The question “Is Islamic reform possible?” pre-supposes that reform is necessary. Many Muslims would say it is not.
Even many liberal and progressive Muslims insist Islam is perfect and it is only Muslims themselves that need to be reformed. It is Muslims who are misguided and hold erroneous interpretations - the Qur’an is the perfect word of God. It can never be wrong.
They argue extremists like al-Qaeda and ISIS are not “true” Muslims and are only using Islam for their own power & political ends. They dismiss countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran or Afghanistan as not following Islam correctly & they go to great lengths to come up with all sorts of apologetics to distance Islam from real-life practices of Muslim countries and groups around the world.
Yet it has to be asked if Islam is perfect and has absolutely nothing to do with the actions of extremists like ISIS or regimes like Saudi Arabia - then why is it that these Muslims have so grossly misunderstood their religion? When one points out actions such as execution of apostates and gays they tell us this is completely against Islam and Islam is very clear about it. But then why don’t these groups and regimes realise they are going completely against Islam. Don’t they realise the terrible mistake they are making when it is all so clear and obvious? The truth is that it is not as clear and obvious as they claim.
If it is true that they have completely misunderstood Islam - what does that say about Islam & the Qur’an - the clear book Kitabun Mubeen - the final and complete revelation to man? If the message has been so badly misunderstood by so many Muslims what does that say about the message?
My view is that the Qur’an is not perfect and I believe it’s time we Muslims admitted that the Quran and Sunna can indeed lend itself to very harsh and violent - yet perfectly valid interpretations. The solution is not to try and twist the texts to come up with a counter-interpretation but to simply accept the fact that the Quran is not perfect. It is not infallible. It can be wrong.