Monday, September 28, 2009

What is a Moderate Muslim?

The other night I watched the movie Exodus on TV and there was one scene in it that brought home the problem with moderate Muslims. Ari Ben Canaan, a Jew played by Paul Newman, was speaking to Taha, the mukhtar or his Arab village. Taha and Ari, who lived next store in the Jewish village, grew up together and were fast friends. In fact, Ari saved the life of Taha when a radical Muslim faction killed Taha’s mother and father.

When the partition of Palestine was announced on the radio and the British mandate was divided into Arab and Jewish states, Taha was distressed. His village was now in the state of Israel and said he felt like he lost his freedom. Ari said that was absurd. The Jews and Arabs just gained their freedom from the British. To Ari, nothing had changed. Both Arabs and Jews in Jewish Palestine were now citizens of Israel.

Taha thought about this but was called away to the next room where Arab radicals told him to prepare to attack Ari’s village. When Taha returned he said he must side with his Arab ethnic group. Ari asked why? “We fought side-by-side against people like those in the past. Why not fight together to stop their radical agenda now.”

And here was the telling of the tale. Taha said “You ask me to choose between my people and my religion.” He could not do it. At that point when Taha did not see himself as a citizen of moderation and choose to fight against the radical elements in his midst – that was the moderate Muslim’s mistake. In the end, the radical elements he felt so obliged to support, hung him with the Star of David cut into his chest. The rest, of course is history.

Now fast forward 50 years or so.

The choice is still there and moderate Muslims will need to make that choice or be grouped with those who are hated for their murderous acts in the name of their religion. As this struggle between Islamism and the free democracies progresses, there will be no room for dual loyalties. They will have to actively choose to be citizens of their country and not members of the Umma, i.e., the nation of Islam.

Thus, moderate Muslims are on the horns of a dilemma. From Jihadi Du Jour.

The Qur'an and many commentators are explicit to point out that for a Muslim to pledge allegiance to a non-Muslim government is illicit and places that Muslim outside the protection of the Islamic Umma.

S.5:51 “O ye who believe! take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors: They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust.”

The classical commentator Ibn Kathir says of this verse “The Blessed and Exalted One forbids to his servants the making of allegiances with the Jews and Christians, who are the enemies of Islam and His people, - fight them of Allah! - then he informs that they are only allies of one another. He then threatens those who practice this (i.e. such forbidden allegiances) saying ‘he amongst you that turns to them for friendship is of them’. He then states directly “That means that those who make allegiances with Jews and Christians are among the hypocrites.”

If a Muslim lives at peace in, or worse still as a citizen of, an avowedly non-Muslim society s/he is subject to the charge of being a hypocrite. Remember that in Qur’anic usage “hypocrite” does not mean merely that one is failing to observe faithfully the dictates of one’s religious faith; it designates those Muslims upon whom the Muslim community cannot rely in times of conflict and war.

The Qur’an directly equates such hypocrites with Jews and Christians:

S.59:11 “Have you not seen those who have become hypocrites? They say to those of their brethren who disbelieve from among the followers of the Book: If you are driven forth, we shall certainly go forth with you, and we will never obey any one concerning you, and if you are fought against, we will certainly help you, and Allah bears witness that they are most surely liars.”

Allah’s command regarding these persons is unequivocal: S.9:73 "O Prophet! strive hard against the unbelievers and the hypocrites and be unyielding to them; and their abode is hell, and evil is the destination."

Now how do Muslims square these passages with living within Western societies? Simply by considering their lives in Western lands as missionary (dawa’) in nature, supportive of, and ostensibly, preparatory for jihad.

So what does this mean in practice in our era? Is there a hidden danger here? Should we get paranoid concerning Muslims like our society once was in suspecting the loyalties of Roman Catholics? (Just go back to J.F.K.’s election to see what I mean) While I do believe that there is a certain degree of danger that there could be a kind of jihadist fifth column in a Western society, that does not seem to me to be our biggest worry. History shows us times when loyal Muslim citizens of Western non-Muslim nations existed.

Yet, I think that we would do well at least to be asking ourselves how we could defend against one particular dangerous scenario. Every Muslim, regardless of how moderate his personal views, could well be approached by more jihadist-inclined Muslims and have demands placed upon him. He will be susceptible to these demands because of two powerful influences.

One, he does not wish to be identified with the hypocrites who oppose Allah and his army. He wishes to be a true believer. This moderate Muslim would not easily do a major act of betrayal to his host Western nation, but he is susceptible to emotional manipulation, therefore, in a desire to prove his Islamic bona fides he may well be willing to do things that support the jihadist cause. Would they be overt acts? Probably not, but they may be acts of support that would make an overt attack possible. Therefore, the emotionally/religiously manipulated Muslim represents a potential danger, as he becomes a controllable instrument for jihadi agendas.

Two, jihadists have a long track record of attacking fellow Muslims mercilessly. Algeria’s FIS is a good example of such brutality.

This makes even the most moderate Muslim extremely susceptible to coercion.

With this ever present danger in mind, moderate Muslims have a Hobson’s choice to make. Do they embrace the nation they live in and its laws and renounce the Umma, or at least reduce it to a secondary loyalty like every other religion has? Or do they see their loyalty as a Muslim first and a citizen of a country second?

If moderate Muslims want to really disassociate themselves from the ideology that seeks to have Islam dominate the world through violent and political means, then they must renounce all attempts at establishing and imposing Sharia law in their communities and fight against it in their countries – both Muslim and non-Muslim alike.

If not, they may find themselves forced violently off the fence like Taha and either suffer the irrational response of non-Muslims after a horrendous attack on our cities or schools, or wake up like Taha did with an anti-Semitic sign on their chests.

1 comment:

maccusgermanis said...

Coptic Preist Zacharias Boutrous on Micheal Coren