I have previously commented on the fact that the war on terror will be a major transforming event for the Arab Middle East, and I was reminded of the degree to which this is well underway by the report of a recent interfaith conference in which the father of slain journalist Daniel Pearl conferred with leading Arab scholars about the necessity of communication and reconciliation across religious barriers. A key point in the dialogue was that, despite the regret expressed for Pearl’s death, not a single Islamic imam has publicly denounced his murder as a sin under religious law. I mention this anecdote because it is instructive of the oft-mentioned need for an Islamic Reformation, which I believe will be necessary to resolve the split-mindedness in the Muslim world. Frankly, we cannot hope to live in long-term peace in an environment with one-sixth of the world’s population suffering from an intellectual/philosophical/theological schizophrenia—in which none of the mainstream religious leaders of Islam can bring themselves to condemn such an act in religious terms. Some will say that this is evidence of a clash of imperialist religions that has been looming for 1,400 years, but I believe it has been brewing for only about 100 years, or since the radical elements of Islam were hijacked by thugs and the ideologies of national socialism, and more recently fueled by even more radical totalitarian Islamist theology. Regardless of its lineage and the desirability that the coming reformation be conducted on theological and philosophical grounds, it, as with the Reformation in Western Christianity, probably will not be completely resolved without a civil war (or wars) to be waged within Islam, and we are already seeing some portents of this in the Palestinian and Saudi Arabian societies. Needless to say, the U. S. will not be able to remain a completely idle spectator, if for no other reason than that the Bush Doctrine will probably have been the catalyst.
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