An editorial Introduction.
To ask such a question, shows the speaker to have accepted five myths concerning the history of Christianity, Islam and the Middle Ages.
Theses are that:
1.Medieval Christianity was barbarous, while Islam was refined.
2. Medieval women were oppressed.
3. Medieval culture was crude and ignorant.
4. Medieval politics were despotic.
5. The Middle Ages were uniquely violent.
H. W. Crocker III challenges these myths in the following.
Not unless you think it would benefit from additional dollops of Puritanism; further encouragement to smash altars, stained glass, and other forms of “idolatry”; prodding to ban riotous celebrations like Christmas and Easter; and support for fundamentalist Islamic schools that insist on sola Korana and sola Sunnah.
Indeed, it would seem that Islam has already had its reformers. Railing against the corruption of the West (let’s call it “Rome” for short) have been such modern Islamic Luthers as the late Ayatollah Khomeini, the cave-dwelling Osama bin Laden, the voice of young Islam — the Taliban (literally, the Islamic students) — and the puritanical Wahhabi sect of Saudi Arabia, which is most assuredly modern as it was not even founded until the 18th century, the age of the Enlightenment.
What would a Reformation bring to Islam that it does not already have? The Calvinists imposed stiff penalties for infringements of dress codes and behavior, but these rules don’t go beyond the sharia law of Saudi Arabia. Luther denied the divine right of the pope and affirmed the divine right of princes (uniting church and state, which were previously separate), but that doctrine is already well established in Islam, where mosque and state are meant to be united.
The Protestant reformers repudiated the Catholic Church for dallying too much with classical thinkers and decadent artists (like Raphael); many of them condemned the Catholic doctrine of free will (believing, as do the Muslims, in a kind of fatalism); and they damned Catholics for putting too much emphasis on Thomistic logic and reason, and not enough on the literal interpretation of the Scriptures.
No one accuses Islam of such sins. When it comes to taking Islam back to its pure, uncorrupted form, as embodied by the Prophet himself – an assassination – approving, polygamous leader of jihad – it would be hard to outdo bin Laden and his fellow reformers. [The original “assassins” were dissident Shiites; the word is Arabic; Mohammed himself urged his followers to “kill any Jew that falls into your power.”].
Granted, the West is not what it was. Rather than Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel, we have Andres Serrano and his infamous Piss Christ, Instead of the optimism of the renaissance, we have the modern (pagan) pessimism that sees nature’s gods plotting their revenge on over-populating, polluting humanity.
Instead of a confident West sizing its imperial mission to spread peace, commerce, and Christian charity and morality, the modern West is ambivalent about asserting its own values. There are even some in the West – including its Muslim converts – who think the Mohammedan’s stronger strictures against abortion, homosexuality, and secularism (if not Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, et al.) give them a certain moral superiority over such as the Dutch and liberals everywhere. Still, this remains I trust, a minority view.