For over a thousand years Islam has been the serial killer of world civilization, decimating entire cultures and religions, practicing ethnic cleansing, genocide, terrorism and endless war. Islam is currently involved directly or indirectly in conflicts or terrorism on virtually every continent. Modern Islamist movements have fused the modern tools of war from IED's to Lawfare to Social Media, with ancient fanatical beliefs blended with the leavings of National Socialism and Communism to create a global killing machine.
Now how do you go about reforming something like that? A rational proposal for reforming Islam must first begin by asking why proposals to reform Islam have gotten nowhere before.
The simple answer is that it's because the unreformed version of Islam is far too success for there to be much of a market for a reformed version. Al Capone wasn't interested in reform when he was shoveling in money hand over fist. The old blood and guts version of Islam is doing better than ever around the world, more so than any pale reformed versions.
The Wahhabis have shown that it's possible to live in America or the UK, get a degree as a doctor, preach terrorism and still get educated at the infidel's expense. The infidels will then fast during Ramadan to avoid offending you, ignore your incitement to violence and look the other way when you send money to terrorists. They will draw the line when you actually open fire or set off a car bomb-- but not to the extent of looking at your mosque or at Islam itself.
If you can be an Islamic extremist while finding career success in the West. If you can be an Islamic extremist and get an invitation to the White House or 10 Downing Street. If you can be an Islamic extremist and still have liberals compete to defend you and promote your agenda-- what possible reason is there for reform?
Non-Muslims may want Islam to reform, but why would Muslims want Islam to reform? The key to answering that question is also the key to reforming Islam.
Religions typically reform due to internal pressure, but where is that pressure supposed to come from in the Muslim world? Yes there is a great deal of oppression within Islam, but that oppression is more than balanced out by the benefit that the oppressors gain within the system. For every 11 year old girl married off to a 40 year old man, there is a 40 year old man who is marrying an 11 year old girl. For every second wife who is beaten and humiliated, there is a first wife who enjoys her status. For every honor killing, there is an Imam. And so on and so forth.
Iran has demonstrated that given time the public would turn on an Islamist regime. But that would require waiting so that the inhabitants of every Muslim country wind up living under an Islamist regime, allowing them all to see what that would be like long enough for them to rise up and overthrow it. The obvious hole in this plan is that until the end game, the result would make the Cold War look like a water polo match with a nuclear armed Caliphate dominating a major portion of the globe. And then there's the question of letting Europe be taken over and turned into Eurabia long enough for the grandchildren of those haunting the Finsbury Park Mosque decide that maybe living under Sharia law isn't the solution to all human ills.
So where does all that leave us? With a partial answer. There is a way to reform Islam, but it requires turning up the temperature high enough to make actual reform seem like a good alternative. France's attempt to ban the Burqa is a partial but rather weak step in that direction, by making life as a full-on Muslim incompatible with enjoying the benefits of life in the West.
But the answer isn't quite that simple. We can narrow down three reasons for the current spread and vigor of Islam.
1. Militancy - Militant belief systems are more likely to pick up followers than dishwater ones. Islamic militancy has helped it crush any attempts at moderation, and seem appealing to Western converts by contrast with their liberalized and reformed religions.
2. Western Appeasement - By accommodating Islamic extremists, our societies have effectively surrendered to them by demonstrating that it is possible to have the best of both worlds. To enjoy the economic fruits of a Western lifestyle without compromising on Islamic beliefs and practices in any way.
3. Saudi Money - The influx of oil money and the challenge of domestic terrorism has caused the Saudi royal family, the Guardians of Mecca to spread Islam through the Wahhabi takeover of mosques, which insures that the more aggressive version of Islam will be well funded and backed by the diplomatic power of the House of Saud.
What exactly does reforming Islam mean? At her talk Wafa Sultan said that reforming Islam would essentially require creating a new religion and calling it Islam. And that is the problem with any attempt at Islamic reforms, unlike most religions, militancy is the heart of Islam. You cannot remove expansionism and Jihad, without removing the roots of Islam in Mohammed's murderous hordes spreading death and fear around the world. And yet that is exactly what reform requires, to create a version of Islam in which its social and ritualistic aspects are stripped of violence, intolerance and war.
This would require significantly rewriting or abrogating the Koran. Simply deemphasizing sections of it or treating them as metaphors, would open the door for the old blood and guts version of Islam to come roaring back at the first sign of outside weakness. As has already happened in the past. It would require changes to Muslim prayers and the undoing of the Muslim sense of superiority to the "infidels" and "people of the book".
Is it impossible? The Islamization going on around us is part of a well funded effort by Muslim countries that decided that exporting Jihad and Islam was in their interest. Demonstrating to them that not only is it not in their interest, but that it will ultimately destroy them by cutting them off from the tourism and trade that is the only thing keeping them from eating their own camels, is far more likely to make it happen than anything else. Similarly Muslims abroad must be made to realize that they face a choice between embracing a version of Islam that can co-exist with their neighbors, or a boat back to wherever they came from.
But regardless of whether or not Muslims choose to reform their religion, we must resist Islamization as if there were no reform possible. And as a paradox only by doing so, can Islam ever be reformed.