In a new book entitled, “Heretic – Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now,” author Ayan Hirsi Ali argues that religious reformation is the only way to end terrorism, sectarian warfare, and repression of women in the Muslim world. Dr. Shabir Ally discusses her call to reform Islam.
The book is not only a criticism of Islam but of religion more generally. For example, Ayaan Hirsi Ali states that there is no life after death, and that God is created by mankind and not the other way around (p. 44).
More specifically to Islam, she rejects the belief that God is the author of the Quran, and she rejects Muhammad (pbuh) as a moral guide (p. 44). For her reform project, she needs credibility. So, she tries to reposition herself as a heretic as distinct from her previous posture as an infidel. Why this new posture? The reason, she explains, is that when she squarely positioned herself as an apostate and an infidel she found herself being shunned by both Muslim and non-Muslim audiences (p.17). She is thus blatantly honest about this. And for her honesty she deserves credit, though we should not be naïve about her agenda. She recalls that when she wrote her previous book, Nomad, she had believed that Islam was beyond reformation, and that perhaps it would be best for Muslims to pick another god (p. 74). But her present distinction between infidel and heretic is merely semantic, for she maintains even in the present book that she remains outside of the faith, and that it is too late for her to embrace the faith again (p. 75)—although I would maintain that it is never too late.
THE TERM ‘REFORMATION’
The term ‘reformation’ in religious discourse refers primarily to the protestant reformation which began with Martin Luther’s protest against papal authority. In that sense it is fallacious to say that Islam needs this, since the majority of Muslims subscribe to nothing comparable to papal authority.
But the term has come to be used more widely in the sense of revisiting religious dogma in the light of modern knowledge. In this sense, it can apply to Islam. Some people use it to speak of going back to the original core of the faith. Others, such as Hirsi Ali, use it to speak of abandoning that original core.
But this is where Hirsi Ali trades on ambiguity, thus falling into one of the standard logical fallacies in argumentation. She is using the term to abandon the core of Islam while trying to gain acceptance as a sort of Martin Luther. But Luther was not abandoning the core of Christianity but only the papacy. He was attempting to recapture the core of Pauline Christianity.
Read all of Dr Shabir's review/response to Ayan Hirsi Ali's new book here:
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