Another reader joins the conversation about Islam's potential for moderation and pluralism:
"Your reader is fairly off in his description of of Islamic pluralism.
Turkey was forced single-handedly by Ataturk into a militantly secular society, literally at the barrel of a gun: the military has had a strong role in Turkish government and only in recent years has their iron grip relaxed (and in fact strains are beginning to show).
As for India, Aurangzeb was a vicious ruler, and tried to impose a 'sharia' tax on the Hindus, thereafter spending most of his time putting down (mostly Hindu) rebellions. Aurangzeb had a particular hatred for the Sikhs, and in fact brutally murdered some of their 'gurus', or great wise men. Other Mughal rulers before him, (Akbar mostly) were more enlightened, although except for Akbar, they made no serious attempt to engage with the Hindu community, spending most of their time fighting battles with other Muslim fiefdoms.
India could never be ruled as an Islamic republic because of the huge majority of Hindus. The wiser Muslim rulers realized this and backed off, but not for want of trying.
What your reader does correctly suggest though is that there was a time when it was possible for Muslim rulers to rule without sharia, and without causing deep internal conflicts: the Middle Ages was after all part of the Islamic golden age. But that time is long gone, and that view of the religion is long gone as well."
No view of religion is ever gone for ever. Islam may not be promising material for modernity; but I'm not prepared to give up on its eventual reconciliation with liberal democracy.