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Dr. Pipes, please define "moderate Muslims"

Reader comment on item: A Million Moderate Muslims on the March

Submitted by Nahum Kipnis (United States), May 8, 2007 at 15:52

Dr. Pipes offers recent large demonstrations in Turkey and Pakistan as proving an existence of a significant number of "moderate Muslims."

However, the articles which he cites as evidence don't mention such a concept at all. In Turkey, the marchers wanted to preserve a secular state. Even the slogans cited by Dr. Pipes himself show this: "We don't want an imam as president," "We respect belief, but not radicalism," and "Turkey is secular and will stay secular!" Note, they don't want ANY imam, not just a radical one.

The party that organized the rally in Karachi - Mutahida Qaumi Movement - is a secular rather than a Muslim party. Indeed, it describes itself as "a true democratic, liberal and progressive political party, which is the sole representative of educated middle class masses, minorities and have-nots." (http://www.mqm.com) Its documents do not mention Islam at all.

Do we have a definition problem? I apologize if I missed Dr. Pipes' definition of the "moderate Muslim" and I ask him to repeat it. As one of the slogans cited above - "We respect belief, but not radicalism" - shows, there may be different interpretations of the "moderate Muslim." One is a believer who opposes terror. This is a possible interpretation of Koran. Another is a person brought up in a Muslim family but who became a "'non-practicing Muslim." He would deny, for instance, that a modern state shall be subjected to sharia law. Apparently, the Turks mentioned by Dr. Pipes are of this kind.

The problem is that the term "non-practicing Muslim" is a contradiction in itself. Such a person is simply not religious. If Dr. Pipes means this group under "moderate Muslims," his definition is meaningless. If Dr. Pipes means real Muslims (religious) who oppose terror, then I have a question for him. By their own definition, Muslims believe that their lives are to be governed by sharia. Dr. Pipes, do you support such a request as applied to a Muslim community in any country? If you do, what is your solution for cases when sharia law contradict the state law?

Best regards,

Nahum Kipnis

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