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Will the Moderate Muslims Please Stand Up And Show the Way?

Reader comment on item: Bush Declares War on Radical Islam

Submitted by Swahili Dinaz (India), Oct 15, 2005 at 14:02

In a crunch situation, can Moderate Muslims afford to stand up and be counted? Who calls the shots in the community? It does seem as though there is a group among practicing Muslims who are just like you and I in their world view and attitude, but right now they are clearly in the minority and without a secure forum to voice their opinion within the Islamic community, although they are fairly assertive of individual and modern humanist values in their personal and professional living. Then there is a large group of fence sitters who can go either way depending on who is on the winning side. Like if Saddam were to march in victorious, they would rise and cheer him, or do the same for the Americans. Nobody can trust them, but eventually, folk like Bin Laden hope to cash in on their support.

On the other hand, Islamist terrorists seem to thrive on wholesale backing of religious leaders full of wild talk about Islam in danger. The two have always depended on each other throughout history. All who benefit from Islam, its charities, the wakf boards, the madrassas, are a part of this group. Calls for 'Death to America' etc. are given out of the mosques around the world. In their midst, one way or other, death – even horrendous death – and Islam are inextricably tied to each other. In this world view, there are no innocents except in Islam. Which in effect means that those who are yet to ‘surrender' need hardly consider themselves fully human. This is mainstream Islam. All other shades of Muslim opinion are silenced in event of public confrontation. It means that moderate opinion, the voice of reason is worthless to Islam in the final reckoning.

Ironically, moderates are welcome as representatives of Islam in secular debates. What instrument, what mechanism do they have to ensure that their opinion is heard or respected in the Ummah? There is none. In India, recent surveys show that nearly half the young and educated Muslim population wants to follow secular laws. This will naturally erode the authority and power of traditional keepers of the faith. So long as there are extremists who back the word of the Mullahs, there can be no hope for moderates in the most secular of states. In case of conflict, they must be seen to keep within the narrow confines of the prescribed tribal nomadic mores of 7th century warring Arabia, as prescribed by the Holy Book and its interpretations. The only approved secular policy must accommodate appeasement. This is a vicious cycle.

In the Dawoodi Bohra community of India for example, really an elite Muslim group, highly educated and prosperous, young reformists had to be publicly ostracised even by their families, who would otherwise be denied marriage and funeral services by clerics. This threat was rigorously implemented, and overnight even their career women began wearing the shroud, in public denigration of secularism, modernity and equal rights!

So the moderates in general are most welcome to air their views in non-Muslim forums, but can they do so openly among the Muslims? If they can, that is good news indeed, and how can they develop mechanisms to isolate those who have delusions that they speak on behalf of all Muslims?

The day after the earthquake in Pakistan, (when major concentrations of troops in Muzaffarabad were wiped out, with untold damage to military hardware, also with reports of a nuclear reactor near Indus being damaged), terrorists isolated and killed 10 Hindus in the State of Jammu and Kashmir. When the Mirwaiz, a religious authority among Kashmiris spoke to his men in the mosque in Srinagar, there was no move to offer condolence to the survivors of the carnage, no fatwa was issued against the terrorists, and nobody asked why the terrorists were trying to prevent humanitarian aid from reaching the needy. Why this carte blanche among the worldwide Ummah to the terrorists, even if it meant innocent Muslim children in a Muslim-majority State would die of starvation and cold?

If we are to believe the moderates, can we trust them to support the common secular cause when called to do so, or will they remain silent in presumed acquiescence in the face of Islamic extremism? Instead of asking the victims (even potential ones) not to attack Islam per se, what are they doing to make the situation light for the victims? They have always assumed help of secularists in any cause; how can secularists be assured of their help in times of crisis, against the extremists? Or even, how can we know who it is at the core of Islam, and who is on its fringes? If indeed, Islam is a pacifist religion, why is nobody able to reign in the perpetrators of mass carnage of innocents? Or on the other hand, do they stand by the 'core issue' logic of the Islamists and their governments, that terrorism against innocents is the Islamic way of Justice?

Lastly, those who think that Bush and the Americans underscoring permanent secularist values will solve the problem, don't seem to understand the workings of either democracy or Islam! What happens when Muslims attain critical mass, anything above 20% of the population? Just now, despite being a small vociferous minority, they cause rumblings of appeasement among the majority, granted the support of a relatively united worldwide Ummah under the tight leash of the clerics abroad. Later, they will of course be in a position to ‘democratically' dictate State policy according to their peculiar sensitivities of Islamisation under the Sharia'.
Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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