It’s clear to me that the problem of Islamic fundamentalism will not be solved by non-Muslims. It’s going to take a great number of liberal, secular, progressive Muslims to reform their own religion from within. That’s not to say that non-Muslims do not have a valuable role to play in this process, but given that this process has already begun, I think it’s worth asking whether we are helping it or holding it back.
One of the biggest hurdles appears to be getting non-Muslims to accept that there even is such a thing as a liberal, progressive, secular Muslim. Pointing out examples invariably leads to cries of ‘no true Scotsmen’. How can they be Muslims if they don’t wish to push their faith on society? Surely they are not true Muslims if they favour secularism over theocracy.
I’ve noticed a double standard at work here when we consider the legitimacy of progressive thinkers within the Islamic faith. Non-Muslims are quick to decry Islamic fundamentalism on the one hand, yet hold all Muslims to a literal, fundamentalist understanding of Islam on the other. Any deviation betrays a lack of authenticity in the mind of the non-Muslim.