The Search For The Moderate Muslim

When Muslims tell us that there is no such thing as a ‘moderate’ Muslim, that they feel belittled or even insulted by those who use the term, then we should listen and take their objections seriously. The ‘moderate’ Muslim is rare as hens teeth, as illusionary as the unicorn and as ridiculous as Bigfoot and the Yeti.

The Search For The Moderate Muslim

This may be one of the most difficult issues to deal with for those of us who are working to defeat the third jihad: What about the moderate Muslims? Is there such a thing? What does “moderate” mean?

I think what most of us hope it means is “a Muslim that openly and definitely repudiates the violent, intolerant, supremacist passages in the Koran.”

But the more I read about mainstream “moderate” Muslim organizations in America, the more I realize that what I hope “moderate” means and what those “moderate Muslims” mean by the term are entirely different. I am getting the feeling that the term “moderate Muslim” is not only pointless, but misleading — perhaps even deliberately misleading.

We should stop using the term. We should come up with a name for Muslims who straightforwardly reject the violent, intolerant passages in the Koran and openly reject the supremacist ideology strewn throughout Islamic teachings.

In my opinion, someone who does that is not really a Muslim, but maybe they still enjoy praying five times a day and fasting during Ramadan, so they might prefer to call themselves Muslims. Maybe they don’t want to be rejected by their community and family. Who am I to tell someone what they call themselves?

On the other hand, we non-Muslims need a term that draws a distinction between the two types of Muslims. One type is dangerous to non-Muslims and one is not. A Muslim may not care about this distinction, but it’s pretty important to us non-Muslims.

I heard Walid Phares use the term “democracy-seeking Muslims” and I thought that was pretty good, but it doesn’t go far enough. Until a Muslim acknowledges that there are, in fact, calls to violence and intolerance against non-Muslims in their central holy book, and then repudiates those specific Koranic passages, I don’t feel that Muslim can be trusted.

I know that would sound terrible to someone who doesn’t know anything about Islam. But really, this is a pretty straightforward matter. If you call yourself a Muslim, almost everybody on earth is assuming you think the Koran contains the core teachings you will follow. For us non-Muslims who have read the book, that’s a scary thought. For those of you who haven’t read it yet, these passages will give you an idea: What the Koran Says About Non-Muslims.

So a firm repudiation of those passages would at least acknowledge that the Muslim knows those passages exist and acknowledges that they should be rejected. I know it is entirely possible someone saying so could be lying, but it would at least be a start.

What should we call Muslims who repudiate intolerant and supremacist Islamic teachings? “Moderate” isn’t good enough. How about “Scrubbed Muslims?” “Jihad-rejecting Muslims?” “Freed Muslims?” “Friendly Muslims?” “Non-jihadi Muslims?” “Pluralist Muslims?”

I like “Jihad-rejecting Muslims,” or JRMs. As far as non-Muslims are concerned, JRMs are the only ones we should engage in “interfaith dialogs” and the only ones allowed to provide counsel for the FBI and the only ones translating documents for security services.

JRMs are the only Muslims who should be allowed to preach in mosques in free countries or teach in madrassas. This is just simple, reasonable self-preservation. A person who calls himself a Muslim but does not openly reject the killing of non-Muslims for being non-Muslims, and who does not reject the overthrow of legitimate democracies, and who does not reject Shari’a law, should not be allowed into those positions. That should be a no-brainer for any person who cares about their government’s survival.

So far there aren’t many Muslims who are clearly JRMs. The term “moderate Muslims” lets them off the hook — they don’t have to risk rejection by their families or perhaps even risk their lives openly repudiating specific Koranic passages, and non-Muslims are left with no way to tell who is a friend and who is a foe.

The term “moderate Muslim” also allows Muslims to remain “undeclared.” They don’t have to decide whose side they are on. They can secretly harbor a wish that some day their democratic country will be ruled by Shari’a, that some day Islam will reign supreme over the whole world, and that some day all kafirs will pay the jizya (tax on non-Muslims), and yet they may look in every way like a good citizen, trusted by non-Muslims, allowed into influential positions, etc. But if circumstances permitted, they would work toward their Islamic supremacist fantasy. They can function like a kind of sleeper cell in our midst.

By making our own term and defining it, we can make a clear distinction for ourselves and for Muslims, between who is an enemy and who is a friend.

I don’t know if simply rejecting jihad would be even be enough, however. One of the most fundamental principles of Islam is that loyalty to Islam comes before loyalty to anything else, including one’s country or even one’s family. Wouldn’t that be a potential problem if the person is working for the government? But maybe our definition of a JRM could include a repudiation of this Islamic hierarchy of loyalties as well.

Another problem is that it says in the Koran 91 times that a Muslim should use Mohammad as an example to emulate. And Mohammad ordered the torture of people, personally participated in beheading 600 people in one night, ordered and led raids on caravans, captured, owned and had sex with slaves, and spent the last ten years of his life conquering and subjugating people. So the definition of a JRM would also have to include a bold rejection of the idea that Mohammad is someone who should be imitated.

Since the stakes are so high for us non-Muslims (being the target of the violence), and since it is easy enough to find out what it actually says in the Koran (that it’s a Muslim’s duty to fight against the unbelievers until no god is worshiped in the world but Allah), we would be foolish to cavalierly grant our trust to Muslims until they prove themselves trustworthy.

The onus, the burden of proof, is not on non-Muslims.

Muslims will have to prove themselves trustworthy. This whole thing is difficult for all of us, but this distinction must be made. It’s a sane response for non-Muslims to make to this sticky situation.

If any Muslim thinks this is offensive or intolerable or somehow outrageous, I think we have discovered someone who is trying to pretend those dangerous passages are not in their holy book, and that sounds like someone we cannot trust.

But if non-Muslims named and defined who we would be willing to trust, and we did it clearly and defiantly, we might find out how many Muslims are on the side of freedom, equality, and pluralism. What do you think?

6 thoughts on “The Search For The Moderate Muslim”

  1. moderate muslim change to non political muslim?

    M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D. is the Founder and President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD).

    AIFD believes that the root cause of Islamist terrorism is the ideology of political Islam and a belief in the preference for and supremacy of the Islamic state.

    The American Islamic Forum for Democracy’s (AIFD) mission is to advocate for the preservation of the founding principles of the United States Constitution, liberty and freedom, through the separation of mosque and state.

  2. Yeah, I have to agree with Anonymous – the types described in the article are considered apostates. Ironically, we don’t see too many ‘moderates’ helping out any group of non-moslem in moslem lands when they had the opportunity, before things became this bad. We only see their acting like victims and deceiving us about islam. Those ‘reformist’ moslems are more concerned about us knowing they want reform instead of dealing with their own. and there are only a handful of them, so for them it would be very easy to do what other ‘moderates’ do – just say they are not moderate anymore when the ‘stuff hits the fan’.

    And how do you trust people who come from an ideology that says to lie to us? There are so many names and concepts for lying that are good and holy – they could fall under any of them as for pretending to be moderate. (muruna, kitman, taqiyya, tawriya, and I always include hudna since it is also about lying to non-moslems)

  3. On behalf of Uncle Vladdi:


    For those who want to make this about Muslims and not Islam, here are some of my thoughts on that:

    First, my name is Bosch and I’m a recovered Muslim, so I have some insight into this, coupled with the fact that I studied Islam as if my life depended on it after 9/11.

    There is Islam and there are Muslims. Muslims who take Islam seriously are at war with us and Muslims who don’t aren’t. But that doesn’t mean we should consider these reluctant Muslims allies against Jihad. I’ve been around Muslims my entire life and most of them truly don’t care about Islam. The problem I have with many of these essentially non-Muslim Muslims, especially in the middle of this war being waged on us by their more consistent co-religionists, is that they give the enemy cover. They force us to play a game of Muslim Roulette since we can’t tell which Muslim is going to blow himself up until he does. And their indifference about the evil being committed in the name of their religion is a big reason why their reputation is where it is.

    So while I understand that most Muslims are not at war with us, they’ve proven in their silence and inaction against jihad that they’re not on our side either, and there’s nothing we can say or do to change that. We just have to finally accept it and stop expecting them to come around, while doing our best to kill those who are trying to kill us.

    Another problem with Muslims who aren’t very Muslim is that they lead some among us to conclude that they must be practicing a more enlightened form of Islam. They’re not. They’re “practicing” life in non-Muslim countries, where they are free to live as they choose. But their “Islam” is not the Islam. There’s no separate ideology apart from Islam that’s being practiced by these Muslims in name only, there’s no such thing as “Western Islam”.

    Non-observant Muslims are not our problem, but neither are they the solution to our problem. Our problem is Islam and its most consistent practitioners. There is nothing in Islam that stays the hand of Muslims who want to kill non-Muslims. If an individual Muslim is personally peaceful, it’s not because of Islam, it’s because of his individual choice, which is why I often say that your average Muslim is morally superior to Mohammad, to their own religion. The very rare Muslim who helps us against Jihad is acting against his religion, but that doesn’t stop some among us from thinking that his choice somehow shines a good light on Islam. It doesn’t. A good Muslim according to us is a bad Muslim according to Islam.

  4. I will concur with anonymous and R_not, the only moderate muslim is an Apostate.

    Any other type of Muslim is a potential time bomb of fanaticism just waiting to spew forth.

    A picture, a teddy bear, a movie, etc., etc., etc. Anything and everything has the potential to inflame these scum.

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