Islam once harboured the philosophy that engendered the Western Enlightenment, but it never embraced it; it did however embrace authoritarianism and theocracy because these are both fundamental to Islam, as Azam Kamguian says over at Butterflies and Wheels:
Non-believers - atheists under Islam do not have "the right to life ". They are to be killed. According to Islamic culture, sins are divided into great sins and little sins. Among the seventeen great sins, unbelief is the greatest, more heinous than murder, theft, adultery and so on... In a feeble attempt to disguise the Islamic attitude to apostasy, apologists often quote the Koranic verse: “There shall be no compulsion in religion”. For a Muslim wishing to leave Islam this is simply not true. In Yemen it’s punishable by death as it is in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan under the Taliban and other Islamic states.Islam needs the Enlightenment as badly as did the West, and Azam is optimistic about its embrace in Iran.
And I am delighted to say that hopes continue coming from Iran where the society has changed dramatically and deeply since 1979. The movement for secularism and atheism, for modern ideas and culture, for individual freedom, for women's freedom and civil liberties is widespread. Contempt for religion and the backward ruling culture is deep. Women and the youth are the champions of this battle; a battle that threatens the foundation of the Islamic system. Any change in Iran will not only affect the lives of people living in Iran, but will have a significant impact on the region and worldwide.
Therefore, we must fight the battle for Enlightenment in Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East.
[Hat tip Stephen Hicks.]