Monday, January 15, 2007

I Found A Moderate Muslim

Yep they really exsist. No foolin'. Here is Muqtedar Khan, Ph.D.'s view on what a moderate Muslim's attitude to the West should be:

Both Muslims and the media are generally on the mark when they identify moderate Muslims as reflective, self-critical, pro-democracy and human-rights and closet secularists. But who are they different from and how?

I believe that moderate Muslims are different from militant Muslims even though both of them advocate the establishment of societies whose organizing principle is Islam. The difference between moderate and militant Muslims is in their methodological orientation and in the primordial normative preferences which shape their interpretation of Islam.

For moderate Muslims
Ijtihad is the preferred method of choice for social and political change and military Jihad the last option. For militant Muslims, military Jihad is the first option and Ijtihad is not an option at all.

Ijtihad narrowly understood is a juristic tool that allows independent reasoning to articulate Islamic law on issues where textual sources are silent. The unstated assumption being when texts have spoken reason must be silent. But increasingly moderate Muslim intellectuals see Ijtihad as the spirit of Islamic thought that is necessary for the vitality of Islamic ideas and Islamic civilization. Without Ijtihad, Islamic thought and Islamic civilization fall into decay.
So for instance if the Koran or Hadiths say kill the Jews, then that is not open to interpretation. Swell.

If any of the authorative sources say that a dhimmitude is required of people of "the Book" well then second class citizenship it is. If the authorative sources say pagans must be put to death if they do not convert then no argument against it is to be brooked. If authorative sources say that apostates must be put to death, then appropriate laws must be enacted to make this so. If alcohol is forbidden by authoritive sources or contact with dogs is not allowed then that is it. As soon as possible laws forbidding dogs or alcohol must be passed.

In fact that philosophy sounds a lot like Democratic Socialism. State control of the economy is to be obtained by democratic means instead of violent revolution. Lovely.

I guess then, the difference between moderate Muslims and the jihadis is means not ends. In fact if the ends can not be reached in any democratic way then the moderates can join the jihadis to obtain the desired end state.

Some moderation.

I have been in private discussion with some moderate Muslims. When I ask them for sources on their views or to delineate the differences between themselves and the jihadis their response is to clam up or to say trust us. Kind of makes a feller suspicious.

Jen Shroder has this take on Muslim moderation.
America is embracing a religion that is said to promote peace as many moderate Muslims happily practice it. But as Yale professor and military historian Mary Habeck points out, this "peace" is only the first phase of Islam. The "method of Muhammad" largely known by Middle East Islamists is to spread Islam peacefully at first but always including covert groups of "true followers" who will use violence against those who will not accept it. This method is verified in Islam's holy book, the Sira, and the pattern has been repeated throughout history.

When scholars point at the Koran and the terrorist verses recited over acts of violence and beheadings, Muslims claim those verses are out of context. But they are only out of context to Islam's first phase. "Peace" is not the last phase of Islam. Muhammad, reverenced as Jesus Christ is to Christians, is the role model. Muslims believe if they want to experience his success, they must follow his footsteps exactly, and Muhammad slaughtered 600 to 900 Jews that rejected his "peaceful" Islam, then sold their wives and children into slavery as he continued to quote Allah, adding terrorism, beheadings and carnage.

Bin Laden believes he is following Muhammad's footsteps. He did not hijack a religion, he just took it seriously.

The answer is not to claim moderate Muslim beliefs are true Islam. The answer is not to ask our children to get on their hands and knees and pray to Allah in public school, to "become Muslim," fast for Ramadan, and "assume you are a Muslim soldier" as our textbooks direct. Once the governing majority is Muslim, "true Islam" and the totalitarian oppressive Sharia laws come into effect. Our freedoms will be slowly choked from us as they are being choked from France today.
Jen thinks that to be an Americanized secular Muslim is to be a Muslim apostate.
But the plight of the moderate Muslim is grave. As America slowly admits the enemy is true Islam, every effort must be made to embrace the moderate Muslim, not persecute them. The answer is not to blind our eyes and try to convince ourselves that moderate Muslims represent true Islam. They don't. Islam is defined by its holy books, and the holy books proclaim death to all who oppose it, even moderate Muslims. The answer is to live in reality, recognize the violence of true Islam as it rears its head, and ask moderate Muslims to reconsider. True Islam pronounces moderate Muslims as apostate, they are the "near enemies" in the Sira and without true conversion, they will be slaughtered right along with Christians and Jews. American Muslims need to take a hard look at what their Koran, in its entirety and true context, demands. They can no more denounce the method of Muhammad than Christians can denounce the sacrifice and love of God. I know, because as I battle with public educators for my children's religious freedom, I get angry, and God continually rebukes me for my anger. He reminds me of the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for them as well, and I am constantly humbled.

Muhammad slaughtered unbelievers. Jesus Christ gave Himself to be slaughtered. Muhammad took life, Jesus laid down His own life. I am to love these educators that would ask my sons to practice abominations to God, but I am not to give my sons over to them. We are to LOVE American Muslims, but we ought not give over our nation. We need to admit what true Islam is... or we can invest in prayer carpets, head baskets and burkas.
Now Jen is kind of a Christian fanatic, at least in her beliefs about the value of Christianity (praise Jesus), so let me see if I can find a better source. Salam Al-Marayati, Executive Director, Muslim Public Affairs Council of Los Angeles spoke to the State Department in January of 2002 and said this among other things:
I would like to digress to provide some historical context to the issue of reform in Islamic movements. The major schools of thought in Islam (Hanbali, Shaafi, Maaliki, Hanafi, Jaafari) all originated out of reformist movements using the process of ijtihad (intellectual analysis and interpretation of Islamic law). In fact, Shaafi had two schools of thought, one when he resided in Iraq and one when he moved to Egypt, and when asked why there were two, he said because they were for two different peoples. If place is a variable in Islamic thinking, then time can also be a factor. As technological advancements take form, then human understanding can also evolve. The word reform is found in the Koran. In Arabic, it is called islah and is the root meaning of the word maslahah, which means the public interest. When the Koran repeats the call for believers to enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong, Al-Ghazali interprets that verse as supporting whatever is in the public’s interests. That is, to promote any effort for social benefit and to prevent anything that is harmful to society.

In terms of modern Islamic movements, intellectual giants such as Wali Allah, Afghani, and Abdu are among the most notable that used reason to create revivalist movements impacting us to this day. Wali Allah of India helped to re-open the gates of
ijtihaad and condemned blind imitation. Afghani challenged Muslims to think of Islam consistent with reason and science. Abdu believed in educational reforms throughout Muslim society. These same concerns are raised today with respect to the plight of Muslims as illiteracy, poverty, and a lack of effective political systems create an environment that is more susceptible to criminal activity. These figures built their movements in the backdrop of fighting colonial rule. One challenge for Muslims today is to shift from the paradigm of the colonial model, which perpetuates the notion of Jews and Christians as agents of colonialism. The perception that globalization is merely a tool of Western imperialism which is closely reminiscent of their past under colonialist rule, results in antagonistic as opposed to conciliatory posturing towards efforts of change in Muslim society. The shift in paradigm will hopefully lead to a new model based on mutual benefit, cooperation and interdependence as a consequence of independence.

One concern over Islamic movements is the apprehension that they will come into power with an anti-democratic orientation. As a reflection of support for the status quo, the official U.S. Government response is to remain silent when these groups are banned from political activity. When that suppression takes place, however, the transformation leads to more radicalized groups. In 1952, Mossadegh’s party was eliminated, the Shah’s tyrannical rule was installed with U.S. Government assistance, and a new Iranian revolution was built on anti-Americanism. Banning the Ikhwan, we get the Gamaa’a; ban the Islamic Salvation Front, we get the Armed Islamic Group. Fatah was neutralized and Islamic Jihad was born. Prevention of dissent in Saudi Arabia led to bin Laden’s eruption in Afghanistan and hence the formation of the Al-Qaeda. Banning groups anywhere forces them to go underground and creates a more radicalized current. Despite the fact that these radical groups are real and are ongoing, the moderate voice, while remaining alive, has not been heard.
Funny he should mention the Shah. These days many Iranians are pining for the good old days of the repressive Shah who was moving aggressively to westernize Iran. He also likes the ijtihad idea but sees it as reason applied to Islamic law, rather than the idea of using democratic means to expand the reach of Islam leading ultimately to the imposition of sharia as does Muqtedar Khan mentioned above.

However, he does see the need to join religious law (sharia) to the democratic state.
Because many Muslims seek forms of government that incorporate Islamic law to one degree or another, the concept of Sharia needs more thoughtful approaches in U.S. policy-making than what we have been subject to in the past. Sharia is a core of laws that comprise basic principles (based on Koran and hadith) and man-made laws that are derived from the basic principles (fiqh). Imposing Sharia violates the Koranic injunction: Let there be no compulsion in matters of faith. The notion of religious police, therefore, violates this code. The exploitation of Sharia leads to persecution of religious minorities and women. The Sharia, Islam’s legal code, condemns terrorism because it condemns any violence against civilians.

There is this oversimplification done by both self-proclaimed experts and Muslim extremists that use Sharia as a political football fixating on the penal code and not to the call for government responsibilities, for example, to be accountable to the people through a social contract. The five goals of Sharia, accepted by all Islamic jurists are to secure and develop life, mind, faith, property, and family. These are consistent with human rights declarations and the U.S. constitution. In a national conference the Muslim Public Affairs Council held over the winter break, one speaker presented the thesis that the U.S. constitution is the closest human document that fulfills the goals of Sharia, and his message was well-received by all 1,000 participants.

The issue of the Sharia must be handled in a balanced manner. While it is wrong to impose the Sharia on non-Muslims or on Muslims against their will, it is also wrong to disallow Muslims, who seek Sharia as a way of advancing their societies, from participating in political affairs. Legal systems based on Sharia are a reality of the 21st century in that they already exist in many parts of the Muslim world. These issues represent dilemmas that need an in-depth discussion, something more than a short answer. Examples include addressing notions of democracy and popular will within the Islamic context; creating space among the U.S. and others to allow discourse; moving the discussion to specifics involving laws and not simply doctrine; determining room for modern
ijtihaad (intellectual analysis) with respect to legislation. Within this framework, there must be great flexibility and an avoidance of oversimplification by Muslims and non-Muslims. To suggest that the only acceptable form of government involves the absolute separation of church and state is to ask for more tension and rejection.
So the Jeffersonian ideal of the separation of church and state is to be rejected. In a pluralist state like America this is going to lead to religious wars. The very thing the separation of church and state was designed to avoid. Not very moderate at all.

In Demark during the height of the Cartoon Mohammed affair moderate Muslims were speaking out against their local imams.
Instead of the Danish government surrendering to Muslim radicals, moderate Danish Muslims are now speaking out against the extremists. A group of Muslims in the Danish city of Århus intend to organize a network of Muslims who do not want to be represented by fundamentalist Danish imams or others who preach the Sharia laws and oppression of women. “There is a large group of Muslims in this city who want to live in a secular society and adhere to the principle that religion is an issue between them and God and not something that should involve society,” said Bünyamin Simsek, a city councillor and one of the organizers. Århus witnessed severe riots after the publication of the cartoons in the newspaper Jyllands-Posten last Autumn.

In Copenhagen, too, moderate Muslims are speaking out. Hadi Kahn, an IT consultant and the chairman of the Organization of Pakistani Students in Denmark (OPSA), describes himself as a modern Muslim living in a Western society. He says that he does not feel he is being represented by the Muslim groups. When he goes to the mosque for Friday prayers he says the imam does not say much that is useful for him. “We have no need for imams in Denmark. They do not do anything for us,” he says. According to Mr Kahn the imams are not in touch with Danish society. He says too few of them speak Danish and too few of them are opposed to stoning as a punishment.
My take on all this? As long as the state remains secular and people's individual rights are respected, what a man believes and the religion he practices are not material to me.

I must say though that the ijtihaad idea does bother me. The way Democratic Socialism bothers me. From what I have seen socialism always leads to tyranny. The more socialism the less freedom. Where socialism totally succeeds so does tyranny. When you get socialism lite what results is restriction through red tape and the multiplication of laws. The EU,where the curvature of bannanas is controlled, is a prime example.

Update: 15 Jan '07 1637z

I have found an excellent explanation of ijtihaad from the Muslim Canadian Congress:
Ijithad has traditionally been defined as free or independent thinking to arrive at a juristic ruling on issues over which the Quran and Hadith are silent. The efforts of the eighth and ninth century learned fathers of jurisprudence such as Imam Shaffi and Abu Hanifah came about as a result of such ijtihad, as these doctors of jurisprudence were exercising independent reasoning to interpret legal sources by responding to the changing conditions of society. Consequently, they came to formulate elaborate rules of conduct for Muslims that would govern both their private and public life.

Though the need was widely felt to undertake
ijtihad in the form of juristic rulings, earlier tensions among emergent juristic schools suggest there were differences in methodology over how such rulings were to be derived. There were some who insisted all rulings would have to conform to the text of the Quran and Sunnah, thereby discarding the notion that Ijma (Consensus) or Qayas (analogy) could be considered legitimate sources of Shariah. However, what crystallized as the Usul-ul- Fiqh or the classical theory of jurisprudence, positioned the Quran and Hadith as the primary, and Ijma and Qiyas as secondary sources of Islamic law. The secondary sources would have to conform in principle to the two primary sources.

However, rulings deduced through such meticulous adherence to the Usul-ul-Fiqh, led at times to discrimination of women and other disadvantaged groups living in Muslim countries. Less commonly known is the fact that such an eventuality was forestalled by early exegetes of the Quran, particularly those who belonged to the group of scholars known as the "Ahl Ra'aay", who considered rationality and the principle of Istihsaan (juristic preference to arrive at the most equitable solution) a paramount principle in deducing religious law. Their objective was to achieve a just society that would accommodate the rights of all, while paying special attention to the rights of the weak and underprivileged. Unfortunately over time, the principle of Istihsaan came to be sidelined and the doctrine of Taqlid or blind following of traditional schools of jurisprudence gained ascendancy among Muslims.
Cross Posted at Classical Values


Anonymous said...

Read patrick Poole's article at American Thinker. Also Johnathan Carson's article.

Rationality was throughly rejected by Islam by 1200 AD

Abu Nopal said...

> As long as the state remains
> secular and people's individual
> rights are respected, what a man
> believes and the religion he
> practices are not material to me.

so, could it be that the nascent Sunni/Shia civil war is a good thing if it leads more Muslims to draw the same conclusion?