reformadhists of the world unite
ISLAM DIVIDED BY TWO
ROBERT J. LEWIS
Is it time for Muslims to question
to a religion whose "God is Great" utterance
incites universal dread in the West?
was a time when almost all the world’s Christians (less
Greek orthodox) were Catholic. By the 15th century, a significant
number of the faithful had become disillusioned with what it
regarded as ecclesiastic malpractice: selling of indulgences
and clerical positions (simony), and the prioritizing of geo-politics
and acquisition of property. In what evolved into a kind of
tacit moral exceptionalism, Church leaders, like tax lawyers
trained to find loopholes in the law, found ways to exempt themselves
from long-standing standards of probity established by the Catholic
Church. As we all know, this culminated in the great schism
(it was actually the second) or Protestant Reformation, out
of which evolved Protestantism, a religious movement whose numbers
were initially comprised of disaffected Catholics. Protestantism
appealed to Christians who could no longer abide by the hypocrisy
and double-speak coming out of the Catholic Church.
the centuries that followed, Catholicism became synonymous with
a more strict and conservative practice of Christianity while
Protestantism -- the work ethic -- evolved into a more flexible,
less dogmatic institution that enjoyed a significantly more
productive relationship with capitalism (greed) and progress.
For better or worse, it also marked the beginning of the end
of the great cathedral building era and iconic Christian art.
another great schism is happening on our watch -- the seeds
have been planted and their germination has cracked the earth
asunder -- but no one has taken notice, for reasons which implicate
the West no less than Islam.
Huntington has famously characterized the conflict between the
West and Islam as the great “clash of civilizations,”
when in point of fact the real conflict has been taking place
at the very heart of Islam, as two increasingly incompatible
versions of itself vie for the hearts and minds of the world’s
I believes Muslim women should wear the burqa in the public
domain; Fatima II believes it is her right to wear jeans. Fatima
I likes to listen to music. In Taliban-held territory, it's
a crime to possess a radio. Ahmed I believes good Muslims should
pray five times a day facing Mecca; Ahmed II believes a good
Muslim is one who lives by the Ten Commandments. Ahmed I abides
by Sharia law, Ahmed II by the laws of the country in which
he finds himself.
our very eyes that have been dimmed by fear mongering of the
worst kind and a deficit of fact-based, responsible journalism,
Islam is splintering into two no less than Christianity split
into two in 1517. In that year, corruption and abuses within
the church hit a critical mass begetting a massive protest movement
that eventuated Protestantism. Today, in the early 21st century,
a significant number of Muslims can no longer abide by the strict,
and highly contentious (arbitrary) interpretation of Quranic
doctrine as it is expounded and disseminated by Al Qaeda-ISIL
and Wahhabism et al, whose backwards looking stance
on religion and politics, and repressive codes of conduct have
no practical purchase in the modern world.
short, there are many practicing Muslims who no longer recognize
the Islam that regards and treats all non-Muslims as infidels,
that cherry-picks from the Quran in order to supply the raw
materials for human bomb making factories, and for whom all
murderous and treasonous ends justify the means of establishing
a worldwide Caliphate.
a reaction -- enabled by the Internet, the pipeline through
which western culture seeps into the previously impervious Muslim
fortress world -- to this rear-view-mirror, tyrannical fundamentalism
arises the moderate Muslim, the majority of whom have been co-opted
by western culture but who still look to Islam to satisfy their
spirtual needs. Many of these thoroughly modern Muslims -- Islam’s
first infidels -- live in the West but still speak Arabic, and,
in the spirit of reform, envision an Islam that is elastic enough
to allow both men and women, in their new found lands, to participate
in the affairs of the modern world – without looking back
in fear or self-recrimination. Presently lacking in spokespersons
and a coherent narrative, this burgeoning reconfiguration of
Islam has become, in a very short time, incompatible with the
strict doctrinal Islam of the Quran. And while it is still too
soon for history to render its verdict, this decisive turning
away from the absolutism as laid out by the Quran and Hadiths
marks the beginning of the great schism or what I ‘christen’
the Reformadhist Reformation, which, despite the apparent (in
the short term) failure of the Arab Spring, springs directly
from that initial wave of discontent that ridded plutocratic
Egypt, Libya and Tunisia of their corrupt oligarchies.
unlike the very early disillusioned Protestants who nonetheless
continued to believe in Christ, the Reformadhists continue to
believe in Allah, but they no longer identify with the Islam
that throws up an arbitrary wall between itself and the modern
world. They argue that wearing a baseball cap and jeans, or
a skirt above the ankles, or enjoying a glass of wine with a
meal doesn’t make them any less Muslim: “every generation
is equidistant from God,” writes Leopold von Ranke.
reject the directives disingenuously attributed to the Quran
that oblige them to regard the other as “the infidel”
or the West as “great Satan,” just as many question
the presumption that the Almighty blesses ‘all’
acts carried out in his name and honour. Among the movement's
non-negotiable first principles is its position against the
barbaric androcentricism that excuses rape and infidelity if
it is carried out by a man and stones to death the fallen woman
for the same; that women hold up half the sky is a given, and
not something to be got.
is moot whether or not there is such a thing as the moderate
Muslim since he represents the leading edge of the great schism.
What the movement currently lacks is a coherent vision and a
broad consensus of principles that will provide Reformadhism
with the clarity and confidence required to defend itself against
an increasingly isolated and vengeful fundamentalist Islam.
The challenge of the West is to first of all grant Reformadhism
the status is deserves, encourage its development, recognizing
that a potentially powerful ally is at hand in the ongoing war
against the pyschopathic Islamist machine.
the Reformadhist's break from radical Islam is complete, the
latter’s position will look less like a war against modernity
and more like a last stand.
as the movement gains momentum it should be wary of support
coming from western extremists and their dubious agenda, convinced
that the blight and scourge that is Islam derive 'directly'
from the Quran. They argue that for the sake of the greater
good of world peace, the only proper (moral) course for Islam
to follow is to self-negate itself out of existence. With sword-pen
in hand, they will man the front lines and profess solidarity
with the Reformadhist movement but only in so far as it serves
their hegemoniacal ends: replacing the fertile "East is
East and West is West" binary with the "West is the
Best" categorical -- and to the manor another fundamentalism
is born. Both Camus and Fanon warned against this as Algeria
(1962) took control of its destiny.
West should encourage Reformadhists of the world to unite while
recognizing that the enemy is chameleon and every enlightenment
a work in progress.