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Moderate Islam does not exist

Reader comment on item: The Evil Isn't Islam

Submitted by Reza Zaman (United Kingdom), Aug 1, 2002 at 23:05

There may be moderate Muslims, but Islam itself is not moderate. The majority of Muslims are decent, law-abiding people, but this is in spite of the teachings of the Qur'an, not because of them. In other words, most Muslims abide by the basic human decencies that are common to all human societies; if they actually followed the teachings of the Qur'an, they would be far worse people. For example, the Qur'an allows husbands to beat their wives, institutes slavery, and tells Muslims to wage perpetual jihad (genocidal holy war) against unbelievers until the whole world is under Islamic rule (dar al-Islam). If Muslims truly followed the Qur'an, they would all be followers of Usama bin Laden and other Islamists.

In Islam, there is no equivalent of, say, Reform Judaism, Unitarian Universalism or liberal Christian denominations. Dr. Pipes lists a number of items that Muslims need to do to modernize their religion:

- abolish the institutions of slavery, dhimmitude (second-class status for non-Muslims), and jihad
- abolish the death penalty for blasphemy, adultery, and apostasy
- abolish the prohibition on charging interest.

However, all of these teachings which Dr. Pipes wishes to see abolished are firmly based on the Qur'an and Hadith (traditions of the Prophet Muhammad), so it is difficult to see how Muslims could give up these teachings, without also giving up the Qur'an. Indeed, in Islamic history there has been one reform movement which in fact achieved all of these items listed by Dr. Pipes, but to achieve these reforms, this reform movement (the Baha'i faith) first had to leave the Islamic religion completely, with the result that the Baha'i faith has had an extremely limited appeal in the Islamic world outside of Iran. The Baha'is themselves are now persecuted throughout the Islamic world. Islamic history, therefore, suggests that reform of Islam itself is an impossibility.
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