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The Fallacies of Depending on "Moderate" Islam

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

Submitted by David Ryan (United States), Dec 4, 2003 at 12:16

I believe that moderate Islam exists. But I believe there are at least three fallacies in looking toward moderate Islam for any positive influence in the world situation.

The first fallacy is implicit in the word "moderate". A moderate is one who stands between two extremes. In democratic politics moderates tip the balance one way or the other. What extremes is moderate Islam between? Radicals and the West? If so, on what basis could they be expected to side with the West? The Koran says:

[3.28] Let not the believers take the unbelievers for friends rather than believers...
[4.144] O you who believe! do not take the unbelievers for friends rather than the believers; do you desire that you should give to Allah a manifest proof against yourselves?

Secondly, Islam has always had radicals, Khajarites, Assassins, the Fatimid Caliphs who destroyed the Holy Sepulchre, pogroms against pilgrims that provoked the Crusades, and the spread of radical turkish madrasas and Wahhabism. Always when there is a tendency toward moderation, somebody comes along to "purify" things. That is because there is always a group that takes the Koran seriously:

[9.29] Fight those who do not believe in Allah, nor in the latter day, nor do they prohibit what Allah and His Apostle have prohibited, nor follow the religion of truth, out of those who have been given the Book, until they pay the tax in acknowledgment of superiority and they are in a state of subjection.
[9.30] And the Jews say: Uzair [Ezra] is the son of Allah; and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah; these are the words of their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved before; may Allah destroy them; how they are turned away!

Speech alone is a provocation:

[9.32] They desire to put out the light of Allah with their mouths, and Allah will not consent save to perfect His light, though the unbelievers are averse. [also 61:8]

Thirdly, moderates have no means of restraining radicals. Islamic law is unequal between Muslims and non-believers.

Hadith Sahih Bukhari
Volume 9, Book 83, Number 50:
Narrated Abu Juhaifa:

"I asked 'Ali "Do you have anything Divine literature besides what is in the Qur'an?" Or, as Uyaina once said, "Apart from what the people have?" 'Ali said, "By Him Who made the grain split (germinate) and created the soul, we have nothing except what is in the Quran and the ability (gift) of understanding Allah's Book which He may endow a man, with and what is written in this sheet of paper." I asked, "What is on this paper?" He replied, "The legal regulations of Diya (Blood-money) and the (ransom for) releasing of the captives, and the judgment that no Muslim should be killed in Qisas (equality in punishment) for killing a Kafir (disbeliever)." "

How can the West depend for help from moderates if the law forbids shedding Muslim blood for unbelievers?

Some could try to make the case that the radicals are not Muslim. But when a Muslim is defined as anyone who says and believes that, "There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His prophet.", that seems rather uphill.

It has been said by some that moderate Islam is no longer Islam. I think of it as decadent Islam, decadent in the sense of practicing only some of what its fundamental texts command. A "reformation" is a return to principles. The radicals will always go back to the harsher language as long as it exists in the text. And radical Islam, especially Wahhabism, *IS* the Islamic Reformation.

(I hope that whether the editor posts this or not, that it is addressed at some point.)

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