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Moderate Islam: Western Ally or Western Myth? A Debate
Catholic Exchange ^ | December 30, 2009 | Daniel Pipes

Posted on 12/30/2009 7:21:25 AM PST by NYer

Can there be a truly moderate Islam compatible with liberal-democratic notions of human rights and democracy? Is “radical Islam” a modern phenomenon or is Islam itself inherently radical? Such were the questions addressed in a recent debate between Dr. Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, and Dr. Wafa Sultan, a Syrian-born American psychiatrist. James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal moderated.

Mr. Pipes began by emphasizing that he and Ms. Sultan are allies, fighting the same opponents, namely, the Islamists. They agree on the past and present of Islam but disagree about the future. Ms. Sultan argues it cannot change while he believes it can. The idea that Islam cannot change is an essentialist view that ignores how much Islam has changed over history, an aspect that he, as a student of Islamic history for forty years, appreciates. He stressed that many of the requirements of the Shari’a, or Muslim sacred law, are impractical to implement, resulting in what Mr. Pipes has coined as the “medieval synthesis,” whereby loopholes are devised to get around impractical tenets, such as the prohibition against usury.

In the 1800s, with the onslaught of Western influence, the medieval synthesis collapsed, replaced by secular, reformist, and fundamentalist strains. The last of these is the totalitarian mentality that Mr. Pipes describes as “Islamism,” which transformed the religion into a political movement. And while Islamism dominates today, there are even at this bleak moment signs that Islam itself can change. For example, jurists in Turkey recently ruled that women can pray next to men in mosques, a small but important step for women’s rights.

Ms. Sultan began her argument by quoting Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who says that there is no “moderate or immoderate Islam. There is Islam; that is it.” She contends that terms like “radical Islam” conceal the true nature of Islam itself-a political ideology. She adds that the aim of Islam is to subdue the entire world under Shari’a. To prove her position, she quoted from the Qur’an; she also argued that the true nature of Islam can be seen in the Sira, or biography, of Muhammad, which, she says, has come to define Islam itself. For instance, Ms. Sultan claims that Muhammad’s actions-such as marrying a 9-year-old and taking many women as concubines -means that there can be no equality for women under Shari’a.

During the question and answer session, Mr. Pipes pointed out that those who argue that Islam itself is the problem leave the West with no solutions, adding that, to truly reform Islam, Western governments must begin to empower genuine moderates. Asked what policies she would adopt toward the Muslim world, Ms. Sultan asserted that Islam can be reformed, and recommended Western pressure on the Saudi king as the surest way.

Mr. Pipes and Ms. Sultan agreed on some specifics, for instance, that Western governments must not welcome non-violent Islamism and should monitor the hate being taught in Muslim schools in the West. Overall, however, Mr. Pipes, while not denying what Islam has been or is, insists that Islam, like other religions, can and will change, whereas Ms. Sultan was more pessimistic.

TOPICS: Current Events; History; Islam; Religion & Culture
KEYWORDS: danielpipes; gwot; islam; jihad; pipes; sharia; shariah; wot
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Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and the author of several books, including Militant Islam Reaches America and In the Path of God: Islam and Political Power (Transaction Publishers), from which this column derives. You may visit his website by clicking here and purchase his books by clicking here.

(This article courtesy of the Middle East Forum.)

1 posted on 12/30/2009 7:21:26 AM PST by NYer
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To: NYer

First came the Holocaust deniers...

The came Obama, the Islamic Jihad denier.

Both equally blind to the reality of hate and how it destroys lives and countries.

2 posted on 12/30/2009 7:23:19 AM PST by 1Old Pro (Cheney was proven right so quickly, Obama inviting terrorist attacks, TWO & counting)
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To: netmilsmom; thefrankbaum; markomalley; Tax-chick; GregB; saradippity; Berlin_Freeper; Litany; ...
She adds that the aim of Islam is to subdue the entire world under Shari’a.

The following is a description (slightly modified) from Dr. Peter Hammond's book: Slavery, Terrorism and Islam: The Historical Roots and Contemporary Threat.

As long as the Muslim population remains around 1% of any given country they will be regarded as a peace-loving minority and not as a threat to anyone. In fact, they may be featured in articles and films, stereotyped for their colorful uniqueness.

At 2% and 3% they begin to proselytize from other ethnic minorities and disaffected groups with major recruiting from the jails and among street gangs [Europe, Australia, USA and Japan]. Six percent of US prison inmates are Muslim. Like any other minority, they won’t integrate, but work to build their own separate community.

From 5% on they exercise an inordinate influence in proportion to their percentage of the population. South Africa's Muslim population is 2%, but they control 35% of the businesses, a large percentage of the banks and have five Cabinet seats while Christians (77% of the population) have none.

They will push for the introduction of halaal (clean by Islamic standards) food, thereby securing food preparation jobs for Muslims. They will increase pressure on supermarket chains to feature it on their shelves (along with threats for failure to comply).

At this point, they will work to get the ruling government to allow them to rule themselves under Sharia; Islamic Law. The ultimate goal of Islam is not to convert the world, but to establish Sharia law over the entire world.

When Muslims reach 10% of the population, they will increase lawlessness as a means of complaint about their conditions. (Ei: car-burnings in France last October.) Any non-Muslim action that offends Islam will result in uprisings and threats.

After reaching 20% expect hair-trigger rioting, jihad militia formations, sporadic killings and church and synagogue burning (India, Mindanao, Philippines).

At 40% you will find widespread massacres, chronic terror attacks and ongoing militia warfare [Indonesia].

From 60% you may expect unfettered persecution of non-believers and other religions, sporadic ethnic cleansing (genocide), use of Sharia Law as a weapon and Jizya (infidel tax). (Sudan, Kosovo, Lebanon and Egypt).

After 80% expect State run ethnic cleansing and genocide [Western Papua (New Guinea), Iran, Biafra, Turkey and North Nigeria].

100% will usher in the peace of "Dar-es-Salaam" - House of Peace - as in Saudi Arabia, Libya and Yemen.

3 posted on 12/30/2009 7:24:29 AM PST by NYer ("One Who Prays Is Not Afraid; One Who Prays Is Never Alone" - Benedict XVI)
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To: NYer
Dr. Wafa Sultan seems like a very smart lady.

"Radical" Muslims are constantly killing people and causing problems. Do the "Moderate" Muslims step up and condemn them? Hunt them down? Sanction stronger US actions to curb the rise of "Radical" Islam?


The only thing that "moderate" Muslims do is take offense when someone condemns Islam and declares that "all Muslims are radicals". THAT'S when the "moderates" come out, to defend their faith and to say "we're not all like that".

Well, I have news for you: Muslims are all like that. They are all radical and they are all supportive of terrorism. Islam is a devil worshiping Cult of Death.

4 posted on 12/30/2009 7:27:48 AM PST by ClearCase_guy (We have the 1st so that we can call on people to rebel. We have 2nd so that they can.)
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To: ClearCase_guy

A moderate Muslim is one who wants a radicial Muslim to do
the dirty work!

5 posted on 12/30/2009 7:30:22 AM PST by Dr. Ursus
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To: NYer

Beat me to it. (Grin)

6 posted on 12/30/2009 7:31:56 AM PST by verga (I am not an apologist, I just play one on Television)
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To: NYer

They’ve had 1600 years to clean up thier act.

It’s time to destroy and outlaw all islam including mecca.

7 posted on 12/30/2009 7:32:33 AM PST by devistate one four (Back by popular demand: America love or leave it (GTFOOMC) TET68)
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To: NYer

Of course there are moderate Muslims.

It’s just the 98% of radical Islamist Muslims that give the other 2% of moderate Muslims a bad name.

8 posted on 12/30/2009 7:33:06 AM PST by sitetest (If Roe is not overturned, no unborn child will ever be protected in law.)
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To: ClearCase_guy

Well, sort of.
It seems like “moderate” Islam is just a curtain behind which the terrorists hide. But Iraqi and Afghani troops are out killing jihadis just like our troops and allied troops. They’re not as good at it, but then, who is?
After a little arm twisting the Saudis cut off a bunch of money to the “charities” that fund terrorism and now they’re killing terrorists in Yemen.
There are a lot Muslims busy killing other, terrorist Muslims. They may not be vocal about it, but, if I lived in a country where the terrorists and their supporters were wandering around, I’d keep my mouth shut and settle for killing the bastards.

9 posted on 12/30/2009 7:39:18 AM PST by Little Ray (Madame President sounds really good to me...)
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To: NYer

Islam, in its heyday was far more tolerant of other religions than was Christianity at the same time period. Both had been tied in with the state almost from their inception.

After Islam conquered large parts of Eurasia and Africa, and settled down to rule their domains, Islamic rulers permitted Christians, Jews, and others to practice their religions, and to live in peace, albeit as second class citizens and subject to a poll tax.

Christianity went through disasterous convulsions until tolerance became the norm, and then only after the establishment of the United States.

By the end of the middle ages, both Islam and Christianity had become militantly intolerant, slaughtering unbelievers and heretics, with Jews as targets of opportunity from the crusades onward. Only in the Ottoman Empire and Poland were Jews permitted to live in peace.

In the Christian West, one of the positive aspects of the Enlightenment was the emancipation of Jews. It was Napoleon who ordered the opening of the ghettos of Europe, reducing the oppression of Jews on account of their religion, but the nationalist backlash made Jews targets on account of their race.

While Christianity matured, and became less tied to the state, Islam went the opposite way in many of its domains. Spain, under the fanatical Almohades, became much less tolerant of other religions, while Persia was always subject to fits of religious fanatacism, even before Islam. (Moses Maimonides’ family fled Almohade Spain for Egypt, where Maimonides became court physician to Saladin.) The book of Esther describes on such episode, and there were several under the Sassanids, and this explains a lot about recent Iranian history.

The rise of Wahhabism in the nineteenth century kept Islam tied to the state and politics, which is always a dangerous combination, one recognized by our First Amendment. As a result, tolerant (moderate) Islam is rare. The decline and fall of the Ottoman Empire, and the resulting rule of large Islamic areas by Western nations kept the pot boiling.

Until Islam has the same kind of enlightenment as Christianity had, I doubt we will see many “moderate Muslims.”

10 posted on 12/30/2009 7:48:49 AM PST by Daveinyork
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To: Daveinyork

Woah! It would take Christianity centuries to become tied to a state! The tenets of Christianity are opposed to the very abuses that were tied to it through state intervention. Christians then have gone *back* to Christ’s teachings.

Islam however has *always* been anti-Jew and rooted in conquest.

11 posted on 12/30/2009 8:14:55 AM PST by rom (Rejoice! The Christ has come!)
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To: rom


Here is an email I received this am that I think says it well.
German View of Islam

This is by far the best explanation of the Muslim terrorist situation I have
ever read. His references to past history are accurate and clear. Not long, easy
to understand, and well worth the read. The author of this email is said to be Dr. Emanuel Tanay, a well-known and well-respected psychiatrist.

A German’s View on Islam
A man, whose family was German aristocracy prior to World War II, owned a number of large industries and estates. When asked how many German people
were true Nazis, the answer he gave can guide our attitude toward fanaticism. ‘Very few people were true Nazis,’ he said, ‘but many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who
just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back
and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended
up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories.’

We are told again and again by ‘experts’ and ‘talking heads’ that Islam is the religion of peace and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in
peace. Although this unqualified assertion may be true, it is entirely irrelevant.
It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the spectre of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of

The fact is that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history. It is the
fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars worldwide. It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in
an Islamic wave. It is the fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, or honour-kill.
It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque. It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals. It is the fanatics who teach their young to kill and to become suicide bombers.

The hard, quantifiable fact is that the peaceful majority, the ‘silent majority,’
is cowed and extraneous.

Communist Russia was comprised of Russians who just wanted to live in peace,
yet the Russian Communists were responsible for the murder of about 20
million people. The peaceful majority were irrelevant. China ‘s huge population
was peaceful as well, but Chinese Communists managed to kill a staggering 70 million people.

The average Japanese individual prior to World War II was not a warmongering sadist. Yet, Japan murdered and slaughtered its way across South East Asia in
an orgy of killing that included the systematic murder of 12 million Chinese civilians; most killed by sword, shovel, and bayonet.

And who can forget Rwanda , which collapsed into butchery. Could it not be said that the majority of Rwandans were ‘peace loving’?

History lessons are often incredibly simple and blunt, yet for all our powers of reason, we often miss the most basic and uncomplicated of points:

Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence.

Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don’t speak up, because like my friend from Germany , they will awaken one day and find that the fanatics
own them, and the end of their world will have begun.

Peace-loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Serbs, Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians, and many others have died because the peaceful majority did not speak up until it was too late. As for us
who watch it all unfold, we must pay attention to the only group that counts—
the fanatics who threaten our way of life.

12 posted on 12/30/2009 8:27:29 AM PST by BubbaJunebug (s)
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To: NYer

Bump for later reading, when I have time to chew on it!

13 posted on 12/30/2009 8:30:06 AM PST by SuziQ
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To: NYer
A “moderate” in Islam only cuts your head half off.

The Koran:

Sura (2:191-193) - "And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution of Muslims is worse than slaughter of non-believers...and fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah."

Sura (4:74) - "Let those fight in the way of Allah who sell the life of this world for the other. Whoso fighteth in the way of Allah, be he slain or be he victorious, on him We shall bestow a vast reward."

Sura (4:76) - "Those who believe fight in the cause of Allah…"

Sura (5:33) - "The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement"

Sura (8:12) - "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them"

Sura (8:39) - "And fight with them until there is no more persecution and religion should be only for Allah"

Sura (8:57) - "If thou comest on them in the war, deal with them so as to strike fear in those who are behind them, that haply they may remember."

Sura (9:14) - "Fight them, Allah will punish them by your hands and bring them to disgrace..."

Sura (9:29) - "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, even if they are of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued."

Sura (9:30) - "And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!"

Sura (9:123) - "O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness."

Sura (47:4) - "So when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, then smite the necks until when you have overcome them, then make them prisoners,"

Sura (61:4) - "Surely Allah loves those who fight in His way"

Sura (66:9) - "O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites, and be stern with them. Hell will be their home, a hapless journey's end

From the Hadith:

Muslim (1:33) - the Messenger of Allah said: I have been commanded to fight against people till they testify that there is no god but Allah, that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah

Bukhari (8:387) - Allah's Apostle said, “I have been ordered to fight the people till they say: 'None has the right to be worshipped but Allah’”

Tabari 7:97 The morning after the murder of Ashraf, the Prophet declared, "Kill any Jew who falls under your power."

Ibn Ishaq: 327 - “Allah said, ‘A prophet must slaughter before collecting captives. A slaughtered enemy is driven from the land. Muhammad, you craved the desires of this world, its goods and the ransom captives would bring. But Allah desires killing them to manifest the religion.’”

Ibn Ishaq: 992 - "Fight everyone in the way of Allah and kill those who disbelieve in Allah."

The Koran and hadiths are replete with examples of Muhammad's barbaric behavior. Robert Spencer does a good job here explaining Islam - Blogging the Qur’an Start at the bottom.

14 posted on 12/30/2009 8:33:51 AM PST by FatherofFive (Islam is an EVIL like no other, and must be ERADICATED. Barack OBORTION is a close second.)
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To: Daveinyork
Good analysis. What most fail to realize is that de-politicizing Christianity throughout the reformation and counter-reformation was a very bloody business culminating in the 30-years war which slaughtered a third of Europe before it ended in 1648 with the Peace of Westphalia. Islam is no more capable of being transformed peaceably than was Christianity.

"Moderate" is simply a euphemism for "lapsed" or "secular". In medieval Christianity a "moderate" was called a "heretic" or "apostate" and that's precisely how the Umma view "moderate" muslims today.

15 posted on 12/30/2009 8:34:16 AM PST by AustinBill (consequence is what makes our choices real)
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To: All

Whether there is “moderate Islam” is debatable. But there are moderate and secular Muslims or “Muslims in name only”. They are our most important allies.

The difference lies between “norm” (what literal, fundamentalist Islam wants) and “normality” (the way Muslims actually live and practice, or interpret Islam to be). The theoretical “norm” may be indeed inherently flawed and violent, but what is “normality” often is not.

There are millions of peaceful, Western-minded etc. Muslims, whether it conforms with purist Islam or not.

The plump, simplicistic and ignorant black&white painting by some is worthy of a facepalm.

16 posted on 12/30/2009 8:34:25 AM PST by SolidWood (Sarah Palin:"Only dead fish go with the flow!")
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To: NYer
Mr. Pipes pointed out that those who argue that Islam itself is the problem leave the West with no solutions

Oops. I think he means "no politically correct solutions".

I got your solutions right here: kick muslims out of our countries until they let us into theirs; disallow islam in our countries until they allow our religions in theirs; disallow muslims from flying our airlines until they feel so ostracized and put-upon by this banning that maybe they'll just get their own airline and not fly on ours (suggestion: "Flying Carpet Airways"; "Sky Camel"). Like I said, not particularly politically-correct, but smart.

Israel has the right idea about these bastards: they just need to be isolated; there's no living with them. Pipes is a good analyst, but wrong here. The lady is right: islam is stuck on stupid.

17 posted on 12/30/2009 8:50:03 AM PST by Migraine (Diversity is great... ...until it happens to YOU.)
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To: BubbaJunebug

Winston Churchill had a good take on Islam:

In The River War (1899), his account of the Sudanese campaign:

“How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property - either as a child, a wife, or a concubine - must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.

“Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen: all know how to die. But the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytising faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science - the science against which it had vainly struggled - the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.”

The “fatalistic apathy” was one my dad told me about. He was a Second Mate on oilers headed for Venezuela and in 1942 got torpedoed every time they left port (six times, but the money was great (cough)). He said the first to die in a lifeboat or on a raft were the 18-year-old kids and Muslins. Both just plain gave up, but the Muslims were the worst with their “Will of Allah” thing. They wouldn’t do a damn thing to save themselves - or others.

18 posted on 12/30/2009 9:22:46 AM PST by Oatka ("A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves." –Bertrand de Jouvenel)
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To: rom

It took exactly three centuries for Christianity to become tied to the Roman state, and since the Christian scripture blamed Jews for the death of Jesus, that Roman state immediately began making them pay for that alleged crime. To be sure, Jews were low hanging fruit - Rome was already mad at them for two large, bloody, and nearly successful rebellions.

But the scriptures, in blaming Jews for Jesus’ death, are not much less anti Jewish than is the Koran. If Christians have really gone back to Christ’s teachings, then they have skipped back to before the scriptures were written.

19 posted on 12/30/2009 9:22:53 AM PST by Daveinyork
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To: Daveinyork

What are you talking about? Where does it say in the New Testament to kill the Jews or to persecute them?

Factually stating that the Jews killed Jesus (himself a Jew, as are all of the authors of the New Testament minus Luke) is not allowed? Paul writes that the Jews have rejected their Messiah. Yet he states that he himself would rather have his salvation taken from him so that the Jews could have their hearts softened.

You make some radical statements here about the nature of the Scriptures that you cannot back.

20 posted on 12/30/2009 9:39:24 AM PST by rom (Rejoice! The Christ has come!)
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