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Fitzgerald: Defining The "Moderate Muslim"

Mar 28, 2006  

The phrase “moderate Muslim” should not be used unless it is clearly defined. I suggest that any Muslim who misleads non-Muslims about the central tenets of Islam — whether or not he agrees with them — is objectively furthering the Jihad by rendering non-Muslims unwary and keeping them in a state of naive trustingness that can only cause them harm. So that even if one does not oneself subscribe fully to orthodox Islam, if a “moderate Muslim” does not tell the truth about Islam, he furthers the Jihad. And in any case, his mere presence in the dar al-Harb swells the perceived political power of Muslims and increases security needs (which cost taxpayers mightily).

Also, there is always the possibility that a “moderate Muslim” who has not become an open enemy of traditional Islam — in the manner, say, of Ibn Warraq — will have children who, for whatever reason, may revert to Islam in its traditional, mainstream, highly dangerous-to-Infidels form. We have no way of detecting those who are the true believers in Islam, from those who are not. As such, we have no duty to continue to foster the growth of Muslim populations in the Infidel lands — if, that is, we care about our own safety, and that of our own civilization. We are under no obligation to commit civilizational or other kinds of suicide.

There are many in Western Europe today who are now realizing that they have been misled by their own elites into permitting the large-scale entry of Muslims who are bearers of an ideology that requires them to be implacably hostile to the un-Believers, to regard the lands of dar al-Harb as Muslim by right, and to work, through the seemingly unopposed instruments of Da’wa and demography, to turn dar al-Harb into dar al-Islam.

The whole business of “moderate Muslims” comes up against three problems that need to be kept constantly in mind:

1. What is a “moderate Muslim”? What would constitute “moderation?” Would mere abstention from, or disapproval of, terrorism constitute enough “moderation” for you? It wouldn’t for me.

2. Assuming that such “moderate” Muslims exist — that is, those to whom we think we can give that label, how do we determine, with what instruments, which Muslims are truly “moderate” and which ones are “immoderate” but pretending to be “moderate” so as to remain within our countries? How many are attempting to achieve their ends by manipulating and propagandizing among unwary, or willfully trusting, Infidels, especially some of those ministers and rabbis hellbent on interfaith “understanding” that is always and everywhere an exercise not in understanding but in moral equivalence, and in the end, helps to justify Islam, not to analyze it?

3. Even assuming that there are “moderates” with whom we can work, and assuming further that we can, somehow, detect them, distinguish them even from the “immoderates” who feign, there is still the problem of defensiveness by so many Muslims. Even those who claim to be entirely laic, perhaps even to be non-believers, still call themselves “Muslims” in most cases, and still are quick to defend Islam at a certain level. Take the otherwise seemingly rational, seemingly Western man, seemingly on-our-wave-length Kanan Makiya, who cannot bring himself to read Bat Ye”or. Doesn’t he have any interest in learning about the treatment of non-Muslims under Islam — even to find out what evidence she has accumulated? None? And on television he came across, Fouad-Ajami-like, as one of those “good” Arabs who does not in oily fashion cover us with lies, each more slippery than the next. But the minute he felt Islam was under discussion or the mildest of attacks, having announced that he was not a believer in god “but a Muslim,” he did not join in the analysis, did not become a milder version of Ibn Warraq or Ali Sina, but rather began to talk of his “pious grandmother” with such evident devotion, as a way of demonstrating that “Islam” could not be attacked. A kind of Muslim Barbara Fretchie, presumably. Well, Islam can be analyzed, its doctrines and their effects on many hundreds of millions of people, over time and space, can be dissected — but not, apparently, by Muslims.

That is why having something called “Islamic law” taught by Muslims in law schools is such a bad idea. Will they treat of the legal status of non-Muslims? Will they assign Antoine Fattal or Joseph Schacht, or will they, “scholarofthehouse” Khaled Abu El Fadl style, be guides to nothing, carefully listing as “Not to Be Read” all the most scholarly and truthful books about Islam, and instead list “To Be Read” their own exercises in soft propaganda? Yes, I know the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has just awarded a bunch of Bright Young Muslim Grant-Getters and Reformers a lot of money, with Khaled Abou El Fadl”s name among them, and each of their proposals more transparent than the last, or more akin to Rashid Rida”s hopeless attempts. See Gairdner, for example, on the lexical attempts of Rida to help “reform” the texts. We have been there before, and the “reformers” of the last century got nowhere, and so will these grants-getters and tenure-pushers. The canonical texts are immutable, the single interpretive principle of naskh (abrogation) unhelpful, Believers implacable, so that there is essentially nowhere to turn, nothing to do, except constrain, constrain, whittle away at, demoralize, divide, constrain. That’s it.

Well, I”ve used up a perfectly good half-hour or so that I could have spent trying to understand what Christoph Luxenberg has written about the Dome of the Rock as a non-Islamic structure. But perhaps the result has helped some to be  aswary of the “moderate,” as of the “immoderate,” Muslim.

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  1. Fitzgerald’s arguement sits on a fallacy. Just because we can not identify a moderate instantly without extensive investigation is not grounds for dicriminating against all Muslims. So if in a sitiuation where you could not figure out which suspect out of 10 committed the crime you should jail them all and then claim its for security? Our constitution does not support such arbitrary judgement. Should we allow whoever wishes to come here to just come? No. However, we should not exclude a whole religion because some 5% (hypothetical) may hold extremist views that are a threat to our welfare. Moreover, we must simply work harder on background checks. Is this going to stop all such incidents as the one the university campus from occuring? No. But back to my example of the criminal, does that mean we should jail or deport all families with serious crime in their history just because statistics show that their children are significantly more likely to commit crime? I do not think that people would agree to that even if it may benefit their security to some degree. Remember there should never be absolutes when comes to judgement of race, religion, or anything else.
    Fitzgerald seems to take issue with any kind of defense of Islam. My question is why does it matter what the think? Unless what they think actually turns into something that harms people. In fact, I don’t give a damn about anyone’s views as long as they do not harm me. They can even sympathize with terrorists, if they want, as long as they do not materially support them terrorists or become terrorists themselves. The statistics for those two factors are low. Low enough that I am willing to take a chance with my security in interest of upholding the values of this country. Benjamin Franklin once said “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.”


  2. No, it is you who have it wrong, in two ways.

    First, you ignore what I was talking about — which is the seemingly self-inflicted requirement that in our immigration policies we place on ourselves the burden of figuring out who is, and who is not, a “moderate” Muslim. The very phrase “moderate” Muslim implies that too much “Muslim-ness” is a bad thing, but without explicitly recognizing that clear implication. You yourself admit, remarkably, that “just because we can not identify a moderate instantly without extensive investigation is not grounds for dicriminating [sic] against all Muslims.” If by “discriminating” you mean choosing, when we selectively admit people to our country and even allow them to become citizens — which is not a right but a great privilege, and people all over the world are constantly clamoring to receive such a privilege — then if, as you yourself say, we would require “extensive investigation” to determine who is the one who not only now do not pose any kind of threat to the Infidels and institutions of our nation-state, its laws, customs, understandings so flatly contradicted by the Shari’a, but that we can also be certain — how, exactly? — that they will at no time in the future “revert” to the full-bodied Islam that worries us. And further, how can we be certain that their children, or grandchildren, if the family continues to identify itself as “Muslim,” will not simply start studying with great intensity the texts of Islam, and therefore acquire the beliefs and attitudes that naturally — not unnaturally, but naturally — flow from those texts, and have for 1350 years.

    Why should we take that chance? To whom do we owe the taking of that chance?

    Your second assumption is equally baseless. You pull out of a hat the figure “5%” for the number of Muslims whom we must worry about. But evey opinion poll in the Muslim countries, and among Muslim communities in the Western world, show a very high number of people who support the spread of Islam and regard Infidel attempts to preserve their own rights (such as the right of free speech) as illegitimate, and in some caese the figures are truly startling –the 40% of Muslims in England who admit (how much higher is the real figure?) to pollsters that they support the imposition of the Sharia, or the huge support for suicidbe bombers, and so on? Where do you get your “5%” figure? I, with equal aplomb, and much more evidence, suggest a figure closer to “80%.” But let’s assume the figure really is low — let’s assume it is a “mere 10%” or so.

    Then what? If I am told that for every 100 Muslims allowed into this country, 10% now supoprt, and will continue to support, violent Jihad against me and this country, why should I admit those 100? How many cases of Mad Cow disease does it take – one? two? a dozen? — for tens of millions of heads of cattle to be quarantined? There is a statistically significant risk to Muslims being permmitted within Infidel lands. If you can’t see the evidence of this all around you, in the news of the day, then you are not paying attention, or perhaps you do not want to pay attention.

    Look at how non-Muslims are treated everywhere in the Lands of Islam? Only in a handful, where Islam itself has been subject to nearly a century of systematic constraints, as in a few of the formerly Soviet-ruled parts of Central Asia, and in Turkey with the programmatic limits on Islam imposed by Kemal Ataturk, can one find something like, and here and there, a semi-acceptable treatment of non-Muslims. But, of course, in Turkey, the non-Muslim population has been largely driven out or massacred during the last century as well. In 1914 half the population of Constantinople was non-Muslim; now the non-Muslim population is down to 1%. And the massacre of the Armenians was not the end of it; think of the 1955 attacks on the Greek community of Istanbul.

    You end with this remarkable unsupported assertion: “The statistics for those two factors are low. Low enough that I am willing to take a chance with my security in interest of upholding the values of this country.”

    Give us those statistics. Right now, and right here at this thread. Tell us what opinion polls, what observable behavior toward non-Muslims by Muslims, over 1350 years, leads you to the conclusion, student of history, that there is nothing to worry about.

    And, without waiting for your “statistics” I will assert the following, which I have asserted many times before:

    The large-scale presence of Muslims in the Lands of the Infidels, behind what Muslims themselves regard as enemy lnes, has created a situation which is far less pleasant, far more expensive (the cost of all those “investigations” mentioned above, the cost of heightened security measures and constant monitoring), and far more physically dangerous, for non-Muslims, than would otherwise be.

    That statement is true. It does not depend on my waiting for your “statistics.”

    You may be willing to put yourself at risk. Fine. I am not willing to risk the lives of other Infidels, or the laws, customs, mannerss, understandings, of which one good example are the rights enshrined in the First Amendment, and that are flatly contradicted by both the letter, and the spirit, of Islam.

    And most people, if they were fully apprised of what Islam teaches, and of what, for those who take their Qur’an and Hadith seriously (or who may not now, but can at some future date that we will not be able to predict), naturally is believed by the Believers.

    Islam rests on a division of the universe between Believer and Infidel. For Infidels to ignore that, to not take it to heart, would be an act of extreme recklessness, and in our leaders, whose duty it is to protect us, an act of criminal negligence. And those who prate about “values” should realize that had the Nazis won the war, there would have been no “values” to protect in Europe and possibly in North America. If Islam spreads, and nothing is done to halt and reverse its spread, those “values” you claim to support will also be endangered — and in danger of extinction.


  3. I notice the old chestnut, the favorite of all those who wish us to do very little, or possibly nothing, to defend ourselves, is trotted out by “sceptic” [sic] above. To wit: “Benjamin Franklin once said ‘Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.’” Plucking something from a very different time and place, out of the pages of Bartlett’s Quotations, and being well-satisfied with the result, as if it were self-evidently unanswerable, is cretinous. And credulous too — hardly the work of someone who likes to identify himself as a “sceptic” or, better, “skeptic.”

    One should top to consider, for example, just that phrase “a little security.” Do you think that when Benjamin Franklin uttered those words he could have had any idea what the year 2006 would bring? Could he have foreseen people such as the Saudi clerics, or Ahmadinejad, acquiring by an accident of geology the wherewithal to buy or develop weapons of mass destruction? Could he have foreseen that in Europe, and in America, large numbers of people would be admitted whose belief-system, whatever the degree of fanaticism with which it is held, instructed them to hate the Unbelieve, the Infidel, and to work, in ways big and little, to promote Islam, to secure the future of Islam, to prevent any widespread understanding of the permanent division of the universe between Believer and Infidel, and to aim for the ultimate goal of a world where, everywhere, “Islam is to dominate and is not to be dominated.”

    Could he? We know that fourscore years and ten later(now where did I get that phrase?), Abraham Lincoln, to save the Union, was ready to temporarily infringe on certain rights. What makes you think that a Franklin redevivus (by the way, a man like Franklin, the scientist, the philosophizer, the individualist, the admirer of the French Enlightenment, would not have lasted one day in, and could never have been produced by, the world of Islam) today, seeing that it is not a question of a “little security” but of avoiding attacks against us that could lead to mass death, and avoiding attacks on our laws, customs, understandings that could lead to the death of our civilization, would not have himself taken quite a different tack, in quite a different situation.

    The parroting of a phrase from a different time and place, is not a subgstitute for thought. It is not, as you seem to think, some kind of final word that you have triumphantly produced and that should end the matter. The relevance of the quotation, and its significance, are both immediately called into question.

    And since I have mentioned things being called into question, I repeat:

    Give us those “statistics” you apparently have at hand — post them right here. You know, the ones you mention in your posting above, that will relieve all our worries about the loyalty to an Infidel nation-state, to a Constitition that flatly contradicts the Shari’a, and worries about those who, raised to believe devoutly in what the Qur’an and Hadith tell them about Infidels and about Jiahd, lead many of us to be less sanguine, and more worried, and less willing to take civilizational risks, than you are, with your Franklin quote — and those “statistics” we are all waiting eagerly for.

  4. By the way, the quote attributed to Franklin was one for which he disclaimed authorship. And it was, in any case, written somewhat differently: those who would give up “essential liberty.” That is quite different from the phrase of Skeptic: “give up a little liberty.” We are not giving up — are we? — anything remotely like “essential liberty”? And if we ever had to give up more libety to protect ourselves, that would be because we had been foolish enough, in the first place, to allow into our midst people whose belief-system teaches them to not wish us, nor our country, well — a thing of unheard foolishness, but a thing already partly done and unlikely to be undone. Staunching the flow from the self-inflicted wound would, however, be a good idea.



  5. Hugh I agree with your views on this case. I understand the dangers. I know that what you describe may indeed happen. However, how likely is it to happen? Of all the Muslims I have talked to, they have been normal people with normal appreciation for human rights. I believe that it is not the issue you make it out to be. I refute the implication that it is a common thing to become a terrorist. Once again I reiterate I do not give a damn who they sympathize with as long as it does not harm anyone. In fact, I believe that any extremist views they may harbor will become diluted rather than spread with generations. They will make ties with this country that even religion can not break.
    I, myself, am an immigrant from Lithuania. I love this country because it admits people like me. I do consider it a privelege. However, I want to see immigration continued for all peoples. It is true that Islam is a violent religion (the way some Muslims interpret it), I agree. However, there are decent people out there who, no doubt, would make this country better if they were here. Even if they are in a minority, as you claim, I feel that a risk is justified for us to bring some of those people here especially because they are probably intellectuals. They may also become the “Ibn Warraqs” of the world someday because they had a chance to be free from the brainwashing.
    I think that you are being an alarmist, Hugh. I believe that we can selectively allow people into this country without comprimising our security to a large degree. The benefits, in my mind, outweigh the risks.

    P.S. The statistics I claimed are my own hypothetical “assumptions” I should have designated that more clearly.

    Also, I am pretty sure that I “Skeptic” on the site how come you say it is “Sceptic”?

  6. Also in reply to some of the other posts…
    Muslims are human beings too. They contribute the same amount of social good that you and I do. Unless you wish to claim that all Americans are inherently more valuable than Muslims. Muslims go to work, study, and do the same things we do. I have Muslim aquaintances who I have observed intently. They make friends, they study, they work, and socialize. I have quizzed some of them on there beliefs specifically about quotes from the Koran. Not one of them believed the quotes were wrong, but many of them believe them to be simply inapplicable to the modern day or they have there own interpretations and opinions on it. They certainly do not wish for Sharia. Some of them came here to escape that type of belief. These are the Muslims I advocate in bringing to this country. They are the progressives. They are the ones that may one day drive the movement to stop fanaticism based on the Koran. In their own countries they would never be able to do that. Lastly, isolationism never works. The problem you wish to hide yourself from will come to confront another day. Likewise, Islam will come to destroy us if we do not confront in a rational manner. We need these people because they will become, if they are not already, Americans in both their values and their actions and they will promote this to their cousins left behind. It may sound idealistic but I believe it is a feasible option.

  7. “I refute the implication that it is a common thing to become a terrorist..”
    — from a posting above

    Who said every Muslim is an active terrorist? Only a fool would. But a great many see nothing wrong with what we call terrorism when its intended victims are Infidels. What does that make them? Not terrorists but supportres of terrorism. And suppose you neither are a terrorist, nor support terrorism against Infidels, but find nothing wrong with demanding a limit, in Western countries, on Western practice of the right of free speech? Or find nothing wrong with the possible death sentence that might have been meted out to Abdul Rahman, or may yet be meted out to him, through informal means? If someone believes, or tells the world he believes, in a set of principles that are unambiguous in separating, and setting against each other, Believers (to whom all loyalty is owed) and Infidels (to whom permanent hostility is owed) Infidels must act on the assumption that he means it, and that at some point, such attitudes and beliefs as the Qur’an and Hadith naturally give rise to, will give rise in him to certain activities, or positions taken, that will not be good for the continued peaceful existence of the Infidel nation-state, and its laws, customs, understandings, nor will be good for the Infidels who live in that nation-state and who, out of a failure to think things through, thought that it was perfectly appropriate to endanger their fellow citizens, if not themselves, by presuming to assume that these texts do not mean what they say, are not received by the Believers in the way that seems most natural, and that having been received, will never lead to any consequences — when if you look around the world, you see the consequences for Infidels practically everywhere, except Greenland and Iceland.

    I’m not prepared to play fast and loose with the safety of fellow Infidels, merely in order to engage in some moral preening, some holier-than-thou self-satisfaction. The last century offers many examples of those who failed to recognize what was staring them in the face — and many examples of those who, long before the rest of the world, when events made things clear, saw exactly what was up. I prefer to try to be included in the latter, not the former, class.

    Why don’t you try as well?