The Prospects for Reform in Islam

Raza Rumi at the Hudson Institute website:

3403_10153209511020511_1485675392_nThe rise of global Islamism in the form of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) will pose a major challenge to the security of both Western and Muslim-majority nations for years to come. The threat is particularly acute in Muslim countries because of Islamism’s capacity to claim that it represents Islam in its most pure, truest form. Importantly, the Islamist movement’s power and appeal also derives from its ability to claim that it is advancing both justice and freedom—political ends that the majority of Muslims naturally want for themselves. Many Islamists are able to justify their struggle and their violence by presenting their agenda as the only legitimate pathway for social and political reform. Muslim societies thus face an ideological quagmire; they desperately need a reform agenda movement that is consistent with their deepest faith traditions, but they have yet to successfully formulate an alternative to Islamism that can sustain a pluralistic, participatory politics.

In recent years, the search for an alternative to Islamism has been thwarted by the widening sectarian conflict within Islam, which has increased tensions and driven violence across the Muslim world. In light of this emergency, the need to reform Islamic jurisprudence and social thought has become more urgent than ever. Islamism’s menace to Muslims, however, has been compounded by the weakened state of critical thinking within Islamic religious and political traditions. In developing a reformist alternative to Islamism, Muslims do in fact have a substantial body of both historical as well as contemporary thinking that they can draw upon to help improve their political and social structures and create more just, inclusive societies.

More here.