There's a fascinating discussion at Front Page between an American convert to Islam and two Muslim converts to Christianity (via Dhimmi Watch). The convert to Islam is far from being the stereotypical loner looking for confirmation of his anti-Western feelings. In fact he's surprisingly forceful in his belief that extremist mullahs should be excluded from Western countries:
It is essential that Western countries prevent this pattern and generally discourage radical sheikhs and Islamic leaders from immigrating or visiting. Western Muslims must create a new Islamic identity that is consistent with the principles and laws of their home/host state. The way to achieve this is by not allowing foreigners to over- Arabize Islam in the West. Islam can and should flourish as a moderate and peaceful force in the West, and act as a catalyst for change, an example of how Islam and Western society can successfully coexist. But until governments work harder, and Muslims accept the necessity of such measures, it is a "pipe dream". Robust immigration procedures, including questioning and investigation along the lines of Mr. Shoebat's suggestions. I would also not be averse to requiring immigrating Muslims from certain countries be required to successfully "pass" Daniel Pipes’ "do you believe in modernity test".
Part of creating a Western/Islamic identity involves creating Islamic educational institutions in the West. Currently, few exist and people are shipped off to Saudi or Pakistan to receive their education. Western governments, generally of course are incapable of monitoring the curriculum or what is propagated. These people then come back to become religious leaders. If new Islamic institutions are created in the West, this allows some form of government regulation perhaps and monitoring. I think Western governments need to take an active role in overseeing Islamic institutions to ensure that what is being propagated is not inherently extremist, violent and anti-Semitic. This however would bring up a whole slew of issues of separation of church and state, and would likely (and understandably draw some criticism).
I suppose I have put the chicken before the egg. We would first of course need to develop a "white paper" for reform (which is certainly an aspiration of mine) for American/Western Islamic institutions. This would require an enormous effort and involve wide consultation with Muslims and non-Muslims. (Both Christians and Jews have over the centuries recognised inherent problems within their religion and initiated reform. It is essential that they also have some input in the process in light of their experience in change) Developing a curriculum if you will, consistent with American/Western and Islamic values. This is certainly possible, but as Ms. Darwish and Mr. Shoebat are too painfully aware, people initially associated with this movement will be viewed as apostates.
Developing a modern, secular Islamic identity (in which I believe is possible in light of the Quran, Sunnah and historical/classical texts) would detract extremist converts, because a modern Islam would share commonalities with the other faiths of Christianity and Judaism that they so despise. If we want to stop extremist converts, we need to address the push and pull factors.
This is what we all want to hear. But Walif Shoebat, one of the converts from Islam to Christianity (any relation to Walid Jumblatt, I wonder?), pours cold water on this optimistic scenario:
"Islam can and should flourish as a moderate and peaceful force in the West, and act as a catalyst for change, an example of how Islam and Western society can successfully coexist."
The problem with this is that Islam is not simply a religion. We can say with absolute certainty that Islam is a system of government as well. No one can deny this. It would be dishonest of us who knows Islam to deny this. This is the crux of this whole problem - how do you untangle Islam from it's Jihadic and governmental principles? How do you take away Khilafa and Jihad and still call it Islam? This is why I call Jihadist as Nazis with "a religious twist".
Screening people who come in this country will solve part of the problem. But it is not difficult for extremists to explain Islam in it's true context to moderates and win them by the droves. Let's face it, most extremist Muslims once were moderates. It's a red button that is pushed and extremists can successfully make ex-moderates act as robots ready to carry out instructions.
Yes, the extremists can be controlled from entering and infecting moderates, but in today's world, with internet and world media, the instructions can easily enter in anyway.
Islam in my view needs to be viewed as a system of both "religion and government", not just "civil Sharia" but "total global Sharia". Besides its different forms of worship and moral code, Islam needs to be viewed as we view Communism. After all, this is what Islam is. Like Communism it spread by planting it's ideals first which looked pretty good on paper, then had no respect for borders, governments, and the end justified the means. be it total invasion or eradication of anyone who disagreed. Communism as well had its Jihad by the pen first, then total take over.
Again, Islam is not a system for moral application only. For us to say it is would be absolutely dishonest and would disregards the facts.
Now, regarding reformation of Islam as we did in the Judeo-Christian movements.
While I agree that reform was successful in the Judeo-Christian culture, yet most of the success came as a result of following the text and not doing away with it. The reformation came as a result of reviewing the institutions that abused its authority and didn't adhere to the manuals. This you can never apply to Islam.
The opposite is true when it comes to Islam. Peace started when we made it illegal to follow the text and ultimately de-fanged Islam from Jihad and government as we did to the Islamic Ottoman Empire.
We can find nothing in the tenants of the Christian or Jewish books that comes even close to Islam's way of government. The Judeo-Christian faith has nothing to do with government aside from a Messianic hope, and only when "He" comes with the heavens folding as a scroll, that this theocratic kingdom can take place.
This hasn't happened yet.
Also, the Bible clearly stated to "obey the laws of the land" making it clear that the biblical God is not about enforcing a theocratic government on earth by the sword of any mortal being, be it vicar or king. The Old Testament either with it's Temple system, judges, kings, had no place in it that called for expanding Israel.
This is why we can never compare the reforms in the Judeo-Christian culture with reforms in Islam.
Besides this discussion, may I add that I always hear this term "Islamic democracy". To me it's absurd, it's like saying "Capitalistic Communism". Is there such a thing? So why try to create an oxymoron?
Islam is a moral code, Khilafa, civil law, and a global government. Can anyone honestly say that this is not Islam?