Since 9-11 it seems that the Western media has been on the look-out for the "Muslim Martin Luther." Astute observers have noted that the Reformation ushered in over a century of religious wars, the destruction of Roman Catholic artistic masterpieces and the emergence of robust European nationalisms. Nevertheless, the quest continues.
So here comes The New York Times with an article titled An Unlikely Promoter of an Islamic Reformation. The individual in question is a lesbian. Let me repeat, a lesbian. As the probability approaches zero, we might change unlikely to impossible. In an age where being black, lesbian and a quadriplegic can give you a leg up in a literary or artistic career, it makes sense that a publisher is open to a Muslim version of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses from someone who is totally marginal in relation to the mainstream of her community. But where being a member of a small ignored (reviled?) minority is a bonus in getting a book published, it detracts from the project of moving the discussion forward and affecting genuine change. Traditional Muslims are going to be angry about the book, but they’ll be more enraged by the homosexual provocateur who is trying to be honest about the faults of their religion.
I’ll be candid myself and admit that getting published in Frontpage & The American Conservative had in large part to do with my background as an apostate Muslim. But because I’m an apostate, an atheist, I’m not going to lecture Muslims about the details of their religion or how they should change-I’m hopeful that the religious tradition can evolve-but my primary focus is on alerting Westerners to possible erosions of the liberal status quo that might occur because of accommodation with Islamic illiberalism. Islam is going to change from within, perhaps due to prodding from non-Muslims, but all we as Westerners can do is wait & watch and be steadfast in maintaining our own liberal values.
Update: She’s got a website (thanks Diana).
Update II: Interesting site titled Apostates of Islam.
fn1. I agree with the distillation of her substance as presented by The Times-but I assume she’ll be ignored and discounted just because of her background, in addition to the revisionism of her beliefs.
fn2. Yes, the standard objection is that there is no conflict between being Muslim and Western, but I don’t buy that this is a normative mode of thinking in immigrant Muslim communities. Perhaps it will be in the future, but it isn’t now.