487 Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Islam

Ayaan Hirsi Ali - interviewed in todays Good Weekend - is one of the most outspoken critics of Islam; and she has a rich history that gives her good reason for her stance. In her most recent book (Heretic ... Why Islam needs a Reformation Now [I've only read excerpts]) she postulates that Islam needs to reform, if it is to be considered a worthy partner in any cooperative relationship with the West.

Good Weekend photo: Adrian Cook / Headpress

The question is: Can Islam reform?

It is often claimed Islam is a peaceful religion, though it is difficult to find affirmative proof in the Islamic literature. The Quran is unambiguous: The world will be at peace once all infidels are converted to Islam. There doesn’t seem to be much room for the claim of being a peaceful religion. Hirsi Ali, as well as Sam Harris, is one of many who claim Islam is in truth a radical, violent, intolerant religion.

Update: See also blog 541 Is Islam a Religion of Peace?

I have always been a believer in multiculturalism, where people of all religions and cultures can live together; furthermore, I believe here in Australia we have managed to establish a tolerant variant of a specific multiculture. As the question of Islam goes, I go with Barak Obama. He said as recently as Feb 2015 (BBC News):

"… the US is "not at war with Islam - we are at war with the people who have perverted Islam". He was speaking to representatives from 60 nations attending an event on extremism that follows attacks in Denmark and France. Mr Obama said the world had to confront the ideologies that radicalise people.

He said those heading groups like Islamic State and al-Qaeda were not religious leaders but terrorists. Mr Obama said associating Islamic State or al-Qaeda with Islam would be buying into the propaganda of those groups, challenging critics who have questioned him for not describing recent attacks as the work of "Islamic radicals".

It will be interesting to see how the conflict of Islam vs the West will play out in Australia; here we have not had to deal with the scourge of Islamic extremism as have European countries, like France and Great Britain. It seems to me that, yes, Islam has to live up to the claims of the moderates - who after all are the majority of Muslims in Australia - that it can indeed exists peacefully within Western societies. For this to come to fruition we need to embrace and support those moderates and help them to nurture and educate Islamic youth.

It may be necessary to enforce a stronger division of education and religion, indeed to secularize education. Seeing how large a part of Islam religious education is, this does mean Islam needs to reform and the reformers need to be backed.

So Hirsi Ali, while being ardently critical of Islam, offers the most pertinent question as the only solution for co-existence of Islam and the West: Can Islam reform?