Moderate Islam: Western Ally or Western Myth?
Translations of this item:
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.
Summary written by Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi.
|The Hermetically Sealed suras [80 words]||Lawrence E. Alba||Feb 12, 2011 22:44||182586|
|defeat the radicals and establish a reformed orthox branch as an attractor, the idea of doubt [422 words]||myth||Jan 14, 2010 17:53||167341|
|Islam in Moderation [319 words]||Arlinda||Jan 12, 2010 09:14||167232|
|1||Moderate Islam doesn't exist but no harm in being optimistic [611 words]||Amitabh Tripathi||Jan 12, 2010 03:52||167220|
|2||your debate with Wafa Sultan [1150 words]||E Wieger||Jan 6, 2010 19:39||166946|
|thanks [832 words]||Watcher||Jan 5, 2010 18:49||166878|
|1||Islam is a Political System [32 words]|
w/response from Daniel Pipes
|Dr Christian Chan||Jan 3, 2010 18:48||166801|
|Question [9 words]||Peter Herz||Jan 14, 2010 11:21||166801|
|1||The West's Wishful Thinking [78 words]||Zak||Jan 2, 2010 12:55||166729|
|Few problems [230 words]||VK Tiwari||Jan 2, 2010 01:35||166695|
|Wishful thinking [125 words]||The Pouch||Jan 1, 2010 04:31||166655|
|Moderate Islam: Western Ally or Western Myth? [58 words]||steven L||Dec 31, 2009 21:56||166644|
|Re: Regarding the Debate [381 words]||Sudad Jawad||Dec 31, 2009 08:12||166616|
|Islam and its future [1677 words]||dhimmi no more||Jan 3, 2010 09:12||166616|
|Rewriting Islam [130 words]||Zak||Jan 4, 2010 12:28||166616|
|but yet [38 words]||Dayyaan||Jan 25, 2010 10:15||166616|
|Islam and the sira and other sordid things [159 words]||dhimmi no more||Jan 26, 2010 07:15||166616|
|Madame Soltane [30 words]||Bibi Lapurée||Dec 30, 2009 14:09||166567|
|Mohammed the mould [77 words]||Jim Beam||Dec 30, 2009 00:15||166521|
|Two kinds of Islam [385 words]||P.K.||Dec 29, 2009 17:11||166506|
|I fear Wafa S. is closer to the truth, but I see a way to synthesize your positions [152 words]||Charles Martel||Dec 29, 2009 16:00||166504|
|Moderate Islam/Muslims, a myth created by Western Islamic apologists!!! [198 words]||Jaladhi||Dec 29, 2009 14:00||166495|
|moderate Islam??? [171 words]||Paul Winter||Dec 29, 2009 08:02||166471|
|Islam will moderate only when defanged [103 words]||yuval Brandstetter MD||Dec 30, 2009 16:28||166471|
|reality [23 words]||Silvio Sperber||Dec 28, 2009 23:57||166448|
|Great debate [159 words]||Rebecca Moulds||Dec 28, 2009 22:54||166439|
|Is There Moderate Islam? [67 words]||Ilbert Phillips||Dec 28, 2009 22:46||166437|
|Mr. Berg argued similarly [160 words]||Abu Nudnik||Dec 28, 2009 21:27||166430|
|Islam can change [538 words]||Lady||Dec 28, 2009 20:50||166423|
|dont teach islam [14 words]||bary soetoro||Dec 30, 2009 00:51||166423|
|Judeo-Chrisitianity is just as bad [164 words]||Charles Ripley||Dec 30, 2009 19:02||166423|
|Gus Dur: one of a moderate and good muslim [560 words]||Lady||Dec 30, 2009 22:57||166423|
|According to the Bible Christians must kill.........????????? [310 words]||Jim Beam||Dec 31, 2009 17:39||166423|
|Judeo-Christianity is just as bad [94 words]||Bernard Baird||Jan 8, 2010 07:12||166423|
|Ajtp [9 words]||mustafa||Jan 16, 2010 03:07||166423|
|Quran's verses versus "Moderation". [90 words]||Charles Griffith||Dec 28, 2009 20:43||166420|
|Moderate Islam [123 words]||KEN PERLMAN||Dec 28, 2009 19:19||166406|
|islamism [51 words]||rodney allsworth||Dec 28, 2009 18:56||166402|
|To give a chance to moderate muslims to change their own brothers [159 words]||Lady||Dec 28, 2009 21:04||166402|
|Thanks for the Update [36 words]||P V Ariel||Dec 28, 2009 23:51||166402|
|Only one Islam - radical!!! [124 words]||Jaladhi||Dec 29, 2009 17:12||166402|
|Muslim will change you [50 words]||bary soetoro||Dec 30, 2009 23:36||166402|
|there is something to debate: authority [95 words]||myth||Jan 14, 2010 18:02||166402|
|Myth: That is the problem [108 words]||Lady||Jan 17, 2010 05:16||166402|
|Thinking [11 words]||Lady||Jan 17, 2010 19:32||166402|
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