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The test

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

Submitted by Amr Sabry (United Kingdom), Dec 17, 2003 at 11:05

I am Muslim and I provide my answers to the test below. The answers are my personal best effort at an Islamic perspective but more knowledgeable scholars may have other opinions. But let me first point out that the test is fundamentally flawed and it does not distinguish anything.

1. I certainly support the Palestinians right to resist Israeli occupation as well as Hizbullah's campaign that kicked the Israelis out of Lebanon. I fail to understand why the question links "giving up one's life" with "killing enemy civilians." Is it perhaps to allow situations in which one kills "enemy civilians" (an oxymoron by the way) from a safe distance pushing a few buttons in an airplane? Is this more righteous?

2. Modernity: The Qur'an has very clear verses regarding inheritance shares. They should be implemented to the best of one's ability. As for the part of the question asking about "jihad", I interpret it as "Is defending one's country" acceptable in today's world? As for other religions, some are clearly not valid, some are only partly valid as they have objectionable parts, and some may or may not be valid. Do Muslims have anything to learn from the West? Yes but it is hard to sift the good from the bad.

3. Secularism: Religious laws should be supreme and not subordinate to secular laws(which are laws enacted to satisfy the self-interest and whims of a group of people usually more influential than others). However by living in a country one implicitly signs a contract to respect the laws of that country. In that case, if religious laws cannot be implemented without undue hardship then it would be ok not to observe them.

4. Islamic pluralism: This is the strength of Islam. No "Pope" and no hierarchy to tell Muslims what the "right" interpretation is. Instead Islam operates much like the scientific community operates: anybody can write scientific papers which are filtered by peers. Eventually good ideas survive and bad ideas just go away.

5. Self-criticism: People are free to study Islam and its origins. There is quite a bit of evidence that Muslims did the 9/11 attacks.

6. Defence against militant Islam: Is buying products from the Israeli settlements considered "funding terrorism"?

7. Goals in the West: Yes, Western countries are mostly secular and remind me of the Roman Empire in its last days...

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