Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9/11 thoughts on the Reform of Islam

Though Muslims seem to have cornered the market on crazy for the last few years, Islam isn't the only strange faith out there. All religions teach some very odd things. Honest believers admit that they swallow whole beliefs that make no sense to anyone but their coreligionists. They're unprovable; that's why it's called faith, and to be fair, all religions have exactly the same degree of proof that their beliefs are true.

This is the reason for fellowship. People who think like you reinforce your beliefs instead of rolling their eyes and making little circles in the air next to their ear with their index finger. It feels good to belong to a group that has exclusive rights to The Truth. Generally nobody else cares that you believe this unless you are obnoxious about it. Evangelists, take note.

The poisonous mix of culture and religion that is Islam today takes this a step too far and teaches that it's OK to commit mayhem upon those who believe differently. This unforgivable idea makes Islam intolerable to civilized people. It's not the first religion to feature this error. Remember crusades and pogroms? Other religions have, at one time or another, entertained this perverse notion. Those that have survived have outgrown it. Islam hasn't, yet. It hasn't had the time and recently hasn't been exposed to competing ideas.

Judaism and Christianity are far older than Islam. They no longer exist in their pristine forms in any significant way. They've adapted over centuries of urban coexistence; their sharper corners rounded by bumping up against diverse ideas at large in the western world. Heterogeneous society is good for civilization. Homogeneity and isolation allow pathological belief systems to fester unchallenged. Dissenting voices are brutally silenced.

Muslims in the west are free to discuss their beliefs in an open market of ideas and are asking the hard questions, trying to reconcile their beliefs with the reality of life in their new homes. See if you don't recognize the questions they ask about their faith as the ones you ask about your own. From the ranks of writers and thinkers like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Irshad Manji, Salman Rushdie, and Taslima Nasrin may come the first reformers of Islam.