The suggestion of reforming Islam had almost always been met with violent disapproval in the past, but the idea is now being entertained in the middle east. About a month ago, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi didn’t just call for reform, he asked for revolution:
Egypt’s Sisi calls for purging religious discourse of extremist ideas
Egyptian president: Time to reform Islam, purge ‘discourse of extremism’
El-Sisi cites as motivation the threat of fundamental Islam to the international community via terrorism and a negative perception of Islam from the violence committed in its name. This would seem obvious to anybody who has watched the news in the past decade or so, but el-Sisi’s third reason is not as readily apparent.
“The Muslim world is going through a dangerous turning point and is facing unprecedented challenges targeting its existence and people, [and facing this] requires concerted efforts from all of us while putting all differences aside,” Al-Sisi said in the address.
It would seem that the third reason has to do with unity. The Ahram Online article puts it even more bluntly:
El-Sisi warned against those exploiting sectarian or ethnic differences to cause division in the Muslim world.
Taking into consideration Israel’s new found desire to normalize relations with its neighbors, Erdogan’s about-face on Assad, and Russia’s campaign on ISIS, a push is being made to bring stability back to the middle east. An unusual coalescence of interests converging around Russia involving Sunni-majority countries has suggested, to me at least, that a power bloc of Sunni nations is in the works. It is very likely that Russia has facilitated this since over half of its economy relies on oil sales, and a stable middle east is necessary if Russia plans on using its oil industry to take over the global energy market. Russia has been a strategic ally with Iran and has had close relations with India and Iraq, three nations who contain a majority of the Shiites in the world. If Russia can broker a peace (only temporarily) between the two sects of Islam, possibly involving Muslims willing to reform Islam, and succeed in the campaign against ISIS, a more stable middle east looks entirely possible. Considering China’s slow-motion take over of the South China Sea, they are looking to control trade, and stability is needed for a renewal of the silk road trade route running from Russia to China to Egypt.
Peace in the middle east? Sounds like a crackpot theory, alright.