They’re trying to do to Islam what Western liberals did to Christianity:
To varying degrees, thinkers and theologians identified with the democratic movement have been offering a new reading of Shiism that makes the faith more amenable to democracy and secularism. The most significant innovation—found in essays, sermons, books, and even fatwas—is the acceptance of the separation of mosque and state, the idea that religion must be limited to the private domain. Some of these thinkers refuse to afford any privileged position to the clergy’s reading and rendition of Shiism–a radical democratization of the faith. And others, like Akbar Ganji and Mostafa Malekian, have gone so far as to deny the divine origins of Koran, arguing that it is nothing but a historically specific and socially marked interpretation of a divine message by the prophet. The most daring are even opting for a historicized Muhammad, searching for the first time in Shia history for a real, not hagiographic, narrative of his life.
As this book explains, for a Muslim to deny that the Koran comes directly from God is equivalent to a Christian denying the Incarnation. I strongly suspect that the only reason the Greens don’t openly advocate atheism is because they think they can do more damage through subterfuge.
Now, not being a Muslim, I myself am not committed to a belief in the uncreated nature of the Koran, so you might think it strange that I should mind anyone else expressing skepticism about it. However, when evaluating a movement like this, we should not just ask ourselves whether the criticized beliefs are completely true. We must also ask whether the beliefs that the skeptics are steering the Iranians towards are truer. We must also remember that truths can be tied up with falsehoods in the minds of men–if a falsehood legitimates a truth, we should be wary of attacking the former lest we cast doubt on the latter as well. Now, I have little doubt that these religious reformers have privately abandoned belief in their historical religion. They have done so not because they suddenly found Islam to be incredible, but because they encountered a new faith that they found more credible. This faith, it can hardly be doubted, is liberalism. So the choice here is not between Shia Islam and whatever you think is a perfect belief system. It’s between Shia Islam and atheist liberalism. I myself am quite convinced that the former is closer to the truth about the universe, man, and society than the latter. I’m also convinced that the former is connected in most Iranians’ minds to a number of important truths. Islam provides them with a sense of the sacred and the profane; it reinforces the claims of morality; it helps people put the good of family, clan, and nation over their own; it affirms a person’s sense that what he does with his life matters in some ultimate way. Liberalism would take all of this away.