The right and wrong ways to reform Islam

Islam may not be able to be reformed; I have no illusions on that score.  But at least some people are trying.

On the PBS NewsHour, two reformers were guests.

The wrong way to reform is to talk like a social justice warrior and blame everyone and everything but Islam.

Manal Omar is associate vice president for the Middle East and Africa Center at U.S. Institute of Peace.  She says:

We keep looking at it from a religious lens, but I would urge people to really think about it in terms of our history of race issues, our fear of the other. I think that’s what’s also really coming out, particularly in the Trump rhetoric. It goes way beyond Islam. It really goes to the social structure and structural violence that is built in our nation that we have to address.

It's hard to imagine al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph over all of Islam, fearing the "Other" in the way a graduate student learned in a social justice seminar.  No, Ms. Omar, the cause of terrorism is not the "social structure" or "structural violence" in our nation. It's those two graduate school concepts in the ISIS territory.  All facetiousness aside, it is Quranic ideology that's the source of the problem.

The right way is illustrated by Asra Nomani, who is co-founder of the Muslim Reform Movement.  Islam at its roots is the problem.

Nomani says:

And the very sad thing to me is Baghdadi’s version of Islam is very parallel to the interpretation of Islam that the Saudis practice. We’re not confronting that reality. So, just as an example, Baghdadi goes back to the tradition of sex slaves and he argues that, at the birth of Islam, we had slaves and it’s written in the Koran that we did. They were allowed as Muslims to have sex with their slaves at that time. And, today, we have this sad tragedy of women being taken as sex slaves.

That's a good start.  Then she goes on to say the reformers need to challenge the theology.

However, Ms. Nomani, as well the contributors to her website, fail when they don't come up with a new way to interpret the Quran, much as Protestant conservative Christians have come up with ways to reinterpret the Bible, especially the Old Testament.

The fact is, Islam will never come close to a reform if the reformers leave behind the Quran and talk about sexual rights (code for same-sex marriage) or other kinds of justices and rights.  They will always be relegated to being Americans.  The real problem is in the Islamic world. 

Islam may not be able to be reformed; I have no illusions on that score.  But at least some people are trying.

On the PBS NewsHour, two reformers were guests.

The wrong way to reform is to talk like a social justice warrior and blame everyone and everything but Islam.

Manal Omar is associate vice president for the Middle East and Africa Center at U.S. Institute of Peace.  She says:

We keep looking at it from a religious lens, but I would urge people to really think about it in terms of our history of race issues, our fear of the other. I think that’s what’s also really coming out, particularly in the Trump rhetoric. It goes way beyond Islam. It really goes to the social structure and structural violence that is built in our nation that we have to address.

It's hard to imagine al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph over all of Islam, fearing the "Other" in the way a graduate student learned in a social justice seminar.  No, Ms. Omar, the cause of terrorism is not the "social structure" or "structural violence" in our nation. It's those two graduate school concepts in the ISIS territory.  All facetiousness aside, it is Quranic ideology that's the source of the problem.

The right way is illustrated by Asra Nomani, who is co-founder of the Muslim Reform Movement.  Islam at its roots is the problem.

Nomani says:

And the very sad thing to me is Baghdadi’s version of Islam is very parallel to the interpretation of Islam that the Saudis practice. We’re not confronting that reality. So, just as an example, Baghdadi goes back to the tradition of sex slaves and he argues that, at the birth of Islam, we had slaves and it’s written in the Koran that we did. They were allowed as Muslims to have sex with their slaves at that time. And, today, we have this sad tragedy of women being taken as sex slaves.

That's a good start.  Then she goes on to say the reformers need to challenge the theology.

However, Ms. Nomani, as well the contributors to her website, fail when they don't come up with a new way to interpret the Quran, much as Protestant conservative Christians have come up with ways to reinterpret the Bible, especially the Old Testament.

The fact is, Islam will never come close to a reform if the reformers leave behind the Quran and talk about sexual rights (code for same-sex marriage) or other kinds of justices and rights.  They will always be relegated to being Americans.  The real problem is in the Islamic world.