Religions have many aspects to it,what matters for growth is that it comes down to being able to take criticism. If criticism leads to complex arguments, then depending on the nature of those arguments one can make progress, provided they can atleast temporarily keep the religious side interested with the belief that they do have a chance to come through. So there has to reach a (seemingly) stable equilibrium between the critics and the believers. If this isnt possible then religious believers might find it difficult to sustain belief.
Islam truly is poor in its resources compared to other religions, it is precisely for this reason for its comparative poverty in its expression. Because it is anchored to Mohammad. we need to first find a way to compare between different religions, our understanding of this phenomena of “religion” has been shaped largely due to christian/western worldview and its impact on how other systems of belief are perceived.Reason why we have many new world isms (Shintoism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Sikhism,Jainism, Buddhism). So lets compare instead by many making different criteria to see where they stand.A kind of card, too many red cards and that religion is the worst. On inequality, Hinduism is worst, on freedoms to criticize , Christianity/Islam are worst, on use of violence for conquest, Islam is again the worst with concept of “Jihad”,so is Christianity. political ambitions,theologically for expansion bringing them into conflict with others, Christianity,Islam are worst.Just look around for christian and Muslim expansion in last 1000+ yrs by both. Finally we can come to the central pillars of religions which have founders, Jainism Mahavira,Buddhism Buddha, Christianity Jesus,Sikhism ,Islam Mohammad.
Of them Mohammad is the worst example. Any acceptance of criticism of religion leads to criticism of texts and criticism of founder, while for all other religions, its mostly criticism of texts they need to largely deal with, In Islam, one ends up have to deal with criticism of Mohammad as well over all others. Growth is possible if realistic outward possibilities through texts and examples are readily available to meet some basic defense for criticism.
In absence of which this attempt becomes futile. Islam is modeled around Mohammad as the central character, it largely is a footnote to Mohammad. While for other religions it takes many more steps to put believers in spot of trouble, in Islam all it takes is criticism of Mohammad . He is the central pillar of Islam. All it takes is just 2 steps, one to allow criticism of Islam, 2, criticize Mohammad.
People wont follow the common rules if it is very clear to them that to follow those rules of engagement is complete defeat to them. Second, if there were indeed possibilities for growth , if there were indeed real theological resources to deal with their predicament, they would have been pursued already . If Mohammad killed no one and captured no one as sex slave. I ask you all? .Would we even be discussing this at all this day in 2018?
My answer is no. After all, remove Mohammad and all there are is texts, which is similar to other religions. The difference is Mohammad. Here too there is a difference in terms of values of asceticism which exists in Buddhism,Hinduism,jainism, monks in Christianity stand as exemplars of being men who control their desires. Here too Islam is different, asceticism is not an Ideal in Islam. Ideal is Mohammad . who pursued conquest and sexual predation of non muslim women.
If Mohammad is the central pillar of Islam and it is not possible to even make meaningful defense, then there really is little hope that muslims shall allow a criticism of Mohammad, because to accept criticism of Mohammad is to accept end of Islam itself. Why therefore must muslims allow criticism of Islam when it would mean this end?. Again, If Mohammad was like Buddha, would we be discussing this?. No.
so on inequality, Islam does better than Hinduism, so Hinduism gets the red card. One ideals of asceticism, here again it gets the red card for it infact promotes polygamy which has bad consequences for society. An article on economist points to this. On political ideals, it calls upon conquest of world, jihad. it again gets a red card. One allowing criticism ,exploration of ideas, here too, it gets the red card. All other religions fall somewhere in between with lesser number of red cards. There is a reason beyond economics and politics which explains present world . Poverty has terrible social implications but need not have terrible political implications in terms of democracy or relative political freedoms as example of India has shown. Those issues can be sorted with more economic growth. However on political rights, it is competition with in that lets it down. I do not claim there can be no good muslims, But it is the feature of abrahamic religions that there will always be a fundamentalist branch waiting in the wings and if it survives long enough it will find opportunity to grow. That is the story of Wahhabism, it is also the story of why many liberals in America are stunned to find out why they ended up with Donald trump as president. Its because of evangelical support. These books are as the rhetoric of a prominent atheist goes to say are “engines of intolerance” that is they will keep erupting again and again.
As Islam can neither abandon Mohammad nor be willing to accept full criticism of Mohammad , they are stuck with very poor theological options that allows them the way to constructively dig themselves out of it. As I pointed out in last article on “can all ideologies or religions can reform?”. Just because one has tweaked A, B, C, it doesnt mean everything can be tweaked. A belief system which regards Hitler as perfect man would break , succeed but not reform.