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The Myth of Tests for (and of?) Moderate Islam.

Reader comment on item: [Finding Moderate Muslims:] Do you believe in modernity?

Submitted by Patrick Moore (United States), Nov 27, 2003 at 12:05

There may be moderates who are Muslims, but Islam itself is by nature immoderate in its insistence on "commanding good and forbidding evil" and the concomitant imperative to extend Muslim political domination (not forced conversion, but dominion) over the dar al-harb (the "house of war" - i.e. places where the non-Muslims, "infidels" live) - ordinarily and legally call "jihad." Christianity has given up any pretense to such a duty (or privilege) once practiced, e.g. by the conquistadors. (Some might say that much of Christianity has given up any pretense of being Christian.) Islam has not.

Over 1300 years of Islamic history, for at least 1200 there was no debate over the primary meaning of jihad. In the last 100 years or so, minority voices, never shown to be practically dominant nor legally or religiously binding, have offered a variant as the primary meaning, i.e. the "peaceful" jihad, whether as a practical withdrawal from jihad of the sword or as a "maskirovka" technique in terminology, not unlike translating the Russian "mir" as "peace."

Related to this is the concept of "taqiyya" - the religious permission to dissemble and lie about ones views on religion when the individual feels he or Islam is "threatened." Although some believe it is a practice restricted to the Shi'a (often subject to persecution and repression by Sunni majorities), as Bernard Lewis says, it "is by no means peculiar to the Shi'a ... ." The Assassins, p. 25.

So, if a list of questions such as those proposed is presented to an orthodox Muslim, Sunni or Shi'a, they have a religious dispensation to tell the interlocutor whatever he may want to hear. As Bernard Lewis continued, "[i]t was used to justify the concealment of beliefs like to arouse the hostility of the authorities or the populace ... ." Id. Unlike the Christian "lapsi" who had to either 'fess up" or apostacize when required by Roman investigators to sacrifice to the image of the divine emperor, a Muslim would be able to sidestep the problem by pretending to adhere to the emperor cult.

Accordingly, what good will these questionnaires be except to make the questioners feel better? It seems to me like another Western attempt to find national security in a "piece of paper." Wouldn't Neville Chamberlain wave a handful of such completed questionnaires over his head, claiming "peace in our time?"
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