‘Moderate Muslims’: Made in Our Image

‘Moderate Muslims’: Made in Our Image, by Raymond 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.

This came out in a study published in Arabic: “Islamic researchers are agreed that what the West and its followers call “moderate Islam” and “moderate Muslims” is simply a slur against Islam and Muslims, a distortion of Islam, a rift among Muslims, a spark to ignite war among them.  They also see that the division of Islam into “moderate Islam” and “radical Islam” has no basis in Islam — neither in its doctrines and rulings, nor in its understandings or reality.”

In keeping with various disturbing polls , the study found that 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.

The notion of “moderate Muslims” is a progressive conceit.

[G[rowing numbers of Western people are unaware that they belong to a distinct civilization and unique heritage.  Rather, they arrogantly see themselves as the culmination of all human history—supposed enlightened thinkers who’ve left all cultural and religious baggage behind. …

Forgotten (or suppressed) is that Western civilization did not develop in a vacuum.  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. While they are now taken for granted and seen as “universal,” it’s not for nothing that these values were born and nourished in Christian—not Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, Confucian, or pagan—nations. …

Christians don’t have to “moderate” their religion to coexist peacefully in the secular West.  The teachings of their holy book comport quite well with the laws governing society (unsurprisingly so, since many of these laws are based on the principles of that book).

All this is missed by those ignorant of the spiritual and intellectual roots of Western civilization.  They embrace notions of relativism and multiculturalism, the idea that all religions and cultures are the same and, more subtly, that they are destined to develop like the West, which is no longer seen as a distinct culture but rather the end point of all cultures.

If the boons of Western civilization are not a distinct product of Christian principles, then they must be standard for and appreciable to all civilizations. According to this view, the Muslim is ultimately an embryonic Westerner. Whatever his religion seems to say—whatever he says—surely he appreciates the need to practice it privately, respect religious freedom, gender equality, and so on.  Thus is he made “in our image” (except, of course, we forget the roots of “our image”).

Overlooked is that the Muslim has his own unique and ancient worldview and set of principles…

Such thinking is further arrogant and ethnocentric—two things that liberals always warn against yet constantly do. 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.

hat-tip Stephen Neil