“One of the greatest problems with the much cherished “'moderate/radical' Muslim dichotomy is that it’s entirely based on Western assumptions that have nothing to do with the realities of Islam.”
CHARLOTTE, N.C., July 7, 2016 – One of the great misconceptions the West has about Islam is the idea that there are “moderate Muslims.” It is a term we hear on a daily basis and, especially, following a terrorist attack.
Middle Eastern authority Raymond Ibrahim has written an excellent article explaining exactly why “moderate Muslims” do not, and cannot, exist under the definitions ascribed to Islam by Western standards.
Writes Ibrahim, “One of the greatest problems with the much cherished “’moderate/radical’ Muslim dichotomy is that it’s entirely based on Western assumptions that have nothing to do with the realities of Islam.”
How many times have we heard President Barack Obama tell us that “ISIS is not Islam”? If we have heard it once, we have heard it a hundred times.
Ibrahim counters the president by accurately stating, “In keeping with various disturbing polls…everything associated with ‘radical Islam’ – adherence to Islamic law (Sharia), subordinate position for women and non-Muslims, draconian punishments, jihad to spread Islam, and opposition to democracy – is a reflection of authentic Islam.”
While those words do nothing to factually refute Barack Obama’s beliefs, they are the beginning of a set of realities that do indeed contradict the president.
When speaking of someone with vast knowledge about a subject, there is an old saying: “He has forgotten more about (insert the topic) than most people know.”
So, too, is the case with Christians. “Forgotten (or suppressed) is that Western civilization did not develop in a vacuum,” states Ibrahim. “All values prized by the modern West—religious freedom, tolerance, humanism, gender equality, monogamy—are inextricably rooted to Judeo-Christian principles which, over the course of some 2,000 years, have had a profound influence on Western epistemology, society and culture.
“This is why there are no ‘moderate’ and ‘radical’ Christians. Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant, Christians don’t have to ‘moderate’ their religion to coexist peacefully in the secular West.”
Think about it. News reports never make claims about “moderate Christians” or “moderate Jews” or “moderate Buddhists” as qualifiers. So IF there is such a thing as a “moderate Muslim” why must we go to so much trouble to define it?
Ibrahim continues with a brilliant analysis that brings much of Barack Obama’s thinking into focus. “While the conservative acknowledges that Islam has its own principles, the liberal ignores these, believing instead that Muslims ‘are just like us.’ This view, which arrogantly brushes aside Islam’s role in the Muslim’s life, doesn’t seem ethnocentric because the ‘us’ is not believed to be particular (Western or Christian) but universal. Western egoism has gotten to the point that whenever Muslims behave in ‘radical’ ways that are antithetical to Western standards—but consistent with traditional Islam—they are dismissed as mentally insane.”
Therein lies a major misconception in Western ideology about Islam. Islamic jihadists may “seem” insane by Western standards, but they are only living their lives according to the strictest teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. They are, in fact, true believers, which explains precisely why Muslims can kill other Muslims in a holy place in Saudi Arabia, as happened earlier this week.
“Islam and the law are one and the same; without the law Islam is meaningless,” argues Ibrahim. “The Arabic word Islam literally means ‘submit.’ These commandments—from death to the apostate and blasphemer, to jihad and subjugation for the infidel—are anything but ‘Western.’”
To explain how easy it is to misunderstand the idea of a “moderate Muslim,” Ibrahim says, “There are of course Muslims who fit into secular societies. But that’s because they are not observant of Islam—and not because they are observant of some sort of ‘moderate Islam.’ (emphasis added) This is key. ‘There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam,’ as Turkish president Erdogan famously pointed out.”
Consider that if the Turkish president states that there is no such thing as a “moderate Muslim”, would that not carry more weight than a pseudo-intellectual statement by a so-called Christian American president?
In summation, Ibrahim notes that “‘moderate Islam’ is really nothing less than an Islam without Islam—or ‘Western Islam,’ an oxymoron—explaining why it is viewed with great scorn outside the West (even London’s first Muslim mayor disparagingly refers to moderate Muslims as ‘Uncle Toms’).”
Barack Obama may be the self-appointed smartest man in the world, but when it comes to understanding Islam in a contemporary world, I’ll accept the views of world leaders who are practicing Muslims for clarification.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award-winning television
producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of the Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com).
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