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just curious....

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

Submitted by Joseph Cato (United States), Jan 24, 2004 at 21:37

'As-salaamu 'alaikum, peace be upon you,

I, as a Muslim, would like to submit answers to your questions to see where I land on the Moderate-Extremist spectrum.

I. Violence:

A. Do you condone or condemn the Palestinians, Chechens, and Kashmiris who give up their lives to kill enemy civilians?

-This is a loaded question. These groups do not target civillians only. In the case of the Palestinians, they are at war against Zionism and Zionists; therefore, all Zionists are enemy combatants. I condone any group or individual that fights for freedom, justice and basic human rights.

B. Will you condemn by name as terrorist groups such organizations as Abu Sayyaf, Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, Groupe Islamique Armée, Hamas, Harakat ul-Mujahidin, Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, and al-Qaida?

-That's tricky. Would the English government have considered the soldiers of the American Revolution terrorists?

II. Modernity:

A. Should Muslim women have equal rights with men (for example, in inheritance shares or court testimony)?

-All Muslims should have exactly the rights given to them by the Quran, which, consequently, are not very different from the those given in the Bible. It is each individual's choice to accept or not accept the words of the Quran.

B. Is jihad, meaning a form of warfare, acceptable in today's world?

-As the Quran explains, jihad is acceptable if, and ONLY if, Islam (that is, "submission to God") is under attack.

C. Do you accept the validity of other religions?

-I respect the right of other religions to exist and be practiced. I also accept that Jews and Christians are People of the Book, worshipping the same God that I/we do.

D. Do Muslims have anything to learn from the West?

-No. I don't feel that anyone has anything to learn from the West. In fact, I think the West could benefit from un-learning a lot of its ways.

III. Secularism:

A. Should non-Muslims enjoy completely equal civil rights with Muslims?

-Absolutely, and I would stand by any group or individual whose civil rights were threatened.

B. May Muslims convert to other religions?
-That is between them and God; no business of mine. "Let there be no compulsion in religion." (Quran 2:256)

C. May Muslim women marry non-Muslim men?
-No, the Quran doesn't allow it.

D. Do you accept the laws of a majority non-Muslim government and unreservedly pledge allegiance to that government?

-Accept the laws...yes. Unreservedly pledge allegience...no, and I think anyone would be a fool to do so, to any government.

E. Should the state impose religious observance, such as banning food service during Ramadan?

-Absolutely not.

F. When Islamic customs conflict with secular laws (e.g., covering the face for drivers' license pictures), which should give way?

-When the customs of ANY religion or belief system conflict with secular laws, I believe the secular laws should bend, NOT necessarily give way. What was the premise on which this nation was founded again?

IV. Islamic pluralism:

A. Are Sufis and Shi'ites fully legitimate Muslims?

-Anyone (Muslim, Jew, Christian or otherwise) who submits him/herself fully to the will of God is a *muslim* or "mushlam" in Hebrew or "submitter" in English. Note the difference between "Muslim" and "muslim."

B. Do you see Muslims who disagree with you as having fallen into unbelief?

-To some extent, but then again, to most Muslims, I would be considered a heretic since I do not accept hadith or any extra-Quranic teaching or (religious) laws.

C. Is takfir (condemning fellow Muslims with whom one has disagreements as unbelievers) an acceptable practice?

-I don't consider condemnation of the beliefs of others to ever be acceptable.

V. Self-criticism:

A. Do you accept the legitimacy of scholarly inquiry into the origins of Islam?

-I respect the right of others to inquire into the origins of Islam or even the Quran. However, I reserve the right to stick to the origins that I believe in. I would personally even welcome any challenge to my beliefs. "And do not uphold what you have no knowledge of." (Quran 17:36)

B. Who was responsible for the 9/11 suicide hijackings?

-I have no idea. I will not uphold that of which I have no knowledge. The Quran teaches me not to be suspicious of people.

VI. Defense against militant Islam:

A. Do you accept enhanced security measures to fight militant Islam, even if this means extra scrutiny of yourself (for example, at airline security)?

-Extra scrutiny for everyone or would I be targeted based on what I look like? If the latter, this goes against what America supposedly stands for.

B. Do you agree that institutions accused of funding terrorism should be shut down, or do you see this a symptom of bias?

-No. I believe the American philosophy is "innocent until proven guilty."

VII. Goals in the West:

A. Do you accept that Western countries are majority-Christian and secular or do you seek to transform them into majority-Muslim countries ruled by Islamic law?

-I would love to see all of mankind WILLINGLY submit to God and His will, but I would never dream of attempting to force any belief on any person. To do so would go against my religion's teachings and my personal convictions.

Peace and blessings,
Joseph Cato

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