretic that’s useless to reformers of any kind.

    Who are these Western policymakers ?

    The same Western policy makers who put self interest above all others and collude with the degenerate House of Saud ?

    The same Western policymakers who broker peace in the Middle East ?

    The same Western policy makers who declare a war on terror ?

    It would be nice if Hirsi Ali actually pointed out these so called reformers, so , y’know we can actually figure out what exactly she’s aiming for.

  6. Maybe have to turn the clock back to when Prophet Mohamad pbuh first became the Prophet. The Prophet was not a Sunni nor a Shia and neither did he teach the ways of Hanafis, Malikis, Hanbali or Shafiee. The only guidance was the Quran and the Seerah of the Prophet.

  7. “The Islam Reformers vs. the Muslim Zealots”

    In my view, Ayaan is wrong to suggest the Prophet’s strategic retreat to Medina was to make war. It was to create a true Muslim society.–Din Merican

    Yes indeed.

    Did some background study on her and noticed the following…

    “…As an avid reader, in the Netherlands she found new books and ways of thought that both stretched her imagination and frightened her.

    “Sigmund Freud’s work” introduced her to an “alternative moral system” that was “not based on religion”.[21]…

    (Freud developed the theory that humans have an unconscious in which sexual and aggressive impulses are in perpetual conflict for supremacy with the defences against them.- anti-female genital mutilation?)

    “…She became disenchanted with Islam, and was shocked by the 11 September attacks in the United States in 2001, claimed by Muslims. After listening to videotapes of Osama bin Laden citing “words of justification” in the Qur’an for the attacks, she wrote, “I picked up the Quran and the hadith and started looking through them, to check. I hated to do it, because I knew that I would find Bin Laden’s quotations in there.”[22] During this time of transition, she came to regard the Qur’an as relative—it was a historical record and “just another book”.[23]

    Reading Atheïstisch manifest (“Atheist Manifesto”) of Leiden philosopher Herman Philipse completed her decision to give up religion. She renounced Islam and became an atheist in 2002. She began to formulate her critique of Islam and Islamic culture, published many articles on these topics, and became a frequent speaker on television news programs and in public debate forums. She discussed her ideas at length in a book entitled De Zoontjesfabriek (The Son Factory) (2002). In this period, she first began to receive death threats.[19]…

    “…She was born as Ayaan Hirsi Magan in 1969[11] in Mogadishu, Somalia.[12] Her father Hirsi Magan Isse was a prominent member of the Somali Salvation Democratic Front and a leading figure in the Somalian Revolution. Shortly after she was born, her father was imprisoned due to his opposition to the Siad Barre government.[13][14]…

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali, 2006
    Born Ayaan Hirsi Ali
    13 November 1969 (age 45)
    Mogadishu, Somalia
    Citizenship United States
    formerly Somalia,
    then the Netherlands
    Alma mater Leiden University (MSc)
    De Horst Institute (P)
    Occupation Politician, writer
    Known for Submission
    anti-female genital mutilation
    Women’s Rights
    Criticism of Islam
    Political party
    2001–2002: Dutch Labour Party
    2002–2006 People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy

    Note this – Religion None (Atheist)
    (Prev. Islam)

    Spouse(s) Niall Ferguson

    “…Niall Campbell Douglas Ferguson (/ˈniːl ˈfɜr.ɡə.sən/; born 18 April 1964)[1] is a British historian from Scotland. He is the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University. He is also a Senior Research Fellow of Jesus College, University of Oxford, a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford University and visiting professor at the New College of the Humanities. His specialties are international history, economic history, particularly hyperinflation and the bond markets, and British and American imperialism.[2] He is known for his provocative, contrarian views.[3]…

    Ferguson was an advisor to John McCain’s U.S. presidential campaign in 2008, and announced his support for Mitt Romney in 2012 and has been a vocal critic of Barack Obama.[6][7]….

    Ferguson is a Senior Research Fellow of Jesus College, University of Oxford, and a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He is a resident faculty member of the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, and an advisory fellow of the Barsanti Military History Center at the University of North Texas….

    “The House of Rothschild remains Ferguson’s only major work to have received prizes and wide acclaim from other historians. Research restrains sweeping, absolute claims: Rothschild is the last book Ferguson wrote for which he did original archival work, and his detailed knowledge of his subject meant that his arguments for it couldn’t be too grand.”[20]…

    Ferguson has often described the European Union as a disaster waiting to happen,[29] and has criticised President Vladimir Putin of Russia for authoritarianism. In Ferguson’s view, certain of Putin’s policies, if they continue, may stand to lead Russia to catastrophes equivalent to those that befell Germany during the Nazi era.[30]…

    Ferguson wrote two volumes about the prominent Rothschild family:

    The House of Rothschild: Volume 1: Money’s Prophets: 1798–1848[57]
    The House of Rothschild: Volume 2: The World’s Banker: 1849–1999[58]

    The books won the Wadsworth Prize for Business History and were also short-listed for the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Literary Award and the American National Jewish Book Award.[28]

    Finally to share this…

    Tavistock Institute for Global Manipulation –

    The Tavistock Agenda –

    You be the judge.

  8. “The Islam Reformers vs. the Muslim Zealots”

    Basically, it appears Ayaan Hirsi Ali was disillusioned about her life experiience, and got “Manupulated/Brainwashed” by Sigmund Freud’s work…

    Her husband Niall Campbell Douglas Ferguson was already “Well indoctrinated” so that is how he was “Placed/Promoted” to the Think-Tank Groups & in the Corridors of Power to do his “Master’s biddings” towards the Global Elite’s (Rothschilds, Rockefella, etc) NWO agenda of DEBTs creation worldwide

    Both of them are a perfect fit for their assignments, same as the Economic Hit Man (John Perkins confession & Jho Low…???).

    As much as they are well taken care of, they are Pawns/Puppets/Slaves fo their Masters.

    “The few who understand the system will either be so interested in its profits or be so dependent upon its favours that there will be no opposition from that class,

    while on the other hand, the great body of people, mentally incapable of comprehending the tremendous advantage that capital derives from the system, will bear its burdens without complaint,

    and perhaps without even suspecting that the system is inimical to their interests.” – The Rothschild brothers of London writing to associates in New York, 1863.

    You be the judge.

  9. I am the only baptized Malaysian Christian Chinese in my immediate family. I have been trying hard to understand from a Malay Muslim perspective. I wrote a blog, after PM Najib’s call for Wasatiyah.

    I could not figure out if Article 153 is Islamic or not. I would assume it is Islamic to apply a tax on a Christian like me. But, it ought to come in the form of a tax. It should not be worded as special rights, due to either ‘need’ based, nor because of Ketuanan. Ownership of land based on race itself runs contrary to Islamic value.

    Yet, as of now, I know our nation has an unresolved killings that took place in 1969. Most Muslims would not want ‘Special Rights’ be named as a poll tax on non-Mulsims. Yet, the killing took place in 1969, a few years before the nation is supposed to discuss the fairness of ‘Special Rights’ 15 years after Merdeka, as per Reid Commission’s suggestion.

    To complicate matter more, I am not sure if faithful Muslims should exercise punishment on Christians. Should Christians in Malaysia be seen as a group of people whose reward is with the Lord, or a group whose receive painful punishment amongst faithful Malaysian Muslims?

    With that note, I have asked myself the same question. It is a difficult matter to Christians on how to best read our own text as per how we ought to view Muslims. I wrote this

    My conclusion is “forgiveness is the place where justice and love meets.” Love is proverbially a very Christian thing. Yet, what I suggested from how I get to read Jonah is not a very common understanding amongst Christians.

    Din, Aliefalfa, do help us out to verbalize your thoughts?

  10. Every single Islamic “reformer” or “dissident” have their own opinion of how to do “reform”.. The discussion inevitably talk about religious text, where to start, what to change etc. But it shows NO ONE has wrapped their heads around the challenge itself.

    Reformers and dissident have to face the fact, that the very long and detailed religious text of Islam makes it UNUSUAL in history of any challenge of social change. You are talking tackling the long history itself – not only what happened, but what it meant, what was right, what was wrong. You are not going to be able to take it on if there is no central proposition to bring people together. Its like any venture, it got to have a good idea everyone wants to buy into.. That central proposition have to be able to take people through all the text, readings and self-interest stacked against the change.

    LKY said the best solution “:Churchmen, lay preachers, priests, monks, Muslim theologians, all those who claim divine sanction or holy insights, take off your clerical robes before you take on anything economic or political”. Anything else is just second class proposition.

  11. The enormity of challenge of getting back to enlightened Islam is demonstrated by ISIS when ISIS burnt alive the captured Jordanian pilot and at the same time quoted 5 instances of scriptures to solemnly justify the treatment on the Jordanian pilot. How large is the challenge? It is as large as the fact that none of us here can convincingly refute ISIS’s cases described in their publication Dabiq. They too quoted from Quran and Hadiths, and on what basis we can say they quoted the wrong ones when both sides agree Quran is direct dictate of God and Hadiths are sayings and conduct of the prophet, who demonstrated the most exemplary model of human behavior?

    The version of Dabiq having the scriptural cases to support the burning alive can be found in Check date after the Jordanian pilot incidence. See among us here who can refute the cases *without* dismissing ISIS as “not even human beings” or criminals because we know non-human-beings and criminal don’t make glossy publications and don’t quote from any books.

  12. “We have allowed intermediaries to bastardise our religion” – a strong language from a learned mind, surprisingly.

    Politics i.e control and collection of tithes, most probably, could have been the main cause for the split in Islam dividing them into two camps – the Sunnis and Shias, sworn enemies to each other even to this date. Following the death of Prophet Muhammad, there was, perhaps, a fight to the finish, so to speak, as to who should take over leadership from the Prophet, with both camps using their interpretations of what constitues the real teachings of the Prophet to follow and practise as justifications. Can one say that this was the starting point for all the perceived ills within Islam?

    Another commentator’s call for Islam to be returned to its original pristine state is noble but may not be practical in today’s world in some crucial aspects. Assuming hudud (like killing, amputating limbs, flogging and stonning for crimes like murder, rapes, thefts etc) was practised during Prophet’s time, should it be mandated as law for all Muslim countries today? If given a choice will all Muslims or for that matter even a majority of them will accept it?

    Islam, when related to fundamental practices comes up top worthy of emulation and following. Some samples:

    Zakat: A compulsory contribution of one’s income to a common charity mainly to help the poor and the underpriviledged. All religions talk about charity and helping the poor but only Islam defines what portion of one’s income need to be contributed (one-third I believe)

    Prayer: To be done 5 times a day. The logic behind may be that the more times one prays the more you get internally purified and enlightened and reminded of your mortality and the need to be religious and be helpful, not harmful to others.

    Puasa: To experiece pangs of hunger and to understand what it means for the poor to be without food. This going through of self-imposed deprivation devlops one’s mind to value food, not to be wasteful and be compassionte and help those suffering hunger.

    Haj: This is the Islamic version of pilgrimage equivalent to those practised in some other faiths (like to Lourdes by Catholics and Ganges by Hindus). This can be said to scale the pinnacle level of prayers. A Muslim who does it seeks forgiveness for the wrongs he did, seeks Allah’s blessings and comes back anew spiritually energised and enlightened.

    Pristine and nobler Islam is in practising important basic values enshrined thereto. The Islamic Ummah should bring peace within its household first and the first step would be the closing of ranks between Sunnis and Shias and end all the hatred and killings between the two parties. Also, bringing back hudud – the punishment law of 7th century will not embellish but diminish the glory of Islam in today’s advanced practical world.

  13. I think Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s atheism and political affiliations subvert her “message” and in the end while she does occasionally make some astute observations, I never really find much to discuss especially since she is on those “rejection of God” atheist.

    On this topic I much prefer this fairly recent Ismael Hossein-zadeh piece on counterpunch.

    Why Islamic Reform is Delayed

  14. Miss Hirsi Ali, being heretical reformer, is of course challenging the Islam’s doctrine. Her words are of course controversy. However, for those people, Muslims or not, who think of tackling the challenge of reforming Islamic world should be ready to refute convincingly of what is written by the Islamic State in the 7th issue of their publication Dabiq:

    In burning the crusader pilot alive and burying
    him under a pile of debris, the Islamic State
    carried out a just form of retaliation for his
    involvement in the crusader bombing campaign
    which continues to result in the killing of
    countless Muslims who, as a result of these
    airstrikes, are burned alive and buried under
    mountains of debris. This is not to even mention
    those Muslims – men, women, and children –
    who survive the airstrikes and are left injured
    and disabled, and in many cases suffering from
    severe burns that cause them pain and anguish
    every minute of every day.

    [An-Nahl: 126].

    This āyāh sufficiently demonstrates the shar’ī
    validity of burning someone alive in a case of
    qisās (retribution). The confusion perpetuated
    by the hizbiyyīn, the palace “scholars,” and
    the ignorant defeatists, is with regards to the
    authentic statement of Allah’s Messenger
    (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), “None should
    punish with fire except Allah” [Sahīh al-Bukhārī].
    As a result of their dishonesty in conveying the
    truth, the deviants concealed the fact that there
    is a famous exception to this ruling made in
    the case of qisās and maslahah (overwhelming
    benefit), and that in addition to the
    aforementioned āyah from Sūrat An-Nahl, the
    fuqahā’ used as evidence for these exceptions
    the following āyah from Sūrat Al-Baqarah.
    {So whoever has assaulted you, then assault
    him in the same way that he has assaulted you}
    [Al-Baqarah: 194].
    They further used as evidence the hadīth of the
    ‘Uranī men whose eyes were gouged out by
    the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) with
    heated iron [Al-Bukhārī and Muslim].
    Furthermore, the scholars highlighted the fact
    that the Sahābah (radiyallāhu ‘anhum) punished
    people with fire in a number of incidents that
    took place throughout the course of the history
    of the rightly-guided Khulafā’. Here we will
    mention some of these incidents.
    The first example: In his letter to the murtaddīn
    of the Arabian Peninsula during the riddah wars,
    Abū Bakr as-Siddīq (radiyallāhu ‘anh) threatened
    to burn them alive if they did not repent from
    their riddah. In it he states, “I have sent to you so
    and so [Khālid Ibn al-Walīd] with an army of the
    Muhājirīn, the Ansār, and their good followers,
    and I’ve ordered him to not fight anyone or kill
    anyone until he calls him to the call of Allah.
    Whoever answers him, accepts the truth, halts
    his evil, and does good, my envoy will accept
    this from him and will aid him in it. If he refuses,
    I’ve ordered him to wage war against them over
    such, to not spare anyone he is able to kill, to
    burn them alive with fire, to kill them in a severe
    manner using all means, to enslave their women
    and children, and to not accept from any one of
    them anything but Islam” [Tārīkh at-Tabarī; AlBidāyah
    The second example: Likewise during his
    khilāfah, Abū Bakr (radiyallāhu ‘anh) gathered
    a number of his advisors from amongst the
    Sahābah and consulted them about the case of
    a man found guilty of committing sodomy. The
    one who had the most severe position was ‘Alī
    (radiyallāhu ‘anh) who said, “This is a sin that
    no nation had committed before except for
    one nation, and you know how Allah dealt with
    them. I view that we should burn him alive.” So
    the Sahābah agreed with his position, and Abū
    Bakr wrote to Khālid ordering him to burn the
    man alive [Al-Bayhaqī].3
    The third example: In another incident that
    occurred during the riddah wars, a man
    named al-Fujā’ah came to Abū Bakr as-Siddīq
    (radiyallāhu ‘anh) claiming to be Muslim, and
    asked Abū Bakr to prepare an army for him to
    lead in fighting the murtaddīn. Abū Bakr did so,
    and the man wound up killing and robbing
    anyone he came across, including Muslims.
    When this reached Abū Bakr, he sent an army
    to detain him. He was detained and brought
    back, and Abū Bakr ordered that he be taken
    to the area of al-Baqī’ and burned alive [AlBidāyah
    The fourth example: During the riddah wars,
    when Khālid Ibn al-Walīd defeated Tulayhah alAsadī
    in the battle of Buzākhah, Abū Bakr wrote
    to him ordering him to not be lenient and to
    make an example out of anyone he captured
    from amongst the kuffār who had killed
    Muslims. So Khālid remained in Buzākhah for a
    month hunting down the murtaddīn and taking
    revenge for the Muslims who had been killed.
    Some of the murtaddīn he would burn alive,
    others he would stone to death, and others
    he would throw off the tops of mountains [AlBidāyah

    The fifth example: Abū Mūsā al-Ash’arī
    reported that the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi
    wa sallam) sent both him and Mu’ādh Ibn Jabal
    (radiyallāhu ‘anhumā) to Yemen, and instructed
    them to teach the people the Qur’ān. Mu’ādh
    came one day to visit Abū Mūsā and found with
    him a man who was chained up, so he said, “O
    my brother, were we sent to punish the people
    or were we sent to teach them and order them
    with what would benefit them?” So Abū Mūsā
    said, “He embraced Islam and then disbelieved.”
    So Mu’ādh said, “By He who sent Muhammad
    with the truth, I will not leave until I burn him
    with fire.” So Abū Mūsā said, “We still have some
    unfinished business with him.” So Mu’ādh said,
    “By Allah, I will never leave!” So some firewood
    was brought and a fire was lit, and he threw him
    in [Al-Mu’jam al-Kabīr – at-Tabarānī].
    Thus, the Islamic State not only followed the
    footsteps of Allah’s Messenger (sallallāhu
    ‘alayhi wa sallam) in his harshness towards the
    disbelievers, but also emulated the example
    of his righteous Sahābah (radiyallāhu ‘anhum)
    by punishing with fire in retaliation, and for
    the purpose of terrorizing the murtaddīn and
    making examples out of them.

  15. Reform Islam?

    Reform the Immutable, Eternal, Final Word of Allah to and for all mankind?

    How do you go about “reforming Islam?” How? By saying that the Word of Allah, the Supreme Being, the Creator of this Universe is somehow not quite so Immutable, Eternal, and so Muslims today should bring It up to date to be more commensurate with “today’s advanced practical world?” I suppose that in 100 years from now when the World is even more “advanced”, the Muslims then would have to do another round of “Reformation?”, and so on till the Day of Judgement?

    This idea about reforming Islam is the most sacrilegious blasphemy I’ve ever heard. How dare any sane Muslim to even think it, because to “reform” something is to suggest or admit that that something is somehow not quite right.

  16. “However, for those people, Muslims or not, who think of tackling the challenge of reforming Islamic world should be ready to refute convincingly of what is written by the Islamic State in the 7th issue of their publication Dabiq:”

    What is there to refute convincingly or otherwise ? Cherry picking from a religious text, comes naturally for any religious bigot or extremist.

    Far more difficult is justifying a relationship with a country which laws are in direct violation of most human rights conventions and a “royal family” who supports and exports the most virulent kind of Islam.

    That’s probably the main reason why Islam is difficult to reform.

    A friend who reads my post here reminded me that there is a central power of modern political Islam and it is the House of Saud and all it’s distributaries

  17. The Israeli government and its right-wing policies also fuel religious radicalism :

    The Jim Crow Holy Land

    Phyllis Bennis
    March 20, 2015
    Foreign Policy In Focus

    Our own progress against racism in the United States remains too recent, too fragile, and too incomplete to go on abetting apartheid in Israel.

    The last days of the campaign sounded an awful lot like the Jim Crow South, when African Americans had officially won the right to vote but still faced massive discrimination.

    On election morning, a powerful white official running for re-election urged his followers to get out and vote, warning that minority voters were turning out in large numbers — and those trouble-making civil rights agitators, he complained, were busing them to the polls.

    But this wasn’t Mississippi or Alabama circa 1965. It was Israel in 2015.

    And the candidate wasn’t some protégé of Bull Connor or George Wallace shouting into a bullhorn. It was Israel’s prime minister writing on his Facebook page.

    Naked Racism

    The leader of Washington’s closest Middle East ally — the storied “only democracy in the Middle East” — was pushing his right-wing supporters to get out and vote. “The right-wing government is in danger,” he warned, because — in his words — “Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls. Left-wing organizations are busing them out.”

    The naked racism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s last-minute electioneering was repellent. But more horrifying was the fact that it worked.

    The language aimed to frighten right-wing Israeli Jewish voters with the specter of a large turnout among the Palestinians who make up 20 percent of Israeli citizens. The gambit brought back to Netanyahu’s Likud Party the far-right voters who otherwise might have voted for one of the even more extreme right-wing parties.

    It worked. Likud trumped its challengers from the right as well as the left, and Netanyahu swept to victory.

    Of course, there were other ploys to reach extreme-right voters as well. Netanyahu’s last-minute promise that he would oppose the creation of a Palestinian state — seemingly reversing a position he’d laid out several years earlier — may have been shocking to many in the United States. But it was actually consistent with the prime minister’s longstanding behavior.

    As far back as 2001, Netanyahu bragged that he “actually stopped the Oslo Accord,” the diplomatic framework that was supposed to give rise to a Palestinian state. For the last six years, with one brief and ineffectual freeze, Netanyahu has led successive Israeli governments in building new settlements in the West Bank, “Judaizing” occupied Arab East Jerusalem, and attacking Gaza with brutal and illegal force — all with the intended effect of derailing any possibility of even a rump Palestinian state, let alone one that would be independent, viable, and contiguous.

    Netanyahu attempted to dial back his reversal after the election. But given the prime minister’s consistent opposition to ending the occupation, President Obama should reject that lie.

    Rethinking Old Assumptions

    Indeed, the challenge for the Obama administration now is not how to rebuild its frayed relationship with Netanyahu, or even its relationship with Israel writ large. That relationship has been way too special for far too long, and it needs to be brought down to normal size.

    In the past few years, we’ve seen Israel continue to act in violation of human rights, in violation of international law, and in direct contravention of the very values that it claims to share with the United States — unless those values happen to concern a continuing legacy of racism toward indigenous peoples and others outside the majority demographic.

    Unfortunately, those violations were just ratified — again — by Israeli voters.

    Obama’s challenge, then, is to craft an entirely new approach to dealing with Tel Aviv. It’s time to rethink the old assumptions, driven by pro-Israel lobbies and by outdated Cold War strategies, that called for providing Israel with uncritical support, diplomatic impunity, guaranteed military protection, and billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars in military aid.

    Those have been the key features of the U.S.-Israeli relationship for at least 48 years, and they have failed.

    They’ve failed to bring Israel’s nuclear arsenal under international inspection or to make Israel sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. They’ve failed to bring about an end to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, its rejection of the Palestinians’ internationally guaranteed right of return, or its discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel. They’ve failed to encourage an Israel that respects human rights and accepts equality for all as an essential national goal.

    As Obama considers the possibility — so long in coming — of reducing its diplomatic protection of Israel at the United Nations and elsewhere, his administration should keep in mind that litany of failures.

    The U.S. relationship with Israel has sustained and cosseted an over-armed, nuclearized state that not only expropriates and occupies other peoples’ lands and deprives 20 percent of its own citizens of crucial national rights, but has also worked deliberately to derail U.S. and international negotiations with Iran. The United States can no longer welcome Israeli leaders who rely on openly racist provocations to win votes in support of apartheid policies or foolish wars.

    A Normal Relationship

    It’s time for an entirely new connection — one based not on a “special relationship,” but on the normal ties Washington shares with most other countries.

    A normal relationship means reconsidering why U.S. taxpayers send $3.1 billion to Israel every year — that’s 55 percent of all U.S. military aid — when Israel, according to the IMF, is the 25th wealthiest country in the world.

    It means asking why we don’t enforce the Leahy Law, which prohibits sending arms to any military unit known to commit human rights violations, when even the State Department’s own annual reports document patterns of Israeli violations. It means replacing our current “we-will-protect-Israel-no-matter-what-it-does” strategy with a new commitment to reaching a solution between Israelis and Palestinians based on human rights, international law, and equality for all.

    A normal relationship, in short, means ending U.S. complicity in Israel’s violations.

    Our own progress against racism in the United States remains too recent, too fragile, and too incomplete to allow our government to provide support to those relying on racist appeals to win elections abroad — especially when they include the leader of the U.S.-armed, U.S.-funded, and U.S.-protected “only democracy” in the Middle East.

    Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

    This article is a joint publication of Foreign Policy In Focus and

  18. Conrad March 31, 2015 at 12:36 am
    “Western policymakers today are so fearful of being accused of Islamophobia that they generally won’t touch Muslim reformers with a 10-foot pole. They would much rather make nice with the self-proclaimed representatives of “moderate Islam,” who on close inspection often turn out but to be anything but moderate. For this reason, our leaders are missing the boat on the Muslim Reformation.” – Ayaan Hirsi Ali

    “See it’s this kind of bullshit that makes Ayaan Hirsi Ali the kind of heretic that’s useless to reformers of any kind.” – Conrad

    My thoughts exactly. Years ago, I saw Ayaan Hirsi Ali on some American news program, she sounded just like the other neocons bent on bringing democracy to the Middle East countries by bombing them back to the stone age.

    Her “leaders” are so deep in it at both sides of the conflict, can she not know when the rest of the world does? I read her only when posted on this blog, but in my book, though they are on different sides, she and Hadi Awang go to the same file.

  19. “The Islam Reformers vs. the Muslim Zealots”


    Your intellectual readers have presented some great & enlightening comments.

    Also to share this on the Islamic “Software malware” introduced at Al Azhar, Cairo, Egypt in 1899…

    “…Abduh was known for his reformist views about Islam. But, in How We Defended Orabi, A.M. Broadbent declared that, “Sheikh Abdu was no dangerous fanatic or religious enthusiast, for he belonged to the broadest school of Moslem thought, held a political creed akin to pure republicanism, and was a zealous Master of a Masonic Lodge.”[27] Like the Ismailis before him, he would advance his students progressively into deeper levels of heresy. To the higher initiates, he would reveal the doctrines of the Scottish Rite and the philosophy of one-world government. However, for those Abduh deemed were much more disposed, he would introduce to an officer of British intelligence from London.[28]
    Rashid Rida

    Rashid Rida

    From 1888, until his death in 1905, Abduh regularly visited the home and office of Lord Cromer. In 1892, he was named to run the administrative Committee for the Al Azhar mosque and university, the most prestigious educational institution in Islam, and the oldest university in the world. From that post, he reorganized the entire Muslim system in Egypt, and because of Al Azhar’s reputation, much of the Islamic world as well.

    In 1899, Lord Cromer, made Abduh the Grand Mufti of Egypt. He was now the chief legal authority in Islam, as well as the Masonic Grand Master of the United Lodge of Egypt. Lord Cromer was an important member of England’s Baring banking family, that had grown rich off of the opium trade in India and China. His motive in making Abduh the most powerful figure in all of Islam was to change the law forbidding interest banking. Abduh then offered a contrived interpretation of the Koran, to create the requisite loophole, giving British banks free reign in Egypt. Of Abduh, Lord Cromer related, “I suspect my friend Abduh was in reality an agnostic,” and he said of Abduh’s Salafi reform movement that, “They are the natural allies of the European reformer.”[29]

    The Salafi movement then became allied with the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia, through another Freemason, Mohammed Rashid Rida, who, after the death of Afghani in 1897, and Abduh in 1905, assumed the leadership of the Salafis Rida had become a member of the Indissoluble Bond at a young age. He was promoted through Afghani’s Masonic society through his reading of Al-Urwah al Wuthkah, which he later confessed was the greatest influence in his life. Rida had never met Afghani, but in 1897, he had gone to Egypt to study with Mohammed Abduh. Though Rida did not share his master’s opinions about the Bahai movement, it was through his influence that the Salafi movement became firmly aligned with the State of Saudi Arabia.

    Versus this in 1980 Saudi Arabia…

    At the end of the day, this is what that matters most…

    You be the judge.

  20. FLYER 168 : Exactly the point… which is why al-Azhar can in no way be considered an authority on our religion.

    Fortunately Islam does not have a church.If it did our pope would probably sit in Cairo with his puppet masters elsewhere.

  21. “What is there to refute convincingly or otherwise ? Cherry picking from a religious text, comes naturally for any religious bigot or extremist.” Conrad.

    The Islamic doctrine states that the Quran is the immutable dictate of God and we all must emulate the Prophet’s every conduct. This doctrine precludes any Muslim from criticizing quotes sourced from Quran (and Hadiths) and cited by the Islamic State. The silence of this blog and other places on the cited quotes is the proof that the Muslims are in the bind (between a rock and a hard place). Criticizing and qualifying the quotes implies scriptures being not the immutable dictate of God. Agreeing with the quotes defies contemporary norms. All a Muslim can do in this situation are:

    1) Claiming the Islamic State is cherry picking from scriptures as if cherry-picking good quotes by people not belonging to the Islamic State is not cherry picking,

    2) Dismissing the Islamic State as criminals or, worse, not even human beings. But we all know animals and criminals do not quote from any books, saved religious books.

    3) Dismissing the Islamic State as having bad intention (bigotry) as if higher order morality can be found beyond literal meaning of the Quran and recorded conduct of the prophet. But, is higher order morality can be found beyond literal meaning of the Quran and recorded conducts of the prophet per Islamic doctrine? The answer is NO.

    Actually, silence of people upon confronting scriptural quotes from so-called extremists is precisely the reason of needing reflection and, upon verbalized, convincing counter-argument.

    Miss Hirsi Ali comes out with one counter-argument by differentiating Mecan Muslims and Medina Muslims, and therefore also differentiating good Prophet’s conduct and bad Prophet’s conduct. With that counter-argument, she has a basis to refute cases cited by the Islamic State. That of course makes her heretical per Islamic doctrine which states every Muslim must emulate Prophet’s every conduct. She is also between a rock and a hard place, but, instead of remain silence, she choose to chip on the rock. While others chirp.

  22. Isa Manteqi, yes indeed on your comment & thank you.
    We ourselves must be the “true” role models….

  23. “The Islamic doctrine states that the Quran is the immutable dictate of God and we all must emulate the Prophet’s every conduct. This doctrine precludes any Muslim from criticizing quotes sourced from Quran (and Hadiths) and cited by the Islamic State. ”

    And yet there are many Muslims who do criticize , call for revaluation and reinterpret quotes from the Quran – even in this country – and have called and/or distanced themselves from the Islamic State.

    “The silence of this blog and other places on the cited quotes is the proof that the Muslims are in the bind (between a rock and a hard place). ”

    Huh ? So let me get this straight, you want Muslims to disavow certain quotes from the Quran as opposed to Muslims outright designating IS as a terrorist organization, calling for the imprisonment or detention of Muslims joining the IS and other measures that ensure Muslims don’t join this deviant group ?

    “Criticizing and qualifying the quotes implies scriptures being not the immutable dictate of God. Agreeing with the quotes defies contemporary norms. ”

    And, in case you have not been following, this is exactly what happens in the Muslim world with regards to its sectarianisms – which merely means that Islam is not as monolithic as your quote implies.

    “All a Muslim can do in this situation are:

    1) Claiming the Islamic State is cherry picking from scriptures as if cherry-picking good quotes by people not belonging to the Islamic State is not cherry picking,”

    What does this even mean ?

    “2) Dismissing the Islamic State as criminals or, worse, not even human beings. But we all know animals and criminals do not quote from any books, saved religious books.”

    Maybe not animals but criminals more often than not rationalize their behaviour using a variety of means including various political ideologies, works of fiction etc.

    3) Dismissing the Islamic State as having bad intention (bigotry) as if higher order morality can be found beyond literal meaning of the Quran and recorded conduct of the prophet. But, is higher order morality can be found beyond literal meaning of the Quran and recorded conducts of the prophet per Islamic doctrine? The answer is NO.

    I have no idea what you trying to say here. I am curious though.

    “Actually, silence of people upon confronting scriptural quotes from so-called extremists is precisely the reason of needing reflection and, upon verbalized, convincing counter-argument.”

    Maybe you have not been paying attention but there are many Muslims who challenge quotes from the Quran all the time. I just linked to an article on another thread where a local Imam just did that concerning hudud.

    “Miss Hirsi Ali comes out with one counter-argument by differentiating Mecan Muslims and Medina Muslims, and therefore also differentiating good Prophet’s conduct and bad Prophet’s conduct.”

    No, What she has been doing is attempting to create a kind of historical and cultural revisionism attempting to appeal with easy dualism which her Western audiences are comfortable with.

    “With that counter-argument, she has a basis to refute cases cited by the Islamic State. That of course makes her heretical per Islamic doctrine which states every Muslim must emulate Prophet’s every conduct. She is also between a rock and a hard place, but, instead of remain silence, she choose to chip on the rock. While others chirp.”

    She hasn’t really refuted anything because her target audience are not Muslims – in case you haven’t figured that out yet. Muslims who don’t support IS interpret the Quran to justify their stand or just don’t support them on moral grounds.

    There have been far too many Muslims scholars who have really chipped at the rock but have been tortured or imprisoned or killed in their own societies. Many of them in Saudi Arabia. Of course people like Hirsi Ali don’t champion or shine a spotlight on their work. That would be inconvenient for a number of reasons.

  24. And here’s more chipping on the rock by a Western woman :

    Sweden’s feminist foreign minister has dared to tell the truth about Saudi Arabia. What happens now concerns us all :

    And of course our man in the White House :

    In one day of diplomacy, Obama showcased an American double standard :

    A good Question :

  25. The true reformation will come from the astonishing number of new converts to Islam… so many of whom live in the West.

    They choose Islam after careful thought and much study. And then they LIVE by Islam.

  26. This is a classic statement from Isa Manteqi: ” The true reformation will come from the astonishing number of new converts to Islam… so many of whom live in the West. They choose Islam after careful thought and much study. And then they LIVE by Islam”

    Every single religion is also embraced by those from other religions as well as those who may be non- religious or no God believers. This is not unique to Islam. I sense that the biggest convert group in the world in this regard is new Christians i.e those leaving their religion for Christianity.

    All religions except Islam operate on a two-way traffic platform. You can come in and go. There is no death penalty for those leaving their religion to embrace another. The taste of the pudding is in the eating. Perish the blasphemy law and one would be able to see whether Islam can hold itself as now or will it see thousands leaving the house of Allah.

    My observation tells me that Malay Muslims abide by Islam that they value, love, practise and stand by. The crowds for Friday prayers at all mosques keep on rising. Seeing that sometimes fires my sense of spirituality. What may drive them away (even without blashphemy laws in place) is giving meaning and life to old laws like the huded and for the ulamas to wield the clubs to knock on other peoples’ head without justification or deep thought.

  27. @ Shiou , you sound like an outstanding Islamic scholar, kudos to you .
    Flyer 168, Conrad & Din Merican, very exhaustive & much appreciated – convincing.

    I feel convinced that the author of the article who claims to be a heretic, not so much because she feels disenchanted with her religion, its all about her own personal motives…..self-motivation abounds. Well, her right & freedom and also her choice – Quranic revelation : ‘ It is your own conduct which will lead you to reward or punishment , as if you had been destined therefor ‘ , so be it.

    Although Dalai Llama is a practising Buddhist, I have personal admiration for this man who is a great spiritualist –
    In answer to Westerner’s question about the meaning of life, he retorted : THE MEANING OF LIFE IS THE EMBODIMENT OF ALL THINGS TRANSCENDENT – My curiousity is this. How can a man, any man, as tiny as one is , embody all that is Transcendent , because all things transcendent ( our Manifested universe ) , represent the Universality of God , ie : encompassing all the physical attributes of Existence ? Wow….I am in awe !
    I recollect, some two years back , I read this : Man is the micro-cosom mirror reflection of the Macro-cosom Universe , look at that……

  28. Are we then to suppose that the great number who are converting to Islam (especially in the West… and a disproportionate number of whom are women) have got it all wrong… and have left their two-way traffic zone and are now trapped in a one-way street?

  29. “Are we then to suppose that the great number who are converting to Islam (especially in the West… and a disproportionate number of whom are women) have got it all wrong… and have left their two-way traffic zone and are now trapped in a one-way street?”

    No. Because those Muslims in the West are not threatened with death if they choose to leave the faith. Those Western Muslim women are not oppressed by State sanctioned laws. Those Muslims in the West are free to debate their Religion without being terrorized by members of their faith who have the backing of the State.

  30. In some way one can argue that the Westerners who have embraced Islam did so out of free spirit and intrinsic appreciation for the Islamic faith. They may represent the good face of Islam. Western countries do not have blasphemy and hudud laws to punish them for transgressions and if at all they are introduced, free spirit will come into play and the faithful may probably leave the faith. There may be some of them living in Muslim countries and they may do so under duress to live the full Islamic way as required by the State.

    Religion is a useful guide post to live as a good human being. We come into this world without religion and leave so without one. We acquire one in the interim. We acquire the religion of the family we are born into.

    In a deeper sense I find no meaning in changing one’s religion. If you are unhappy with your own religion, the solution may be to live without religion and not embrace a new religion.

    If a person were to become a Muslim on account of compelling circumstances (because he is marrying a Muslim girl he loves) he can still be part of the congregation at the mosque and pray silently to his Christ, Ganesha or Buddha as he has been brought up to pray all his life since young. This is his private realm. He does not hurt others and he does not hurt himself and there is nothing irrational about that.

  31. “The Islam Reformers vs. the Muslim Zealots”

    This is a great topic with all the facets of the intellectual minds, religious minds, cultural & political minds, etc.

    Also to share this…

    Prophet Mohammed’s (pbuh) last farewell message…

    The Last Sermon (Khutbah) of Prophet Muhammad (Farewell Sermon)

    Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) delivered his last sermon (Khutbah) on the ninth of Dhul Hijjah (12th and last month of the Islamic year), 10 years after Hijrah (migration from Makkah to Madinah) in the Uranah Valley of mount Arafat. His words were quite clear and concise and were directed to the entire humanity.

    After praising, and thanking Allah he said:

    “O People, lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore listen to what I am saying to you very carefully and TAKE THESE WORDS TO THOSE WHO COULD NOT BE PRESENT HERE TODAY.

    O People, just as you regard this month, this day, this city as Sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your LORD, and that HE will indeed reckon your deeds. ALLAH has forbidden you to take usury (interest), therefore all interest obligation shall henceforth be waived. Your capital, however, is yours to keep. You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequity. Allah has Judged that there shall be no interest and that all the interest due to Abbas ibn ‘Abd’al Muttalib (Prophet’s uncle) shall henceforth be waived…

    Beware of Satan, for the safety of your religion. He has lost all hope that he will ever be able to lead you astray in big things, so beware of following him in small things.

    O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under Allah’s trust and with His permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with any one of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste.

    O People, listen to me in earnest, worship ALLAH, say your five daily prayers (Salah), fast during the month of Ramadan, and give your wealth in Zakat. Perform Hajj if you can afford to.

    All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety (taqwa) and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves.

    Remember, one day you will appear before ALLAH and answer your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.

    O People, NO PROPHET OR APOSTLE WILL COME AFTER ME AND NO NEW FAITH WILL BE BORN. Reason well, therefore, O People, and understand words which I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the QURAN and my example, the SUNNAH and if you follow these you will never go astray.

    All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. Be my witness, O ALLAH, that I have conveyed your message to your people”.

    (Reference: See Al-Bukhari, Hadith 1623, 1626, 6361) Sahih of Imam Muslim also refers to this sermon in Hadith number 98. Imam al-Tirmidhi has mentioned this sermon in Hadith nos. 1628, 2046, 2085. Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal has given us the longest and perhaps the most complete version of this sermon in his Masnud, Hadith no. 19774.)

    One can heed words of wisdom and guidelines from the last sermon (khutbah) of the prophet (SAWS). His sermons emphasized on the following:

    Sacredness of a Muslim’s life and property
    The importance of propagating this message to all others (A Muslim’s responsibility thus does not end by following the religion)
    A reminder that everyone is fully accountable for their deeds and Allah (God) will take every person into account. If everyone heeded to this fact alone, the world would be a much better place today.
    “Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you.” These words of the prophet are self explanatory.
    The prohibition of dealing with interest (Numerous accounts in Quran and Hadith prohibit taking, giving or being a part of any transaction dealing with interest).
    “You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequity.” These words of the prophet are self explanatory.
    The awareness of satan and how satan can work to deviate us from the right path and doing evil things.
    Rights of women over men and rights of men over women.
    Treatment of women with kindness.
    Modesty and chastity in women.
    The importance of worshiping Allah (saying your five daily prayers (Salah), fasting during the month of Ramadan, giving charity (Zakat) and performing pilgrimage (Hajj).
    Equality amongst all (blacks, white, Arabs, non-Arabs, etc.)
    The need to establish justice.
    Islam is the final divine religion (Last prophet and Last Book).

    Let’s do our part in following the prophet’s message and propagating the message to everyone we know.

    islam on The Last Sermon (Khutbah) of Prophet Muhammad (Farewell Sermon) –

    You be the judge.

  32. It is precisely because the majority of new converts live in countries where debate and discussion are the norm that I believe a true reformation will begin. Debate and discussion that will inject much needed common sense into interpretation of our religion… currently almost wholly dominated by a tiny group of zealots who have appointed themselves as the only word on Islam

    A true reformation will therefore, I believe be started by these new converts.

  33. Reformation, for traction and acceptance, ought to come rightfully from learned clergy and scholars from Islamic countries and not to be expected from or outsourced to Muslim convert Westerners living away from the reach of Islamic law of practice and punishment. It will not work and probably branded as heretic and any true Muslim championing it will know and bear the consequences awaiting him thereafter.

    I will end my comments here on this issue.

  34. Learned clergy and scholars? But Islam has no clergy… only Ulema, which is wrongly translated to mean those with religious knowledge but actually means those with KNOWLEDGE.

    Converts, in my view, generally have a far better understanding of Islam than those (like myself) who were born Muslim.

    This business of reformation in Islam is crucial and I hope our good host will keep posting relevant articles. The only certainty is that any reformation will not come from those of uncertain background like the author of the article.

  35. If I may, katasayang , ( repeat ) , yes agreed, a written Secular Constitution is WITHIN the larger precepts of Islam, like in the plural society of Malaysia, our Federal Constitution reconciles the varied and multiplicity of our respective values and belief-system of different ethnicities. That’s how fluid the written document, but Muslim’s belief-system has the classic ability to ‘ embrace ‘ diversity (unity in diversity ) . So the written Constitution is not contradictory , not incompatible , but Compatible with Islamic doctrines & values….

    I feel attracted to Phua Kai Lit’s thread ( 31, March) on the Hui Muslims on the Silk road leading to Eastern China. – the fabled ‘ myth ‘ about ALADIN & THE MAGIC LAMP , Aladdin discovered in the hidden cave filled with treasures. IT IS ALLEGORICAL , in the sense that no one dared or had the guts to explore the cave, looking like a huge mythical jaw from the outside like as if a ‘ Dragon’ is the guardian of the hidden treasures within its temple.

    It was only Aladdin who dared and had the guts….. Lo & behold, as he descended into its deepest end, all filled with ancient ‘ Treasures ‘ he discovered. SO FOLKS, TRY AND DISCOVER THE ‘ HIDDEN” treasures that lay buried within the depths of its Koranic value-system……. – that’s the allegory.

    (Btw, the author of the main article, she was trying very desperately to get out of the CLUTHCHES in her own environment of Somalia or Nigeria, to escape from the very, very oppressive people of her Community of a value system or belief system, totally ALIEN to what its TRUE teachings are….. in some foreign lands she found the freedom to ‘ vent ‘ out her ANGER, but unfortunately, she was caught in web of ‘ lies ‘ of he own making…..- Shakespeare, ‘ life is a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury, signifying nothing…’ .lflyer168…et al….you be the judge …..)

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