What makes a Muslim moderate? That he conceals the truth about Islam
One of Daniel Pipes’s favorite moderate Muslims is Bassam Tibi, a Syrian-born scholar who lives in Germany. In an article in Tuesday’s International Herald Tribune, Tibi writes:
After any terrorist attack by jihadists—from the Sept. 11 attacks to those in Bali in 2002, Madrid in 2004 and London in July—two contradictory views are usually heard. Some people claim that such religiously legitimated terror has its roots in Islam; others, principally Muslims and politically correct Westerners, say such terrorism has nothing to do with Islam.So, according to Tibi, jihadism has nothing to do with Muhammad, or the Koran, or sharia, or any of those things. Jihadism, he explains, is the invention of the Muslim Brotherhood, an extremist group formed in the early 20th century.
Now I don’t know about you, but when I see a person deny the undeniable fact that jihad is rooted in and commanded by historic Islam, my first thought is not, “Hey, there’s goes a moderate.” My first thought is, “Hey, there goes an apologist for Islam.” The main effect of saying that jihad has nothing to do with Islam, but only with the 20th century political ideology of Islamism, is to give Islam itself a clean bill of health, which means that the West will continue to do nothing to prevent the spread into the West of Islam and its accompanying ideology of jihad.
Why then does Pipes, who keeps searching for moderate Muslims who will oppose radical Islam, extol Tibi as a moderate despite the fact that Tibi conceals the fundamental radicalism of Islam? The answer, of course, is Tibi’s ideas are virtually identical to those of Pipes himself. Like Pipes, Tibi (1) thinks that Islamism and jihadism are very bad; (2) rejects the idea that Islamism is derived from historic Islam; and (3) insists that it is a creation of the modern world, namely of various social stresses extrinsic to Islam itself. As Pipes puts it: “Tibi understands that identity problems are the key factor, a result of the traumatic Muslim encounter with modernity.” This is a rehash of Bernard Lewis’s influential, apologist thesis about Islam, which says that the origins of jihadism lie in modern social disruptions rather than in Muhammad, the Koran, the authoritative traditions, and the sharia law.
In any case, it turns out that Pipes’s practical definition of a moderate Muslim is someone who has the same fatuous and ahistorical view of Islam as Pipes himself.
(In the past, Tibi has written much more honest accounts stating plainly the centrality of jihad in historic Islam, which I will be discussing soon.)