Skip to comments.Identifying Moderate Muslims
Posted on 11/23/2004 2:24:40 PM PST by stevejackson
Editor's note: Readers may also be interested in Moderate Islam or Fata Morgana? and freemuslims.org Speaks Out.
There is good news to report: The idea that "militant Islam is the problem, moderate Islam is the solution" is finding greater acceptance over time. But there is also bad news, namely growing confusion over who really is a moderate Muslim. This means that the ideological side of the war on terror is making some, but only limited, progress.
The good news: Anti-Islamist Muslims have found their voice since September 11. Their numbers include distinguished academics such as Azar Nafisi (Johns Hopkins), Ahmed al-Rahim (formerly of Harvard), Kemal Silay (Indiana), and Bassam Tibi (Göttingen). Important Islamic figures like Ahmed Subhy Mansour and Muhammad Hisham Kabbani are speaking out.
Organizations are coming into existence. The American Islamic Forum for Democracy, headed by Zuhdi Jasser, is active in Phoenix, Arizona. The Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism appears to be genuinely anti-Islamist, despite my initial doubts about its founder, Kamal Nawash.
Internationally, an important petition posted a month ago by a group of liberal Arabs calls for a treaty banning religious incitement to violence and specifically names "sheikhs of death" (such as Yusuf Al-Qaradawi of Al-Jazeera television), demanding that they be tried before an international court. Over 2,500 Muslim intellectuals from 23 countries rapidly signed this petition.
With time, individual Muslims are finding their voice to condemn Islamist connections to terrorism. Perhaps most outstanding is an article by Abdel Rahman al-Rashed, a Saudi journalist in London: "It is a certain fact that not all Muslims are terrorists," he writes, "but it is equally certain, and exceptionally painful, that almost all terrorists are Muslims. We cannot clear our names unless we own up to the shameful fact that terrorism has become an Islamic enterprise; an almost exclusive monopoly, implemented by Muslim men and women."
Other analysts have followed al-Rashed's example. Osama El-Ghazali Harb writes from Egypt that "Muslim and Arab intellectuals and opinion leaders must confront and oppose any attempt to excuse the barbaric acts of these [terrorist] groups on the grounds of the suffering endured by Muslims." From Virginia, Anouar Boukhars holds that "Terrorism is a Muslim problem, and refusal to admit so is indeed troubling."
The bad news: There are lots of fake-moderates parading about, and they can be difficult to identify, even for someone like me who devotes much attention to this topic. The Council on American-Islamic Relations still wins mainstream support and the Islamic Society of North America still sometimes hoodwinks the U.S. government. The brand-new Progressive Muslim Union wins rave reviews for its alleged moderation from gullible journalists, despite much of its leadership (Salam Al-Marayati, Sarah Eltantawi, Hussein Ibish, Ali Abunimah) being well-known extremists.
Fortunately, the authorities kept both Tariq Ramadan and Yusuf Islam out of the United States, but Khaled Abou El Fadl got through and, worse, received a presidential appointment.
Even anti-terrorist rallies are not always what they seem to be. On Nov. 21, several thousand demonstrators, some of them Muslim, marched under banners proclaiming "Together for Peace and against Terror" in Cologne, Germany. Marchers shouted "No to terror" and politicians made feel-good statements. But the Cologne demonstration, coming soon after the murder of Theo van Gogh on Nov. 2, served as a clever defense operation. The organizer of the event, the Islamist Diyanet Işleri Türk-Islam Birliği, used it as a smokescreen to fend off pressure for real change. Speeches at the demonstration included no mea culpas or calls for introspection, only apologetics for jihad and invocations of stale and empty slogans such as "Islam means peace."
This complex, confusing record points to several conclusions:
Islamists note the urge to find moderate Muslims and are learning how to fake moderation. Over time, their camouflage will undoubtedly further improve.
Figuring out who's who is a high priority. It may be obvious that Osama bin Laden is Islamist and Irshad Manji anti-Islamist, but plenty of Muslims are in the murky middle. An unresolved debate has raged for years in Turkey whether the current prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is an Islamist or not.
The task of identifying true moderates cannot be done through guesswork and intuition; for proof, note the American government's persistent record of supporting Islamists by providing them with legitimacy, education, and (perhaps even) money. I too have made my share of mistakes. What's needed is serious, sustained research.
They are room temprature.
"American Islamic Forum for Democracy, headed by Zuhdi Jasser"
Some of Dr. Jasser's articles can be found here on FR by doing a search under keyword Jasser
They have toe tags.
By their fruits, you will know them.
Not quite fair: a moderate Muslim is one who rejects the Hanbali school of interpretation which holds that the later violence-endorsing suras of the Koran superceed the earlier more pacific suras which counsel respect for other 'people of the book', and who also sees the more violent hadiths as appropriate guides for action only in the context of tribal warfare and thus not applicable to modern circumstances.
Unfortuantely for the world, the Hanbali school of interpretation is the dominant one, not just among Islamic fascists, but among Muslims generally, and the near-universal trend among Muslim jurists to provide alternative courses of action to imitating the 'prophet's' more violent behaviors seems to have completely did out in some circles.
Ain't no such thang!!!
The moderate muslims are the ones standing up against terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan. The police men signing up at the Baghdad police station in spite of suicide bombers. I wish there were some here in the U.S. speaking up in public. (And I wish a monderate muslim - or a greedy one - would give up OBL or Zaqari)
It's been said before, but bears restating: radical Muslims have guns; moderate Muslims don't have guns. Period.
If Muslims find distaste for the words of their prophet, then they can't be Muslims, that maxim being the very words of their prophet.
They must convert, enslave or kill infidels or they are infidels themselves. "Interpretations" are just a mealymouthed way to say they don't have the courage to keep the commandments of their god.
My opinion. It won't change until the entire middle east Islam apologizes to Salmond Rusdie.
"Moderate" Muslim is a meaningless term.
A Muslim who sends his charitable donations to fund jihad against non-Muslims is not a "moderate"---he is an active "Jihadist" and is a murder-accomplice.
And he probably lives here in the US, pretending to be 'one of US', while sending his weekly finances to fund the beheaders. That is not a "moderate" Muslim.
I know Irish-Americans in NYC who would graciously add-cash-into-the-hat knowing that their money would be funding the IRA is some way. They were proud to do it.
A GOOD person fights evil no matter from where it springs. Hiding behind a god, an allah, a zeus to defend mass murder is what phonies like "moderates", fakers, and posers do so well.
Identifying Moderate Muslims is like capturing a living Bigfoot.
Ain't gonna happen, because neither exist.
All words must be interpreted.
But the Koran is not even plain words. In the Sura entitled The Cow one reads:
[2.62] Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve.
while in the Sura entitled The Dinner Table one finds
[5.72] Certainly they disbelieve who say: Surely Allah, He is the Messiah, son of Marium; and the Messiah said: O Children of Israel! serve Allah, my Lord and your Lord. Surely whoever associates (others) with Allah, then Allah has forbidden to him the garden, and his abode is the fire; and there shall be no helpers for the unjust.
Thus Christians according to one sura will be rewarded, have nothing to fear and shall not grieve, while according to another they are forbidden to the garden of Allah and have their abode in fire.
The Hanbali school resolves this by condemning Christians, since the sura in which their false prophet pronounces us condemned occurs later in the Koran.
The Koran, like every religion's sacred text is full of contradictions when read at face value. Every religion has developed traditions for resolving these ambiguities--even Christian fundamentalists who call themselves 'Biblical Christians' drink more deeply from the traditions of the Church than they are willing to admit. There are passages of the Old Testament which could be used by a literal-minded Israeli to justify genocide against the Palestinians (=Philistines, the newer name being a Latinate corruption of the older), but they are not so interpreted.
Islam has a long tradition of moderating the violent passages of the Koran and Hadiths: the Moguls decided to accord Hindus the status of dhimmis, even though they are plainly polytheists. The Sultans, who were the Caliphs of the Sunnis in their day, did not as the neo-jihadists now do, consider Christians and Jews as unbelievers to be killed out of hand, but accorded them the second-class citizen status of dhimmis.
The current war is a result of this tradition waning, and the infusion into Islam of ideas from Western philosophy--the redefinition of 'martyrdom' to include not just death in battle against non-Muslims but self-destruction in the pursuit of the death of non-Muslims arose first in the thought of Sayeed Qutb, who adopted the existentialist notion of 'absolute commitment' and applied it to Islam.
This is a reversal of what had been a trend, to regard the injunctions to slay unbelievers as injunctions to slay unbelief in oneself, to turn jihad into an inner spiritual warfare. And in this reversal, I see the hand of the Evil One: for if jihad as spiritual warfare only had grown as the dominant thought, in the end, the Muslims could have been evangelized by the tradition in which inner spiritual warfare is most fully developed--Eastern Christianity. As it is, they are being driven deeper into the darkness their false prophet wrought.