Monday, May 23, 2011

A New Era in Muslim-Non-Muslim Relations

By Citizen Warrior

I DON'T really care what Muslims would consider a "moderate Muslim." I've got my own definition: A moderate Muslim rejects jihad except in the sense of a "personal inner struggle." That would be a Muslim who rejects 97 percent of the references to jihad in the Hadith. That also means a moderate Muslim must reject much of the sacred example of Mohammad.

It would also include a rejection of the intolerance, hatred, and violence toward non-Muslims in the Quran. And a moderate Muslim would reject the subordinated position of women.

If that person still wants to call himself or herself a Muslim, that's fine with me.

What brought this up was reflecting over the last nine years. We started Citizen Warrior in 2001, about a month after 9/11. And in that time, we've heard from hundreds of Muslims, all of them arguing that we either don't know what we're talking about because "true Islam" is peaceful and tolerant, or arguing that it doesn't help anything to tell non-Muslims about the intolerance, hatred, and violence in the Quran.

And this is the surprising thing that has never occurred to me until yesterday: In all that time, we have never heard from a Muslim — not once — that acknowledged the existence of the immense number of passages in the Quran that non-Muslims find disagreeable — passages that any idiot could understand why non-Muslims would find them disagreeable. And not once have any these Muslims acknowledged the existence of the egregious example of Mohammad (that Muslims are supposed to follow) — an example anyone with the slightest amount of human empathy would understand might be offensive or even frightening to non-Muslims.

What we've heard again and again was that none of this stuff really counts, or it's all taken out of context, and that the terrorists have it all wrong and nobody else except the terrorists believe in or follow those teachings, or the teachings don't exist.

Over the years we've come across a very small number of genuinely jihad-rejecting Muslims, like Tawfik Hamid. And of course, if they genuinely reject the hatred and political ambition and calls to violence in Islamic doctrine, they don't have a problem with what we write about Islam.

Those are the only ones that qualify for the badge "Moderate Muslim." For the rest of them who think my speaking honestly about Islamic doctrine will only drive the "moderates" into the arms of the "extremists," I say "try again," because that nonsense doesn't work around here. If someone rejects jihad, then my speaking even derisively about the passages they reject will not cause them to embrace it.

And we non-Muslims need to stop coddling the so-called moderates. We need to be forthright and say, "you either stridently reject jihad or we will assume you embrace it." It's not up to us to bend over backwards trying to prove how tolerant we are. If Muslims want to be welcomed into this society, they had better start standing up and making their voices heard. They had better openly acknowledge and reject the hatred, misogyny, and violence in their core doctrines, or we must assume they don't.

Many of us are reading their source books. We know the doctrine. We would be foolish not to assume a Muslim believes in Islamic doctrine. So it is up to Muslims to tell us they do not believe in that doctrine, and to say specifically which parts of the doctrine they do not endorse.

What got me thinking about this was an article by Christopher Hitchens in which he mentioned that Governor Mitt Romney, who is a Mormon, firmly stated "that he did not regard the prophet, or head of the Mormon church, as having ultimate moral and spiritual authority on all matters. Nothing, he swore, could override the U.S. Constitution."

Now why did Romney feel he needed to say that? Because quite a few of us are aware of Mormon doctrine. So he openly reassured us as to where his loyalties lay.

Have you ever heard a Muslim do this? Neither have I. And yet Muslims are in a worse situation. They experience more suspicion and hostility than Mormons. But rather than doing what Romney did, what do Muslims do? Usually they blame us for it, make us wrong for it, and imply the problem isour lack of "tolerance."

So here's the situation: We've become aware of Islamic doctrine and we don't like it, so we naturally wonder where they stand, and instead of Muslims saying, "We acknowledge the intolerance and violence of our core doctrines, and we reject them totally," they open up with hostility, and in essence, deepen our suspicions. The hostility and finger-pointing are exactly what we wouldexpect from someone who believes in the supremacist, intolerant teachings of Islam.

And weak, vague assurances are not good enough. "We reject the killing of innocents" doesn't work any more because too many of us know already that nowhere in the Quran does it imply non-Muslims are innocent. It implies just the opposite.

Muslims need to be clear and explicit, and we need to demand that of them. Anything less will not do, and if they want to whine and complain about it, too bad.

We need to make it clear what they must do to be welcome in this society. And we need to be clear that our "tough-love" attitude toward them is a sane response to what we know of their ideology.

Imagine you were putting an avowed communist in charge of the Federal Reserve. You wouldn't do it without very firm assurances from him that hecompletely rejects the economic model of communism. You have to demand that assurance because you know what the communist ideology is. You have to assume when someone says he's a communist that he believes in the communist ideology. It's an assumption we can take for granted. Otherwise, what does it mean to say you're a communist? That's what it means: That you believe in the communist ideology.

Same with Islam: You say you're a Muslim. That means you believe in Islam's ideology. Fine. I have studied the Quran, the Hadith, and the Sira. I know what your teachings consists of. And no, I don't want you running the country or involved in law enforcement or teaching my children or writing textbooks or working in counterterrorism or joining the military, unless you can assure me of what parts of that ideology you reject. This is simple common sense.
And making a big stink out of it only makes you look like you don't reject it. What other conclusion can we come to?

I think others are coming to the same conclusion, and I've seen much more direct challenges to Muslims who say they are moderate. They are being asked direct questions like, "Do you repudiate what Hamas is doing?" and they're asked to sign the Freedom Pledge and when they don't sign it, they are asked why they won't. These are steps in the right direction.

But more interviewers need to become educated about Islam so they can ask stronger, more specific questions. And this challenge needs to become incessant and intense from all of us, everywhere. Muslims must feel the heat. They must realize they have to come right out and say, "Yes, there is a political agenda in Islam, and I completely reject it" or they will not be welcomed or trusted or invited to any "interfaith dialogs for peace and understanding."

For someone who is unfamiliar with Islamic doctrine, all this sounds terrible and unfair, but it isn't. We would do the same for any group who openly declared their membership in a seditious or treasonous or intolerant or violent ideology and who wanted to live among us as equals.

I've been collecting "tests" for moderate Muslims that have been used or proposed by someone. So far I've found four: Tests for Defining Moderate Muslims.

We call on all non-Muslims in the free world to join us in this stand — to put the onus on each individual Muslim (not just "Muslim organizations"). We must make this clear to every Muslim: If you do not openly reject jihad in all its forms, we must assume you abide by it and believe in it, and we will have to treat you accordingly.

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