So I was reading a little of The Corner this week and found one of the back-and-forth exchanges there quite interesting. The thought was this: For some time now, lots of US pundits have been commenting on the need for an "Islamic Reformation," by which is usually meant some sort of reconsideration of the central tenets of the Islamic faith that causes Muslims to be more tolerant of modernity, more accepting of ideas like freedom of speech and the equality of women, a lot less "death to the infidels" and a lot more focus on personal faith in Allah. But what if the Islamic Reformation either already happened or is currently happening and what we are now experiencing is the results of it? In other words, what if Saudi Wahhabism and its fellow travelers are the result of the world's Muslims going "back to the Koran" in the same way that Luther, Calvin, and the Reformers went "back to the Bible"?
I'm inclined to think that is precisely what has happened. Despite what the President, Secretary Rice and other wishful thinkers have been saying since 9/11 about Islam being "the religion of peace" and "a few crazies that have hijacked a great religion" not being representative of "true Islam," I'm tending toward the belief that they have it precisely backward. That is, what we are witnessing is a modern Islamic revival of ancient Islamic faith and practice. Whereas not too many years ago most Muslims were "cultural" or "folk" believers more concerned about appeasing the jinn (evil spirits) than a pilgrimage to Mecca or engaging in jihad, it seems increasingly the case that Muslims around the world are awakening to the claims of their faith and taking them seriously. Which means that we in the West are in for a long, bumpy road, I think.