You will see that, contrary to the claims of a blogger who has claimed to know what I believe better than I do, I never say that I am “optimistic” about the prospects for Islamic reform. Of course, those who have adopted an adversarial stance, such that even my simple affirmations of what I believe are regarded with suspicion and subjected to convoluted explanations of why I really don’t mean what I say, will find in this, as in everything I say and write, whatever they want to find. But in fact, while I applaud the efforts of Zuhdi Jasser and others like him, I note in this interview that the doctrines enjoining violence against unbelievers are taught by mainstream Islam, and thus Jasser’s legitimacy as a Muslim will certainly be challenged.
Do I think large-scale reform of Islam is likely? Certainly not: the fact that the ideology of violent jihad and Islamic supremacism is taught by all the schools of Islamic jurisprudence, as I have pointed out ad infinitum, as well as the common view that the gates of ijtihad are closed and thus new interpretations of such core doctrines are not permissible, makes the odds against significant Islamic reform prohibitive.
There are a few courageous individuals who acknowledge that the Qur’an and Sunnah teach violence against and the subjugation of unbelievers (as opposed to the many putative moderates who deny this elementary fact) and are working to formulate new interpretations. The fact that they are unlikely ever to command large followings within the Islamic world does not mean that they don’t deserve support.