Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Inquisitions


Stop Saying “Moderate Muslims.” You’re Only Empowering Islamophobes.

 posted this June 25, 2014

Last week’s Heritage Foundation panel on the 2012 attacks in Benghazi was bound to be an ugly affair, what with the presence of panelist Brigitte Gabriel, a self-described “terrorism analyst” with a laundry list of offensive statements about Islam and Arabs.

Sure enough, when attendee Saba Ahmed, an American University law school student, explained that not all Muslims are terrorists, Gabriel retorted that “the peaceful majority were irrelevant” in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the way that peaceful Germans were irrelevant during the Holocaust.

That prompted much hand-wringing, primarily on cable news, about the supposed silence of “moderate Muslims” in this supposed age of Islamist extremism. What no one on either side of the debate questioned, though, was the legitimacy of the phrase “moderate Muslims” itself.

In the years that I’ve spent writing about and studying the phenomenon of Islamophobia, that phrase has always troubled me.

Muslims and non-Muslims alike bandy it about, though the latter usually demand that the former prove that they are such. What bothers me is not that there aren’t “moderate Muslims”from my perspective, there certainly are. The unacknowledged problem is how that phrase informs our judgments.

Brigitte Gabriel, for instance, told the Australian Jewish News in 2008, “Every practicing Muslim is a radical Muslim,” meaning “moderates” must be only those who don’t practice their religion. (About time to redefine “practicing religious person”)

Celebrity atheist Sam Harris writes that “moderate Muslims” are those who express skepticism over the divine origins of the Quran and “surely realize that all [sacred] books are now candidates for flushing down the toilet.”

Then there’s conservative columnist John Hawkins, who enumerates 7  criteria that Muslims must meet in order to be considered “moderate” while the queen of Muslim-bashing, Pamela Gellerasks in typical fashion, “What’s the difference? Today’s moderate is tomorrow’s mass murderer.”

To be fair, it’s not just the wackos. NewsweekNPR, the Wall Street Journal,ReutersTIMEThe New Republic and many others have used this phrase to describe Muslims who fit a certain preferred profile. Many Muslims themselves have bought into this dichotomy, if only to distance themselves from the so-called radicals and extremiststo assure paranoid non-Muslims, in other words, “I’m not that kind of Muslim.”

How is it that we talk about Muslims much like we talk about Buffalo wings, their “potency” being measured not by some objective rubric but rather by our personal preferences?

It’s the mild ones that we seem to search out: not so spicy in their religious practices that they burn us, yet not so bland that they dilute our religious diversity altogether.

The idea of a “moderate Islam” or “moderate Muslim” is intellectually lazy because it carves the world up into two camps:

the “good” Muslims and the “bad” Muslims, as Columbia University professor Mahmood Mamdani has noted. (Saba Ahmed herself used the word “bad” in her remarks at the Heritage panel.) Until proven good, or in this case “moderate,” all Muslims are perceived as “bad,” or potentially extreme.

We certainly don’t spend our time searching out “moderate” Christians or Jews, but rather reckon that the Westboro BaptistsJewish Defense League, and others are aberrations. And sure, Muslims give us plenty of bad examples, but it’s our own fault if we allow those examples to constipate our ability to perform basic logic.

During the panel, Gabriel argued that “15-25 percent” (how they get these stats? and why this huge margin?) of the world’s Muslims are extremists, and that the remaining “moderates” are “irrelevant” (I shouldn’t have to explain that it’s usually the majority of a given group that makes the minority irrelevant, not vice versa).

Based on the lower end of that range, that’s 240 million of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims  the equivalent of every single Muslim in Sub-Saharan Africa, or nearly 6 times the number of all Muslims on the entire continent of Europe. Where are the examples of such supposedly widespread extremism? Even if a mere 1% of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims is committed to violence, why is it that we haven’t seen 16 million violent attacks?

Proving one’s “moderation” is a trap, anyway. (And why you are required to prove moderation? Are the Inquisitions in progress and kicking?)

Is the only way to do it  to meet the criteria set forth by the person making the demand?

For Gabriel and others, it’s by supporting Western foreign policies in the Middle East, cheering continued military aid to Israel, and even rejecting certain Islamic tenets.

It’s why a figure like Zuhdi Jasser, a darling of the Republican Party and Peter King’s star witness in the “radicalization” hearings, is held up like a trophy while Saba Ahmed is mocked.

That’s the problem with this “moderate Muslim” nonsense: it empowers anti-Muslim activists by implying that the degree to which a Muslim digests their religious faith is indicative of their status as a potential terrorist.

Thus, “moderately” subscribing to the teachings of the Quran is OK, but should they cross over into the world of daily prayers, Friday afternoons at the mosque, and, God forbid, Ramadan, they’re suddenly flirting with extremism.

That way of thinking is predicated on the unfounded notion that pious religious orthodoxy necessarily entails Muslims behaving badly. It also implies that religious “moderation” involves swallowing up one particular political narrative.

Lastly, calling on “moderate Muslims” to condemn violence or other loathsome acts presumes that anyone who doesn’t is a terrorist lying in wait (should every Moslem claim the 5th and not incriminate himself?).

It gives credence to the idea that only those who are at the beck and call of Islam’s credential police are the peaceful ones, and that the ones posing the question“where are the moderate Muslims”are sufficient arbiters of what Islam really is and isn’t.

In order to arrive at a more peaceful and equitable place in our society, we must divorce ourselves from the notion that we are authorities on the faith traditions of others and as such are entitled to prescribe how they must interpret them in order to be welcomed.

The diversity within religious traditions is just as important to the pluralistic fabric of America as the diversity of religious traditions. Carving up our Muslim compatriots into categories that fit our idea of what they should be isn’t going to get us there.

Note: Nathan Lean is the Research Director at Georgetown University’s Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding.

He is the author of three books, including The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims. His next book, The Changing Middle East, will be released this year.

Jihad for Wall Street (October 5, 2005)

Almost every State that has enough sovereign liquidity funds is scrambling to save its financial institutions that are crumbling in domino effect around the World after Wall Street “Black Monday“.

Didn’t Jesus warn people not to adore two Gods, the Creator and Money?  But the Christian-Jews in the USA , under the code name of the New Conservative Christians in the South of the USA, represented by their congressmen, turned their coats to their proclaimed God and switched allegiance within two days to God-Money and voted the band-aid solution of a $700 billions aid package, mainly to keep their perks and liquidity flowing into their pork barrels.

The Christian-Jews are now facing bankruptcy, financially and theologically, and tumbling down on a steep decadence and degeneration path.

The word Jihad which means a constant struggle against inner evil tendencies has acquired a bad connotation because it was linked in the media to the historical phenomena of coercing other religious sects to adhering to the religion of the land. Thus, any use of the concept of Jihad outside the betternment of the self is mainly political and devoid of any religious or moral values.

In fact, the Prophet Mohammad said that if God wished humanity to be one community He would have realized it, but God prefers diversity among communities.

Consequently, at a very late period in spreading his brand of religion the Prophet Mohammad insisted on unifying the various tribes of Arabia and who were speaking the same language under Islam.

During the expansion of Islam, no major strong arm coercion methods were imposed upon the Christians and Jews to become Moslems; the main factors were basically economical in nature to avoid paying taxes and getting preferential treatments into civil jobs and exercising freer commerce.

The single religion that adopted strong arm means of coercion was the Christian establishment after the 4th century, until even the present time.

Since the Byzantium Emperors converted into Christianity, every Christian sect not abiding by the Empire set of doctrines had to relocate to mountain tops and deserts to flee persecutions.

Later, we had to experience the barbarous many Crusade campaigns for conquering the spice routes under the disguise of recapturing Jerusalem.

Then the period of the Inquisitions in Spain and Italy that chased out all the Moslems and Jews from Europe.

Forward to the period of the Portuguese and Spanish Conquistadors that spread havoc and decimated the natives of Mexico, Peru and all Central and South America.

And the World had to witness the successive waves of colonial expansions of France, England and Italy under the code name of “subjugating the heretics” to the Unique White All Powerful God.

Then the recent USA missionary convoys to Hawaii and all the Pacific Islands to convert the “heathens” to the right path of “spirituality”.

George W. Bush and his inner circle of counselors have stamped their brand of spirituality for spreading “democracy” and the unilateral “Free World Money Movement” which is another connotation of forcing the Conservative Christian ideology upon the World.

The current wave of Moslem fundamentalism and the recurrence of the word Jihad are but an emulation of the “Christian” Nations ideologies for over 15 centuries.

The radicalism in the Moslem World means simply: “Foreign colonial powers” out of the Moslem World; enough hypocrisy and double balance measures in values is enough!




February 2023

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