The Future of Jihad – Understanding “Reform” in Islam – A History of Jihad, Article 6 of 6 – by Clare Lopez of

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article, The Future of Jihad – Understanding “Reform” in Islam, by Clare Lopez of, is part six of an exclusive six-part series entitled A History of Jihad by Clare Lopez.


Ms. Lopez is the Vice President for Research and Analysis at the Center for Security Policy, a Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research, and a member of the Board of Advisors for the Canadian Mackenzie Institute. She was a career operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency and has amassed many accolades in the research on and training and reporting about security issues in both media and governmental arenas.

Her latest collaborative effort, the book, Ally No More: Erdogan’s New Turkish Caliphate and the Rising Jihadist Threat to the West features Clare’s research along with luminaries in the security field such as Harold Rhode, Christopher Hull, Daniel Pipes, David Goldman, Burak Bekdil, Uzay Bulut and Deborah Weiss.

Also consider Article 1 – The Formidable Influence of Iran in Worldwide Jihad
rticle 2 – The Power of Sanctions Against Iran’s Worldwide Jihad
Article 3Israel’s Position in The Jihad Quagmire.
Article 4 – Turkey’s Aspirations for a Global Islamic Caliphate.
Article 5 – Is Trump Properly Addressing the Jihadi Enemy?]

The Future of Jihad – Understanding “Reform” in Islam

A History of Jihad, Article 6 of 6 – by Clare Lopez of
Because of this disparity between the truth and this “purge” of the truth (by the Bush and Obama administrations), do you see anything arising within the Muslim world for reform…?

Clare Lopez:
(laughter) I think we’ve had quite enough of reform within the Muslim world! “Reform,” the word, means “taking back to its origins” – “to its roots.” That’s what reform means. It doesn’t mean turning something into something it’s never been and never will be.

But, as I said, the Islamic world has already had a number reforms. The very first one was under the first Caliph, Abu Bakr, right after, it’s believed, Muhammad died in 632, a lot of the tribes on what came to be called the Arabian Peninsula tried to break away. They’d been conquered. So the first reform within Islam was carried out by Caliph Abu Bakr who led what are called the Ridda Wars, “Ridda” meaning “apostasy – breaking away from Islam. So he had to re-conquer and herd all those tribes back under the black flag of Islam. That was the number one reform.

There were others. But let me mention at least one more that is important. And that was the reform led by Muhammad Ibn Wahab in the late 1700s (the 18th century). Ibn Wahab saw at that time that a lot of what doctrinal Islam would call abuses that had crept into the practice of the faith including things like the keeping of grave sites, cemeteries and other things, the praying to deceased leaders (Imams) of Islam and intercessors with Allah, which, by the way is simply the Arabic word for “God.” I don’t know if people know this but Arabic speaking Christians in the Middle East pray to “Allah.” Allah simply means God, just like in Spanish it’s “Dios” just like in French it’s “Dieu.” In Russian, it’s “Bohkh.” So Ibn Wahab saw these abuses and determined to “reform” Islam and bring it back to its true practice from the beginning. And so he was another of the great Islamic reformers.

Now, I know that today when people talk about “reforming” Islam, they don’t mean that. They don’t mean taking it back to its roots and purifying it of its abuses the way Martin Luther did the Catholic church when the protestants (Lutherans) broke away. That’s not what they mean. They mean can’t Islam become Western? Well, no! What a silly thought! Of course it can’t become Western. The doctrine of Islam was codified by the 10th century when the scholars of Islam, in agreement with one another which is called “Ijma,” the interpretation that they did which is called “Ijtihad,” on the Sunni side of things, at least, was finished by the 10th century. That’s when the Koran was codified. That’s when the Sharia was codified. After that it was locked down. It’s in stone. Not one single word changes – ever. And it cannot! Because, if you are Muslim, you believe, of course, that the Koran is the literal word of God. It was given, they believe, through the arch-angel, Gabriel, to Mohammad who was illiterate but then recounted it to people who could write – and they did write it down – and all those various verses were collected up and, eventually as I said, codified into what we have today as the Koran by the 10th century.

It hasn’t changed since and it’s not going to.

Nor is Sharia (Islamic law) which is also codified by the 10th century by consensus of the scholars. Consensus of the scholars means the leading Mushtahih, the leading scholars of the day, and from then until now have always, without exception, been in agreement in their collective whole – I don’t mean fringe elements – but in the collective whole – always been in agreement on the revelation of the Koran, as they see it, and on the immutability of the Sharia.

So anybody who talks about “reforming” Islam, number one, doesn’t know the history of Islam and how many reforms there’ve already been – we don’t really need any more. I would name Abu Bakr Al Bhagdadi, the leader of the Islamic State, as another major Islamic reformer of our time. Why? Because he did the same thing that Ibn Wahab and (the original) Abu Bakr did: (he) tried to bring to bring Islam and Muslim people back to their roots, back to their faith. This is why Abu Bakr Al Bhagdadi and the Islamic State went after so many Muslims! Because they were “faithless.” They were “disobedient.” They were “lax.” They were not “practicing.” So his first job was to round up the stray, fallen away, disobedient Muslims just like Abu Bakr did! Just like Ibn Wahab and the Wahabis have done! That was the number one job – reform Muslims – bring them back to the true practice of the faith.

And then, after that, turn outwards with a unified force to face the infidels – that’s the rest of them, non-muslims.

So we’ve had enough of reform, in my opinion. We don’t need any more. And, if anybody thinks for one second that Islam is going to change, or become something it’s never been, think again! It’s not! It’s just, simply, not.
Wow. I stand corrected. And thank you for doing so. Any final word?

Clare Lopez:
I’ll just repeat our contact information where I would really encourage people to have a look at website of the Center for Security Policy – that’s and, again as I said, there’s that They go to the same place and there you will find a wealth of resources. Not just our monographs and books, which I’ve mentioned – many papers that have been written not just by us but by other scholars with whom we work and whose papers and work we promote. Also Frank Gaffney’s daily Secure Freedom Radio interviews – he, typically, every day of the work week does about 4 interviews per day. Sometimes he’ll use the whole hour for just one person but, typically, four interviews per day, that’s at All of that may be found at our websites and I would like to encourage people to go have a look.

Esther Levens:
Oh, I think it’s superb! Thank you so much, Clare.

Clare Lopez:
You’re welcome, both, and thank you for having me. Please, let’s think about getting together again. I’ll be happy to.

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