September 18, 2005

Where Are All the Moslem Methodists?

Hatched by Dafydd

UPDATED: See below

Way, way, way back when I first began this blog -- by which I mean yesterday -- one of the earliest commenters, pbswatcher, posed a very fair and hard-to-answer question:

The phrase "militant islamist" immediately raises the question of how to define a "non-militant islamist."

Actually, there are two questions here: first, what would a non-militant Islamist look like; and second, how many of them are there?

The first one is easier to answer. Centuries ago, Christianity used to be as aggressively militant as militant Islamists are today, attacking not only Jews and other infidels but also apostates, heretics, blasphemers, and witches -- all real or imagined. The crusades; Torquemada; Kramer and Sprenger.

But the Church, after bifurcating, underwent a transformation across all of Christendom that is collectively lumped together as "the Reformation," though it occurred at different times and paces in different places. By the time it ended, we had a Christianity spread across many different sects and churches more or less living in harmony with each other: I don't mean a complete, worldwide lack of religious violence among Christian sects and religions; I mean that there are no two Christian sects or religions that are at war nearly everywhere, nor is there any sect or religion that still wants to massacre everyone who isn't of their particular faith -- not even the Phalangists in Lebanon, to the extent they're even still there in any strength.

Today, it's commonplace to see a Catholic church, a Baptist church, and a Russian Orthodox church on the same block, with the pastors visiting each other and setting up combined charity drives. There are still billions of Christians (if we combine Catholic and Protestant religions); but the average guy or gal just doesn't live and die by the faith the way he used to do, in the days of the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre, for example.

Christians today are by and large domesticated. Some may sigh for the "old days;" but they imagine days that never really existed like that. In any event, real-life counterparts of those "good old days" are five hundred years in the past, and nobody alive today actually experienced them. The reality is that whatever most Christians (and Jews) may say about the depth of their faith -- in real-life encounters, faith is secondary to comity, commerce, employment, and secular-civic involvement (the PTA, for example).

And this is good. It means that I can live next door to Catholics and have no fear of an auto-da-fé. Also, a typical American Jew doesn't have to stubbornly refuse to eat at his gentile neighbor's house because it's not kosher; most Jews who claim to keep kosher really just mean they avoid the really obvious traif, like pork... and often not even that, if it's inconvenient. Heck, the rabbi who married my wife and I ate an Egg McMuffin just before one of the rehearsals! (Wait -- wasn't Egg McMuffin the sidekick of Johnny Carson? Or am I hallucinating again?)

This is exactly what I want to see happen to Islam: what the world needs are more Moslem Methodists.

I know there are some, because one works with Sachi: he's a Moslem, he claims to be kosher (he avoids pork; that's about it), and he prays at least once a month or so, when he remembers. I think it pretty obvious we're not at war with him.

Such a person could still think of himself as an Islamist, if he sees it as more of an internal thing: the mere fact that he tells himself that sharia is the goal may liberate him from having to live by it in practice. The trick is to divorce Islam (or at least Islamism) from the here and now and transplant it to the afterlife. Specific inconvenient rituals can be largely abandoned, even while the Moslem bemoans their abandonment in a general sense -- in the same way that even the great majority of orthodox Jews who keep strictly kosher don't treat their wives as "unclean" and refuse to touch them during the wives' menstrual periods (Leviticus 15:19).

I think we can envision a moderate Moslem, or even a non-militant (if not actually moderate) Islamist: for the latter, even if a person obeyed sharia in his home, it's not a foregone conclusion that he wants to kill everyone who doesn't. The real question is how many of these moderate and non-millitant Moslems and Islamists are there?

I don't have data on this; but my gut feeling is that the majority of Moslems are moderate as I have described it... but nearly all national or international Moslem organizations, whether overtly religious (like a mosque) or more secular in purpose (like CAIR), are strongly inclined towards militant Islamism and therefore dangerously tolerant of Islamic terrorism. If all that a moderate Moslem sees around him as the public face of Islam are groups that call for jihad, either overtly or slyly, he may well feel that there must be something wrong with him not to feel that same rage and hate. He'll probably fall silent, afraid to object, both because of physical threat, and more important, fear of social shunning.

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation. From the desperate city you go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with the bravery of minks and muskrats. A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things. -- Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Maybe if moderate Moslems would concentrate on creating Islamic organizations that give a sense of solidarity to "Moslem Methodists," showing them they're not alone, the natural tendency toward laziness would take over: hating is hot, hard work.

I wonder; how many secularized Moslems "live lives of quiet desperation?" There must be some way to persuade them "not to do desperate things."

UPDATE September 18th 2:55pm: There is an excellent discussion going on in the comments section about whether Islam is inherently militant or whether it's unfairly tarred with that brush because of religious bigotry. Several things to throw into the mix: I heard Dennis Prager point out -- though I don't know whether it was original with him -- that of all the most populous religions in the world that have actual, known founders, only Islam was founded by a warrior; a general, in fact, who personally led armies into battle. I have heard it said, though I cannot vouch for the accuracy of this statement (not having read the Koran myself), that the later writings of Mohammed, when he was an old man, are distinctly more angry, bitter, and bigotted, particularly towards the Jews, against whom he held a grudge for refusing to recognize him as a prophet.

To what extent do these two points color the religion of Islam itself? Does the "strain of pacifism" in Christianity arise from the fact that despite occasional references to violence by Jesus (e.g., coming to bring a sword and the incident in the Temple with the moneychangers), Jesus was mostly pacific Himself? (E.g., put away your sword.)

Also, I do wish to note to those who take some offence at my point that in Christianity and Judaism today, "faith is secondary to comity, commerce, employment, and secular-civic involvement," and who insist that religion is the most important thing to them... beware the danger of temporocentrism: people in the Mediaeval period really did think so radically different than we, that we barely even have words to describe what they meant by "religious."

Remember, the typical Christian at the time of the Crusades had no explanation whatsoever for anything he saw in the universe other than "God did it by personal command." They did not know the world was round, for example -- though the Greeks had, and the few educated people in Europe may have known; thus they had no other explanation for sunrise and sunset other than direct divine intervention every single day.

There were virtually no books and no library science, so even what "knowledged" existed was in an inaccessible form... even for scholars. The masses were illiterate, so they could not even read the Bible. The very basics of scientific (empirical) reasoning, which are second nature to everyone today, were unknown.

They knew no mathematics other than -- for a few people -- simple, accounting-level arithmetic. If they thought about the heavens at all (as opposed to Heaven, the place), they would have seen the sun, the Moon, the stars and planets as fixed to crystal spheres that revolved above the Earth. They lived, in Carl Sagan's term, in a "demon-haunted world," where the slightest religious transgression could result in nearly instantaneous attack by hellish creatures bent on destruction of all humanity.

Yet they were as intelligent as we, by and large; they had story-telling brains, as do we, and therefore, they created stories to explain the world around them... as do we. Their belief in the cosmic battle between good and evil was not metaphorical but literal, including the killing of "witches" who were Satan's agents; burning them alive was a kindness, because they might repent just before death and be spared eternal damnation.

A "religous" person back then would be one who attended every, single mass the local monastery or church conducted, which would be multiple times a day, every day; a moderately secular person would be one who only attended one mass per week.

What we today call "religious," which includes reaching out in friendship and religious solidarity to other sects and even to Jews and Moslems, would be considered daringly apostate if translated into their terms.

So no, the vast majority of religious Christians today are not "religious" in the same sense of the word as their counterparts in the 11th century, when it became a vital, burning desire in the hearts of average, everyday Christians in England, Germany, and Spain to go to war (on campaigns that took many years) to reconquer Jerusalem from the Moslems -- and to kill the Jews they accidentally met along the way.

They lived in a very different world, one so alien it may as well be another planet.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 18, 2005, at the time of 2:33 AM

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Read the whole thing. I am not ashamed.

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Comments

The following hissed in response by: Gerald Bostock

Maybe all the "Moslem Methodists" are doing exactly what you suggested -- "creating Islamic organizations that give a sense of solidarity... etc." and the media has simply chosen to dismiss them. Unless something causes controversy or reflects poorly on the administration, it seems like the media don't want to hear it.

The above hissed in response by: Gerald Bostock [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 3:02 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dean Esmay

You make some good points, but I think you make two small mistakes that dilute your statement. First off, the word "Islamist" was coined by Daniel Pipes to represent radical, murderous fascist-style political Islam. Thus "miltant Islamist" would be like saying "militant fascist"--kind of pointless except for emphasis. Thus a "moderate Islamist" would be like a "moderate fascist" -- and what the hell would that be?

I think you'd be wiser to just separate the average everyday muslim from the Islamist, and note that the seeds of moderation are obviously there, as they have been in the past; the problem, as you say, is that the Islamists are not being pointed out clearly from the everyday muslims.

I must also say your advocacy for a watered-down religion that takes second place to country and community etc. is likely to please few serious muslims OR serious Christians or Jews. While you might know some Jews who are loose about kosher, there are others who are certainly not. What you seem to be presenting here is a wish-washy, watered down faith which would not be welcomed at all, at all by people who are very religious.

A better way of putting it--a much better way--is to say that people can be firm and even emphatic in their faith, but to realize that liberal democratic values are in keeping with that faith. That spiritual battle is something that, in a modern society, is something you do on the field of ideas, with words and ethical action and by personal example, rather than by violence.

Go read Donald Sensing's web site. Don't tell him his faith plays second fiddle to anything. But he understands that unless his fellow Christians are being murdered or converted at swordpoint, he has no right to take up arms to defend his faith, that the battlefield of ideas is the place to conduct spiritual warfare.

The above hissed in response by: Dean Esmay [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 4:27 AM

The following hissed in response by: Teafran

Secular Moslems, which is what is really being discussed here, exist. The problem is that the more radical Moslems who live by a 5th Century social code have a stronger, more developed belief system attracting less sophisticated minds who long for structure and a simple reasoning system.

The question should be how do we get to the secular Moslems and encourage them to marginalize the more radical elements.

The above hissed in response by: Teafran [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 4:30 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dean Esmay

Hmm, again--"secular"--I know lots and lots of religious people, including religious, even fundamentalist, muslims who would balk to be called "secularist" in any sense, but who strongly support free speech, free press, religious freedom, free elections, and so on.

I have to think that only my fellow secularists (I'm an atheist by the way) can talk in these terms, and that they can't realize what their words sound like--basically, you're asking them to treat their faith like it's a club membership, sort of like joining the NRA or the God Fan Club. I have to tell you that's simply not going to fly for tens of millions of people of ANY faith.

What's important is to get them to agree that you spread your religion through spiritual, not physical, warfare. You can leave tracts. You can knock on doors. You can talk to your coworkers, invite people to come to worship with you, whatever. That's what freedom's all about.

That sort of thing is or has been acceptable to people of all faiths, and even no faith--as an atheist I have no problem at all with my religious friends. Indeed, I recognize that since about 90% of all humans worldwide believe in some form of higher power, I'm the oddball, and I frankly have no interest in converting anyone to my view. I'll talk about it but frankly if someone wants to try to talk me into joining their faith I take it as a compliment: they think they're doing me a favor. So long as they understand that "no thank you" means "no," and that harassing me is unacceptable, I can live and let live.

But you aren't going to tell these people "we want you to have a godless religion" or "God plays second fiddle to the PTA." That's a good way to alienate people.

The above hissed in response by: Dean Esmay [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 5:07 AM

The following hissed in response by: ShrinkWrapped

I am not terribly optimistic that a great mass of Moderate Muslims will someday soon precipitate a Reformation of Islam. I wrote in a post a few months ago (http://shrinkwrapped.blogs.com/blog/2005/05/good_muslims_an.html) that Islam is similar to Germany in the 1930's, with a few Nazis and a majority of "Good Germans". If I may quote myself:
"I liken the Islamic world to the state of the German nation in the 1930's. The Nazis were a minority party with a small following at first, in the early years of the decade. The percentage of people willing and eager to join in the party's thuggery was quite small. A far larger number sympathized with the Nazi program of externalizing all blame for Germany's straits with special emphasis on anti-Semitism, an even larger number were quietly alarmed or indifferent but the number willing to stand against the Nazis was minuscule, and hampered by the fact that they were typically not thugs themselves. By the late thirties, Hitler had been legally elected by a minority of voters and once in power he unleashed a growing band of bullies and thugs who were the spiritual ancestors to Zarqawi and his ilk. By the time the danger of Nazism was noticed by the population, opposition became deadly dangerous. It is one thing to risk your life to protect yourself and your family, it is something else altogether to risk your life to defend an outsider, like the Jew. As it was by the late 1930's and increasingly into the 1940's, to be an anti-Nazi German was to risk a horrible, lonely death; today, in "1930's Islam", to be a moderate Muslim is to risk death."
Nazism failed as an ideology when it was militarily defeated. Christianity did not have a reformation without a tremendous amount of war and bloodshed. As long as most of the Muslim world essentially denies responsibilty for their pathologies and takes a paranoid position toward the West, we will see very few Moderate Muslims speak out. Worse, in the West, as long as our governments and the press, etc, treat these mainstream terror supporting/enabling (and/or condoning)groups like CAIR as spokesmen for Islam, the Moderates will have very little incentive to speak out and put themselves at risk. Even if there is a majority of Islam that is uninvolved in at least passive support of the terrorists, and the existence of some large mass of moderate Muslims remains an open question, they have no particular reason to speak up when they are not personally in danger; why should they speak out trying to defend Americans, Israelis or Europeans; what's in it for them?
We had better "win" in Iraq, and soon (ie, the elections need to go well and they need to be able to defend themselves with minimal American front line help); Iran waits in the wings and isn't sitting still. (see Regime Change Iran for some chilling stories).

The above hissed in response by: ShrinkWrapped [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 5:40 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dean Esmay

We ARE seeing moderate muslims speak out here in the West. They get VERY little play in the mainstream pres, which tends to worship the fascist ideologues, but they are definitely to be found in the West--look for Irshad Manji, Salman Rushdie, The Free Muslims Coalition (with offices in multiple countries), the muslims who work with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, and more.

The other problem is with the right wing here in America, most particularly the Christian ideologues--many of them believe that Islam is literally a satanic faith, and is thus our sworn and absolute enemy. A number of them, sadly, are commenters on my blog, and are either disgusted or outright furious that I refuse to write off my fellow Americans who are muslims, or to accept the notion that we are at war with the entire islamic faith. This strain is very strong and one that has to be fought.

Fortunately it can be done, just as reasonable people in America long ago concluded that you could hate and oppose communism and still think public funding for education is a pretty good idea. %-)

The above hissed in response by: Dean Esmay [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 5:58 AM

The following hissed in response by: ShrinkWrapped

Dean,
Certainly there are moderate Muslims here speaking out from time to time, but the recent rally to oppose terror had a very poor turn-out, so I would not be too sanguine abotu their prospects, and their prospects here are much better than in Europe or the Arab world.
Tarek Heggy, at Winds if Change, http://www.windsofchange.net/archives/007538.php, has written an interesting introductory essay about Islam and its embrace of militant Islam (his term), and promises more in the future:
"Next articles, in this series, deal with the reasons why Muslims are moving away from tolerant and moderate mainstream Islam and embracing the fanatical and xenophobic message of militant political Islam, which preaches hatred of the Other and calls for a return by Muslim societies to the Dark Ages where tyranny and despotism prevailed and women and non-Muslims were treated as lesser beings."

The above hissed in response by: ShrinkWrapped [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 6:15 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dana Pico

It wasn't all that long ago that a radio talk show host got suspended, and then canned, for describing Islam (not Islamism, or militant Islam, but simply Islam) as a terrorist organization. It may not be politically correct, but it is a question that has to be asked anyway: is Islam a terrorist organization?

The lead article noted that medieval Christianity was as aggressive as modern Islam, in attacking infidels and apostates and blasphemers. But if that made Christianity militant then, without us considering that the vast bulk of Christians then did no such things (being primarily concerned with basic survival), then why would we now be taking some distinction between the radical Islamists (who we all can see) and the "Muslim Methodists," who remain invisible?

It's plainly true: medieval Christianity could not have been militant without a population behind the militants who supported them. Without a church behind him, there is no pope.

The same is true of radical Islam: without a mass of population behind them, they couldn't exist either.

The above hissed in response by: Dana Pico [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 6:20 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dean Esmay

I'm aware of the thinking of folks like Heggy--they are, sadly, part of the problem in my view.

There are a number of American muslim bloggers. They are mostly ignored or treated with contempt by most of those here in the blogosphere who support the GWOT. And with rare exception the moderate muslim groups get almost no media attention.

Without question more could be done in the muslim community here in America to make muslims realize they are an incredibly important part in the fight against terrorism. Constantly telling them that those of them who oppose it are either liars or not true representatives of their faith doesn't help at all, however. Muslim Americans mostly voted for Bush in 2000, and mostly voted for Kerry in 2004, and a big part of that is that no matter how hard Bush tries to reach out to them, the right of America's political right treats them either like freaks or dangerous snakes.

The above hissed in response by: Dean Esmay [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 6:24 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dean Esmay

Mind you, I would agree that I'd be happier if the Free Muslims Coalition had existed sooner and had more visibility right after 9/11. America's muslims were confused and uncertain by 9/11--as most of us would be in their shoes--and who was there to lead them in the media but CAIR and even more radical groups?

Crapping on the reasonable muslims when their initial efforts are not immediately embraced by either the press or by muslims here at home isn't the right approach. Encouraging them is.

The above hissed in response by: Dean Esmay [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 6:42 AM

The following hissed in response by: matoko kusanagi

When you talk about framing the problem, you do understand that the words Islamist and Islamofacist are offensive to the moderate muslims you seek to empower? Militant Islam makes little sense to me. Martial Islam--what is that?
They are Islamic fundamentalists.
"people who become deeply involved in religion, for whom it is a matter of vital importance that their doctrine is the only sense of truth, will not hesitate to massacre the ones who seem not to acknowledge this obvious facty or whose commitment is too lukewarm"--cultural anthropologist and cognitive neuroscientist Pascal Boyer.
Medieval Christianity was fundamentalist, as I understand the definition, but in Europe a competing system of law, secular law and secular government was evolving at the same time. Since law and government are part of the package (so to speak) in Islam, this has not happened in the ME. Yet. But right now, it is starting to happen in Iraq. Consider the new constitution...in places it contradicts sha'ria--this is a huge evolutionary leap forward.

The above hissed in response by: matoko kusanagi [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 6:53 AM

The following hissed in response by: beebop

One need not go back to the dark ages to find examples of Christian fascism, the remants of that ideology are evident in the white supremacist "churches" in the Pacific northwest. Calling themselves names like "The Arm of the Covenant" or such, they are the ideological descendants of the KKK (of the burning crosses and religious mumbo jumbo about protecting white christian womanhood) and overlap with other nutters in groups like the American Nazi Party.
Before we get on our high horse about the Moslem rank and file not denouncing their fanatic fringe, remember how hard it was for us to get the US Senate to pass an anti-lynching resolution (constantly filibustered) or the Democratic Party to adopt an anti-KKK plank in their party platform not that many years ago.

Islamofascists are the people, almost all male, that bring their anger, resentment, victimhood and sense of impotence to a cause greater than themselves. This is an enemy that is not exclusively Arab, it includes those in converted in prison (Richard Reed, Jose Padilla) or those with anger issues looking for an organizing principle in their lives (think Cassius Clay becoming Muhamid Ali, or Malcolm X). The particular appeal of Islam is that it is definitely not a religion of turning the other cheek; in that sense, its justifications for violence against infidels make it a more appropriate vehicle for fascist tendencies.

The above hissed in response by: beebop [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 7:08 AM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

The phrase "militant islamist" immediately raises the question of how to define a "non-militant islamist."

Non-Duality has been defined as Simply not two... ;)

Great stuff...excellent site!!!

KårmiÇømmünîs†

The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 7:37 AM

The following hissed in response by: JohnF

Let us remember that "'any religion' fascism" may be oxymoronic in nature. Unless the specific intent of the religion is to conquer the "other", enslave, and perhaps sacrifice him to the godly pantheon, it is difficult to link a virulent form of socialism (National Socialism, perhaps the epitome of the Euro model taken to an extreme) to a religion per se. Perhaps the true focus of the debate is whether Islam by its nature is belligerent and intolerant and whether it is possible to refute some notions of the Qu'uran and its interpretations with a leavening philosophy e.g. a New Testament ameliorating some harshness of the Old.

My compliments to the commenters and the host blogger. Reasoned, grammatically correct discussion--a refreshing change from many blog sites. Mr. ab Hugh has provided many essays worth reading for Captain Ed, and it is clear he has developed an audience of merit. Thank you all for providing something to think about--one gets tired of the shouting, invective, and lack of reasoned debate.

The above hissed in response by: JohnF [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 7:43 AM

The following hissed in response by: pbswatcher

Beebop comes close to the nub of the problem, "The particular appeal of Islam is that it is definitely not a religion of turning the other cheek." Unlike Christianity, Islam has no pacifist or non-violent strain traceable to the original texts, and none has developed over the centuries. Thus we ask a putative group of moderate Muslims to invent such a tradition, induce an Islamic reformation and modernize their countries to eliminate the appeal of militant Islam, all on a time scale assuring our national security. In the meantime we will maintain the legal fiction that Arab origin, Islamic religion etc. bear no statistical correlation to the threat. Our immigration, homeland security, airport screening etc. will continue to give old ladies from Milwaukee equal scrutiny. Vive Norman Mineta.

The above hissed in response by: pbswatcher [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 8:00 AM

The following hissed in response by: RBMN

Re: beebop at September 18, 2005 07:08 AM

> One need not go back to the dark ages to find
> examples of Christian fascism, the remants of
> that ideology are evident in the white
> supremacist "churches" in the Pacific northwest.

Get real. We're talking here about real problems in the here and now. A few hundred, or a thousand nuts in Oregon or Utah does not compare to the many hundreds of thousands, or even tens of millions of Islamic jihadists who want Americans destroyed and are perfectly willing to help it happen somehow.

The above hissed in response by: RBMN [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 8:37 AM

The following hissed in response by: Carolynp

I am a born again Christian and I'd like to believe that my beliefs are a part of my actions. The political scientist in me believes that perhaps the differentiation is the use of religion to facilitate mass order? In my opinion, it is difficult to interpret the Christian texts as advocating violence, but it was rather easily accomplished during the crusades by discouraging knowledge of scriptures.
I must agree that moderate Muslims don't get enough positive press. I have to admit that I am ashamed and demoralized that the mainline Muslim church has recently declared jihad on domestic violence. I would never have known that if I wasn't involved with helping out at a shelter. The protestant church is behind on this topic, in my opinion.

The above hissed in response by: Carolynp [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 8:39 AM

The following hissed in response by: ShrinkWrapped

Dean, you said: Crapping on the reasonable muslims when their initial efforts are not immediately embraced by either the press or by muslims here at home isn't the right approach. Encouraging them is.

With all due respect, I think you should back up this kind of statement before you add such invective into the debate. I read a lot of conservative and liberal blogs and do not recall a great deal of "crapping on resonable Muslims." There are commenters at various places who make over-the-top remarks, but most are ignored or censured, in my experience. Most bloggers who comment on this have been delighted with the efforts of the Free Muslims Coalition, and disappointed with the performance of the media in publicizing those efforts. Pointing out the dearth of condemnatory statements by state run media in the Muslim world or state supported Imams thoroughout the world hardly qualifies as "crapping on reasonable Muslims." If you have something specific in mind, please let us know.

The above hissed in response by: ShrinkWrapped [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 9:50 AM

The following hissed in response by: Clint

While this is a battle to be fought in the realm of ideas -- the most important first step has to be along the lines of what we are doing in Afghanistan and Iraq.

No amount of brilliant essay-writing by (what we would call) moderate muslims will bring about the Muslim Reformation you're looking for. Look at Christian history -- in any given century there were dozens of splinter sects, many of which were "moderate" or at least non-violent, which were ruthlessly persecuted and violently exterminated by the Church. The difference in the last five hundred years or so hasn't been that the theological arguments improved.

People who live on the edge of starvation, or under brutal tyranny, are attracted to millenarian and jihadist belief-systems that promise the violent overthrow of the status quo. People who have basic economic security and the rule of law have far more invested in the status quo, and their belief-systems reflect this. What will wipe out "Militant Islam" or "Islamofascism," or whatever historians decide to call it, is the rise of the middle class.

The above hissed in response by: Clint [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 10:56 AM

The following hissed in response by: matoko kusanagi

Oh, Dean, thank you so much...that is what i think all the time. We berate the moderate muslims for not standing up to the fundamentalists, while at the same time crudely deconstructing their religion and cherry picking their literature for extreme quotes.
You and Aziz are my heroes. ;-)

The above hissed in response by: matoko kusanagi [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 11:05 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dean Esmay

The average Muslim in America is middle class. On average, they tend to be college-educated, to hold down regular jobs, and to make good incomes. Most are the children of immigrants to came to this country looking for a better life than they had before. They tend to be very civically involved in things like the local PTA, the local chamber of commerce, and even groups like the freaking Shriners.

Can you name one that you know? Have you ever talked to one? Have you ever made the effort to reach out and find one? As in, even once?

There are a bunch of American muslim bloggers. Can you name one?

The above hissed in response by: Dean Esmay [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 11:09 AM

The following hissed in response by: Kathy K

Islamist may be insulting to Muslims - but I think it's an accurate way to describe those who espouse political Islam (theocracy).

I don't quite like the 'militant' (terrorist? warmonger?) - but we do need a way to differentiate between the Islamists who want to terrorize us into submission and those who merely want to outbreed/vote us into submission. I consider the latter an enemy, too - but the same level of enemy as Christian Reconstructionists, rather than someone we should be at active (shooting) war with. The problem is that many of the latter type of Islamists support the former.

Then there are the rest of the Muslims, most of whom I get along with fine. BUT - we do need a term to differentiate between them and the two types of enemies. And as long as the enemies claim that their way is Islam, and the rest of the Muslims don't disown them, I will consider them an Islamic sect.

Islamist does it for me, with an additional division between the violent and non-violent. I tried using 'jihadis' for a while to describe the violent ones, but that seemed to insult many Muslims, too.

And almost any devout Muslim is a fundamentalist by our secular standards - so 'Islamic fundamentalist' is misleading as well. I really can't think of any better term to use than what Dafydd is using.

The above hissed in response by: Kathy K [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 12:58 PM

The following hissed in response by: HelenW

Sorry Dean, but I've seen Muslims trying to take down civilization for my whole life--ever since Munich. We just don't have a big problem with Hindus trying to convert, enslave, and kill us.

Your claim that there are masses of moderate Muslims is false. If you are Muslim, you kill the infidel. Period. Naturally, most people in the US don't want to kill their countrymen. They may be Arab or Persian, but they are not true to their religion.

It's the same way with Christians. I refuse to evangelize my faith, or to accept that people who don't accept Jesus as Christ are damned. So I can't call myself a Christian.

Ddd, your search for Moslem Methodists will be frustrated because you are looking for people who proclaim themselves to be ex-Moslems. The penalty in Islamic Law for being an ex-Moslem is death. So don't expect to find many.

The above hissed in response by: HelenW [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 1:14 PM

The following hissed in response by: matoko kusanagi

grrr...complete misunderstanding of term Islamic fundamentalist.
Islamic fundamentalists want a return to the golden age--WHEN MUHAMMED WAS ALIVE. A return to the original values of the religion that have been supposedly corrupted by contact with modern cultures. None of my muslim friends want that. A fourteenth century code of ethics, banking, commerce, government? No way. The Taliban were fundamentalists--they wanted everything to be circa 1400's.

The above hissed in response by: matoko kusanagi [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 1:39 PM

The following hissed in response by: RiverRat

Has anyone in this debate bothered to read the Quran? The basic evangelical message of Islam is and has always been...submission.

Either an infidel converts, pays a poll tax and lives as a 2nd class citizen, or dies by the sword. This as central to Islam as Christ's resurrection is to Christianity.

The above hissed in response by: RiverRat [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 1:44 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

One comment nuked for excessive profanity.

Dean, you have an excellent argument here, one that deserves both thought and thoughtful response. But you must moderate your language. I'm very serious about my comments policy; and rule number 1 is "No profanity."

"Freaking" is fine, as are other euphemisms. But not the original, nor the common vulgarity for the execratory function -- even in past tense.

Thanks!

Dafydd

The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 2:50 PM

The following hissed in response by: matoko kusanagi

RiverRat.
'kay, this really bugs me also. The Qu'raan is beautiful, powerful and moving. Mostly i listen to qu'raanic recitation to improve my arabic pronunciation. My favorite parts are a sound and vision poem of mighty power. Can 1.3 billion muslims be completely wrong?
the Qu'raan gets cherrypicked here for the most hateful parts, which are used to shore up the party line. Islam is the enemy. Dafydd, do you really believe that?

The above hissed in response by: matoko kusanagi [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 3:21 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Matoko Kusanagi:

the Qu'raan gets cherrypicked here for the most hateful parts, which are used to shore up the party line. Islam is the enemy. Dafydd, do you really believe that?

I do not recall expressing an opinion on the subject of cherry-picking the Koran.

Dafydd

The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 3:51 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dana Pico

Dafydd: Would one of my favorites, "bovine feces," meet with an automatic deletion?

Matoko: If you've really read the Quran (Do you own one? I do!), you'd know that by cherry picking what you wish, you can justify virtually anything. There are passages which confirm President Bush's contention that Islam is a religion of peace, and there are passages which thoroughly support Osama bin Laden's views.

As for those who have said that there are moderate Muslim websites out there, would you be so kind as to tell us what and where they are?

The above hissed in response by: Dana Pico [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 4:07 PM

The following hissed in response by: SDN

Since I have and have read in some detail a translation of the Koran, I have to say that it seems to have more exhortations to holy war than the New Testament, and maybe even the Old. And it does seem to divide the world into Dar al Harb and Dar al Islam. And hasn't got any trace I could find of "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and G_d that which is G_d's."

But the most dangerous difference is that the entire book seems to be the product of one man's vision, unlike either the Old or New Testaments. I really can't see, forex, any possibility of having 4 Gospels. That may be the most disturbing part of all.

The above hissed in response by: SDN [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 4:44 PM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

Has anyone in this debate bothered to read the Quran? The basic evangelical message of Islam is and has always been...submission.

Have you read the Bible? Then, you will notice that 'Submission' is also a requirement in Christianity...so to speak.

Planet Earth is in need of some serious pruning...

Karmi

The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 5:38 PM

The following hissed in response by: Jimmie

It seems that what Dafydd is saying is that what we need are more non-devout Muslims. That just doesn't seem right to me. There's nothing at all wrong, in my thinking, with Muslims who are quite devout, who pray several times a day, who are very particular in their eating habits, and all the other hallmarks of devotion to Islam. Being a devout Muslim is no more a dangerous thing than being a devout Catholic or a devout Wiccan, so far as I can tell.

What we need is more Muslims who are devout and stridenly opposed to violence in the name of their religion. We need more Muslims who are willing to be as fierce in opposition to the Islamists as the Islamsts are fierce in their love of death. Many Muslims would be willing to die before they betrayed their faith. That's the kind of defense of their religion they'll need to muster in order to finally drive off the Islamists.

I'm afraid that we already have too many sunny-day, pray once in a while, practice their religion only when it's convenient, Muslim "Methodists" among us. They are, I believe, the reason the Islamists are as strong as they are.

The above hissed in response by: Jimmie [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 5:58 PM

The following hissed in response by: Milhouse

even the great majority of orthodox Jews who keep strictly kosher don't treat their wives as "unclean" and refuse to touch them during the wives' menstrual periods
I wonder what your basis is for this supposition. I seriously doubt that it's anywhere even close to true. Almost anyone who keeps kosher seriously also keeps the laws of Family Purity.

The difference is that kosher is public, while family life is by its nature private. You may know that your Orthodox colleague keeps kosher, but have no idea what she does with her husband, or when. If you offer to have lunch with her, she'll suggest a kosher restaurant, but if you offer to have sex with her she'll slap you on the face and then with a lawsuit, but her menstrual status will be the least of your concerns.

The above hissed in response by: Milhouse [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 6:13 PM

The following hissed in response by: RiverRat

Has anyone in this debate bothered to read the Quran? The basic evangelical message of Islam is and has always been...submission. Have you read the Bible? Then, you will notice that 'Submission' is also a requirement in Christianity...so to speak.

Planet Earth is in need of some serious pruning...

Karmi

Karmi,

The Quran, when read as a historical document, is nothing more than the exhortations of a malevolent psychotic megalomaniacal imperialist to join him in a culture of dominance in this life with the reward to be found only in an afterlife.

The exhortations of Jesus Christ (also probably a psychotic megalomaniac) were to join him in a culture of submission in this life with the ultimate reward also to be found in an afterlife.

Let me paraphrase a Christian exhortation of this life..."render unto Caesar." The only exhortations to render that will be found in the Quran will be of the bodies of infidels.

The above hissed in response by: RiverRat [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 6:17 PM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

"render unto Caesar"

Or...render unto Allah, God, etcetera.

RiverRat,

(Nice name, BTW.) Religions tend to speak a lot about death, in this and/or the after life. i see the points you have made; however, spending an "Eternal Damnation" in a fiery-pit for not submitting is about the same as having some 70 virgins as a reward for submitting...so to speak. ;)

Karmi

The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 6:42 PM

The following hissed in response by: RiverRat

Your Hughness,

May I suggest that "Malevolent Islamist" might be more fitting than militant?

Main Entry: ma·lev·o·lent Pronunciation Guide Pronunciation: -lnt Function: adjective Etymology: Latin malivolent-, malivolens, malevolent-, malevolens, from male badly + volent-, volens, present participle of velle to will -- more at MAL-, WILL 1 : having, showing, or indicative of intense often vicious ill will : filled with or marked by deep-seated spite or rancor or hatred 2 : productive of harm or evil : HURTFUL, INJURIOUS - ma·lev·o·lent·ly adverb

The above hissed in response by: RiverRat [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 6:47 PM

The following hissed in response by: THANOS

i wonder how would it be possible for Islam to become a peacefull religion when its "holy"book and its "prophet", Muhammed, both teach hate, murder, rape, deciet, lying, child molesting and other hatefull things and the so called tiny majority of Muslims carry out just those crimes....correct me if i am wrong, but i sure as heck do not recall Jesus ever teaching any of his disciples to do and/or teach such things, as i do remember that he taught forgiveness, love, faith, kindness and turning the other cheek....yes, the Christian crusaders didnt exactly do that when fighting agaisnt the Muslim invaders....yes i said Muslim INVADERS, as it was Islam that began the violent invasions of mostly Christian neighboring countries....Jesus did say to also fight for what you believe in and the Crusaders did just that as far as i see, protecting themselves from those who sought to either kill them all or convert them forcefully to a very bloody and barbaric cult, being Islam....so i see it as what is tought in Christians holy book and what is taught in a Muslims holy book???....both very much the opposite of the other...one peace and tolerance, the other war and forcefull conversion{intolerance}....Islam has been this way for 1400 years, how do you change it now???

The above hissed in response by: THANOS [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 7:09 PM

The following hissed in response by: VRWconspiracy

The Ahmadi Muslims seem to fit your bill for tolerance towards others. They reject the notion of jihad by the sword and accept jihad by the pen. And is that not the key we are looking for, the redefinition of jihad?

But they are considered apostates by other Muslims and suffer from pogroms directed against them by the less benign version of jihadi. There is a particularly vicious ongoing campaign against the Ahmadi in Bangladesh.

The above hissed in response by: VRWconspiracy [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 7:19 PM

The following hissed in response by: RiverRat

Karmi,

To render unto Caesar is to render unto the corporeal; Stalin, Mao, Hitler, and other megalomaniacal prophets of the last century.

To render unto God, Allah, and other emanations of penumbras espoused by earlier prophets is to accept the railings of the empirically uninformed.

I reject organized religion but not the possibility of a creator, albeit possibly insentient; at least as we understand sentience.

Hiss,hiss,hiccup!

The above hissed in response by: RiverRat [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 7:44 PM

The following hissed in response by: matoko kusanagi

"I do not recall expressing an opinion on the subject of cherry-picking the Koran."

sssssssslippery indeeed Dafydd. ;-)
i meant an opinion as to whether Islam is the enemy.

May we use scifi expletives to express our displeasure? Like, ummm, what the frac??!!? Or tangit!! It seems sort of in keeping with the backstory of the blogmasters.

Umm...the Qu'raan...i have two translations, one in arabic, and the work of three different qu'raanic reciters. And two books of analysis. My favorite is Michael Sells, Approaching the Qu'ran.

Islam does mean submission, all my muslim friends have verified this, but it is not evil or hateful. The five pillars represent values that are very comparable with christian or judaic values. Actually, as a RCC apostate, i quite prefer the idea that Man is forgetful as opposed to the concept of original sin.

The above hissed in response by: matoko kusanagi [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 7:45 PM

The following hissed in response by: TallDave

Haha, it's worth reading any thread with a Niven profanity reference (also cool: the Firefly/Serenity swearing in Chinese).

I think this issue should be common sense. Yes, Muslims are disproportionately violent in terms of religious conflict; you only need to recite every area that has religious conflict to realize Islam is almost always the common denominator. However, one also only needs to look at those places where Muslims co-exist peacefully with other religions to realize liberal democracy is the answer to resolving the conflicts.

Simple as that. Liberal democracy, peaceful Islam. Illiberal autocracy, violent extremist Islam. Yes, some violent Muslims exist in liberal democracies, but the vast majority get along in places like Israel and Indonesia, and the violent extremists in thos places always have their roots in illiberal autocracies (Saudi Arabia in particular).

Now, we can talk about whether being a warrior-founded ideology makes Islam intrinsically more violent, but that's really not a constructive or practical discussion to have. All religions have their faults. Let's just try to work with what we've got. And the best thing we can do for people of any religion is advance freedom and democracy.

The above hissed in response by: TallDave [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 8:09 PM

The following hissed in response by: RiverRat

Islam does mean submission, all my Muslim friends have verified this, but it is not evil or hateful. The five pillars represent values that are very comparable with christian or Judaic values.

This is all very true but is only applicable to those who accept the will of Allah. It is not true for those who reject the Allah of Mohammed's creation. For them, infidels, the choice is a poll tax payable by useful apostates or death by the sword.

Ask your friends if they're Sufis. Then I might believe them. Just remember they are also a minority sect often slaughtered by Sunnis and Shias alike.

The above hissed in response by: RiverRat [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 8:12 PM

The following hissed in response by: RiverRat

Simple as that. Liberal democracy, peaceful Islam. Illiberal autocracy, violent extremist Islam. Yes, some violent Muslims exist in liberal democracies, but the vast majority get along in places like Israel and Indonesia, and the violent extremists in thos places always have their roots in illiberal autocracies (Saudi Arabia in particular).

Now, we can talk about whether being a warrior-founded ideology makes Islam intrinsically more violent, but that's really not a constructive or practical discussion to have. All religions have their faults. Let's just try to work with what we've got. And the best thing we can do for people of any religion is advance freedom and democracy.

This is the heighth of idocy. I challenge you to name and justify one, just one, liberal Islamic democracy.... I'm waiting.

Liberal democracy requires tolerance. Islam, by Mohammed's own words, is intolerant.

Please enhance your knowledge before bloviating.

The above hissed in response by: RiverRat [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 8:24 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Thanos:

yes i said Muslim INVADERS, as it was Islam that began the violent invasions of mostly Christian neighboring countries

Putting on my history hat, I think you've missed a few steps. Yes, the Moslems took the "Holy Land" from the Christians. But how did the Christians get it?

Well, they got it from Rome when they Christianized the Roman empire. But how did Rome get it? Hm... you do know it was already considered the Holy Land before Jesus -- right?

The Israelites had that land before the Romans. But if we can believe the Jewish Bible (Old Testament, Tanakh), the Israelites took it from the Canaanites. God told them to because of the wickedness of the Canaanites (human sacrifice, whatever).

But from whom did the Canaanites take that land?

There really is no end to this series of questions, and no one people can claim ultimate moral right to any particular plot of dirt. Nobody "began" the invasions; there was always somebody there first -- and it's turtles, turtles, turtles all the way down.

Dafydd

The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 18, 2005 9:24 PM

The following hissed in response by: Clint

RiverRat-

*chuckle*

"Malevolent Islam" seems an awful lot like using a four-syllable word where a one-syllable one belongs. I think you mean "Bad Islam."

The above hissed in response by: Clint [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 19, 2005 12:10 AM

The following hissed in response by: Clint

My favorite sci-fi curse word: TANSTAAFL!

The above hissed in response by: Clint [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 19, 2005 12:14 AM

The following hissed in response by: matoko kusanagi

I dunno, TallDave, swearing in chinese is still swearing. I can swear fluently in french , and i know some good japanese cuss words. We should prolly stick to Nivenese, and Gallactican. ;-)

And RiverRat, Turkey is evolving to that standard. I agree with TallDave, and coincidentally, with George Bush. Democracy will speed up the evolution of Islam.

The above hissed in response by: matoko kusanagi [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 19, 2005 12:24 AM

The following hissed in response by: Clint

TallDave-

There are actually any number of places where religious violence has flared up without the involvement of any muslims. See Northern Ireland (Catholic v Protestant) or Sri Lanka (Buddhist v Hindu) for two clear examples. If you buy the argument (as I do) that Communism is a religion, the examples become legion.

RiverRat-

If I'm not mistaken, he meant that muslims living in liberal democracies are far less radicalized -- not that there are pure Islamic states that are liberal democracies (though an argument might be made for Turkey...). (Of course, I'd consider this evidence of my thesis that middle class folks support the status quo and 'getting along'.)

The above hissed in response by: Clint [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 19, 2005 12:29 AM

The following hissed in response by: matoko kusanagi

for the un-heinlein and non-niven..
TANSTAAFL--there ain't no such thing as a free lunch
Tanj--there ain't no justice

The above hissed in response by: matoko kusanagi [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 19, 2005 12:31 AM

The following hissed in response by: Clint

Thanos-

I won't pretend to know as much about the Koran as I do the Bible -- but if you cherry-pick your verses from the Bible you can find some pretty atrocious teachings in there, as well.

Leaving aside the glorious genocides of the old testament...
Matthew 10:34-36: Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn 'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her motherinlaw— a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.

The above hissed in response by: Clint [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 19, 2005 12:55 AM

The following hissed in response by: RiverRat

RiverRat-

*chuckle*

"Malevolent Islam" seems an awful lot like using a four-syllable word where a one-syllable one belongs. I think you mean "Bad Islam."

Heh! I only upped you one syllable. Mio malo! :)

The above hissed in response by: RiverRat [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 19, 2005 8:18 AM

The following hissed in response by: RiverRat

Main Entry: ma·lev·o·lent Pronunciation Guide Pronunciation: -lnt Function: adjective Etymology: Latin malivolent-, malivolens, malevolent-, malevolens, from male badly + volent-, volens, present participle of velle to will -- more at MAL-, WILL 1 : having, showing, or indicative of intense often vicious ill will : filled with or marked by deep-seated spite or rancor or hatred 2 : productive of harm or evil : HURTFUL, INJURIOUS - ma·lev·o·lent·ly adverb

Entry Word: malevolent
Function: adjective
Text: Synonyms MALICIOUS, bitchy, despiteful, evil, hateful, malign, malignant, spiteful, vicious, wicked
Related Word baleful, malefic, maleficent, sinister
Contrasted Words benign, benignant, kind, kindly
Antonyms benevolent

Bad willed? :-)

The above hissed in response by: RiverRat [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 19, 2005 8:28 AM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

I reject organized religion but not the possibility of a creator, albeit possibly insentient; at least as we understand sentience.

RiverRat,

We agree.

The Muslim-Arab-Islamic world (most of it) showed their buttocks right after the 911 Attacks. They have not tried to get along with Israel (most of them) for decades. They butcher, torture (i don't mean placing panties over a male's head), murder their own people, and forget what their Women go through. i won't even get into the '93 WTC Attack and the long list of other Attacks against Americans and American property prior to 911, because 911 was more than enough of a reason to hunt down, kill, toss from power, imprison, etcetera the Muslim-Arab-Islamic world's heroes like Saddam and Osama. If they haven't learned from what happened to Saddam and Osama, then this War needs to be cranked up some more...in my humble opinion. Libya and Pakistan seem to have wised up...Lebanon managed to break from much of Syria's control...Syria figures they are next, so they have been quietly/privately kissing up to us. Change ain't going to happen over-nite, but the Afghans just had another big election, and the Iraqis seem to be doing better with their constitution than the EU has, and in far less time.

'Thangs look good...so to speak,

Karmi

The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 19, 2005 12:17 PM

The following hissed in response by: matoko kusanagi

Dafydd, actually, there were 'moslem methodists'. Most likely many different sect, but i remember a sect called the faylasef. They subscribed to the charming belief that everyone had a duty to find their own unique path to Allah. If you were an astronomer, that was your path. If you were a camel drover, that was your path. Unfortunately they were wiped out by the stricter sects by the end of the 15th century.
Why were the faylasef unsuccessful at moderating their religion, while the lutherans and methodists and calvinists were successful at changing theirs?

The above hissed in response by: matoko kusanagi [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 19, 2005 9:15 PM

The following hissed in response by: firebunny

hi, i found a site with very nice
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The above hissed in response by: firebunny [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 18, 2006 8:16 AM

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