If “moderate” Muslims do not have the answer, does that mean that “reformist” Muslims do?
(Note: the subject of reformist Muslims is continued in a later entry.)
Irshad Manji, the liberal feminist Muslim from Canada, seems to get to the heart of the problem in the first paragraph of her column in Sunday’s New York Post:
LAST week, two very different Brits had their say about the latest terrorist plots in their country. Prime Minister Gordon Brown told the nation that “we have got to separate those great moderate members of our community from a few extremists who wish to practice violence and inflict maximum loss of life in the interests of a perversion of their religion.” By contrast, a former jihadist from Manchester wrote that the “real engine of our violence” is “Islamic theology.”Fine. Manji sees the absurdity of liberal Westerners’ denial of the connection between terrorism and Islamic doctrine, especially when that denial is juxtaposed with the affirmation of the connection by jihadists who ought to know a good deal more about the subject than Mr. Gordon Brown. Manji then discusses several well-known terrorists,—Mohammad Sidique Khan, Mohammed Bouyeri, and the Toronto 17—who have all made it clear that they are following Islamic teachings.
Manji then says that in addition to Western liberals, moderate Muslims also say that terrorism has nothing to do with Islam. According to Manji the only people who speak the truth about Islam are the reform-minded Muslims, who, unlike the moderate Muslims,
say it’s time to admit that Islam’s scripture and history are being exploited. They argue for re-interpretation precisely to put the would-be terrorists on notice that their monopoly is over. Re-interpreting doesn’t mean re-writing. It means re-thinking words and practices that already exist—removing them from a seventh-century tribal time warp and introducing them to a twenty first-century pluralistic context.Manji criticizes the obvious delusions and evasions of the moderate Muslims, only to embrace her own set of obvious delusions, namely that historic Islam has in fact been bad but that it can somehow be made into a completely different religion. (She also contradicts herself when she says that true Islam has “exploited” by extremists, meaning that true, historic Islam is good and has only been made bad by extremists.) She says this wouldn’t require re-writing Islamic scriptures, only their re-interpretation. But this is false, because Islam in reality consists of a certain interpretation of the Koran. Islam is the religion that was formalized by interpretation of the Koran and the traditions of Muhammad into the Islamic law in the eighth and ninth centuries. The Islamic law IS Islam, and it hasn’t changed in any essentials since then. For Manji’s peaceful Islam to come into existence, actual Islam, defined by the sharia, would have to be dismantled. Can anyone imagine actual Muslims, whose ancestors have been following Islam for over a millennium, following a spiky-haired Canadian lesbian who wants to turn Islam into that which it has never been?
Despite her foolishness, Manji is more in touch with reality than the Gordon Browns and the moderate Muslims who think that terrorism has nothing whatsoever to do with Islam. The moderates deny everything that is bad about Islam. The reformers acknowledge the bad things about Islam, but imagine that Islam can be made into something else.
And I just realized how Manji’s discussion helps explain the strange contradictions of Daniel Pipes. I’ve often pointed out how Pipes constantly moves back and forth between two very different views of Islam—that Islam is a wholly positive, spiritual, individualist religion that has been taken over by violent 20th century pathologies and ideologies; and that Islam has always been a jihadist, violent religion, but that it can be changed into a peaceful, liberal religion. These two views between which Pipes keeps oscillating, even within the same article, and sometimes within the same paragraph (and I am still the only writer to have pointed this out about him), are in effect the moderate Muslim view (Islam is good, and terrorism has nothing to do with Islam), and the reform Muslim view (historical Islam is bad, but can be readily changed into something good). The moderate Muslim view is completely out of touch with reality. The reform view acknowledges a part of reality, but then runs away from it by imagining that it can be changed into something else. These two delusional understandings of Islam are the only choices we will have, so long as we insist that in the final analysis Islam must be in conformity with the West.
KPA writes from Canada:
I have just read your input on Irshad Manji, and agree 100 percent.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 09, 2007 06:50 PM | Send