Muslim voices demand Islamic reform

Muslim voices demand Islamic reform

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Scholars say what Obama won't: ISIS is a problem of Islam, and Islam must be reformed.

Reform must come from within / Photo: Rizal Tahir, used under Flickr Creative Commons license
Reform must come from within / Photo: Rizal Tahir, used under Flickr Creative Commons license

CHARLOTTE, N.C., March 8, 2015 — Another prominent Muslim scholar has spoken out for Islamic reform, and in the process he has also blamed mainstream media for not doing more to deliver the message of Muslim reformers. Tufail Ahmad, director of South Asia Studies Project (SASP) for the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) cited numerous calls by Islamic leaders for a 21st century enlightenment in an article for The New Indian Express.

Writes Ahmad, “Muslims have been speaking out against ISIS loudly and at risk to their lives. Since mainstream journalism is essentially negative, barbaric acts create an impression that Muslims are silent about ISIS and other jihadist outfits. This view is incorrect.”

Ahmad then presents multiple examples of Muslim scholars who have either written or spoken out about the barbarism of ISIS.

For clarification, perhaps Ahmad should have included all of Islam in his opening paragraph rather than simply condemning ISIS, but that is a minor point. Most significant is that it appears the internal movement necessary to bring a halt to the grotesque brutality of Islamic jihad is slowly gaining momentum from within.

Ahmad begins his op-ed article saying, “The Oxford dictionary defines barbarism as ‘a condition of society characterized by ‘the collapse of civilization.’”

Among the most notable spokesmen calling for Islamic reform in early 2015 have been Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and King Abdullah II of Jordan. Both Middle Eastern leaders have added significant awareness to the global war on terror. Despite their Islamic heritage, the two leaders have had a far greater impact on turning the tide against Islamic jihad than American President Barack Obama.

In Obama’s defense, the call for change must come from within the Muslim community no matter how much the West contributes to the solution. However, Obama’s “hands-off” approach, combined with his foolhardy attempts to negotiate with Iran, does little to alleviate the situation and, more likely, intensifies the conflict.

Ahmad states that Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has argued that “democracy is not a choice, but necessity” in the Middle East. Khashoggi is correct, but we must never forget that “democracy” in the eyes of the Arab world would not be the Jeffersonian brand of democracy we know in the West.

“Egypt’s TV channel Al-Kahera Wal-Nas aired an interview of human rights activist Ahmad Harqan who noted that ISIS is doing what Prophet Muhammad did. Harqan said he left Islam because it is ‘a very harsh religion’ and what ISIS is now doing is its ‘physical manifestation’; (emphasis added) The Quranic texts are crystal clear. When the Quran says ‘strike their necks,’ it is very clear; Boko Haram are also implementing this when they capture women,” says Ahmad.

Ahmad is saying precisely what Obama and mainstream media will not say, which is that “Islam is a very harsh religion.”

Ahmad quotes Lebanese Hisham Melhem, who denounced jihadism and said, “ISIS may be the reject of Al-Qaeda, but like Al-Qaeda, it is the illegitimate child of modern political Islam that grew and expanded in … an embracing environment fed by conspiracy theories.”

In a humorous comment with an element of ironic truth, Ahmad quotes one Islamic journalist who suggests that governments should hire the Italian Mafia to eliminate ISIS.

“Jordanian columnist Zaid Nabulsi called for recognizing the problem with Islam, saying: ‘It is time to speak out. “Islam is innocent” is an incomplete sentence,’”  says Ahmad.

Continuing his perspective, Nabulsi reminds his readers that no fewer than 120 Islamic scholars wrote congratulatory letters to ISIS leader Abu Baker Al-Baghdadi. Nabulsi writes, “one has to remember that Wahhabism exists in several textbooks containing the alleged sayings of the Prophet Muhammad.”

Wahhabism is the extreme form of Islam on which the kingdom of Saudi Arabia was founded, and it is that strain of the religion to which the Islamic State adheres for its ideology.

Concluding his editorial, Ahmad points to a historic precedent of ISIS:

“In Iraq, where ISIS has risen, an identical force of pious Muslims known as Kharijites emerged during the rule of Islam’s fourth caliph Hazrat Ali. Like ISIS, the Kharijites butchered Muslims in thousands by declaring them apostates. In those times, Islamic jurist Imam Abu Hanifa challenged Kharijite commander Zahhak in the Iraqi city of Kufa on his interpretation of Islam’s apostasy law. The punishments by ISIS are as per Islamic precedents. Muslims will follow Islam, but the Islamic criminal law must be declared null and void; otherwise, Muslim voices against jihadists will remain ineffective.”

Therein lies the key to a solution. Muslims must speak out from within and, in the process the president of the United States must acknowledge Islamic flaws so the media will begin to create a true awareness about them.

Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (

Read more of What in the World and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News. Follow Bob on Twitter @MrPeabod


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Bob Taylor
Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club ( and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.