But after the inevitable failure of Islamic movements to provide an adequate response to the challenge of modernity, what will Muslims embrace? The only thing left, at that point, will be the ever elusive “moderate Islam,” a new, modernity-compatible faith that retains the name of Islam but jettisons all the substance (kind of like mainline Protestantism).
But Muslims have to come to that conclusion on their own, by living under regimes that will exemplify that failure (like Iran). Our hearts-and-minds efforts, like the north poles of two magnets, can only repel Muslims from drawing the necessary, inescapable conclusion that Islam, as it has existed for 14 centuries, is a failure as an ideology and way of life in the modern world. ~Mark Krikorian
No offense to Mr. Krikorian, but does he really think that Muslims are going to conceive of their religion as an “ideology” and “way of life” that have failed? If they believe, as I assume they do, that their religion is the final revelation of God to humanity, it will take a lot more than its “inadequacy” to adapt to modernity to persuade them to abandon it. The substitute will also have to be a lot more powerful than the Islamic equivalent of the via media.
The lesson of mainline Protestantism, to follow his comparison, is that religion without substance and conviction is dead and uninspiring and doomed to stagnation and irrelevance. People flee it as they would from the plague. Those inclined to belong to religious communities are going to seek out communities where there is a sense that the religion they practice is true and edifying. Looked at this way, Islamic revivalism and fundamentalism stand a much better chance of spreading and thriving, much as Pentecostalism has been doing for many decades, which means that the failues to adjust to modernity will simply persuade even more people to follow a revivalist and fundamentalist path. For every person who thinks that a religion needs to be updated to match the modern world there will always be at least one other who thinks that it is the modern world that must be adjusted to the dictates of the old time religion, and probably more than one. It seems to me that one of the handicaps of a lot of Westerners in understanding the appeal of Islamic fundamentalism is the idea that such fundamentalism is not modern. It is anti-modernist, but it is itself a modern phenomenon that addresses the needs (or seems to address them) of people today. To say that it does not result in good results by the standards of our modernity is to miss the point entirely–the people who embrace such fundamentalism do not want such results, or if they do they want them less than they want the certainty and deliverance offered them by revelation.