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The myth of moderate Islam
The Spectator (U.K.) ^ | 07/30/05 | Patrick Sookhdeo

Posted on 07/28/2005 6:48:23 AM PDT by Pokey78

The funeral of British suicide bomber Shehzad Tanweer was held in absentia in his family’s ancestral village, near Lahore, Pakistan. Thousands of people attended, as they did again the following day when a qul ceremony was held for Tanweer. During qul, the Koran is recited to speed the deceased’s journey to paradise, though in Tanweer’s case this was hardly necessary. Being a shahid (martyr), he is deemed to have gone straight to paradise. The 22-year-old from Leeds, whose bomb at Aldgate station killed seven people, was hailed by the crowd as ‘a hero of Islam’.

Some in Britain cannot conceive that a suicide bomber could be a hero of Islam. Since 7/7 many have made statements to attempt to explain what seems to them a contradiction in terms. Since the violence cannot be denied, their only course is to argue that the connection with Islam is invalid. The deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Brian Paddick, said that ‘Islam and terrorists are two words that do not go together.’ His boss, the Commissioner Sir Ian Blair, asserted that there is nothing wrong with being a fundamentalist Muslim.

But surely we should give enough respect to those who voluntarily lay down their lives to accept what they themselves say about their motives. If they say they do it in the name of Islam, we must believe them. Is it not the height of illiberalism and arrogance to deny them the right to define themselves?

On 8 July the London-based Muslim Weekly unblushingly published a lengthy opinion article by Abid Ullah Jan entitled ‘Islam, Faith and Power’. The gist of the article is that Muslims should strive to gain political and military power over non-Muslims, that warfare is obligatory for all Muslims, and that the Islamic state, Islam and Sharia (Islamic law) should be established throughout the world. All is supported with quotations from the Koran. It concludes with a veiled threat to Britain. The bombings the previous day were a perfect illustration of what Jan was advocating, and the editor evidently felt no need to withdraw the article or to apologise for it. His newspaper is widely read and distributed across the UK.

By far the majority of Muslims today live their lives without recourse to violence, for the Koran is like a pick-and-mix selection. If you want peace, you can find peaceable verses. If you want war, you can find bellicose verses. You can find verses which permit only defensive jihad, or you can find verses to justify offensive jihad.

You can even find texts which specifically command terrorism, the classic one being Q8:59-60, which urges Muslims to prepare themselves to fight non-Muslims, ‘Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies’ (A. Yusuf Ali’s translation). Pakistani Brigadier S.K. Malik’s book The Quranic Concept of War is widely used by the military of various Muslim countries. Malik explains Koranic teaching on strategy: ‘In war our main objective is the opponent’s heart or soul, our main weapon of offence against this objective is the strength of our own souls, and to launch such an attack, we have to keep terror away from our own hearts.... Terror struck into the hearts of the enemies is not only a means, it is the end itself. Once a condition of terror into the opponent’s heart is obtained, hardly anything is left to be achieved. It is the point where the means and the end meet and merge. Terror is not a means of imposing decision on the enemy; it is the decision we wish to impose on him.’

If you permit yourself a little judicious cutting, the range of choice in Koranic teaching is even wider. A verse one often hears quoted as part of the ‘Islam is peace’ litany allegedly runs along the lines: ‘If you kill one soul it is as if you have killed all mankind.’ But the full and unexpurgated version of Q5:32 states: ‘If anyone slew a person — unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land — it would be as if he slew the whole people.’ The very next verse lists a selection of savage punishments for those who fight the Muslims and create ‘mischief’ (or in some English translations ‘corruption’) in the land, punishments which include execution, crucifixion or amputation. What kind of ‘mischief in the land’ could merit such a reaction? Could it be interpreted as secularism, democracy and other non-Islamic values in a land? Could the ‘murder’ be the killing of Muslims in Iraq? Just as importantly, do the Muslims who keep quoting this verse realise what a deception they are imposing on their listeners?

It is probably true that in every faith ordinary people will pick the parts they like best and practise those, while the scholars will work out an official version. In Islam the scholars had a particularly challenging task, given the mass of contradictory texts within the Koran. To meet this challenge they developed the rule of abrogation, which states that wherever contradictions are found, the later-dated text abrogates the earlier one. To elucidate further the original intention of Mohammed, they referred to traditions (hadith) recording what he himself had said and done. Sadly for the rest of the world, both these methods led Islam away from peace and towards war. For the peaceable verses of the Koran are almost all earlier, dating from Mohammed’s time in Mecca, while those which advocate war and violence are almost all later, dating from after his flight to Medina. Though jihad has a variety of meanings, including a spiritual struggle against sin, Mohammed’s own example shows clearly that he frequently interpreted jihad as literal warfare and himself ordered massacre, assassination and torture. From these sources the Islamic scholars developed a detailed theology dividing the world into two parts, Dar al-Harb and Dar al-Islam, with Muslims required to change Dar al-Harb into Dar al-Islam either through warfare or da’wa (mission).

So the mantra ‘Islam is peace’ is almost 1,400 years out of date. It was only for about 13 years that Islam was peace and nothing but peace. From 622 onwards it became increasingly aggressive, albeit with periods of peaceful co-existence, particularly in the colonial period, when the theology of war was not dominant. For today’s radical Muslims — just as for the mediaeval jurists who developed classical Islam — it would be truer to say ‘Islam is war’. One of the most radical Islamic groups in Britain, al-Ghurabaa, stated in the wake of the two London bombings, ‘Any Muslim that denies that terror is a part of Islam is kafir.’ A kafir is an unbeliever (i.e., a non-Muslim), a term of gross insult.

In the words of Mundir Badr Haloum, a liberal Muslim who lectures at a Syrian university, ‘Ignominious terrorism exists, and one cannot but acknowledge its being Islamic.’ While many individual Muslims choose to live their personal lives only by the (now abrogated) peaceable verses of the Koran, it is vain to deny the pro-war and pro-terrorism doctrines within their religion.

Could it be that the young men who committed suicide were neither on the fringes of Muslim society in Britain, nor following an eccentric and extremist interpretation of their faith, but rather that they came from the very core of the Muslim community and were motivated by a mainstream interpretation of Islam?

Muslims who migrated to the UK came initially for economic reasons, seeking employment. But over the last 50 years their communities have evolved away from assimilation with the British majority towards the creation of separate and distinct entities, mimicking the communalism of the British Raj. As a Pakistani friend of mine who lives in London said recently, ‘The British gave us all we ever asked for; why should we complain?’ British Muslims now have Sharia in areas of finance and mortgages; halal food in schools, hospitals and prisons; faith schools funded by the state; prayer rooms in every police station in London; and much more. This process has been assisted by the British government through its philosophy of multiculturalism, which has allowed some Muslims to consolidate and create a parallel society in the UK.

The Muslim community now inhabits principally the urban centres of England as well as some parts of Scotland and Wales. It forms a spine running down the centre of England from Bradford to London, with ribs extending east and west. It is said that within 10 to 15 years most British cities in these areas will have Muslim-majority populations, and will be under local Islamic political control, with the Muslim community living under Sharia.

What happens after this stage depends on which of the two main religious traditions among Pakistani-background British Muslims gains the ascendancy. The Barelwi majority believe in a slow evolution, gradually consolidating their Muslim societies, and finally achieving an Islamic state. The Deobandi minority argue for a quicker process using politics and violence to achieve the same result. Ultimately, both believe in the goal of an Islamic state in Britain where Muslims will govern their own affairs and, as the finishing touch, everyone else’s affairs as well. Islamism is now the dominant voice in contemporary Islam, and has become the seedbed of the radical movements. It is this that Sir Ian Blair has not grasped. For some time now the British government has been quoting a figure of 1.6 million for the Muslim population. Muslims themselves claim around 3 million, and this is likely to be far nearer to the truth. The growth of the Muslim community comes from their high birth-rate, primary immigration, and asylum-seekers both official and unofficial. There are also conversions to Islam.

The violence which is endemic in Muslim societies such as Pakistan is increasingly present in Britain’s Muslim community. Already we have violence by Pakistani Muslims against Kurdish Muslims, by Muslims against non-Muslims living among them (Caribbean people in the West Midlands, for example), a rapid growth in honour killings, and now suicide bombings. It is worth noting that many conflicts around the world are not internal to the Muslim community but external, as Muslims seek to gain territorial control, for example, in south Thailand, the southern Philippines, Kashmir, Chechnya and Palestine. Is it possible that a conflict of this nature could occur in Britain?

Muslims must stop this self-deception. They must with honesty recognise the violence that has existed in their history in the same way that Christians have had to do, for Christianity has a very dark past. Some Muslims have, with great courage, begun to do this.

Secondly, they must look at the reinterpretation of their texts, the Koran, hadith and Sharia, and the reformation of their faith. Mundir Badr Haloum has described this as ‘exorcising’ the terrorism from Islam. Mahmud Muhammad Taha argued for a distinction to be drawn between the Meccan and the Medinan sections of the Koran. He advocated a return to peaceable Meccan Islam, which he argued is applicable to today, whereas the bellicose Medinan teachings should be consigned to history. For taking this position he was tried for apostasy, found guilty and executed by the Sudanese government in 1985. Another modernist reformer was the Pakistani Fazlur Rahman, who advocated the ‘double movement’; i.e., understanding Koranic verses in their context, their ratio legis, and then using the philosophy of the Koran to interpret that in a modern, social and moral sense. Nasr Hamid Abu-Zayd, an Egyptian professor who argued similarly that the Koran and hadith should be interpreted according to the context in which they originated, was charged with apostasy, found guilty in June 1995 and ordered to separate from his wife.

The US-based Free Muslims Coalition, which was set up after 9/11 to promote a modern and secular version of Islam, has proposed the following:

1. A re-interpretation of Islam for the 21st century, where terrorism is not justified under any circumstances.

2. Separation of religion and state.

3. Democracy as the best form of government.

4. Secularism in all forms of political activity.

5. Equality for women.

6. Religion to be a personal relationship between the individual and his or her God, not to be forced on anyone.

This tempting vision of an Islam reformed along such lines is unlikely to be achieved except by a long and painful process of small steps. What might these be and how can we make a start? One step would be, as urged by the Prince of Wales, that every Muslim should ‘condemn these atrocities [the London bombings] and root out those among them who preach and practise such hatred and bitterness’. Universal condemnation of suicide bombers instead of acclamation as heroes would indeed be an excellent start.

Mansoor Ijaz has suggested a practical three-point action plan:

1. Forbid radical hate-filled preaching in British mosques. Deport imams who fail to comply.

2. Scrutinise British Islamic charities to identify those that fund terrorism. Prevent them receiving more than 10 per cent of their income from overseas.

3. Form community-watch groups comprising Muslim citizens to contribute useful information on fanatical Muslims to the authorities.

To this could be added Muslim acceptance of a secular society as the basis for their religious existence, an oath of allegiance to the Crown which would override their allegiance to their co-religionists overseas, and deliberate steps to move out of their ghetto-style existence both physically and psychologically.

For the government, the time has come to accept Trevor Phillips’s statement that multiculturalism is dead. We need to rediscover and affirm a common British identity. This would impinge heavily on the future development of faith schools, which should now be stopped.

Given the fate of some earlier would-be reformers, perhaps King Abdullah of Jordan or a leader of his stature might have the best chance of initiating a process of modernist reform. The day before the bombings he was presiding over a conference of senior scholars from eight schools of Islamic jurisprudence, and, amazingly, they issued a statement endorsing fatwas forbidding any Muslim from those eight schools to be declared an apostate. So reform is possible. The only problem with this particular action is that it may have protected Muslim leaders from being killed by dissident Muslims, but it negated a very helpful fatwa which had been issued in March by the Spanish Islamic scholars declaring Osama bin Laden an apostate. Could not the King re-convene his conference and ask them to issue a fatwa banning violence against non-Muslims also? This would extend the self-preservation of the Muslim community to the whole non-Muslim world.

Such reform — the changing of certain fairly central theological principles — will not be easy to achieve. It will be a long, hard road for Islam to get its house in order so that it can co-exist peacefully with the rest of society in the 21st century.

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo is Director of the Institute for the Study of Islam and Christianity.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; News/Current Events; United Kingdom; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: crushislam; islam; islamicfascists; islamisadeathcult; islamisevil; islamisnotareligion; islamofascism; knowislamnopeace; muslim; muslims; religionofpeace; religionofpieces; trop; waronterror; wot
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To: Mister Da
"I fear the only thing that will kill it is Islam!"

Islam must be entirely discredited and eradicated. However, if it was gone tomorrow, Muslims would simply find another excuse. They could decide, using al-taqiyya, to convert en masse to Christianity. (That would be a mess, wouldn't it)? They could subscribe to any or to no faith, and the struggle, usch as it is, would reveal itself for what it is - class warfare.

41 posted on 07/28/2005 9:03:00 AM PDT by sageb1 (This is the Final Crusade. There are only 2 sides. Pick one.)
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To: Celtjew Libertarian
From my standpoint, it is only in the past several centuries that Jews were as safe in Christian lands as they were in Muslim. It's only in the past 50-100 years that the Christian world has become significantly more friendly towards Jews than the Islamic world.

Why would Jews be more safe in the land governed by a holy book that exhorts its followers to kill Jews than in a land governed by those whose faith is based on the same God and scriptures as those of the Jews?

42 posted on 07/28/2005 9:06:40 AM PDT by William Terrell (Individuals can exist without government but government can't exist without individuals.)
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To: mike182d
There is no authority from the New Testament claiming that the New Testament, or the Bible, is the sole authority.

There is no authority for anything else's claim to authority in Christianity, and certainly none in contradiction to it. So there you have it, it is redundant or in contradiction. There are no other possibilities.
43 posted on 07/28/2005 9:09:56 AM PDT by UnbelievingScumOnTheOtherSide (Give Them Liberty Or Give Them Death! - IT'S ISLAM, STUPID! - Islam Delenda Est! - Rumble thee forth)
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To: Convert from ECUSA

I just got an e-mail from Bigfoot, he says Islam is moderate and a Religion of Peace.

It may not have been Bigfoot, I think it's those wacky guys Tony and George pretending to be Bigfoot.

44 posted on 07/28/2005 9:11:33 AM PDT by Sabramerican (Sarcasm/Some here don't get it unless you spell it out)
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To: UnbelievingScumOnTheOtherSide
There is no authority for anything else's claim to authority in Christianity,

How about the institution that deemed the current collection of writings in the NT as authoritative? Or did they not have the authority to deem it as such in the 4th Century?
45 posted on 07/28/2005 9:14:39 AM PDT by mike182d ("Let fly the white flag of war." - Zapp Brannigan)
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To: Pokey78

This is just more PC BS. You can't reform Islam. It is an evil ideology and in no way should be considered a religion. A muslim can't be a 'good muslim' unless he jihads on nonbelievers. I say Islam should be purged from society at any cost.

46 posted on 07/28/2005 9:18:45 AM PDT by bk1000 (A clear conscience is a sure sign of a poor memory)
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To: William Terrell
Why would Jews be more safe in the land governed by a holy book that exhorts its followers to kill Jews than in a land governed by those whose faith is based on the same God and scriptures as those of the Jews?

I don't know. It may be a matter of interpretation of the Koran. To many Muslims at the time, Jews and Christians were to be allowed to live in peace -- but they weren't allowed to rule. In many cases, it was that the Muslim rulers were more interested in running a successful nation than a strictly religious one.

But the fact is that during the Medieval period and the Renaissance, Jews were generally treated better by Muslim countries than Christian ones.

47 posted on 07/28/2005 9:23:05 AM PDT by Celtjew Libertarian (Shake Hands with the Serpent: Poetry by Charles Lipsig aka Celtjew
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To: bk1000
I say Islam should be purged from society at any cost.

Including freedom?

48 posted on 07/28/2005 9:24:14 AM PDT by Celtjew Libertarian (Shake Hands with the Serpent: Poetry by Charles Lipsig aka Celtjew
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To: Pokey78

Damn, if the "Greatest Generation" had been as smart as this one, so many of them wouldn't have had to die and we wouldn't have had to bomb Dresden and Hamburg to smithereens! We'd all be living in peace now with "moderate Nazis"!

49 posted on 07/28/2005 9:27:45 AM PDT by Revolting cat! ("In the end, nothing explains anything!")
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To: Celtjew Libertarian

Freedom for islamists, yes. If we abandon PC, then no one needs to loose their freedom. It is only when we deny the truth and search grey-haired grandmas instead of muslims, that people loose their freedom. If Muslims don't like being profiled, they should stop blowing stuff up or return to their Muslim utopias. There is no place for Islam in modern society.

50 posted on 07/28/2005 9:29:05 AM PDT by bk1000 (A clear conscience is a sure sign of a poor memory)
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To: FierceKulak

King Abdullah of Jordan is no role model, for he has not even been able to stop the "honour killings of women" in Jordan. Queen Noor seems as helpless aa a pussy cat trying to stop this. They are conrolled by the Islmomaniacs. There is no "honour" in killing anyone that you may think may have done wrong, but no one seems to be able to get this message across.

"Thou shall not kill !". In Islam, each man seems to think that he is judge, jury, and exectioner. And somehow these demons think that they have some "honour". The whole world suffers because of Islam. I wish that we did not even have to know about them and their evil deeds. but we need to get wise to this in a hurry.

51 posted on 07/28/2005 9:30:11 AM PDT by tessalu
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To: bk1000
There is no place for Islam in modern society.

Radical Islam, calling for overthrow of governments -- of course not. But a number of Muslims I've known -- particularly those from Turkey or of Turkish decent -- have integrated Muslim religious belief into a free secular society.

52 posted on 07/28/2005 9:34:35 AM PDT by Celtjew Libertarian (Shake Hands with the Serpent: Poetry by Charles Lipsig aka Celtjew
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Comment #53 Removed by Moderator

Comment #54 Removed by Moderator

To: usafsk
Hi Usafsk,

Regarding your Post #9. You misstate the issue. Yes, men by nature are evil, and evil acts have been committed throughout history (at least since the Fall in the Garden). And, yes, it is true that men have committed heinous acts in the 'name of - fill in the blank -'.
But in the case of those that have committed evil in the 'name of Christianity' -- they clearly did so without Biblical support (unless you happened to be one of those heathen Canaanites back in 1400 BC). As one illustration on how to confront unbelievers, I'd ask you to remember Jesus' words to His followers:

52 And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him.
53 And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem.
54 And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?
55 But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of.
56 For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.

The distinction between Islam and Christianity is that one Holy Book instructs its believers to lead a Holy life whereas the other book instructs its believers to kill the infidel.
And therein lies the inescapable problem.

55 posted on 07/28/2005 9:46:58 AM PDT by El Cid
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To: Pokey78
1. A re-interpretation of Islam for the 21st century, where terrorism is not justified under any circumstances.
2. Separation of religion and state.
3. Democracy as the best form of government.
4. Secularism in all forms of political activity.
5. Equality for women.
6. Religion to be a personal relationship between the individual and his or her God, not to be forced on anyone.

Unfortunately, they could keep the name, but that is no longer Islam. In fact, why would they want to keep such a vile discredited name?

56 posted on 07/28/2005 9:56:43 AM PDT by Publius6961 (Liberal level playing field: If the Islamics win we are their slaves..if we win they are our equals.)
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To: siunevada

We've stumbled upon a spontaneous, albeit limited meeting of the MENSA society...

57 posted on 07/28/2005 9:59:35 AM PDT by Publius6961 (Liberal level playing field: If the Islamics win we are their slaves..if we win they are our equals.)
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To: El Cid

Say it, and say it again when people compare Christianity's
'dark past' with Islam past and present.
The DIFFERENCE is the evil Christians did/do is AGAINST the teachings of their religion. It is a SIN.
The evil Muslims do isn't evil to their 'religion', it's sanctioned and encouraged. It's GOOD to kill all non Muslims.

You DISobey on religion to do evil.
You OBEY another to do it.
Islam is, from it's birth, a cult of death murder and terror and the only way to change that is to REVISE the Koran. But that cannot happen, because every word is HOLY LAW. Including the commands to kill and destroy.
Few want to deal with that ugly fact.

58 posted on 07/28/2005 9:59:47 AM PDT by ClearBlueSky (Whenever someone says it's not about Islam-it's about Islam. Jesus loves you, Allah wants you dead!)
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To: mike182d
The dark history of Islam is not about the wrongdoings of over-zealous followers but rather a product of the religion itself, as an entity.

The West will finally wake-up when they come to the realization that Muslim terrorists are Islams' version of the 'good Mormon couple next door'. That is, they ARE Islam's pious, mainstream members, and as such, DO receive honor and respect from their culture. It's the moderates who are Islam's version of 'Jack Mormons' or 'lapsed Catholics'.

59 posted on 07/28/2005 10:01:20 AM PDT by lemura
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To: Sabramerican
"It may not have been Bigfoot, I think it's those wacky guys Tony and George pretending to be Bigfoot."

Either that, or they've been smoking the really cheap stuff again!
60 posted on 07/28/2005 10:10:12 AM PDT by Convert from ECUSA (tired of all the shucking and jiving)
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