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Dr. Pipes - Please Define Your Terms

Reader comment on item: Bolstering Moderate Muslims

Submitted by Bill Narvey (Canada), Apr 17, 2007 at 09:59

Once again Dr. Pipes writes of moderate Muslims, but fails to define what he means by the phrase "moderate Muslims" and what such Muslims believe that would qualify them to be called moderate Muslims.

Why has no one coined the phrase, "peaceful Muslims"? Are there such kinds of Muslims as distinct from moderate or radical Muslims and if so, what makes them peace loving Muslims?

Have moderate Muslims and peace loving Muslims (if they are distinct from moderate Muslims) managed to successfully adopt Western cultural values, morals, ethics, principals, perceptions and attitudes and reconcile any incompatibilities with their own Islamic culture and beliefs?

Is that what makes them moderate or peace loving? Is it something else or are there a number of other factors?

Further, citing with approval the Rand Corporation's study, "Building Moderate Muslim Networks", Dr. Pipes subscribes to the view of that Corporation that:

"structural reasons play a large part" in the rise of radical and dogmatic interpretations of Islam in recent years. One of those reasons is that over the last three decades, the Saudi government has generously funded the export of the Wahhabi version of Islam. Saudi efforts have promoted "the growth of religious extremism throughout the Muslim world," permitting the Islamists to develop powerful intellectual, political, and other networks. "This asymmetry in organization and resources explains why radicals, a small minority in almost all Muslim countries, have influence disproportionate to their numbers."

The study posits a key role for Western countries here: "Moderates will not be able to successfully challenge radicals until the playing field is levelled, which the West can help accomplish by promoting the creation of moderate Muslim networks."

Unless Dr. Pipes, the Rand Corporation and others of like mind can settle on a definition of who constitutes a moderate Muslim or better yet, a peace loving Muslim, if distinct from a moderate Muslim and why, they will be unable to accurately target who they are going to support to enable such Muslims to successfully challenge Muslim radicals and the whole ideology of radical Islam.

The first step in this process of supporting and growing the ranks, voices and influence of moderate Muslims is to know who they are and who they are not.

Dr. Pipes has previously expressed the view that radical Muslims constitute a small minority in almost all Muslim countries, as well as within the West, but he cites no studies to support such view. So just what does he base that statement on?

What kind of Muslims fit the definition of the phrase "radical Muslims"?

I would imagine that if one limits the definition of "radical Muslim" to a gun toting hate filled Muslim terrorist who stands ready, willing and able to carry out a terrorist mission against any non-Muslim , the statement that radical Muslims constitute a relatively small number of individuals, is probably true.

What of those Muslims who are filled with hatred of the West, of Jews, of all non-Muslims but are too poor and too consumed with just eking out a living day by day to actively participate in the terrorism of radical Islam?

What of those Muslims who are a bit too squeamish about joining a Muslim killing spree, but who give financial and moral support to radical Islamists, who count Bin Laden as their hero or in the case of Palestinians, who count their suicide bombers as their hero martyrs?

What of those who spread, support and nurture radical Islamic ideology, not only throughout the Muslim world, but throughout the West as well, such as the Saudis?

I submit that when you include all those Muslims aforementioned within the ambit of the phrase "radical Islamists" or "radical Muslims", the numbers of radical Muslims within Muslim nations and the West, swell to become anything but a small minority, if they are a minority at all.

Again, in order to bring clarity and meaning to views such as those expressed by Dr. Pipes and the Rand Corporation, they must give attention to defining their terms and their phrases such as "moderate Muslims", moderate Islam, radical Muslims and radical Islam.

Further, if they are to make statements such as radical Islamists constitute a small minority in Muslim or Western nations, they ought to cite reasons for making those statements as opposed to putting them out there as if they are known, proven and accepted fact.

Bill Narvey
Cross posted at Israpundit/Netwmd.com


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Daniel Pipes replies:

I did define the term, implicitly: By moderate Muslim, I mean anti-Islamists.

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