The Trouble with Moderates

“While many individual Muslims choose to live their personal lives only by the (now abrogated) peaceable verses of the Qur’an, it is vain to deny the pro-war and pro-terrorism doctrines within their religion.”

Patrick Sookhdeo

In the hadith literature, Muhammad exhorts his followers to marry women who are prolific, such that Muslims may outnumber people of other faiths. Thus we find that today, the birth-rate among Muslims is several times higher than that of non-Muslims. Indeed, it is now estimated that by 2043, Islam will be the second-largest religion in Ireland. This is a problem, for of the three Abrahamic faith-groups, Muslims seem the most determined to put their harmful beliefs into practice. For example, the dehumanisation of homosexuals in Islam means that in 2006, although Muslims comprised only two percent of the UK population, they were responsible for a quarter of all homophobic crimes. As Muhammad plainly commands in Sunan Abu Dawud:

If you find anyone doing as Lot’s people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done.

The belief that homosexuals should be put to death is a staple of mainstream Islamic thought, not extremist ideology. The same goes for the belief that women should cover their faces to avoid “provoking” men, that Christians and Jews should convert to Islam or pay a toll to avoid execution (jizyah), that those who leave Islam should be killed outright, that thieves should have their hands and feet cut off, and that those who are guilty of adultery (zina) should be stoned to death. These are beliefs which are held by ordinary Muslims, in accordance with the Qur’an and the hadith. To describe this as “Islamophobic” is to betray a vast ignorance of what Islam teaches and how Muslims think. This was made clear at the 2013 Islamic Peace Conference:

Contrary to the propaganda of multicultural appeasers, Islam is not a religion of peace, but of submission. That is what ‘Islam’ literally means – submission to the will of Allah. Islam can never be at peace with other religions, for the whole point of Islam is to achieve a state of dominance. As Muhammad stated on his deathbed, “If I live – if Allah wills – I will expel the Jews and the Christians from the Arabian Peninsula.” This is why all concerted attempts at reforming Islam, such as those of the Mu’tazalites, have ultimately failed. When Muslims today look for guidance, they don’t turn to the likes of Maajid Nawaz, but to Yusuf al-Qaradawi, precisely because he doesn’t sugarcoat the faith. In a spirited public debate on Islam, Douglas Murray puts it very well:

Given all this, we can safely state that the good Muslim is the one who ignores their faith; that Muslims are good in spite of Islam, not because of it. This is a crucial realisation, for many in the West assume that because they have Muslim friends, Islam must be benign. In reality, the Qur’an expressly forbids Muslims from taking Christians and Jews as allies, for “they are but friends and protectors to each other” (5:51). Thus, if Muslims do take non-Muslims as friends, then either their faith is weak or the hand of deception is in play.

Indeed, when someone identifies as a ‘moderate Muslim’, it usually means that they have either deceived themselves about the unpalatable aspects of Islam or intend to deceive others. An example of the former would be Irshad Manji, the self-styled “Muslim refusenik”, who has deluded herself into believing that homosexuality is permitted in Islam – even to the point of marrying another woman. An example of the latter would be Linda Sarsour, who peddles the sinister myth that ISIS have nothing to do with Islam.

Whatever the nature of the deception, one must state it plainly: moderates are serving to exacerbate the jihadist threat. Indeed, rather than engaging with the problems of Islam – terrorism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, homophobia, etc – moderates deny that these are Islamic problems at all; the effect of this is to discourage Muslims from examining their religion and lull non-Muslims into a false sense of security. By painting a falsely positive image of Islam, moderates are effectively a Trojan horse for Islamofascism.

The same rationale applies to those Muslims who engage in inter-faith dialogue. In the Qur’an, it clearly states that the only guidance which Muslims require is the guidance of Allah; that neither the Christians nor the Jews will be satisfied until you follow their religion (2:120). Thus, if Muslims do seek the wisdom of priests and rabbis, then either they don’t understand Islam or they have deceived themselves about it. In ‘The Kufr of Interfaith’, the Palestinian-American preacher Ahmad Musa Jibril does well to make this point:

Thus we can understand how, even in its ‘moderate’ form, Islam is deeply problematic; that those who disavow its problems are enabling jihadism. From this, one might draw the conclusion that we should be sceptical of Muslims generally. However, while it is certainly difficult to conclude otherwise, equally, we must recognise that Muslims are not inherently bound by Islam; rather, they can rise above it if they are given the right tools to do so. This fact is what informs our response to the charge of racism.

Indeed, racism does not lie in criticising Islam, but rather in the suggestion that people who come from the Middle East, North Africa or South Asia must be judged by a lower standard; that we are so intellectually fragile that we must be sheltered from criticism. That is the bigotry of low expectations, and it is to be abhorred. Muslims are human beings; they have agency, as the existence of Ex-Muslims proves. To treat 1.8 billion sovereign individuals as a hive mind is surely the ultimate form of bigotry. On an ABC panel discussion in May 2016, the outspoken Ex-Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali puts it expertly:

Cultures are the products of mortal men; they are not sacrosanct by any means. If a given culture stones people to death for having premarital sex, if it mutilates the genitals of children in order to keep them chaste, then we can objectively describe that culture as harmful. As Sam Harris boldly asks in The Moral Landscape, “who are we to pretend to know so little about human well-being that we have to be non-judgemental about practices like these?”. To finish with the words of Maryam Namazie from August 2001, explaining how cultural relativism compounds the suffering of women in the Muslim world:

Let us be clear about what cultural relativism is. It is a profoundly racist phenomenon, which values and respects all cultural and religious practices, irrespective of their consequences for women. It asserts that the rights of people, women and girls are relative to where they are born… As a result, cultural relativism supports and maintains sexual apartheid and violence against women in Islam-stricken societies like Iran because it is “their culture and religion”, and it creates ghettoized, regressive “minority” communities in the West where women and girls continue to face apartheid and Islamic laws and customs…

There are innumerable examples of its promotion in the heart of the secular West, where different laws and customs apply to women who have fled Islam-stricken societies. As a result of this racism, the veiling of girls becomes acceptable in the heart of Europe and men who kill women in the name of honour are given reduced sentences. The German government forcibly veils women asylum seekers it wants to deport to allow the Iranian embassy to prepare their travel documents. When a woman like Roya Mosayebi refuses to be veiled, she is beaten and forcibly veiled. When she complains to a German court, the court rules that the police acted in accordance with the law…

Cultural relativism maintains the Islamic regime in Iran, justifies its violations, defends the abuser, and even goes so far as to credit the abuser for any gains made through people’s own resistance. It also aims to silence any opposition by making it seem racist to do so. It further implies that if women “choose” to live without rights, then to defend their rights means that you are against their freedom of choice!

Clearly, civil rights, freedom and equality are universal concepts that have been fought for by progressive social movements and the working class in various countries. They belong to everyone irrespective of where they were born and where that struggle took place… That people and women worldwide, including in Iran, continue to struggle for equality and freedom and to overcome their lack of rights and repressive regimes is a confirmation of this universality.

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Support network for Ex-Muslims in Ireland. Empowering apostates from Islam and raising awareness of the jihadist threat. Affiliate of Atheist Alliance International.

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