[lit-ideas] Re: Moderate Muslims

  • From: "Simon Ward" <sedward@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 3 Oct 2006 17:46:55 +0100

I'm not sure Manji is reliable. It seems to me she is feeding off the 
pre-conceived opinions of her readers rather than trying for something more 
objective. She says in her piece:

"Did this version of the Koran guide the British bombers? Because we don't yet 
know, we can't rule it out."

Her article seems predicated on an assumption which she accepts can't be 
verified. Certainly, by including theose two sentences, she's being honest, but 
I can well imagine readers who, having already formed an opinion, would reply 
in the affirmative. 

Hitchen's article is more challenging, typically, but he does us a service in 
expressing the two views being debated:

"There are those who say that these actual or potential atrocities are to be 
expected as a reaction to a foreign policy that is "perceived" as 
"anti-Muslim," and there are those who say that the resort to violence is 
produced by the preachings of a depraved clerical ideology."

He then goes on to muddy the waters somewhat, whilst also stating his own 

"There obviously is a connection between our foreign policy and the activities 
of people who think it their holy duty to commit mass murder. They are doing so 
in solidarity with other mass murderers, in Afghanistan and Iraq and elsewhere, 
who want to destroy democracy or prevent it from emerging."

Being as unsure about Latin phrases as I am about logic, I can't be sure that 
this is an ex cathedra remark or not. Yet it seems to be. It puts a gloss on 
the motivations of extremists by making assumptions about the reasons for there 
actions. When a muslim extremist in Britain says that they are acting in 
support of their muslim brothers in Iraq, is he talking about the ones doing 
the killing or those being killed.

A more valid objection follows, namely that countries such as Indonesia and 
Canada that have opposed the war on Iraq have also been targets. This is fair 
enough, but Hitchens uses it in support of what he sees as the liberal option 
of compromise or surrender. This is mythologising for me since most liberals, 
viewing the situation with any amount of realism, would conclude that the US 
only needs to be true to its agenda of fighting terrorists to minimise the 
backlash from the muslim community. 

And since invading Iraq, in my view, can't be seen as a valid operation in a 
fight against Islamic terrorists...is it any wonder.


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Eric Yost" <eyost1132@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Tuesday, October 03, 2006 4:16 AM
Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: Moderate Muslims

> Simon: ... in the main, this only applies to vocal 
> extremists rather than the moderate majority.
> Here's feminist author Irshad Manji again on the London 
> Bombings.
> Is Islam to blame?
> # Despite claims of moderate Muslims, a literal reading of 
> the Koran offers cover for acts of terrorism.
> By Irshad Manji, Irshad Manji is the author of "The Trouble 
> with Islam Today" (St. Martin's Press, 2005).
> I believe thursday's bombings in London, combined with the 
> first wave of explosions two weeks ago, are changing 
> something for the better. Never before have I heard Muslims 
> so sincerely denounce terrorism committed in our name as I 
> did on my visit to Britain a few days ago. We're finally 
> waking up.
> Except on one front: the possible role of religion itself in 
> these crimes.
> Even now, the Muslim Council of Britain adamantly insists 
> that Islam has nothing to do with the London attacks. It 
> cites other motives — "segregation" and "alienation," for 
> instance. Although I don't deny that living on the margins 
> can make a vulnerable lad gravitate to radical messages of 
> instant belonging, it takes more than that to make him 
> detonate himself and innocent others. To blow yourself up, 
> you need conviction. Secular society doesn't compete well on 
> this score. Who gets deathly passionate over tuition 
> subsidies and a summer job?
> Which is why I don't understand how moderate Muslim leaders 
> can reject, flat-out, the notion that religion may also play 
> a part in these bombings. What makes them so sure that Islam 
> is an innocent bystander?
> What makes them sound so sure is literalism. That's the 
> trouble with Islam today. We Muslims, including moderates 
> living here in the West, are routinely raised to believe 
> that the Koran is the final and therefore perfect manifesto 
> of God's will, untouched and immutable.
> This is a supremacy complex. It's dangerous because it 
> inhibits moderates from asking hard questions about what 
> happens when faith becomes dogma. To avoid the discomfort, 
> we sanitize.
> And so it was, one week after the first wave of bombings. A 
> high-profile gathering of 22 clerics and scholars at the 
> London Cultural Center produced a statement, later echoed by 
> a meeting of 500 Muslim leaders. It contained this line: 
> "The Koran clearly declares that killing an innocent person 
> [is] tantamount to killing all mankind." I wish. In fact, 
> the full verse reads, "Whoever kills a human being, except 
> as punishment for murder or other villainy in the land, 
> shall be regarded as having killed all humankind." Militant 
> Muslims easily deploy the clause beginning with "except" to 
> justify their rampages.
> It's what Osama bin Laden had in mind when he announced a 
> jihad against the U.S. in the late 1990s. Did economic 
> sanctions on Iraq, imposed by the United Nations but 
> demanded by Washington, cause the "murder" of half a million 
> children? Bin Laden believes so (never mind the oil-for-food 
> scandal). Did the boot prints of U.S. troops on the Arabian 
> Peninsula, birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad, qualify as 
> "villainy in the land"? To Bin Laden, you bet. As for 
> American civilians, can they be innocent of either "murder" 
> or "villainy" when their tax money helps Israel buy tanks to 
> raze Palestinian homes? A no-brainer for Bin Laden.
> And, quite possibly, for the July 7 terrorists. Right out of 
> the gate, the European jihadist group claiming 
> responsibility cited — what else? — a defense of Iraq and a 
> disgust with the Zionist entity as its primary incentives. 
> The invasion of the former and the existence of the latter 
> amount to nothing less than murder and villainy in the land. 
> Did this version of the Koran guide the British 
> bombers?Because we don't yet know, we can't rule it out.
> Yet that's exactly what British Muslim leaders are doing. To 
> be sure, I stand with those who insist that certain Koranic 
> passages are being politically exploited. Damn right, they 
> are. The point is, however, that they couldn't be exploited 
> if they didn't exist.
> Why do we Muslims hang on to the mantra that the Koran — and 
> Islam — are pristine? God may very well be perfect, but God 
> transcends a book, a prophet and a belief system. That means 
> we're free to question without fear that the Almighty will 
> feel threatened by our reasoning, speculating or doubting.
> How about joining with the moderates of Judaism and 
> Christianity in confessing some "sins of Scripture," as 
> Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong has said of the Bible? 
> Anything less leaves me with another question: Why is it 
> that in diverse societies, those who oppose diversity of 
> thought often feel more comfortable getting vocal than those 
> who embrace it?
> http://www.muslim-refusenik.com/news/latimes-2005-07-22.html
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