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Posted by on Sep 7, 2014 in International, Religion, Terrorism | 22 comments

‘Moderate Islam’: Impotent, irrelevant? (Guest Voice)

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CHULA VISTA, California –Cultivating moderate Muslim voices is a mighty challenge—especially given the paucity of moderate Muslims in Western societies. John Kerry recently spoke a dinner honoring Shaarik Zafar’s inclusion into the Department of Homeland Security as a senior adviser. Here are some of the salient points that Kerry made in his speech:[icopyright one button toolbar]

• Let me be really clear as a starting point for today’s conversation: The real face of Islam is not what we saw yesterday, when the world bore witness again to the unfathomable brutality of ISIL terrorist murderers, when we saw Steven Sotloff, an American journalist who left home in Florida in order to tell the story of brave people in the Middle East – we saw him brutally taken from us in an act of medieval savagery by a coward hiding behind a mask.

• The real face of Islam is a peaceful religion based on the dignity of all human beings. It’s one where Muslim communities are leading the fight against poverty. It’s one where Muslim communities are providing basic healthcare and emergency assistance on the front lines of some of our most devastating humanitarian crises. And it is one where Muslim communities are advocating for universal human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the most basic freedom to practice one’s faith openly and freely. America’s faith communities, including American Muslims, are sources of strength for all of us. They’re an essential part of our national fabric, and we are committed to deepening our partnerships with them.

• Confronting climate change is, in the long run, one of the greatest challenges that we face, and you can see this duty or responsibility laid down in scriptures, clearly, beginning in Genesis. And Muslim-majority countries are among the most vulnerable. Our response to this challenge ought to be rooted in a sense of stewardship of Earth. And for me and for many of us here today, that responsibility comes from God. [1]

Moderate Islam is a loose construction of Islamic law, which ignores certain portions of it for the sake of modernity. The Prime Minister of Turkey seems to take umbrage with the term, “moderate Islam” and had these bold words to say, “These descriptions are very ugly, it is offensive and an insult to our religion. There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam and that’s it.”
One would suspect that Erdogan would probably consider the Islam of organizations such as CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) and its Western apologists as disingenuous.

So, this takes us to the substantive question we must ask regarding John Kerry’s speech: Is ISIS the real face of Islam?

Let us consider the facts: ISIS claims to have to anywhere between 80-100,000 people willing to fight for its beliefs. Their numbers could very easily grow exponentially in the next several years with their slick and sophisticated marketing. This is not a small cadre of thugs, it is part of a global jihad dedicated to conquering the Western world.

ISIS is seeking new fighters from Europe, Africa, North and South America and Asia to help expand their caliphate. This poses a far more serious threat than global warming and climate change.

The vast numbers of people behind ISIS practice their Islamic faith very seriously. Following in the footsteps of Mohammed, they grow their beards, shave their mustaches, pray five times a day, and show a willingness to die for their religion. To any one of us with a modicum of common sense, the ISIS followers behave like pious Muslims. Across the Middle Eastern world and Africa, groups like ISIS, al Qaeda, Boko Haram, al-Shabaab in Somalia, the Taliban all bear the same Islamic label.

Making believe that Islam is a peaceful religion is an illusion. If Islam has so many “moderates” why are they so impotent in stopping the spread of the radical global Jihad movement?

To use a philosophical analogy, the skeptic Epicurus once asked:

• Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
So, I must ask similar questions regarding “Moderate Islam.”

• Is Moderate Islam willing to prevent religious fanaticism perpetuated in its name, but is not able? Then Moderate Islam is impotent. If Moderate Islam is both able and willing to do something to prevent evil deeds that is perpetuated in its name, then why are such acts of atrocity still continuing to occur on a daily basis everywhere in the civilized world? If Moderate Islam is neither able or willing to combat the fanaticism of the global Jihadists, then why call them “Moderate Islam”?

The civilized world is appalled and dismayed by the Islamic countries that have done so little to prevent such a dangerous menace from growing.

Whenever they behead the kufar (non-believers), whether in the Middle East, London, or wherever, they are merely following the example of what Islam’s prophet Muhammad did to a Jewish tribe called Bani Quraiza mentioned in the Quaran Sura 47:4. There he stated, “‘When you meet the unbelievers and fight, smite their necks.’” Such are the decrees of Allah. This is what we are hearing in countries such as Norway, Denmark, and other European countries that have historically never had much of an interest in Middle Eastern affairs and its problems.

Yes, by the testimony of the Quran, ISIS behaves likes good Muslims—whether the moderates like what they are doing or not. Muhammad would be proud.

ISIS is not the only threat posed by Jihadist Islam. Iran and Hezbollah are just as dangerous—even now, as they aspire to make nuclear weapons along with a delivery system to threaten mainland America and Europe.

One of President Obama’s senior advisors to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a man named Muhammad Elibiary, who is an admirer of the Islamic teachings of Ayatollah Khomeini. Elibiary was invited as a guest speaker at a December 2004 conference in Dallas, titled “A Tribute to the Great Islamic Visionary,” which was held in honor of the late Ayatollah Khomeini. If Elibiary really opposed this Jihadist madman, why would he speak at conference honoring Khomeini’s legacy? Why would our President put such a man in such a position of power as a senior advisor in the DHS? Could it be that somebody is spiking the “Moderate Islam” community Kool-Aid for gullible Westerners?

Like Erdogan, the admirers of Khomeini categorically rejected the notion of Islam as a religion of peace. Khomeini made these words emphatically clear in his speeches:

• Those who know nothing of Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those who say this are witless. Islam says: ‘Kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all! Kill them, put them to the sword and scatter their armies’. . . Islam says: Whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword and in the shadow of the sword! People cannot be made obedient except with the sword! The sword is the key to paradise, which can be opened only for holy warriors! There are hundreds of other [Koranic] psalms and hadiths urging Muslims to value war and to fight. Does all that mean that Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war? I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim.’” [3]

While there are doctrinal differences between the Sunni and the Shiites, the one common thread that unites all global Jihadists is their goal to conquer the Western world.

Unfortunately, there are practically no “Moderate” Islamic leaders who are willing to do anything to stop the radicals from completely commandeering their religion.

Mr. Kerry, global warming is not the problem we ought to be concerned about at this present moment in history. We need to stop deluding ourselves of the obvious truth: Jihadist Islam is not a small cadre of fanatics. Its forces are legion and we must come up with a viable strategy to combat it, defeat it, and ultimately eradicate this religious plague from the earth.

Notes:
[1] http://www.state.gov/secretary/remarks/2014/09/231245.htm
[2] Elibary has often praised the late Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sayyid Qutb, whose ideas have define the modern jihadist movement – especially his call for violent jihad and for the purification of Islam from the forces of unbelief. See more at: http://pamelageller.com/2014/06/obamas-dhs-senior-dhs-adviser-mohamed-elibiary-inevitable-caliphate-returns.html/#sthash.BpIKSvx4.dpuf
[3] Ibn Waraq, Why I am not a Muslim (New York: Prometheus Books, 1995), pp. 12-13.

Rabbi Samuel is spiritual leader of Temple Beth Shalom in Chula Vista. He may be contacted via [email protected] This article has been republished from San Diego Jewish World, which is a member of the San Diego Online News Association.

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Copyright 2014 The Moderate Voice
  • sheknows

    Well written and thoughtful article, thank you Rabbi. Agreed.
    The core tenets of the religion itself teach that killing non believers is what Allah has commanded.
    While there are Muslims that remove certain passages or reinterpret them for modern times, the majority of them do not.
    Many “moderate” Islamists do not debate the teachings and therefore do not fight against this behavior. All they do is refuse to follow them to the letter. Sadly, I fear that is a very small minority who fight for peace.

    According to one ex-Muslim, Nonnie Darwish, most who disagree with the tenets of the faith are forced to renounce it because there are no mosques which are “reformed.”

  • JSpencer

    The longer I’m around the more I tend to view religion as one giant pain. If you want to lend your bigotry or hate-based cause some quasi legitimacy or kick it up all you need to do is throw some religious trappings around it and the fools (including dangerous fools) will come flocking. What is the lure of superstition in the modern age anyway? I don’t get it.

  • Marsman

    Interesting. There are 1.6 billion Muslims, and there are 100,000 members of ISIS; therefore, one can conclude that Islam is inherently violent.
    I arrived from Mars in late 1945. After reviewing the previous 30 years of European history, I reported back to Mars that western European were the most savage and brutal beings imaginable. Since then we Martians have camouflaged our civilization from you.
    Seriously, I fear that labeling and focusing on the most extreme members of any movement prevents the building of bridges to the people who actually can live with us.
    One more thing. Rabbi, in the last fifteen hundred years have Jews had more nations that allowed their residence under Islam or in the Christian world? My recollection is that until the last few hundred years we were banned in England, Germany, much of France. The people who planned and built Auschwitz had ” Gott mit Uns ” stitched on their belts and not something from the Quaran.

  • sheknows

    I agree that singling out one extremist group to generalize may be unfair, but that is what this article is designed to do.’ Talk about the extremists. Talk about the spreading threat, which if there were not any, we wouldn’t be planning any military action and journalists would not be beheaded nor innocent people be slaughtered.
    The Christian faith doesn’t preach to kill those who do not believe. The crazy people who followed it, did. Big difference.

  • dduck

    What JS and Mars said.

  • rudi

    lets compare how Jews are treated in Iran and Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
    Iran has a large population of Iranian Jews, the other two have NONE.
    http://www.al-bab.com/arab/background/jews.htm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_Jews
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tehran_Jewish_Committee

    Israel treats the Muslims with an open air prison. In Israel fanatical Jews won’t allow a Jewish/Muslim marriage.

    RISHON LEZION Israel (Reuters) – Israeli police on Sunday blocked more than 200 far-right Israeli protesters from rushing guests at a wedding of a Jewish woman and Muslim man as they shouted “death to the Arabs” in a sign of tensions stoked by the Gaza war.

    Several dozen police, including members of the force’s most elite units, formed human chains to keep the protesters from the wedding hall’s gates and chased after many who defied them. Four protesters were arrested, and there were no injuries.

    In the US moderate Muslims cooperate with Homeland Security.

  • JSpencer

    In the US moderate Muslims cooperate with Homeland Security.

    Well we don’t see that reported very often do we. The anti-Muslim rhetoric seems to hold sway across the board.

  • sheknows

    The point of this article of course has been missed by some.

    This isn’t about Jews. It is about a religion that preaches that death to non believers is sanctioned by Allah and is ok. Judaism does not do that. Christianity does not do that.
    It is about so called “moderate” Islam leaders who do nothing to stop the killing .

    If they are the “majority” of “peace loving Muslims…it should be no problem to over take the radicals and ban them from the region.
    So the question asked is…where ARE these” majority” peace loving Muslims and why aren’t THEY able to stop this never ending, centuries old, radicalism. ?

    I think it is a valid question and one which has nothing whatsoever to do with Jews.

  • rudi

    @JS
    Try a Google search on “US moderate Muslim” and the results is dominated by the likes of Peter King, Louie Golmert and Right wing media. These idiois need a villian, and olive skinned Mooslims fit their agenda.

    These two links repudiate the Peter KIng(IRA sympathizer) paranoia.
    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2011-03-09/news/ct-oped-0309-page-20110309_1_radicalization-muslim-americans-muslim-community
    http://sites.duke.edu/tcths/

    DespKurzman Report 2013ite Boston, Number of Muslim-American Terrorists Remains Low

    The TCTHS announces the fifth annual report on Muslim-American terrorism suspects and perpetrators written by Charlie Kurzman. “Despite concerns that the Boston Marathon bombing or the civil war in Syria might lead to an upsurge of violence in the United States, the number of Muslim-American terrorism plots remained low in 2013,” said the author of the report, Charles Kurzman, a professor of sociology at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. “Foreign terrorist organizations continued to have difficulty recruiting Muslim-American communities.”

    For the full report click here. These reports, and the data on which they are based, are available at http://kurzman.unc.edu/muslim-american-terrorism.

  • sheknows

    Googled moderate Muslim and found this from Nathan Lean, author of the book: The Islamophobia Industry: How the right manufactures fear of Muslims.

    ” Lean complains that “until proven good, or in this case ‘moderate,’ all Muslims are perceived as ‘bad,’ or potentially extreme.” The obvious response here, which Lean doesn’t admit, is that if Muslims are perceived that way, perhaps it might be the result not of anti-Muslim paranoia but of the rabidly violent resurgence of Islamic supremacism throughout the world today”.

    After all, he argues, “We certainly don’t spend our time searching out ‘moderate’ Christians or Jews.”
    That’s quite simply because we don’t have to.

  • Marsman

    She Knows:
    I pay more attention to what people do than what is written in their books since it has been my observation that peoples’ action are more often in variance with their ideals than not. By this standard, the last hundred years of history show a level of horrors in Europe that far exceeds the bloodiest dreams of the most murderous jihadis.
    The invited article is by a rabbi who, in my view, comes just short of delivering a Duck Dynasty diatribe (“kill em or convert em”). This Jew does not like it. This Jew thinks that for most of the last fifteen hundred years he would have been more welcome in Cairo than in London.
    More bridges, fewer bombs.

  • sheknows

    I understand your pov Marsman, and respect that. I have also read, ( there’s that dreaded word which somehow disqualifies me and nullifies my statement) that this Rabbi is not alone. I can quote you many who feel as he does regarding the IS threat. I don’t know about your experiences, but I will have to trust that these authors have also had experiences which are equally as valid.

    I am further not sure what your disagreement is here. Are you saying that because this man is a rabbi, his view of Islam is invalidated? If so..you will find many authored ex Muslims who absolutely agree with his assessment of this problem, as well as many non Muslims who have been subjected to their insanity.

    It is your contention that there are many more “moderate” Muslims, yet even Muslims are questioning…where are they?
    How come these radical groups keep emerging throughout the history of the region under various names to go for a single objective, killing anyone in their way.

    Ay any rate, whatever your issue is with this author in my opinion, doesn’t have anything to do with the question asked. Where are these
    world majority of moderate leaders to stop the spread of radical Islam? And why does it just keep coming back over and over again in different names?

    Good questions.

  • sheknows

    And btw marsman…THIS Jew has no problem accepting his opinion, because I do not view it as a “Jewish” viewpoint…I view it as an accurate assessment of the problem.
    ,” the last hundred years of history show a level of horrors in Europe that far exceeds the bloodiest dreams of the most murderous jihadis”

    For Jews in Europe that has been true. For the victims of Islamic radical extremists over the centuries, In Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Africa, Lebanon, Turkey, Pakistan, Syria etc….. I bet they don’t agree.

  • jdledell

    I think the biggest problem is the Rabbi, among millions of others, is looking at the issue of radical muslims is looking at the issue through a contemporary lens. It seems like at one time or another every religious or ethnic group has been bent to commit atrocities.
    1 – Jews did a really good job of wiping out the Cannanites. If you follow the teachings of Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, outlined in his book “The King’s Torah” as well as Rabbi Dov Lior at least some contemporary Jews think the same thing should happen to non-Jews.
    2 – Christians over the millenia have waged numerous wars and atocities all across Europe.
    3 – The Christian Crusades managed to kill tens of thousands in G-d’s name.
    4 – American Christians committed genocide against native Americans.
    5 – Turkish Muslims committed genocide against Armenians.
    6 – Eastern Orthodox Christians in Russia committed atrocities against many different types of peoples.
    7 – German Protestants and Catholics committed Genocide against Jews, Gypsies and the disabled.

    The list can go on and on but in all these instances, the people committing the atrocities thought they were justified because of some reason or another. The same is true of current muslims who feel justified because of slights or deeds committed by others. Like all other peoples, these feelings will pass in time. Meanwhile, we have to prevent them from committing atrocities as best we can.

  • rudi

    Right wing extremist have killed more Americans than home grown terrorist since 9-11. But this doesn’t play well with Hannity and Fox News.
    http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/14/opinion/bergen-sterman-kansas-shooting/

    In fact, since 9/11 extremists affiliated with a variety of far-right wing ideologies, including white supremacists, anti-abortion extremists and anti-government militants, have killed more people in the United States than have extremists motivated by al Qaeda’s ideology. According to a count by the New America Foundation, right wing extremists have killed 34 people in the United States for political reasons since 9/11. (The total includes the latest shootings in Kansas, which are being classified as a hate crime).

    These right Wing Nut jobs are Christians, therefore Christians are a violent religion.

  • dduck

    As Freud would say: sometimes a nut is just a nut.
    It’s just that some nuts are better organized and financed than others.
    AQ is still to be respected and ISIS will train many recruits with passports for Europe and the U.S.

  • The_Ohioan

    This rabbi doesn’t sound like any rabbi I have read about. Almost all of his facts are incorrect, his innuendo is suspect, and he seems to be misinformed about the seriousness of the current effects of climate change.

    If this is a comment that is not allowed, please delete it, but this type of misrepresentation is simply not up to TMV standards.

  • JSpencer

    Thanks rudi, Marsman, and jdledell, for the reality checks. The human propensity for turning plowshares into swords, whether in the name of religion, peace, security, nationalism, justice, or (insert excuse of choice here) is exhausting our potential as a species. It’s been our major failing down through the ages and will be the death of us all if we don’t evolve out of it one day.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/22/science/22chimp.html?_r=0

  • dduck

    Thanks, JS, I remember reading that article and especially that bonobos are peaceful. How to you say peace in bonobo?

  • sheknows

    T_O, this author has written several articles and printed here at TMV.

    “Jihadist Islam is not a small cadre of fanatics. Its forces are legion and we must come up with a viable strategy to combat it, defeat it, and ultimately eradicate this religious plague from the earth”

    This comment applies to Jihadist Islam…as in Al Nusra, IS, Muslim Brotherhood, Taliban, Al Quaeda, Hamas, Boko Haram, Abu Nidal, Al Jihad, Hezbollah, Al Gama’at, Armed Islamic Group also called GIA, HUM, AAIA, JEM ( army of Mohammed), LT ( army of the righteous), and many others. Many of these organizations have slaughtered thousands of innocents and attacked American and other western properties.
    These groups are why the US, NATO and some arab nations are doing something about it.
    This Rabbi isn’t saying anything that most of the world is saying. JIhadist Islam.. us what Obama, Kerry, Hagel, Cameron, NATO and this rabbi are talking about.

  • slamfu

    There is a pretty massive undercurrent of violence in Islam today, even if it is somewhat unfair to tar all Muslims with the same brush. Any country in the world that has a large Muslim population and weak govt is plagued with extremist violence, from North Africa, Middle East, Perisa, SE Asia. Even the ones with a strong govt and relative law and order, like Saudi Arabia, have some religious related policies that are considered massively backwards in terms of human rights, especially women’s rights. It’s kinda hard not to see all that and not judge. The Islamic “Church” for lack of a better word, is going through a period that seems very similar to Catholicism/Christianity in the Middle Ages. Sure, there are lots of people that might be following the peaceful parts of the book, but the guys in charge, the ones that matter, are following the violent parts that let vicious men basically do what they want in the name of God.

    Islam isn’t centrally organized like the Catholics, but the problem lies not with the book, or even the people who follow it, but the Institutional structure of the faith and those who lead it. Until that undergoes a massive change in perspective and what parts of their book they want to emphasize, there will be little movement in the amount of violence that results.

  • JSpencer

    How to you say peace in bonobo?

    I’m not sure but from what I’ve read about bonobos it probably has something to do with sex.

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