It is encouraging to think that there is a burgeoning democratic reform movement afoot in Islam. That is the hopeful message of Thomas Friedman’s latest piece entitled Brave, Young and Muslim.
It is amazing to me that so many Americans do not seem to have even the slightest understanding of Islam and its history. More amazing still that so many Americans do not have any better understanding of their own history. I think if one looks thoughtfully at the progress of Western Civilization, you can see much of where we have been in what Islam is today.
It is easy to forget that our not so distant past harbored a lot of stuff that we do not comfortably claim as our own history. It was in the West after all that Galileo was jailed for nothing more than telling what he saw in his telescope. It was in the West that Albert Einstein had to flee his home for no other reason than being born of those descendants of Abraham that the Nazis chose as the objects of their hatred. And within the life times of much of the Disenfranchised Curmudgeon community we have seen even here in The Land of the Free a time when there were still separate drinking fountains for those born with unacceptable skin pigmentation.
The point is that the West had to have its Renaissance, Enlightenment and religious reformations along its hard climb to modernity. And the birth of Liberty came only at the ends of gun barrels and many centuries of slowly wresting power from the Monarchs. That we collectively undertook and survived those transforming movements is certainly to our credit.
But the attitude that is often heard that Islam is unsuitable for various institutions of modernity is certainly not to our credit. These attitudes are borne of a cultural arrogance that equals that of radical Muslim fundamentals. It is my firm belief that given time Islam will reform as has the other great religions of the World and that perhaps along the way an element or two of modern thought will be found rightfully worthy of their rejection.
I do not necessarily share Friedman’s belief that the time is now, but I certainly share his hope. After all, if the time is not now then we may have a few long centuries in front of us.