Moderate Makeover of an Extreme Religion

After reading some of the recent NRB posts about “Moderate Islam”, I had to chime in with a few thoughts I’ve had about the issue over the years.

Islam is teaching us about what it actually is through the behavior of its most consistent practitioners, forcing “Moderate Muslims” to distance themselves from their normatively immoderate religion and prophet. Not in any substantive way, but only by claiming that violence has nothing to do with their inherently violent religion. They’ve found that that’s good enough for those among us who want to believe the Big Lie, “Islam means peace”. I don’t know of any Muslims who refer to themselves as “Moderate Muslims.” One reason may be that they then might have to answer what exactly it is that they’re moderating about Islam. Insofar as most Muslims want to remain a part of Islam, they will stay silent about jihad because, as much as they would hate to admit it, they know they don’t have Islam on their side. In their personal rejection of violence, they necessarily see the jihadist’s as a reproach, because their reluctance to be consistent practitioners of Islam is an implicit criticism of Mohammad and the method by which he spread Islam: violent jihad. In the wake of an attack, I’ve seen one too many Muslims bypass the attacks and get right down to expressing a concern for the reputation of Islam or anticipating a backlash against them that never comes. And Muslims wonder why they’ve not won our hearts and minds.