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in search of the moderate muslim voice

Reader comment on item: [Moderate] Voices of Islam

Submitted by rima (United States), Aug 29, 2007 at 14:17

[an op-ed piece i wrote. may it enlighten the misinformed.}

These days, it's not easy being a moderate Muslim. On the one hand, extremists are causing destruction in the name of God and Islam; on the other, you have these self-proclaimed liberal "progressives" who seem to be trying to get as far away from Islam as possible while still somehow managing to call it Islam. Either way, the din created by these two sides completely drowns out the mainstream, moderate Muslim voice.

I call it the mainstream voice although as far as the media is concerned, it is anything but. In the eyes of the West, only those Muslims who are most secular, critical of Islam, or seeking reforms, are considered moderate. Anyone else who is slightly more outwardly pious or "traditional" is conservative, fundamentalist, or extreme. Those Muslims who seem to embrace Western ideals, in anything from politics to clothing to feminism, are deemed the moderate ones. Yet it is those Muslims who most often seem to be serving their own interests, rather than Islam as a whole, or even anyone else. Those Muslims, who may call themselves liberal or progressive, are trying to change the very essence of Islam to suit their whims. Which begs the question, why be Muslim at all?

Most Westerners are operating under the assumption and the belief that Islam, in its current state, is inherently incompatible with their societies, political systems, and way of life. This is why when a "Muslim" speaks critically of Islam and calls for its reform, Western media devours it like fresh apple pie. Somehow, these individuals' statuses are immediately elevated to the rank of scholar or expert, and they are worshiped as demigods that will bring Islam into the 21st century. "Into the 21st century," we can infer, means completely conforming and assimilating to American or Western standards. A perfect example of petitio principii.

Even more tragic is the fact that these individuals' academic credibility is never called into question, while credible Muslim scholars, and even Western scholars of Islam such as Dr. John L. Esposito of Georgetown University, are cast aside. This is sensationalism at best.

True, the mainstream voice that most Muslim organizations are putting out there does drone on and on about Islam being a peaceful and tolerant religion, etc. Their apologetic and pacifistic approach is designed to appeal to the media and general public, in hopes of creating a positive image of Islam. This is not to say that Islam is not peaceful and tolerant, nor that modern interpretations are infallible; on the contrary, most Muslims will tell you that Islam is fluid, ever-changing, adaptable, but within reason and within certain limits. That is, if you care to listen.

The reality of the situation is that the West and its media are far more interested in voices at either end of the spectrum than those that are balanced. It is a clear indication that they are not concerned with what Islam truly is, and how to peacefully coexist, rather they are concerned with what they would like it to be. Thus the support of the "progressive," secular liberal voices such as Irshad Manji and the more recent sensation, Ayan Hirsi Ali, and the condemnation of certain misunderstood aspects of Islam due to the actions of a few.

So when people facetiously ask, "Can't we all just get along?" the answer is: Yes, but communication is key.


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