The concerns with Islam are far more significant than simply “radical jihadist” against the duality of western politics and ideology. It is an internal struggle that results in external consequences. Yet, with all the outrage and justifiable retaliations, religious reformation is not a new concept.

Ask most people about the Christian Reformation and in all likelihood a brief summary of the Protestants breaking away from Catholicism, Richard the Lionheart, Martin Luther, John Calvin, or possibly King Henry VIII of England would be the topic of discussion. Yet, any reformation does not include the word “brief” or “brievity.” Few would take into account that the Reformation consumed most of the 16th century and a goodly portion of the 17th or the sheer cost in terms of human life. By some accounts, this amounts to nearly 40% of the populations of the kingdoms and principalities of what is now Germany, Holland, and the Scandinavian countries. English and French losses compound this number. These are important facts to bear in mind in the early 21st century when we consider what I believe to be a similar and inevitable Reformation in Islam.

Of course there are practical distinctions between the root causes of the Reformation in Christianity and the pending (if not present, initial stage) one in Islam. The former was political in base and in response to social and economic oppressive rule by the Pope and Church (e.g. infallibility of the Pope, sale of indulgences, preeminence of the priesthood) while the latter involves the disagreement over succession of leadership following the death of the Prophet Muhammed though, with socio-political and economic ramifications. While acknowledging these distinctions, the similarities are more notable and of significance in today’s growing violent actions.

Christianity took roughly 1600 years from the birth of Jesus to reach its reformation stage. Islam began approximately 1500 years ago around 622 AD (usually attributed to the recognized date that Muhammed received the revelations from the archangel Gabriel that became the foundation for the Qu’ran). Given the transformative impact of technology over the past century, we have a timetable that is essentially equivalent from a religious evolution (or revolution) standpoint. Another key factor is both Reformations involved a dominant party; in the case of Islam that is the Sunnis who account for 80%-plus of Muslims and a minority part, the Shi’a which constitute a little more than 10%. The Muslim holy sites of Mecca and Medina lie in Saudi Arabia, the titular leader of the Sunni majority sect while in Iran lie the holy sites relevant to the successional dispute between the two sects, is the largest Shi’a-dominant country, and generally serves as the global voice for Shi’a Muslims. The similarity to the division of Europe between larger, more populated Catholic kingdoms and principalities in the central and southern parts of the continent and the generally smaller Protestant kingdoms and principalities in the predominantly northern section of the continent is striking.