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Aug 21, 2007

Islam's Mythical Moderates

My first interaction with Islam and with Muslims would be in the late 80's when I would find myself, a single American expatriate living and working in Singapore. Often traveling on business in the region to Indonesia and Malaysia I would slowly begin to pick up the language out of necessity, and familiarize myself with the local customs. Looking back, and despite the warnings from those fellow expatriates that had traveled the path before me, I eventually committed the cardinal sin of the "matt salleh" and found myself dating my Malay secretary.

Stunningly beautiful and English speaking with flowing black hair, long slender legs and a short business skirt, she seemed so contemporary and so modern compared to the many of the other Indonesians and Malays that I had seen throughout my travels. Professing herself to be devout in her faith, she saw herself as a contemporary Muslim as opposed to an anachronism. It's interesting to imagine how she might have reacted back then in being labeled a "moderate", a word that seems to have a veiled and pejorative implication that she was not a "complete Muslim". Would an outward display of ethnic and religious chauvinism, perhaps electing to don a tudung make her more complete in the eyes of her accusers? Perhaps refusing to date someone outside of her religion? Or would it require something more extreme? Looking back, the ambition, the confidence and the intelligence of this girl seemed in many ways to delineate for me the black and white verities of an inchoate religion riddled with contradictions and riven by internal feuds over just how to define itself.

Ironically, provocative parallels exist between the ideology of the today's advocate of Islamic extremism and that of the moral relativist, with many of the so-called extremists often adopting an authoritative and yet cavalier attitude towards their own religion by cherry-picking what they themselves consider to be inerrant passages from the Sunnah and Hadith.

But while Islam struggles on how to define itself, the West has found themselves struggling as well, struggling to define Islam and Muslims by hastily adopting the terms "moderate" and "extremist" in what history might one day recognize as nothing more than a sophomoric attempt to differentiate the good Muslim from the bad Muslim. Despite their ambiguity, these divisive, imprecise and superficial terms have nonetheless become the lexicon of a post 9/11 world. There is an inherent power in words, often times we fail to understand exactly just how powerful communication is, and in a increasingly globalized world we need to not only be conscious of not just what we say, but in how our communication is interpreted, perceived and ultimately understood. In a recent post, I would attempt to delve deeper into the subject and it is worth reading.

We are engaged in a ideological struggle with a human anamoly, not so much an extremist, but with an anachronism who has found themselves perpetually trapped in time and sentenced in their own minds to pace a "trodden path" for eternity. An anachronism who can only achieve victory by turning back the hands of time. Our allies are not moderates willing to subject themselves to this regression in any measure of the term, and to call them such is nothing more than a travesty. They are contemporaries, contemporary Muslims not moderates.




6 comments:

  1. Anonymous10:50 AM

    Oh ho ho! Hairy white man has jungle fever. The native women sure are hot, aren't they?

    ReplyDelete
  2. There are definately a few. Eventually I'll cover that story in depth.

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  3. Lao,

    If you don’t consider Muslims like CAIR extremists and Muslims like Muslims Against Sharia moderates, how would you describe them? Feel free to post your thoughts on our blog

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  4. I believe I made it clear in stating that better descriptive terms would be anachronism and contemporary.

    I don't see a specific thread on your blog that discusses the subject in detail - if you have a link then kindly let me know.

    Thanks

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  5. I think I like the "anachronistic"/"contemporary" language. It probably won't catch on but I'd say it is more descriptive.

    ReplyDelete

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