- - Wednesday, January 6, 2016

It’s long past time for Islamic leaders of the world to meet and agree to isolate and condemn their religion’s most radical elements: Today, those groups would include the Islamic State (or ISIS), and other groups professing to follow the Koran by killing those who do not share their interpretations of Muslim teachings and practices.

Also included in the condemnation would be a prohibition on the teaching of children to kill, and the enslavement, mutilation, sale and raping of girls and women.

More Muslim practices could be on the agenda for a world Islamic conclave: the status and treatment of women in general and the tolerance for other religions. Also, Muslims have a reputation of condoning racism and intolerance of homosexuals — to the extent of beheading them in Saudi Arabia and by ISIS. And punishments such as whipping and beheading — for any reason — should be condemned in general.

Reformation is so urgently important because growing numbers of non-Muslims have determined that ISIS represents the “secret” views of most Muslims, and that there are little “real” differences between ISIS and the Muslim population and religion in general. In fact, the longer we wait for Islamic reformation, the more the world’s non-Islamic population will believe the worst about Muslims in general, based primarily on the worldwide media attention toward ISIS.

In addition, most non-Muslims don’t realize or understand the difference between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, nor that they have been fighting each other for many years, some say as long as since the seventh century. Yet this basic ideological struggle persists in much of the more modern Muslim world. A Muslim reformation would offer an opportunity for Sunnis and Shiites to resolve their internal differences.

Of course, internal strife and violence is nothing new to religion: For Christians, there were centuries of ignorance, wars, politics and killings. And it wasn’t been that long ago that we hanged and stoned “witches” in our own culture — during the notorious Salem witch trials in 1692 — which emulated these same despicable practices of medieval Europe.

In fact, religions — some more closely aligned with politics than others — have killed many millions of people over the history of mankind, probably more than any other combination of causes, including the world wars of the 20th century.

An Islamic reformation could also address another fundamental yet troubling problem in Europe, America and the rest of the free world: how Islam assimilates into democratic and free secular societies. Again, the perception among many is that Islamic assimilation simply does not take place, because it is “prohibited” by fundamental Islamic teachings.

How does a movement for a “modern” Islamic reformation get “legs” in today’s world of deadly religious strife in the Middle East that has now spread to Europe and America? It must start somewhere and gain momentum by widespread political endorsement throughout the world.

To begin the process in 2016, the United Nations General Assembly should seek acceptable wording for a unanimous resolution in favor of a worldwide Islamic conclave to address these most critical issues of our new century. Then every nation-state must endorse and support such a resolution.

Daniel Gallington served in senior national security positions in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of Justice, and as general counsel for the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

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