Symposium: The World’s Most Wanted: A “Moderate Islam”

In this special edition of Frontpage Symposium, we have invited four distinguished guests to discuss the question: Is there a moderate Islam? Our guests today are:

Timothy Furnish, a former U.S. Army Arabic interrogator, he is a consultant and author with a Ph.D. in Islamic History. He is currently working on a book on modern Muslim plans to resurrect the caliphate. His website, dedicated to Islamic eschatology, is

Tawfik Hamid, an Islamic thinker and reformer who is the author of Inside Jihad: Understanding and Confronting Radical Islam. A one-time Islamic extremist from Egypt, he was a member of Jemaah Islamiya, a terrorist Islamic organization, with Dr. Ayman Al-Zawahiri, who later became the second in command of al-Qaeda. He is currently a senior fellow and chairman of the study of Islamic radicalism at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies.

M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D. is the President and Founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD). A devout Muslim, he served 11 years as a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy. He is a nationally recognized expert in the contest of ideas against political Islam, American Islamist organizations, and the Muslim Brotherhood. He regularly briefs members of the House and Senate congressional anti-terror caucuses and has served as a guest lecturer on Islam to deploying officers at the Joint Forces Staff College.  Dr. Jasser was presented with the 2007 Director’s Community Leadership Award by the Phoenix office of the FBI and was recognized as a “Defender of the Home Front” by the Center for Security Policy. He recently narrated the documentary The Third Jihad, produced by PublicScope Films. His chapter, Americanism vs. Islamism is featured in the recently released book, The Other Muslims (Palgrave-Macmillan) edited by Zeyno Baran.


Robert Spencer, a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of ten books, eleven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book, The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran, is available now from Regnery Publishing, and he is coauthor (with Pamela Geller) of the forthcoming book The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America (Simon and Schuster).

FP: Timothy Furnish, Tawfik Hamid, Dr.  M. Zuhdi Jasser and Robert Spencer, welcome to Frontpage Symposium.

Dr. Furnish, let me begin with you. Robert Spencer recently entered a debate at NewsReal Blog where he argued that there is no moderate Islam. What is your perspective on his argument?

Furnish: I find myself in the curious (and somewhat uncomfortable) position of disagreeing with my friend Robert Spencer, for whom I have the utmost respect and with whom I almost always totally agree. However, on this issue of whether moderate Islam exists, I think Robert may be missing something.

He is exactly right that Sunni Islam–whence comes directly Salafism, Wahhabism and jihadism–promotes violence against non-Muslims in order to make Islam paramount over the entire planet.  I have no quarrel with that stance. But I would argue that this is largely because within this majority branch of Islam the only acceptable exegetical paradigm regarding the Qur’an is a literalist one: and of course when passages such as “behead the unbeliever” [Suras 47:3 and 8:12] are read literally the good Muslim had better reach for his sword–or be rightly accused of infidelity to Allah’s Word.

However, perhaps because Robert is so well-versed in the theology of Islam, as opposed to the historical record of how that religious theory has been acted out on the stage of history, he seems to overlook the key fact on the ground that certain minorities within Islam have developed a non-literalist, even allegorical, approach to reading the Qur’an. Foremost among these moderates are the Isma`ilis, the Sevener Shi`is, whose global head is the philanthropical Aga Khan.  Isma’ilis may number only in the tens of millions (out of the total Muslim community of some 1.3 billion, second only to Christianity’s 2+ billion), but they do exist and they define, for example, jihad not as killing or conquering unbelievers, but as economic development and charity work.

In general, all branches of Shi`ism (which makes up perhaps 15% of the world’s Muslims), including the Twelvers of Iran, Iraq and Lebanon, allow the practice of ijtihad, “independent theological-legal judgment”–which is decidedly not the case for Sunnism. And while this has allowed for the ayatollahs to come up with negative novelties such as vilayet-i faqih (Khomeini’s “rule of the jurisconsult”), it also leaves the door open to non-literal exegesis of the anachronistic passages of the Qur’an.

Even within Sunnism, many of the Sufi (Islamic mystic) orders are more akin to the Shi`i than the woodenly literalist Sunnis in their exegesis. (Yet I would not go as far as Stephen Schwartz, who in his book The Other Islam: Sufism and the Road to Global Harmony thinks Sufis are basically “Quakers with beards” and sees them as the antidote to jihadists.  This rosy view overlooks the historical facts of the many jihads led by Sufi shaykhs and fought by Sufi adherents over the centuries.)

Today, many Sufis are non-literalists and focus on the batini, “inner” or “esoteric” meaning of the Qur’anic verses rather than on the zahiri, “outward” or “exoteric”–i.e., literal–meaning as Bin Ladin and his ilk do.  Another sect of Islam that is rather moderate in its approach to the Qur’an is the Barelwi (or Barelvi) one in India and the U.K.

In fact, the recent 600-page “anti-terrorism” fatwa that received much media adoration was written by Muhammad Tahir al-Qadri, a Barelwi.  As I observe in the “Washington Times” article, al-Qadri’s adherence to what is essentially a sect of Islam makes it very problematic that his fatwa will have any major effect on the jihadists in the short term–but, over time, if enough sectarian Muslims keep condemning the purely literalist approach to Islam’s holy book, perhaps Islam might enter into its own much needed Enlightenment, or at least Reformation.  But it’s clear from these examples that moderate Islam, not just moderate Muslims, truly does exist–even if often in a minority, often persecuted, status.”

Spencer: In all this my friend Timothy Furnish, whose work I admire, is entirely correct. That is why I am always careful to say that there is no “mainstream” sect of Islam, or one that is generally recognized as orthodox by Muslim sects in general, that does not teach the necessity to make war against and subjugate unbelievers. But I am not sure that the existence of Muslims who are generally considered heretics and persecuted for their heresy, which often consists precisely of their rejection or reconstitution of the jihad doctrine, constitutes the existence of a “moderate Islam” upon which Westerners should place any hope. The likelihood that these groups are going to stop being persecuted minorities and eventually attain mainstream status without abjuring exactly the elements of their beliefs that make them appealing to Westerners is slim at best.

FP: Dr. Jasser?

Jasser: Jamie. Thank you for including me. Let me start by addressing the premise of your initial question to Dr. Furnish regarding his opinion on Robert Spencer’s assertion that, “there is no moderate Islam.”

In my experience, there is a significant distinction globally between “Islam” as a personal spiritual faith (a personal submission to God, if you will), and the “House of Islam” which more broadly includes the entire human corpus of Islamic scholarship, knowledge (ilm) and jurisprudence (shar’iah) as espoused by leading global Islamic jurists and thought leaders (a ‘submission’ to the House of Islam if you will). As a devout Muslim I believe in the former in my personal relationship with God, but as an anti-Islamist I reject any “submission” to the latter which is human. Certainly, academe is central to understanding and effectively reforming Islamic thought against salafism. But my identification with the Islamic faith as a Muslim in no way obligates me or any Muslim to drink the Kool-aid of the Islamists even if they do control most Muslim institutions globally.

For those trying to pigeon-hole my Islamic philosophy, I am a devout Muslim raised in my youth in a conservative, orthodox, Sunni Muslim family in a small town in Wisconsin. I am neither an ideological mutation nor was I born in a vacuum. My parents escaped the despotic fascist regime of Syria in the mid-1960’s seeking the liberty and freedom of America. My grandparents were also conservative Muslims who raised their children to have a strong moral character and ethical upbringing free of corruption and grounded in Islam but not political Islam. Those values as a force for good, under God, were transmitted down our familial generations. While the specifics of our faith arose out of the Sunni tradition, the overarching ideas included some diverse Islamic  influences ranging from Sufi to orthodox to Quranist to name a few. Significant diversity existed within our family as it did among many other intellectuals from Syria. But there was also agreement on core moral principles and liberty. These modernists, moderates, and liberals have been lost in the intellectual wasteland of the battle between the likes of the secular thugs of the Assads of the world and the radical Islamists of the Ikhwan.

To pigeon-hole many Muslims into one theological construct is misleading given the lack of any Islamic mandate for a “Church” which communicates or excommunicates Sunni members. Many of the sects Tim describes have this type of regimented circumscribed Islam with fealty to their leaders that gives the sect’s thought leaders better control on the central message. However, most Sunnis I know (non-Islamists) do not have such a fealty to any specific imam or school and are profoundly decentralized.

Now certainly the Wahhabis and Salafists of the world practice takfir (defining who is and who is not Muslim) in an effort to control “membership” and ideology in the faith community. However, we, as anti-Islamists reject takfir and will not give up the domain of Islam to Islamists.

The reasons for the pre-Enlightenment fossilization of thought in Muslim majority countries are many. They include a need for deep generational reform of theology (Islamist foundations of Islam), education (illiteracy and lack of western influence),  economics (the lack of free markets), politics (the absence of democratic principles of real liberty with control by monarchs, theocrats, and autocrats), and culture (an endemic suffocating tribalism).

Many devout Muslims, like most youth, establish our moral compass of life under God within our superego long before we had the knowledge or the skill to investigate scriptural Qur’anic or Hadith exegesis. Thus, the moral lens through which we interpret our scripture is long established before we could ever fall prey to the fascist radical Islamic interpretations. But many are not immune to the supremacism of Islamism. There is a dire need for moderates to reinterpret the Qur’an and Hadith and dismiss ideas or sira not commensurate with modernity. (See Part I, Part II, Part III and Part IV)

I use the same non-political, anti-Islamist construct of Islam I learned from my parents to teach my own children about our faith while preserving conservative values not in conflict with American law or loyalty. That ultimately was why we formed our American Islamic Forum for Democracy in 2003 dedicated to defeating the root cause of terrorism- political Islam.

Tim and Robert and others may view this as heresy or marginal thought in Islam. I would disagree, but also admit that it is not predominant among the thought leaders of Sunni Islam. So the crux of the question is who and what defines Islam – all Muslims or only the subset of Muslims who are clerics? I do believe that it is a majority if not a significant plurality of Muslims that reject political Islam. We do obviously have a lot of work to prove this assertion. Our ideas are harder to find than those of the Islamists—so yes, ‘Houston, we do have a problem.’

But, our anti-Islamist reform can only happen against political Islam from a bottom up (lay to cleric) approach rather than the top down (cleric to lay) approach which Tim and Robert appear to be seeking. History shows that other reformation movements in Europe occurred that way when combined with a political liberty movement. Again, attempting to pigeon-hole the Muhammad Al-Qadri’s of the world as a ‘sect’ does not help their movements and rather makes their fate sealed as marginal within the ‘House of Islam’.

The majority of the ulemaa (scholars) of the “House of Islam” are controlled by Islamists who use an authoritative shar’iah which is incompatible with the ideas of liberty and the separation of mosque and state. This is especially true for the hubs of central influence in Sunni thought in Saudi Arabia and at Al-Azhar in Egypt. Anti-Islamist Muslims do know and understand our faith. But we are in dire need of developing new platforms to get our voices heard.

An intellectual civil war within the House of Islam will be the only way to figure out which Islam and whose Islam will ultimately prevail. To dismiss all of “Islam” as immoderate leaves without a platform your greatest allies for freedom– devotional anti-Islamist Muslims who worship God. We are the only ones I believe, with a tangible viable solution that will achieve the defeat of supremacist, radical Islamism. We are the only ones with a viable treatment to the ideological disease.

Hamid: Thanks Jamie for organizing this symposium.

If we defined Islam in terms of what is being taught and promoted in mainstream Islamic books such the Tafseers and Fiqh, then Robert Spencer is absolutely correct is saying that moderate Islam does not exist. The problem is that this form of Islamic teaching is not counterbalanced by a theologically based peaceful interpretation of the religion. Until today, all main schools of jurisprudence in Islam accept violence in some way or another.

Dr. Jasser is correct is stating that many of these interpretations and jurisprudence books or Sharia are manmade. However, the reality is that this manmade version of the understanding of Islam is currently the most dominant one in the Muslim world. I agree with Dr. Jasser that there is a need for a reformation but I disagree with him that the reformation needs to occur from the bottom-up. Based on my experience within Islam, waiting for this “bottom-up” approach is likely to fail, as any small group of Muslims that starts the think differently will be considered by the majority and by leading authorities in the Muslim world as non-Muslims.

This is simply because denying some traditional ways of teachings is considered denying “Maaloom Mina AldeenBildarora’ (a fundamental belief in the faith) which make a Muslim an apostate (non-Muslim) for denying it. The change in my view needs to occur “Up-Bottom,” not the other way around. This can occur by exerting more pressure and criticism for the violent teachings that exist in mainstream theological Islam. Dr. Jasser’s view to have Islam without these authorities is very revolutionary and difficult or impractical to achieve.

I agree with Dr. Furnish that there are some elements of reform that already exist in the Muslim world; however, these elements of reform do not have a complete theological interpretation or jurisprudence that can stand against the current and dominant Salafi teaching within Islam.

My main point is that, what people generally mean as Islam (Tafseer, Hadith, Sira, Jurisprudence, Sharia) is certainly not peaceful. However, peaceful understanding of the religion is possible. Moderate Muslims such as Jasser and others do exist because they do not practice the traditional dominant theology and alternatively they have developed their own personal interpretations for the religion. Until these personal interpretations become the mainstream type of teaching within Islam, I have to agree with Robert Spencer that moderate Islam does not exist. I will only change his phrase to be “moderate Islam does not currently exist.”

Furnish: Robert Spencer makes a good point that many Muslim sectarians are considered “heretics” but he paints with an overbroad brush.  Not all Islamic sects are persecuted minorities: the Ibadis run Oman and constitute 70% of its population; the Alawis, while a minority, still run Syria; the Isma’ili minorities are certainly not persecuted in India, Tanzania or Britiain (although they are in Saudi Arabia—but who isn’t, besides Wahhabis?); and Sufis, while often at loggerheads with Wahhabis and Salafis, are popular and powerful in places like Senegal, Sudan and Indonesia.   And while the Islamic sects in toto are certainly a minority, somewhere around  7-8%  of the world’s Muslim population, that still amounts to perhaps 100 million people—twice that many if the Twelver Shi`is are included.  Luther certainly started with far fewer Christians, and yet he sparked a Reformation.

While I admire Dr. Jasser’s personal revival of Mu`tazilism (a rationalist Islamic ideology that was snuffed out in the 10th century AD), I fear his views are idiosyncratic within Sunni Islam—and my own research indicates that the closet analogs to what he preaches are found in those very sects whose degree of regimentation and cult-like devotion he somewhat overstates.  But even in those cases where a sect is at least partially predicated on charismatic leadership (the Isma’ilis; the Turkish Gülen movement; etc.), I would say that as long as the leader is telling his followers that jihad does NOT mean holy war—then that’s infinitely preferable to the “current and dominant Salafi teaching,” as Dr. Hamid so aptly puts it.

I agree with Dr. Hamid, regretfully, that Dr. Jasser’s hope for a grass-roots Islamic reformation from within Sunnism is very unlikely—another reason I favor putting our hope for such in sects. Dr. Jasser seems to forget that the Enlightenment could only take place after the Protestant Reformation had broken the monopoly of the Catholic hierarchy in Europe—and that the reformation of Christendom was in fact led by clerics (Luther, Calvin, Tyndale), NOT by layman. What Islam really needs right now are such reform-minded clerics, and these are found for the most part today among Islam’s sects, not its Sunni majority.

Spencer: There is a certain dancing-on-the-precipice feel to this entire symposium. Dr. Jasser rejects the contention that his views amount to “heresy or marginal thought in Islam,” but acknowledges that they are “not predominant among the thought leaders of Sunni Islam.” You can say that again – I would doubt that he would be able to name even one among the “thought leaders of Sunni Islam” who would accept that there is, as Dr. Jasser puts it, any “significant distinction globally between ‘Islam’ as a personal spiritual faith (a personal submission to God, if you will), and the ‘House of Islam’ which more broadly includes the entire human corpus of Islamic scholarship, knowledge (ilm) and jurisprudence (shar’iah) as espoused by leading global Islamic jurists and thought leaders (a ‘submission’ to the House of Islam if you will).” Indeed, he would be hard-pressed to find even one among those “thought leaders of Sunni Islam” who would not classify this as a heresy.

Dr. Hamid, in contrast to Dr. Jasser himself, notes correctly that interpretations of Islam such as Dr. Jasser’s are personal, idiosyncratic, and non-traditional – a fact that is all too often glossed over by his enthusiastic and well-heeled non-Muslim backers, who would prefer to pretend that he represents the dominant mainstream. Dr. Hamid is also quite correct that “Until these personal interpretations become the mainstream type of teaching within Islam, I have to agree with Robert Spencer that moderate Islam does not exist.” He remains optimistic, however, maintaining that “peaceful understanding of the religion is possible” and changing my phrase “moderate Islam does not exist” to “moderate Islam does not currently exist.”

I don’t claim to know the future, and history is full of events that would have been dismissed as impossible by people of previous centuries. I have never ruled out the possibility that some form of Islam could one day arise that teaches that Muslims must live together with non-Muslims as equals on an indefinite basis in a state that does not establish a religion. I have simply tried to be realistic about the prospects of such an entity.

As Dr. Hamid notes, denying certain Islamic teachings makes one an apostate in the eyes of nearly every mainstream Islamic authority around the world today, and apostasy can bring a sentence of death. It was only after the prospect of such a death sentence was removed in Reformation Europe that Luther, Calvin, Tyndale and the rest were able to gain large followings and influence. But the theological foundations for such a death sentence are much stronger in Islam than they ever were in Christianity. Will, then, it one day become possible for genuine and sincere Islamic reformers to try to win over Muslims to their point of view without fear of violent reprisal? Perhaps it is already happening in the West – witness Dr. Jasser’s health and prosperity, although I daresay his influence is far larger among non-Muslims seeking reassurance than it is among his coreligionists. In any case, the murder of Rashad Khalifa in Tucson, Arizona in the early 1990s stands as a cautionary notice that the execution of those deemed heretics and apostates can and does happen even here.

Dr. Furnish, meanwhile, makes the leap from the numerical dominance of various Islamic sects in various areas to the idea that they will become the vanguard of a Luther-like Reformation. His demographic data is undeniable; however, the idea that these groups will become the leaders of a movement to create a truly peaceful theological and legal construction of Islam is belied by his willingness to include the Twelver Shias among them. Twelver Shi’ism is, of course, the official religion of the Islamic Republic of Iran – and yet the mullahs of Tehran are hardly paragons of Islamic moderation. His inclusion of the Turkish Gulen movement is also troubling: Fethullah Gulen may not wish to lead a violent jihad, but does he want to impose Sharia upon Turkey? That is undeniable. And Sharia, with its draconian punishments and institutionalized denial of rights to women and non-Muslims, is hardly “moderate.”

In any case, while I hope that truly reform-minded clerics do gain wide influence, I am afraid that the more influence they gain, and the more genuine reform they advocate, the more likely it will become that they will be labeled heretics and persecuted. I would be glad to be proven wrong in this. But I don’t think I will be.

Jasser: While I reserve disagreement on a number of the historical analogies and pigeon-holing made here about Muslims and Islam, let me address in the space I have how I believe Muslims can move forward. Let me emphasize- forward. One of the differences often between historians (agents of the past) and innovators (agents of change) is that innovators use the tools and lessons of history to think out of the box and create and promote a new and often unpopular paradigm. Often new paradigms that spend years floundering can all of a sudden propel into dominance. Some of the lessons of history are essential, but innovators refuse to pattern themselves after any previous human mindset. Today’s Islam needs innovators.

Groundbreaking innovation starts with a meme which leads to a tipping point that creates a new platform for those that share revolutionary ideas. My own lifetime has been filled with  experiences with thousands of pietistic Muslims from almost every sect of Islam who reject political Islam. But obviously key elements necessary for a palpable Muslim liberty movement to counter Islamism are missing.

To look toward any one sect and pigeon-hole any single moderate Muslim’s modernism as a product of only that particular sect belies the diversity needed for a successful global movement against political Islam. Each sect will always have its own internecine biases about the other sect. That is not the obstacle. Looking forward we must find some overriding memes necessary to defeat pervasive Islamist collectivism. Sectarianism is always trumped by Islamism. So, looking forward, a meme of liberty can rise above political Islam and sectarianism for Muslims.

My bulwark against political Islam has always been m belief in our inalienable rights, freedom of speech, the Establishment clause, classical liberalism, and especially the separation of mosque and state. Once devotional Muslim youth believe in this, many will take these foundational ideas and mature into theologians who transform Islam away from political Islam.

Hamid misunderstands me. I agree, Islam will always certainly need to be grounded in its own sound theological scholarship, but that is a late stage not the first phase in modernization and reform.

Religious teachings of today are molded by the environment. It took Christendom 1789 years until a government led by Christians had a document which was protected by an Establishment Clause and the separation of Church and State. And even that brilliantly codified Constitution and Bill of Rights took centuries, a Civil War, and a civil rights movement to effectuate its core principles in a way that truly respected the human rights of all its citizens as the founding fathers intended.

At this time, modernization of Islamic theology can become viral. But sadly so can the scourge of pan-Islamism. A top-down change would surely fail, as it has, because there is little popular respect for innovation, individualism, or liberty among most of the products of oppressive Muslim run institutions around the world.

In fact, Tim’s reference to the ruling Alawite minority in Syria as somehow exemplifying the hope for the rights of Muslim minorities is very concerning. It disregards the toxic environment which has put political Islam into overdrive. The Assad regimes have been some of the most despotic barbaric regimes of the last century. The only example Hafez and his son Bashar Assad provide is how to systematically and generationally destroy a nation and its people. No modern anything can come from that environment let alone an enlightened Islam. Thugs like Assad, Saddam, Qaddafi, Mubarak and others use religion as a tool for oppression. They fuel political Islam when it suits them while murdering Islamists when they threaten them. The moderates are lost in the middle between the secular fascists and theocratic fascists. This battle has created an untenable foundation of corruption, tribalism, ignorance, and fear.

Look at the Green revolution of Iran or the Cedars Revolution of Lebanon- all millions strong.  It is easier to find a desire for reformist anti-Islamist movements in many Muslim majority nations like Egypt, Lebanon, and Iran where the population knows what happens when the Islamists get control. Yet their environment is missing the empowering sustenance of western liberty.

The solution forward must come from America’s safer laboratory. Many American Muslims understand how a nation can be free and pious without theological coercion from government. The seeds of change forward can be found in some scholars who are looking to the west for innovation within Islam. Just look at some of the recent work on secularism by Abdullahi Al-Na’im, Muhammad al-Ashmawy, Alija Izetbegovic, or also many of the Sufi imams mentioned already like Al-Qadri’s recent work. This is not a blanket endorsement of any one of them. But much of their writings do point forward not backward.

In this wired viral planet, no longer is an ideology like political Islam hermetically sealed in its own history and aquarium. While Robert, Tim, and Hamid look into the aquarium of “an Islam” for the Muslims they study, they ignore a broad swath of westernized Muslims who read their Qur’an, pray, fast, give charity, and supplicate devotionally to God in a purpose-driven patriotic life dedicated to liberty and Americanism who hold another Islam.

The obstacles to the predominance of modern Islam over political Islam are many– frequent death threats, blind corruptive tribalism, societal and financial power of Islamists, and Muslim illiteracy. This is not to mention the facilitation by western media and government of Islamists due to political correctness.

Change cannot be imposed upon a rotten foundation. Lasting modernization will be generational and must be built on the ground first with Muslim institutions based in a liberal education, free markets, and universal human rights.

Hamid: I agree with Dr. Furnish that Luther started with far fewer Christians, and yet he sparked a Reformation. The dynamics, however, of reformation are different between Islam and Christianity. The concept of killing apostates is not an integral part of the Gospel of Jesus. On the contrary, Redda Law that allow killing apostates is a fundamental part of the Hadith of prophet Mohamed. For reformation to happen in Islam, Muslims need first to abandon some of the Sahih (accurate) hadith. The dilemma is that while Muslims can stop Redda Law as it is not part of the Quran, denying a Sahih hadith makes a person an apostate according to the traditional teachings in Islam. The Muslims need to stop this catch 22 situation to allow for reformation to occur.

Separating the Mosque from the state in Islam as Dr. Jasser suggests is certainly considered a form of heresy according to the standard Islamic theology as refusing to implement some Islamic laws and replacing them with secular laws is considered “Kufr” (act that makes a person an Infidel) according to traditional understanding of this Quranic verse (Al-Ma’idah [5:44]). Reinterpretation of this verse is needed first to allow for Jasser’s view to work. This is certainly possible since the verse was talking about the Jews who refused to apply the Torah.

I agree with Robert Spencer that the current situation in the Muslim world and the historical and theological depth of the problem in Islamic teaching should not make any person very “optimistic”. However, the use of the Internet and the speed of communications that we witness today gives me some hope that a change in the Muslim world can happen.

I can see the view of Dr. Jasser that the theological stage should not be the first phase in modernization and reform, but I have a completely different view about this issue. Any trial for modernity in Islam will always face resistance because of the current theology. For example, you cannot teach equality of women while the teaching in Islam teaches that women are half of a man as a witness or that men can beat their women. Removing the obstacle first is fundamental for making the change or in other words changing the theology is pivotal to facilitate the process of modernity itself.

I also disagree with Jasser’s view that “A top-down change would surely fail”. Generally speaking, Muslims feel much more comfortable to accept a change in religious theology when it is approved by the leading Islamic authorities such as Al-Azhar University. Accordingly, “A top-down change” is, in my view, imperative for a reformation in Islam to occur. Some elements of reformation can still happen at the grass root level but their impact and effect will be minimal compared to the top-down change.

FP: Ok, last round and final thoughts gentlemen.

Furnish: Again, I agree with Mr. Spencer regarding the inherent violent strain of mainstream, historical Sunni Islam (which, I must stress, stems from a literal reading of the violent passages of the Qur’an) regarding not just apostates but non-Muslims in general;  however, to equate “mainstream” with existence per se is ahistorical.   And of course sometimes, even today, Islam’s apostates and heretics are executed—the plight of Ahmadis in Pakistan and Indonesia is a case in point. But such persecution has not even come close to wiping out that group, and they stand as a living rebuke to those who would employ Qur’anic teachings to do so.

Mr. Spencer finds ironic (if not contradictory) my adducing of the Twelver Shi`is as reform-minded, based on the neo-fundamentalism fervor regnant in Tehran since 1979.  However, vilayet-i faqih, the “rule of the [Shi`i] jurisprudent” devised by Khomeini, is by no means universally accepted even within Twelver Shi`ism; in fact, the modern world’s two most prominent Shi`i ayatollahs—Iran’s recently-deceased Montazeri, and Iraq’s al-Sistani—both are on record as opposing the Khomeinist system and regime.  The salient point is that Shi`ism, unlike Sunnism, allows for ijtihad—and thus contains at least the seeds of new approaches to the Qur’an and Hadith.  And Robert and I simply disagree about Gülen and his movement—I think his neo-Sufism is truly moderate, not a shari`ah Trojan Horse.

I will reiterate my respect and support for Dr. Jasser in his efforts to drag the Islamic world kicking and screaming into the 21st—or at least the 16th—century.  But I simply disagree that “sectarianism is always trumped by Islamism.”  That may largely be true for parts of the Arab world, but it’s certainly not the case in Africa, where sects and Sufi orders are often more respected and more legitimate than the Wahhabis, Salafis and jihadists. As to my adducing of the Alawis of Syria: I was not referring to the undeniably brutal, repressive al-Assad family regime that runs the country, but to the theological beliefs of the neo-Shi`i sect that truly is Alawism, the syncretistic (and borderline Christian) teachings of which are far afield from strict, shari`ah-based Sunnism. Just as the Khomeinist regime does not represent the totality of Twelver Shi`i thought, neither does the Alawi clique in Damascus speak for all Alawis.

I totally agree with my friend Zuhdi that “change cannot be imposed upon a rotten foundation.” Yet many Muslims, Sunni and sectarian, blanch at rebuilding Islam upon a Western, especially American, foundation—which is why I propose that working with, and drawing ideas from, the Shi`is (Zaydis and Isma’ilis, as well as Twelvers), the Sufis, the Barelwis, et al., might very well provide a sounder, Islamic foundation, after which the rest of the revamped Islamic domicile could be built with more Western materials.

Dr. Hamid is entirely correct (as was Robert) that the New Testament does not promote killing apostates, and that this made a Christian Reformation markedly easier than would be the case in Islam, wherein Hadiths considered Muhammadan sanction such killing.  And in fact, I don’t think Dr. Hamid goes far enough—not just the traditions of Islam, but the Qur’an itself, justifies and indeed mandates killing of “unbelievers, as most famously in Sura al-Tawbah [IX]:5: “when the sacred months have passed, kill the unbelievers/idolaters wherever you find them…capture, besiege, ambush them….”  But, at the risk of redundancy, the problem here is reading the text literally, as mandated in Sunnism—and as NOT adhered to by, for a prominent example, the Isma’ilis.

Finally, I agree with Dr. Hamid, contra Dr. Jassser, that a top-down reforming of Islamic teachings could possibly work better than a grass-roots one.  Yet I disagree, based on a close reading of Islamic history, that this imposed (new) paradigm should be a Westernized, desacralized, frankly idiosyncratic “Sunnism Lite”—which would not only taste bad to most Muslims outside America, it would certainly be less filling than reformist ideas with legitimate Islamic ingredients, as is certainly the case with the Isma’ilis, Barelwis, Ibadis and Haqqani Sufis.

Spencer: I find the disagreements among the panel interesting. Dr. Jasser thinks “a top-down change would surely fail,” while Dr. Hamid believes that a “top-down change” is “imperative for a reformation in Islam.”

Dr. Jasser finds “concerning” Dr. Furnish’s “reference to the ruling Alawite minority in Syria as somehow exemplifying the hope for the rights of Muslim minorities.” Dr. Furnish defends his including the Twelver Shia as among the “reform-minded” in Islam, pointing to their acceptance of the concept of ijtihad, as opposed to the Sunnis who generally reject it. But the Twelver Shia, like the other sects mentioned in the course of this discussion, have been around for over a thousand years and yet with all that time to practice ijtihad they have not managed to come up with a version of Islam that is not supremacist and does not teach that unbelievers must be subjugated as inferiors under the rule of Islamic law.

This is not to say that nothing can happen except what has happened before. Islamic reform certainly could happen, and Dr. Hamid’s point about modern communications media making it more likely than ever before is well taken. But the disagreements among the most optimistic of the present panelists shows that Islamic reform circa 2010 remains largely an abstraction, a postulate, an intellectual construct. No one has ever actually seen it, and so everyone imagines it in a different way. Islam has been around for 1,400 years, and yet there is still no mainstream sect or school of jurisprudence that teaches the separation of mosque and state, the equality of rights of women with men, the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, or the equality of rights of unbelievers with believers.

Will such an Islam ultimately appear? I would never say that something could not happen; history is full of too many surprises for that. But so much of American foreign and domestic policy is based on the assumption that such an Islam not only will appear, but already exists, and is the Islam of the broad majority of Muslims. The consequences of investing so much in this erroneous assumption grow more apparent with every Nidal Hasan and Faisal Shahzad.

Dr. Jasser points optimistically to “a broad swath of westernized Muslims who read their Qur’an, pray, fast, give charity, and supplicate devotionally to God in a purpose-driven patriotic life dedicated to liberty and Americanism.” Great – but insofar as such Muslims actually reject the material in the Qur’an and Sunnah that forms the basis for political, supremacist, and violent Islam, they will find themselves under threat. It was again Dr. Jasser himself who summed this up: “The obstacles to the predominance of modern Islam over political Islam are many– frequent death threats, blind corruptive tribalism, societal and financial power of Islamists, and Muslim illiteracy.”

I wish that weren’t the case. I hope that some genuine Islamic reform ultimately succeeds. But let’s not kid ourselves as to its prospects, or about how much non-Muslims can or should actually depend upon it.

Jasser: In the end, Robert Spencer here seems to agree with me regarding the major obstacles I listed to genuine reform. Yet, he concludes a bit dismissively, “let’s not kid ourselves as to its prospects, or about how much non-Muslims can or should actually depend on it.” I can somewhat understand the sense of frustration- since that is my daily battle against the forces of political Islam. However, without a coordinated strategy to overcoming those obstacles to genuine Islamic reform, then what are we left to do as a nation? How do we, moving forward, sustain security against the growing militant Islamist threat? Is that not the purpose of this discourse? These discussions matter little in the absence of a strategy.

I do certainly part with Robert on many of his ideas (not covered in this symposium) with regards to accounts of the morality of the Prophet Muhammad and many conclusions about the faith, the Qur’an, and spiritual path of Islam I and my family have chosen to embrace.  However, ultimately, my deeper more relevant quarrel, is with my own coreligionists—and some of their ubiquitous Muslim sources that provide supremacist Islamist narratives.

I do believe as most Americans do, that all of us agree on the goal which is the intellectual neutralization of the supremacist agenda of Islamists and their political Islam. Simple kinetic neutralization alone against militants will never be enough. My strategy, our strategy, at the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) is transparent and built upon a need forward for a liberty movement by devotional Muslims within Islam against Islamism. We must have a positive outlook for the victory of liberty rather than a pessimistic one basically based in a narrative of an impending global clash between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Even pessimists need to have a strategy. Disagreements on history matter a lot less than a discussion on strategy and where we think our nation and counter-radicalization work should head. In fact there are strong indications that the pessimistic narrative is fodder for radical Islamists and helps Islamists attract impressionable youth who want to believe that America is at war with Islam and Muslims. Rather, I believe the ideologies we promote at AIFD to be the type that ultimately can drive Muslim youth away from Islamism toward a modern Islam rooted in American nationalism and Constitutionalism toward a victory for freedom.

We will also need to breakdown walls of deep denial in the west rooted in political correctness if Muslims are going to get the long overdue major nudges toward modernity and reform. But, then what? Does Tim Furnish want us to believe that some of the more modernized minority sects or those more amenable to modernization will win out in the war of ideas? How would that happen and from which sect or sects? Does Dr. Hamid want us to be confident that there will be a post-modern imam or scholar who will arise to marginalize political Islam? How will that transpire in the current environment?

I do hope readers leave here, however, understanding that not only does the solution need to come from devout Muslims within the “House of Islam”, but we all desperately need to develop a coherent, cooridinated, and constructive domestic and international strategy to defeat political Islam- no different than we did in the Cold War against the global spread of communism. Therefore, it stands to reason that all intellectuals in the west should do whatever they can to facilitate the authentic and moderate Muslim allies of the United States who are working tirelessly to break down those obstacles.

That makes a lot more sense than sitting back and watching, like a car accident, the marginalization or demise of genuine, credible, and devotional Muslim reformists. Dr. Hamid and I agree on some but do disagree as to whether the reform will begin from the top or the grass roots. I have no faith at all in those “leading” inherently corrupt institutions like Al-Azhar University in Cairo or the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ever completely purging themselves of their deep rooted intellectual and economic foundations in political Islam and salafism. The only solution I see lies in building new honest Muslim institutions founded in genuine classically liberal academics, free markets, and morally sound Islamic teachings. This reform will only be authentic if it remains separated from government and integration into national legal systems (shar’iah). Thus, the primary protection for Muslims against Islamist supremacism is a belief and enforcement of the same ideas that created the Establishment Clause of our Constitution. This new paradigm or meme –the separation of mosque and state– will need generational change just as the Muslim Brotherhood has spread its ideas in the last century. It is time for the ideas of liberty to take the offense! And we can do this neither alone, nor with those who firmly believe that there can be no modern Islam.

I and my family and many other Muslims have lived and believe in an Islam and modernization of the message of the Prophet Muhammad that is not in conflict with our oath to the U.S. Constitution. I believe that the only winning strategy is to develop those ideas of liberty within an Islamic consciousness through the separation of mosque and state – our Muslim Liberty Project. This project is the Muslim counter-narrative, the offensive for the ideas of liberty and against the ideas of the Brotherhood Project. While I may be proven wrong, and I have absorbed significant critique of my own lifetime of understanding of Islamic history, I do not believe I have heard here any other convincing alternative winning strategies in the long term against political Islam. After the critique of my vision or anyone’s vision, how do we move forward? That’s what we are doing every day. How are you providing alternative visions that can neutralize the ideas that threaten our security?

Hamid: It is good that Furnish mentioned the Ahmadeia example as the situation of Ahmadeia in the Muslim world illustrates the fact that one of the major problems that the Muslim world faces is that it cannot tolerate any new or different interpretations of its religious texts. This represents a major obstacle for reformation. Teaching the Muslim world the concept of tolerance to other views is vital to assist the reformation of Islam.

The verse that Furnish used to indicate that the Quran supports killing Apostates is not traditionally used to justify killing apostates. In most approved Tafseers and Interpretations the rule of killing apostates is based on the Hadith rather than the Quran. Recently, some Salafists tried to use this verse to justify killing apostates mainly to prove that the Quranic groups – who disagree with killing the apostates – are wrong. Traditionally, Redda Law is based only on the Sunna.

I may only partially agree with Furnish that in some areas in Africa, Sufi orders are often more respected and more legitimate than the Wahhabis, Salafis and jihadists. However, we have to admit that Salafies are gaining ground, e.g. in Somalia and Sharia-controlled parts of Nigeria. This is partially due to the lack of strong theological foundations for many of the Sufi practices and the tremendous support of Salafism by the wealthy Wahhabists.

I support the view of Mr. Spencer rather than Furnish that the Twelver Shi`is are not truly reform-minded – as their belief system still accepts the violent edicts of Sharia. However, I can say that this particular group has more potential to reform than Sunnis as they still allow Ijtihad.

I also agree with Mr. Spencer that the current situation of Islam is not very promising. Removing the obstacles to reformation such as lack of the separation of mosque and state, inequality of rights of women with men, religiously based suppression on the freedom of speech, lack of the equality of rights of unbelievers with believers may mean for some the end of Islam.  Despite this I still see hope that Non Literal teaching of Islam can make a real reformation within Islam.

The efforts of Dr. Jasser in American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) to promote a liberty movement by devotional Muslims within Islam against Islamism must be saluted. The concept is great and I will add only that giving a strong theological base to the views of this organization will be very helpful. Asking Muslims to separate between Mosque and Church and adopt secularism while traditional Islamic text teaches the opposite is a major obstacle to the progress of these secular views. Giving a theological base for secularism within Islam is needed.

FP: Timothy Furnish, Tawfik Hamid, Dr.  M. Zuhdi Jasser and Robert Spencer, thank you for joining Frontpage Symposium.

  • joeblough


    A long thick read but worth every minute.


  • Alexander Gofen

    Isn't it a lunacy all these attempts to find a hint of possibility for Islam to abandon its genuine koranic goals of global conquest?! (The goals explicitly mentioned many times!) After all, books per se like Main Kampf, or opuses of Marx/Lenin were written in much softer tones. These books could rest forgotten in a dust bin of history, had it not happened otherwise just within one century.

    What does matter is how these 1.3 billion of existing in real life Moslems understand koran and act upon it for more than one millenium! And what an unprecedented influx of oil money now feeds their ambitions:

    It is their numbers, their dominating mind set, and their money – the physical reality which matters: not futile attempts of soft re-interpretation of koran in order to replace Islam with Islam-Lite. It is this physical reality that makes the global war imminent.

    Currently the West must rid of Islam at least within. If there was just one thing that absolutely does not belong in America, it is Islam.

    • Stephen D.

      A great read Dr. Glazov. Alexander, it appears you didn't catch John Brennan on the televison last night. He explained that the problem isn't Islam. It isn't even Jihad (he explained that jihad is a holy undertaking). The problem then is merely one of interpretation. We've had it all wrong don't you know. Jihad is to be embraced. Islam is good. Our approach to this is part of the problem. WE become the problem. We are our own worst enemy. See, WE are the true "misunderstanders" of Islam. Hey, with friends like this in the White House, who needs enemies?

    • tariq

      My dear Alexander Gofen,
      You are absolutely correct and many Americans are in total agreement with you.
      Robert Spencer sees this danger while the others try to paint some elaborate mystery of Islam but in a small part or of the whole Islam is Islam. If there was such a thing as a moderate Muslim here in the U.S. it would be an unlearned Muslim and we all know that as Islam's numbers grow here in the U.S., the Imam's and the Muslim purists would set these so called moderates straight. Any way you look at it Islam at some point would try to dominate the U.S. if allowed to grow. In my opinion moderate Islam is a Taqiyya tactic in our acceptance of Islam here in the U.S. Very very clever indeed. Please scheck out this excerpt from Dr. Peter Hammond's book: Slavery, Terrorism and Islam: The Historical Roots and Contemporary Threat, to see just how easy Islam fools a host country that it is a peaceful religion then while their numbers grow they become more and more aggressive. Concise and must reading.

  • tarleton

    Islam reformed is Islam no more…..Islam is to religion , what Nazism was to race

    How many Moslems around the world think OBL is a hero and that the US deserved 9/11 ?…..virtually all of them

    Islam is 600 years younger than Christianity and that's about how far behind they are….Islam is Christianities immature and malignant little brother…..a criminal deviant that has failed to ''grow up and mature'', in a state of arrested development….prisons are filled with people who have failed to grow up ….Islam is the religious version of it ….a gang of medieval HOODLUMS….they are in fact, medieval man in the post modern world….fanatical , hysterical , irrational , emotionaly immature and in love with death….RELIGIOUS PSYCHOPATHS

  • IceStar

    I applaud Mr. Jasser's attempts to reform Islam, I wish him and all with him the best.

    Having said that…

    There are many religions out there. Some better than others. Perhaps if Muslims were to learn about other faiths, if they were exposed to the works of Joseph Campbell, they might decide that Islam, with all it's warts is inferior and they will stop believing and leave it.

    The Reformation of Christianity wasn't changing the teachings of Jesus, those haven't changed. Martin Luther condemned the politically powerful and wealthy hierarchy of the RCC who were selling salvation and living lives that contradicted the Bible.

    He essentially challenged the establishment and once the Bible was printed in the language of the people, and Mass was said in the language of the people the Catholic Church was "reformed".

    The problem I see with Islam is that Mohamed was violent. He had his critics executed, he spread his ideology by the sword, the list can go on. Mohamed is a polar opposite to Jesus Christ in teaching and behavior.

    The Reformation occurred in the application of Christian teaching and placing the accountability of the human soul onto the individual, and removing the political power of the Pope, priests etc. It also put the example and teaching of Jesus Christ to the forefront, rather than Church tradition.

    I just don't see how such a thing can happen with the teachings of Islam. There is no similar foundation to build upon. If we look to the founders of each religion Christianity vs Islam we see incredibly different men, teachings and followers.

    • tarleton

      Your views on the Reformation and the lack of reformation of islam are quite accurate , but you ruined it by writing that the moslems should read joseph Campbell…as if they would be broad minded enough…AS IF!

    • Kim Bruce

      Well spoken "Ice Star" Mohammads teachings are in direct conflict with Christ.

      I wrote a reply to an article that Dr. Jasser wrote for Family Security Matters. For some reason or another it was banned.

  • Andres de Alamaya

    Alexander Gofen wrapped it up five hours ago. Islam does not belong in America.

  • Kim Bruce

    My banned FSM comment read thus:

    This article is certainly refreshing, coming from an American Muslim who declares that he is an American first and a Muslim second.
    However, Dr. Jasser, you are still a Muslim and I wonder if you would still declare "American first" if Islamic sharia law did take over the U.S. Constitution?

    Would you jeopardize your wife and children's lives and your own by defying Islamic law in favor of the U.S. Constitution? Alternatively, would you openly submit to Allah and the prophet Mohammad (pbuh) in public?

    • WildJew

      What is FSM?

  • Kim Bruce

    Banned comment cont'd.

    It is written in the Qur'an:
    "Fight and kill the disbelievers wherever you find them, take them captive, harass them, lie in wait and ambush them using every stratagem of war." Qur'an:9:5,
    and of apostates and hypocrites to Islam of which, I believe, you would be classified: "O Believers! Answer Allah and (His) Messenger when he calls you to that which will give you life [martyrdom]…. Fear the affliction and trial that awaits those who do not obey. Allah is severe." Qur'an 8:24
    Read that verse in the Qur’an again… "Fear the affliction and trial that awaits those who do not obey." Dr. Jasser, will you obey when you are called? Are you not a good, practicing Muslim?

  • Kim Bruce

    Banned comment cont'd.

    Moreover, about war against the Infidels, (That is us.): "Believers, obey Allah, and obey the Messenger. Do not falter; become faint-hearted, or weak-kneed, crying for peace." Qur'an 47:33
    Are you weak-kneed. Are you not crying for peace? This would go against the Messenger’s teachings.

    On obedience to the President of the United States Mohammad said; "Allah's Apostle said, 'You should listen to and obey your ruler even if he is a black African slave whose head looks like a raisin.'" Bukhari: V9B89N256.
    Are obedient to the President of the U.S.? Are you as prejudiced as Mohammad would like you to be? After all, is not a Muslim man’s goal in life to emulate Mohammad, the perfect image of what a Muslim should be?

  • Kim Bruce

    Banned comment cont'd.

    Are you truly a man of Islamic faith? Will you reject Islam outright? Will you reject it today?
    "If anyone contradicts or opposes the Messenger [not Allah] after guidance has been conveyed to him, and follows a path other than the way, we shall burn him in Hell!" Qur'an 4:115

    Dr. Jasser, please do not get me wrong. I am not criticizing you for you attempts to turn Muslims into integrated American citizens but you are beating a dead horse. The tenets of Islam simply do not mix with the American way of life as defined in its Constitution. Islam is what Islam is. It is written in Islamic books that devout Muslims read every day. I admire you for your tenacity on this subject but your stand against an evil ideology that you still subscribe to simply doesn’t make sense to me. It is akin to mixing oil and water.

  • DosBruski

    What always amazes me about this type of discussion is that the root-core of the topic is spiritual/supernatural but the discussions give no evidence that the participants acknowledge the spiritual, supernaturality of their topic.

    The real essence of the conflict centers around the fact that 2000 years ago God Incarnate walked and talked in the streets of old Jerusalem. In that walk and in his talk and by the actions he performed Jesus of Nazareth instituted the beginning of a fundamental upgrade in the fallen state of mankind's being. The upgrade is being effected according to an OT prophecy given aforetime by the one who incarnated Himself in the womb of Mary: "Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit says the LORD of hosts." (Zechariah 4)

    Only God and God Alone knows how many living Souls today accept these facts as the spiritual/supernatural facts of the matter. According to a general census made by the incarnate Christ Himself: "Many are called, few are chosen; not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit says the LORD of hosts." The origin of mankind is spiritual and, believe it or not, it will be to that Origin mankind returns; some for good, some for evil. The spiritual power of choice is a strong power.

  • Bindalen

    Of cooourse there is a moderate Islam, just as there was a moderate Stalinism and a moderate SS who let their prisoners starve to death by themselves instead of harassing and killing them. Of cooooourse!!!

  • BS1977

    Many look forward to the day when most religions are in history books, or long forgotten….when humans will no longer need this imposition by men in their relationshiop with God, Spirit, Universe……when Christ and Buddha are one and same…churches, synagogues, temples, mosques all will be irrelevant when people have God within their own souls I like what the Dalai Lama said, "My religion is kindness" This is what all religion could be….the end of the rage, the craziness and hyped up hatred and sick emotions of stampeding mobs.

  • LIbby

    Great article!

    The key observation that Islamic reformation is so difficult because of the death penalty for apostates.

    Imagine if the US Constitution had as Article 1: "Anybody that tries to amend this Constitution, kill him." It would still be the original 18th Century document — white and male.

    Further, there is no centralized authority — no Pope or Primate or "President of the Church" that can change directions via infallibility or revelation (true "top-down" change).

    Moderating Islam is a very difficult problem to solve.

  • USMCSniper

    Robert Tracinski Understands Well: Islam is the driving force behind every major conflict in the Middle East–and, by one calculation, it is behind about half of the world's armed conflicts, from Algeria to the Philippines. The latest Palestinian intifada was sparked by incendiary anti-Jewish speeches by Muslim clerics in Palestinian mosques. And when Iranian protesters chant "Death to America," they do it after similar sermons at their own mosques.

    The evils of dogmatism and religious tyranny are endemic to Islamic culture–and our evasion of this fact is making a mockery of the War on Terrorism. Consider the demands to halt the Afghan campaign during the holy month of Ramadan–an attempt to make our leaders obey the decrees of their Mullahs. Or look at our shameful betrayal of Israel, an open attempt to sacrifice the Jews to appease the religious hatred of the Muslims. And worse, our refusal to recognize Islam as the enemy is preventing us from waging a wider war against all Islamic terrorist states.

    If we want to win this war, we must begin by recognizing that it is a war against Islam

  • WildJew

    I am only part way through this piece. I wanted to comment briefly on one of Dr. Jasser's points.

    Dr. Jasser wrote: "I do certainly part with Robert on many of his ideas (not covered in this symposium) with regards to accounts of the morality of the Prophet Muhammad and many conclusions about the faith…." etc.

    For me, the morality of the prophet is not so much the issue, though it is indeed an issue. The issue for me is the fact that the Qur'an,as well as the Hadith, represent Allah sanctioning (or sanctifying) questionable, even immoral behavior on the part of his prophet.

    Many (most or all) prophets, kings and servants of God in the Hebrew Bible sinned; often egregiously so. King David comes to mind in his committing adultery with Uriah's wife (Bathsheba), having Uriah placed on the front lines of the battle so that he would be murdered. The prophet Nathan told David what he did was utterly evil in God's eyes. Nathan told David how God would deal with his sin, yet God did not take David's life.

    Abraham (Avram), in an act of disobedience and faithlessness, took his concubine (Hagar) and lay with her. Moses often failed to believe God. Yet in all these acts of faithlessness, the God of the Bible neither indulged, nor sanctioned the sins or the acts of faithlessness of His servants; unlike Allah his prophet Muhammad. That is what is disconcerting to me and to others.

  • Tanstaafl

    I am reminded of George Orwell's criticism of Aldous Huxley's attitudes prior to World War II. "It is easy to peace pacifism," he remarked. "when you are protected by the guns of the Americans."

    Both Orwell and Huxley are writers that I admire, but for different reasons. In this case, Orwell is right.

    It is far too easy for "reform" minded Muslims to discuss liberal elements in the ummah and whether Twelvers are more liberal than Sunnis and how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, while "protected by the guns of the Americans". It is obvious that this conversation could have never occurred in a country ruled by Sharia or with a population that has a a Muslim majority. I even have my doubts about this level of Islamic "heresy" being openly discussed in Europe or India. For all the "sound and fury" Mr. Spencer's co-panelists exhibit, reform cannot even be discussed amongst those who should carry it out – the ummah and their Sharia-approved despots.

    If there is a "moderate" Islam, where is the "moderate" Qur'an that would support such a faith? Yes, there may be sects that don't kill infidels on sight but Islam, viewed through the prism of history, is a monolithic structure of murder and conquest. In the past 1400 years, while there may have been efforts, no one has been able to "reform" Islam. No one has been able to stop the jihad, whether they are believer or infidel. The Jihad was the major accomplishment of Mohammed and it still exists today, 1400 years later. To say that the history of Jihad and the history of Islam are one and the same, is to simply report the truth.

    The major criticism of Dr. Spencer seems to be that he is too pessimistic. Sort of a glass-half-empty vs. glass-half-full kind of contention. I have a feeling that those of us in the West have the glass that has water in it, whilst the "reformers" of Islam have a glass with some form of Kool-Aid in it. We cannot simply wish the crisis of Islam away as if it were some sort of bad dream. Islam must be confronted and confined. It cannot continue to murder, rape and loot it's way across the planet. Maybe it will be changed, but the rest of the world is within it's rights to quarantine Islam until it becomes a actual religion and moves away from the heritage of a narcissistic desert raider with a taste for bloodshed, revenge, torture and pedophilia.

    • Alexander Gofen

      "We cannot simply wish the crisis of Islam away as if it were some sort of bad dream. Islam must be confronted and confined."

      Exactly! It must be confronted and confined! See the scope of what must be confronted and confined:

  • Pervaiz

    Modern Islam exist in the teacing of Quran in modern way where God has no power to interferance in human's life. If we give God absolute power then God has some responsibulities as well and God is not aware of his/her responsibulites.
    Laws of Nature are laws of God. Quran teaces us and to obey the laws of God and so all developments, there is no punishments and prayers in Quran. No abadaat and no place of Shariha or Hadeeses. Actuely Hadesses confused the meaning of Quran and people adpted man made law and forgot what is the Message of Qura, Bible and other religios scriptures.
    We can easily set modern rules from Quran. There was no research work done fromm last 1000 years. Now the modern meaning of Quran coming and they are all logical and easy to adopt. Quran has all potensial to be modern and if we adopt these rules, no conflict with science and modernaty other wise triditional Islam is full of hate and inhuman acts.
    Can we say Goodbye to God?
    Relevance of Quran in 21th Century

    • Tanstaafl

      I don't mean to be obtuse, but …………. HUH?


      If only the Qur'an could be that clear…..

  • Stephan

    Muslims have been bombing and killing civilians in massive numbers for some time. Its almost daily that I hear about some innocent civilians, usually Muslims being blown to bits by some other Muslim. You would think they would tire of the extremism. But I digress….

    The problem is the definition of Muslim extremist. If you look at Islamic nations, they have some fairly extreme laws that run in complete opposition to the beliefs found in the U.S. constitution: legalized rape, state sponsored sexism, conversion to another religion a crime, lack of freedom of expression, child brides, etc.. These long-standing laws exist and are supported in almost every Islamic nation. To me, and a great many other non-believers, this shows that the extremist are basically everyday, ordinary Muslims. After 9-11, I saw thousands of ordinary Muslims celebrating in the street, but I won't even get into that.

    Bottom line, either your idea of "extreme" is completely different from that of a non-believer, or you are all slaves to the extremists, who apparently have complete control of your governments. Which is it?

    Muslims can exist peacefully in the United States under its constitution, the Constitution could never exist in a country where Muslims are the majority.

    Its easy to see why we don't buy the "its only the extremists" argument. I am sure there are some really "progressive" Muslims out there, but I would venture to say that they are the true extremists in that religion.

    • Tanstaafl

      Most "progressive" Muslims are located in cemeteries……after being charged with apostasy.

  • 080

    We know what dangers we face. We know that our enemies do and what they say. The argument in the West does not revolve around the Koran. It concerns whether policies of neutrality, appeasement and disarmament are suitable. The 1930s demonstrated that they do not produce peace. Furthermore open borders are not suitable for a world threatened by totalitarian regimes.

  • Serge

    This is a bettter article re" moderate muslim

  • cochavi1

    I agree sadly that Alexander Gofen captured it up top. This is an intellectual's debate, and while these men are all very knowledgeable about Islam, the debate is surreal. And why is this? Because Robert Spencer is not truly pessimistic, for he is the only one in the debate that you can 'see' holding the reality in front of him, or next to him, as he speaks. The others, including PhD Furnish, are off on basically wild tangents. The Twelvers are moderates or somehow lurking pluralists within Islam? This is just crazy.

    The only positive thing about Shiism – as it has been revealed in the IRG – is that it in a way damps the robotic and domineering Sunnism within the Islamic sphere. The Twelvers are mad, given their vision of the Mahdi, given the statements of most of the Ayatollahs including 'moderates' like former Pres. Khameini, who also spoke of the pleasure of liquidating Israel even if it meant mass casualties for Iran.

    The only 'moderates' of any influence in the Islamic sphere are the pragmatic dictators like Mubarak whom one of the Muslim commentators correctly called a 'thug.' And if you look at what is 'taught' in today's Egypt regarding Israel and non-Muslims, treatment of Copts, etc., what is there is a 'moderate' who is only not extreme because more fervent Muslims threaten his life, so he must suppress them.

  • Carolyn

    TANSTAAFL, it was worth reading all the others (and many were great) to finally come to your recommendation to quarantine Islam. Now, tell us how!

    • tariq

      If I may add my thoughts, you would have to first declare Sharia Law illegal in the U.S. and heavily enforced, unlike the U.K. who have absorbed it into their legal system foolishly. Oh they will tell you it only applies to Muslims but they have inadvertantly dug their own future grave. Islam is growing by leaps and bounds in Britain and so the Muslims are using democracy and the vote against them, as they will also do here in the U.S. Islam the religion and the Quran also are anti-American in that strong communications of hatred for Christians, Jews and all non-Muslims. By our wanting to be nice will destroy America even if you declare Sharia illegal, the demographics show that Muslim population will boom exponentially. If this happens then Sharia at some point will be voted back in. Case and point, Islam can not coexist with American culture at any time. Islam must go! Do we really think that such a vile religion that has lasted 1,400 years and is the dominant religion in the middle east could ever hope to be reformed? Certainly not!

  • tariq

    I can see where Robert Spencer is stating facts about Islam while the others are painting some elaborate colorful and inventive excuse for a religion that if you look at the middle east you come away knowing that there is no moderate Islam. The genocide caused by Islam and human abuses against Christians and non-Muslims are overwhelming. Robert Spencer authentically sees the danger and that in a small part or in the whole, Islam is an inferior and violent religion deeply rooted in its anti-freedom, anti-American political Sharia Law.

  • tariq

    To say that there is moderate Islam only suggests that their are new converts, unlearned Muslims who will be later corrected for their infidelity as not truly obeying the Quran by an Imam or Muslim purist. In fact these many moderates will be in complete sympathy with their more politically motivated and militant Muslim brothers who will wage Jihad against the people of the United States and teach our impressionable youth their inferior values. I firmly believe that Moderate Islam is a stealth tactic against America and as their numbers grow they will become more daring, more aggressive, will begin demanding even more now that they have become a large portion of American population. Please follow this link and read this concise yet informative excerpt from Dr. Peter Hammond's book: Slavery, Terrorism and Islam: The Historical Roots and Contemporary Threat, which outlines how Islam invades and overcomes a host country.

  • Carolyn

    Post Script: I find it impossible to believe that a Muslim who loves the Qur'an and reads it and prays daily, rejects the citation which tells him to be deceptive! Sadly, I do not even trust the admirable Jasser for this reason.

    • Tanstaafl

      You state the problem quite well. Dr. Jasser does not discuss the Muslim belief that the original Qur'an exists in Jannat (heaven). The implication is that the Qur'an cannot be changed, modified or interpreted. For someone to insist that there are Muslim literalists and non-literalists, I think that is a little misleading. I feel that the phrase "Muslim fundamentalists" is equally void. All Muslims are fundamentalists or they are apostates.

      Since lying to infidels (taquiyya) and even denying that you are a Muslim (kittman) are practices that are permitted (halal) in the Qur'an, your conclusion is quite logical. I wish I could believe that Muslims could be frank and candid, but "fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice and shame on me".

  • TR Furnish, Ph.D.

    Actually, I am well-versed in the violent teachings found in the Qur'an–as I wrote. And historical reality is anything BUT "surreal." Mr. (not Dr.) Spencer is a friend, and as I stated I agree with him usually– but he is not infallible and is simply wrong about moderate Islam. Again, the sects of Islam that ARE moderate are a small minority in percentage terms–albeit a large number in real terms. I spent five years in Army Intelligence and I bow to no one in my condemnation of jihad. But as a historian of the Islamic and entire world, I am used to dealing with long trendds (centuries or more) for analysis–and over the long term the NON-literalism of the sects might very possibly win out over the Sunni literalism which breeds violence and triumphalism. Whether that's soon enough to help the United States–especially with mendacious deniers like Obama and Brennan in power now–is another question. But please, gentlemen, read what I wrote–NOT what you wanted to think I said.

    • badaboo

      Sorry TR , but Spencer's dead on target , and if you have studied as you state "long trends " well then nothing other than the historical record itself contradicts your prediction , which btw , if EVER came about , would be woefully TOO LATE , and THAT would have nothing whatsoever to do with Obama , Brennan or ANYONE else , but would have everything to dso with an apathetic laziness in regards to truly understanding islam , what it is based in , it's actual etyhos , and it's ultimate goals .

      And btw Bush and his crew where no worse than Obama in under-estimating the true nature of islam , and looking also for that " moderate islam " .
      The only time islam "appears" to be "moderate ' is when it is in an overwhelming MINORITY , or controlled by a more powerfull society .
      Sorry Doc , it's not what "you think " or what anyone "wanted to think" you said , but rather , that's the way it IS

    • cochavi1

      Since I was one who wrote 'surreal', I'll respond, Mr. Furnish. I found the discussion somewhat surreal, as did several other commenters. Five years in the Army is nice, but does not make you right. Given the behavior and ideology of the IRG, your near-praise of Shiism – in the context of what the only significant Shia regime is doing – made me choke. I am aware of what their agents have done to American citizens, soldiers and intelligence people, and as well what they have done to Israeli soldiers and civilians, including the devastating attacks in Argentina against Israeli and Jewish institutions.

      So, again, I found the discussion surreal given the realities on the ground. My nation, Israel, is coping with this existential threat deriving from the literal belief, or exploitation of, the Twelver thing and the rest of it, and the fundamental Muslim belief that the days of the Messiah will come only after Jews are all killed.

      I think we have passed the time of optimistic academic speculations, with all respect to your studies and military commitment, Dr. Furnish.

    • tanstaafl

      I'm sorry Dr. Furnish that I did not separate you from the others on the panel. However, If you don't mind I have some questions that I honestly would like answered.

      1. The major schism in Islam is the Sunni/ Shi'a division. Since the source of their disagreement is on the secession of the prophet and not (at least to Westerners) on theological grounds, does this temper your thinking regarding the ability of the ummah to really entertain a "reformed" Islam versus the literalism that is enforced by the Qur'an.

      2. At this point, Islam has not reformed itself in the past 1400 years. I like to be optimistic, but I have to judge current situations based on past history. What sort of timeline do you imagine for "the NON-literalism of the sects (to)…. possibly win out over the Sunni literalism which breeds violence and triumphalism". Since the whole world (due to the massive transfer of wealth from the economies of the civilized world to the despots of the Middle East) is under attack from the age-old jihad of Islam, can we afford to wait?

      3. While the tenor of most of the conversation here has been that the symposium is like Nero fiddling while Rome burns (to be accurate, Nero probably played the lyre), I think it needs to be understood in the light of the three recent terror attacks in the United States as well as the complete lack of candor from the Administration, the press, and the military regarding the very real threat of jihad. Do you feel that a discussion of the possibility of reform in Islam is as important as a frank and honest discussion of the war with Islam that is occurring worldwide at this very moment?

      Thank you.

      • Tim Furnish

        Thanks for that gracious and sincere post.
        #1–not sure of your point (and not to be pedantic, but you mean "succession" to Muhammad); please clarify, for I'm unsure how to answer
        #2–parts of Islam HAVE reformed, as I pointed out; the Isma'ilis certainly ARE "reformed." at least in terms of viewing jihad as non-violent; but to the issue of SUNNI reformation: things look bleak in the near-term–it may be centuries before Sunnism adopts a non-literalist, non-triumphalist stance. Till then, we in the West (meaning we Americans) need to stand up to the "bloody borders of Islam" and say "leave us alone."

        • Tim

          #3–I for one am not engaging in, or advocating, fiddling; just the opposite. BHO should get the Aga Khan, Tahir al-Qadri and heads of certain Sufi orders to stand up with him and CONDEMN VIOLENT QUR'ANIC LITERALISM! He won't, but maybe President Romney will. And our Special Ops folks should work with these Muslim sectarians against the jihadists–like the Ahmadis who were just attacked in Pakistan. Which brings up the OTHER side of my Islamic sects issue: we could take a "divide and confound" (if not divide and conquer) approach: for example, I wrote a long piece on how we could exploit the minority, sectarian, heretical status of the Alawi sect that runs Syria and put ourselves forward as the liberators of the 3/4 of Syria's population that is Sunni from an Alawi yoke (
          Reply to me at

        • Democracy First

          First, I hugely appreciate hearing from a Muslim moderate, and no less important, one who truly believes in civil rights democracy. In fact, I believehought that the only true way to see Islam reformed is for the Islamic world to democratize, based on foundational institutions, like rule of law, individual freedom, and secular government. Not only is that because a democratic people will not grant permission to their government to take them to war, except where they feel an overwhelming threat or self interest, but the freedom to speak freely and practise any faith in whatever manner, necessarily revolutionizes, on a smaller scale, a culture, and on a braoder scale, a civilization.

          But to be frank, given what I've read in the Koran and Hadith, Islam seems to me what one anthropology professor described as Mohammed's effort to unify perpetually warring Arab tribes by motivating a singular war effort against everyone else. Thus, peace within the ummah for Muslims, but perpetual war against non Muslims until they are subjugated and ultimately converted.

          Muslim moderates, then, strike me as in denial as to their faith, and not genuine practitioners. Unlike Jihadists.

          But, if democracy leads to mass denial, great.

    • tariq

      Mosab Hassan Yousef the son of the creator of Hamas said, these jihadist Muslims believe what they are doing is right so murdering people is justified in their eyes. So, I can not expect you to really understand the disdain people have for such a violent and completely man made religion which stemmed not from God but from a mad man in the desert. History has proven that tyrannical and insane mad men can come into power and have. Defending and following Islam will only end up in eternal separation from the true God and Father Yahweh. Jesus Christ His Son is the only true salvation for mankind.
      And there is salvation in and through no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by and in which we must be saved. Acts 4:12

    • Bigmo

      You are lying. There are no violent vreses in the Koran. All you would do is quote verse 9-5 without the verses before it or after it. You never read the Koran out of fear you might believe in it.

      Koran is peace and freedom. Many of you do not know the difference between Koran and Hadith. Spencer himself admits the Koran has complete freedom. But he szays these verses have been abrogated by verse 9-29. Thats Sunni talks. Sunni Islam is a later innovation that emerged during the Abbasid Empire. It has nothing to do with Koran.

      Koran is peace and freedom:

  • badaboo

    Islam is not a religion , it isa cult , an ideology and ethos based in all that is bad in human nature ….PERIOD .

    There is no MODERATE MUSLIM , AND THERE IS NO MODERATE ISLAM , the sooner we all realize this the better . But I think all of this will go the way the Great Winston statted regarding democracies .

    "democracies act when there's blood in the streets " …..oh well , that's better than nothing huh ?

  • MusicCritic

    You Americans are SO Stupid, you have no idea that Islam is being indoctrinated to your childre. As the article mentions "Turkish Gulen movement" Fetahullah Gulen, Gulen instititue and his multiple foundations manage over 80 US Charter Schools. These Charters schools are also subsidzed by US Taxpayers.
    Harmoney Science Academy (Tx), Sonoran Science Accademy (AZ), Coral Science Academy (NV) Beehive Science (UN-NOW CLOSED) Magnolia Science (CA) , Chesapeake Academy (MD-NOW CLOSED and more are all part of the Gulen Movement. The schools emigrant teachers in from Turkey under HB-1Visas, the teachers have questionable credientials. Every US Charter School that Gulen manages has a Turkish Principal, some American staff but usually more Turkish teachers. They teach Turkish Dance, singing, Dancing and have Turkish American Clubs.
    The kids are introduced to Turkish Food (Tea, shish Kebab, Baklava, etc.,) Gulen owns his own media (ZAMAN and ERBU TV) which has propaganda all over the web how great the school are and how they win awards.

  • badaboo

    As I said , THERE IS NO MODERATE ISLAM OR MODERATE MUSLIMS . Islam , the cult is anti-thetical to freedom and democracy . Ignorance of Gullen is ignorance of islam and it's goals and ultimate end .
    Intellectuals like the "PHD" are partly responsible for they themselves are in denial of islam's true aims and goals .
    Shia are no less dangerous than Sunni , whether a follower of Ali or bakri , both hold to the tenets of the same holy book the Q'uran . Both hate jews and Israel , both engage in Taqiyya , to achieve the same end .
    This deception finds it's most vulnerable victims in the intellectual communities both here and abroad .
    To be a victim , there is only intellectual laziness or dishonesty , and apathy due to pre-occupation with "other things " both political and social , which are nothing more than WELCOMED DISTRACTIONS as far as the agenda of these barbarians is concerned .

  • Tanstaafl

    I imagine that no one is posting at this article any more, but this is an interesting story about how "mainstream" Muslims treat one of the sects mentioned in the article above.

    For more about the Ahmadiyya –

  • DosBruski

    The fulfillment of Biblical prophecy is happening right now while religionists, secularists, materialists, atheists, and new-age-spiritual-post-christian citizens of the world continue to discuss the issues of this purely spiritual conflict with Islam in economic, social, political,and military terms. This conflict is spiritual, not temporal.

    In the New Testament, apostle Paul was converted from being THE Pharisee of the Pharisees into one of the greatest expounders and a defenders of the "new and living way" of life that the Christ brought down to this planet's people. In 2nd Corinthians, chapter 11, verse 14, Paul reveals an important spiritual fact: "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light."

    Fast forward from Paul in Jerusalem to 600 years into the New Testament Age and Satan has found his man in Mo-hammed: an illiterate descendant of Ishmael.

    Disguising himself as the bright angel Gabriel, Satan filled Mo-hammed with visions of earthly glory that have been twisted into the worst kind of self-serving religious lies; complete with an underpinning of specious philosophy and theology. Islamism is a counterfeit sham of trumped up spirituality. All the demons of hell feed on the Souls of its hapless adherents. Everything any sane person needs to know about Islamism is contained in the statement Osama Bin Laden made to characterize the basic difference between Islam and the west: "You worship life. We worship death."

    The Christ of God, Jesus of Nazareth, the Prince of Life, is the key.

    Muslims and Jews are diametrically opposed in every phase of earthly existence except one: both tribes deny the divinity and absolute supremacy of the Christ. From that one single point of agreement all other issues of their deadly conflict flow.

    God is not religious. God is God. God needs no kind of religion to be Himself. The Christ of God did not come down to earth to start a new religion. The world of Christ's day was even more jam-packed with "religion" that our world is today. The purpose of Christ is to restore the peace and good order of the eternal kingdom to fallen man and his dying world.

    • tariq

      You are right and very much so. The overwhelming truth is that our Lord Jesus Christ is the only salvation for mankind of any kind. It is interesting when you consider that religion in and of itself is man's attempt on trying to get to God. Islam is very much man's mere attempt at getting at God. Here you have the sons of Ishmael who are not the children of the promise but in Isaac..
      And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. Gen 21:12
      Mohammed a mere man still in his sins invented a religion. He chose Allah, the moon god one of the 300 or more pre-Islamic pagan gods they worshipped and gave it almighty status. Muslims are not the chosen ones of God, He had nothing to do with Islam's beginnings as it was totally Mohammed's selfish endeavor. When we look at Islam we see "man" as God, all the characteristics of Mohammed is that of sinful man. His rise to power only added to him characteristics of narcissism, self worship and from that stemmed all kinds of evils

    • tarleton

      You sound like a typical creepy fundamentalist with a lame brain ….Islam is just the malignant version of the same psychosis

  • tariq

    Since the nature of Islam appealed to Mohammed's sense of battle and fondness for murder his religion was based on the desire for a justified excuse to make war. These went out fighting, pillaging and raping innocent woman and all in the name of God? We can see clearly Islam has no part in the "true" God's holiness as their unspeakable and hideous past and "present" demonstrates.
    However, since man can not get to God on his own initiative since he is a sinful unholy decadent fallen creation, the true God, the God of the bible devised a plan for Himself to get to man. Thus He sent His only begotten Son to Earth born of a virgin, conceived by the Holy Spirit. God became man on our behalf. God allowed His Son to die and be crucified on a cross at Calvary and He God turned His death into a sacrifice for all of mankind's sins to all those who believe on His name.
    But to as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the authority (power, privilege, right) to become the children of God, that is, to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) His name John 1:12 Amp

  • tariq

    Jesus rose from the dead and now sits at the right hand of the Father. This is why Islam speaks hatred toward Christians and Jews. Jews ARE the chosen ones of God, the seed of Abraham, the seed of Isaac and not Ishmael. We as Christians are adopted Jews and the wicked spiritual powers in high places helped a mad man in the desert to begin a new religion which was not endorsed by the "true" God Yahweh. Allah is a demon, an evil spirit that sits in the place of God but is not the eternal God but a fallen angel masquerading as God. It says in scripture that Satan is the father of lies and that he is and since practiced deception is part of the Muslim religion it only proves that Allah is Satan. It also proves that from the very start Islam was a cursed religion and 1,400 years of tremendous human suffering is proof positive that Allah is Satan and Islam is of the devil.

  • tariq

    Jesus said:
    Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads away to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it.
    But the gate is narrow (contracted by pressure) and the way is straitened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it. [Deut. 30:19; Jer. 21:8.]
    Beware of false prophets, who come to you dressed as sheep, but inside they are devouring wolves. [Ezek. 22:27.]
    You will fully recognize them by their fruits. Do people pick grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles?
    Even so, every healthy (sound) tree bears good fruit [worthy of admiration], but the sickly (decaying, worthless) tree bears bad (worthless) fruit.
    A good (healthy) tree cannot bear bad (worthless) fruit, nor can a bad (diseased) tree bear excellent fruit [worthy of admiration].
    Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire.
    Therefore, you will fully know them by their fruits. Matthew 7:13-20

  • tariq

    I apologize for having wrote this too hastily as I see grammatical errors and a few non-sensical sentences. My thoughts weren't completely or satisfactorily communicated but I hope you'll get the gist of what I was trying to convey. :)

    • tarleton

      Another creepy fundaMENTAList….science is in the process of burying you nutcases

  • badaboo


    WHENEVER MUSLIMS SAY " WE DO NOT KILL THE INNOCENT " …one must have foreknowledge of islam and REALIZE , that NO INFIDEL IS INNOCENT in their twisted ideology . All infidels are worthy of the sword , and that is held by both Sunni and Shia .Both have proven in the historical record , that they are quite capable of slaughter when it comes to the non-believers .
    INDEED ~one group considers the other to be apostate , thus countless slaughters have occurred through history between Shia and Sunni . I myself witnessed this in 1970 while in ,what was once East pakistan, Sunni from West Pakistan slaughtered the East Pakistani Shia , including Hindus . Had not India intervened ,the atrocity would have been far worse . Now , slowly but surely the former East Pakistan , now Bangladesh , is engaging in persecution of Christians and Hindus .

  • Art Telles

    Oath vs. Muhammad…

    Zuhdi Jasser says,

    "I and my family and many other Muslims have lived and believe
    "in an Islam and modernization of the message of the Prophet Muhammad
    "that is not in conflict with our oath to the U.S. Constitution."

    Question –

    Which came first, and who decides to amend Muhammad's historical authority in a way that true believers will agree is justified so that it is not in conflict with an oath required by later generations?

    Well, from the perspective of "true believers," the answer is historical, and not open to debate, is it?

    If Islam and the message of Muhammad preceeded the U.S. Constitution, on what basis is an oath to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States to be proposed?

    What is the answer from "top-rung-of-the-ladder" Islamic true believer thought leaders? What is the 21st century answer from "literal" Islam? Vijay Kumar's "literal" Islam seems to be more accurate than "radical" Islam.

  • sosUSA

    Unfortunately, this is just another typical example of dancing around the unmentionable ‘floater’ in the ‘punchbowl’.
    If Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser truly believes, “Change cannot be imposed upon a rotten foundation”, why does he avoid identifying or confronting what that “rotten foundation” really is?

    It never ceases to amaze me how supposedly intelligent and educated people (especially when raised in a free Judeo-Christian society) can still adhere to and claim Muhammadan Islam as a legitimate ‘religion’, despite all evidence to the contrary.

    The extraordinary mental and psychological gymnastics required to persist in the notion that it can ever be “moderate” or “reformed” without completely repudiating everything associated with its vile founder/creator and exemplar is beyond my comprehension.

    Trying to use the protestant reformers of Christianity as an analogous example is totally backwards; since Luther et al only had to show how the RC Church had perverted the original teachings and should not be followed – while Muslims have to be shown how their original teachings are already perverse and should not be followed!

    To believe that attempting to prune or graft the branches of a tree poisonous at its roots is anything but a naive exercise in futility is intellectually dishonest.

    Apostasy hu Akbar!

    • Democracy First

      Although I'd have put it more diplomatically, I agree with this salient point:

      "Luther et al only had to show how the RC Church had perverted the original teachings and should not be followed – while Muslims have to be shown how their original teachings are already perverse and should not be followed! "

      One faith is inherently peaceful, the other not. One's founder a true example for all mankind, the other a terribly – pun intended – "imperfect man."

      • sosUSA

        Precisely! And thank you, although I'm not sure how one can point out why it is all bullshit any more "diplomatically" than that, without resorting to the same kind of verbosity this "symposium" spiraled into LOL

        I guess I've become too sickened by diplomacy's bastard child, "Political Correctness", to be bothered indulging it any further (as the refuge of intellectual wankers) when the truth is the truth. In other words, call a spade a bloody shovel or be damned! ;)

        • Democracy First

          It is indeed a dilemma saying what strikes us as evidently true, while not wanting to sound motivated by pure bias, nor wanting to insult democratically-minded Muslims of good will.

          (BTW, while I hold Jesus as a great example of ideal conduct, that i say as a Jew and not a Christian.)

          • sosUSA

            Anti-semitism never made any sense to me either, since it was like attacking the 'mother church', so to speak – without the Jews keeping the flame of monotheism alive since Moses, there would be no Christianity OR western civilization as we know it! (Erm, or the ripped-off bastardised version in Islam, ha!)

            Anyway, the problem I have with "democratically-minded Muslims of good will" (if not an oxymoron), as I pointed out, is how they can possibly reconcile that dissonance without repudiating their "prophet".


  • DosBruski

    Despite the general tendency in modernism to shy away from spiritual things, the spiritual foundation of the heavens and the earth keeps us all who are alive here perpendicular to the plane of gravity. The precision of modern science is as imperfect as anything else devised by the mind of man. The presently inoperative Large Hadron Collider is an elegant lump of hardwired spaghetti. Jesus of Nazareth a.k.a. God Incarnate manipulates the most subtle of the subatomic quantum fields with a word, a touch, or a thought. But I digress. Here we are concerned with Muslims, Jews, and Christians: the monotheists of the world; the seed of Abraham. Everything else is beside the point:

    Romans 4:16, 17 (New Living Translation) — So that is why faith is the key. The promise of God is given to us as a free gift. And we are certain to receive it whether or not we follow Jewish customs if we have faith like the faith of Abraham because Abraham is the father of all who believe. That is what the Scriptures mean when God told Abraham, "I have made you the father of many nations." (Gen17:5) This happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who brings into existence what did not exist before.

  • Geoffrey Britain

    Long article and then 67 comments! No time to read it all, so if someone's already mentioned my point, consider me in agreement with them.

    I'm not an Islamic scholar but these gentlemen failed to get at the heart of the matter.

    There's a reason why the Islamic world is so adamant about a literal translation of the Quran and Muhammad's sayings. That reason lies at the very theological heart of Islam. So, to deny the literal interpretation is to deny the central tenet of Islam.

    Moderate, modern Muslims like Mr. Jasser appear to be unwilling to confront this truth, for to do so results in the entire theological basis for the religion collapsing.

    That fundamental tenet is that Muhammad didn't write the Quran, God did…

    Muhammad merely took dictation, as Muhammad claims that the Archangel Gabriel physically visited him numerous times and directly dictated God's words to Muhammad for him to put in the Quran.

    Muhammad claims that in every particular it is God's words, not his and that Gabriel ensured that he got it exactly right. Which means, that a literal translation rests upon the very firmest theological ground. Many passages in the Quran are unequivocal with literally no room for misunderstanding.

    So logically, if one denies the literal translation, then you are asserting that Muhammad didn't get it right. But if Muhammad got who wrote it wrong, what else did he get wrong? And if Muhammad got it wrong, then the Quran can't be God's perfect word…

    That is why Islam hasn't had its reformation, nor can it because to reform it, you have to 'gut' Muhammad's central and foundational tenet. But do that and the religion becomes theologically bankrupt.

  • Timothy Furnish

    Mr. Britain,
    The exception that proves your otherwise admirably-argued and logical thesis wrong is something you've overlooked: what about arguing that it IS divine revelation, yet it is is encoded and has a secret meaning that not everyone can understand? THAT is the position of the Isma'ili Shi`is, as well as of a number of Sufi orders and some other sects. Perhaps I should have explained that more clearly in the symposium sections I wrote.

  • Barekzai

    I totally agree with practically everything stated by Dr Jasser, although it would appear from the commentary herein, that the road ahead for Libertarian Muslims like ourselves will be lonely. On the one hand we've to face off the Islamunist assault against everything we believe in, while on the other hand, our god-given freedom to be heard is immediately annulled by those who take onboard the Islamunist doctrine of "Takya" to characterize us as liars, hence in effect working to silence us altogether….geniuses, aren't they?

    When faced with an environment where reasoning is quashed, my father used to advise me to simply respond with an 'ok', but go ahead and do what is right. We too need to keep working towards a groundswell of a new Muslim awkening, while taking some of the vetriol in the commentary with a grain of salt…

  • Bigmo

    Quran gives complete and absolute freedom unparalleled in human history

    Robert Spencer only talks about SUNNI Islam. Sunni Islam is not Koranic. They emerged during the Abbsid Empire two cennturies after the Koran. Sunni Islam is what Spencer focuses on because on the Koran he hasnothing. Sunni and Spencer relies on hadith(oral traditions) thatw ere compiled centuries after Muhammad. Like the Judaic Talmud. Jesus condemned the talmud so did the Koran.

    Koran is peace!

  • Elvula

    There are no moderate muslims. There are only jihadis and apostates.

  • Adilin Bs.

    We are from Indonesia, said that moderate Islam exists. Ahlussunah Islam is moderate Islam wal pilgrims. If in Indonesia is a large group of NU (NU). I am also one of the NU. NU is Indonesia's largest organizations to spread the peace of mankind. NU never made violence among humans.

  • subdjoe

    I know I'm coming very late to this, but I felt I had to comment.

    What stands out to me in the wonderful discussion is that all seem to agree that, yes indeed, the Koran and Hadith mandate the killing of unbelievers and apostates.

    One of the problems with Islam is that it is not only a religion, but an all-encompassing system to guide all daily life. I forget who said that Islam is a religion that has spawned a state (or several states). With the state subject to the church (mosque), any action against the state is by default action against the religion, rebellion is apostasy.

  • F Gulen

    Fethullah Gulen is an authoritative mainstream Turkish Muslim scholar, thinker, author, poet, opinion leader and educational activist who supports interfaith and intercultural dialogue, science, democracy and spirituality and opposes violence and turning religion into a political ideology. Fethullah Gulen promotes cooperation of civilizations toward a peaceful world, as opposed to a clash:

  • Democracy First

    Interesting, very non PC, reads.