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Response to commenter Mark Sharp

Reader comment on item: [Finding Moderate Muslims:] Do you believe in modernity?
in response to reader comment: Islam appears to be inherently radical

Submitted by Victoria (United Kingdom), Feb 6, 2005 at 07:45

"I have been waiting for the "moderates" to join with us against the radicals, but they seem reticent to put their collective necks on the line when it really counts. I could understand why they would be fearful of nasty revenge. But if I were them, I wouldn't count on a secular Western society to fix Islam's problems, I would want to do it myself. I just don't see it happening though. It makes me think that the "moderates" aren't as moderate as they claim. I would like to be proven wrong."

I'm not a Muslim, but I've lived in Saudi Arabia all my life. I know many 'moderate' Muslims (they themselves don't use that term - it was coined by the West) who personally condemn terrorism. The reason that no public Islamic figure can step forward and speak out against bin Laden on behalf of ALL Muslims is because interpretation of the Qur'an is an individual's right. There is no correct or incorrect way to read it. Ismaili Sunni Muslims (bin Laden is a member of this grouping) believe that the holy text urges them to kill infidels. Wahabbi Sunni Muslims believe that the kuffaar are not on an equality with Muslims, but they translate the Arabic word 'kafir' to mean 'one who is ungrateful to God'. Therefore, according to most Wahabbi Muslims, it is perfectly possible to be a kafir and still call yourself a Muslim. Sufi Muslims believe that anyone can attain heaven, not just Islamic followers - the Sufi poet Jelaluddin Rumi produced this verse eight hundred years ago:

We may know who we are or we may not,
We may be Jews, Muslims, or Christians,
But until our hears become the mould for every heart,
We will see only our differences.

Then you have extremists standing up and declaring that Jews and Christians are hellbound anyway. With such diversity residing under the Islamic 'tent', no one whom the West defines as moderate will feel comfortable speaking up on behalf of Islam in its entirity. They can only speak for themselves as individuals - and they do.
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