More about Islam & Islamism: Response to “Islamoscope”

April 23, 2008

After publishing my previous post, I clicked on the “Islamism” tag to see what other folks were saying on that topic here on WordPress.com. One of the blogs I came across was Islamoscope, whose About page says:

We believe that by creating awareness of the radical element of Islam both moderate Muslims and non-Muslims from all religious and ethnic persuasions can ensure we can still enjoy the freedoms created in the West free from radical persecution.

I agree so far.

However, to fight against Islamism, I would suggest that you also try to “create awareness” about the reformers as well as the “radicals.” I’ve listed some of them in my previous post. You’re probably already aware of others. Let’s help the reformers in their fight against the Islamists, by giving the reformers more publicity, shall we?

Our Statement Concerning Muslims:

“Don’t judge the Muslims that you know by Islam and don’t judge Islam by the Muslims that you know. ”

Islam is an ideology

Islam is not a single ideology, but a religion, with many interpretations. In my opinion, Islam in general should not be confused with Islamism, which is a political ideology.

Muslims are individuals. We passionately believe that no Muslim should be harmed, harassed, stereotyped or treated any differently anywhere in the world solely on account of their status as a Muslim.

Agreed.

Islam is not simply a belief about God. It is a word that means Submission. Islam is a set of rules that establish a social hierarchy in which Muslims submit to Allah, women submit to men and all non-Muslims submit to Islamic rule.

Yes, there are Muslims who take issue with these aspects of Islamic theology, but it doesn’t change what Islam is.

By accepting the above definition of “what Islam is,” you are siding with the “radicals” against the reformers. Why are you letting the “radicals” decide what “Islam” is, in your eyes? Why are you siding with your enemies against your friends?

I’m not saying you should necessarily endorse the reformers’ definitions either. I would suggest that we non-Muslims refrain from setting ourselve up as judges of Muslim orthodoxy, whether in favor of the “radicals” (as you are doing) or in favor of the reformers. I would suggest that we non-Muslims take a neutral stance on the question of what constitutes “true Islam,” rather than presume to tell Muslims what their religion really is. At the very least, I think it behooves us non-Muslims not to side with our enemies against our friends! I think we should help our friends (Muslim reformers) in whatever way we can, and we can do that, most of all, by giving them publicity and not pooh-poohing their interpretation of Islam. To defend our freedoms against Islamism, I think we need to educate the public about the beliefs of both the “radicals” and the reformers, but without pontificating, ourselves, on what “true Islam” is. Let Muslims fight out the latter question amongst themselves.

Of course, the rest of us should be free to disagree with the reformers as well as the “radicals.” But we can do that without setting ourselves up as judges of Muslim orthodoxy.

Islam must be understood on the basis of what it is, as presented by the Qur’an the Hadith and Sira (biography of Muhammad).

The Qur’an, like the Bible, says many different things and can be intepreted in many different ways. For example, the Qur’an really does contain that famous verse about “no compulsion in religion” (Surah 2:256), and there are also other similar admonitions in the Qur’an and Hadith, despite contrary teachings that can also be found in the Qur’an and Hadith. Different Muslim scholars have developed different systems of intepretation, emphasizing different aspects of the Qur’an and Hadith.

If our years of dialogue with literally hundreds have taught us anything, it is that most Muslims (even devout ones) have only a superficial understanding of their religion.

Are you assuming here that all Muslim reformers have only a superficial understanding of their religion, and that no Muslim reformers have studied their religion deeply? I think we should refrain from making such an assumption about our natural allies.

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4 Responses to “More about Islam & Islamism: Response to “Islamoscope””

  1. jookut Says:

    Islam does not divide Muslim to radical or reformer. They who use both term only has an interest to break Islam into many pieces. Islam is clear and straight in one point, and Islam can be tolerant in another point. But we can’t divide Muslim into radical or reformer.

  2. islamoscope Says:

    Thank you for the response to our about me section. We are always open to learning more and having our own personal views challenged.

    In regard to the first point, you are entirely correct – awareness of reformists movements is an imperative step. I will not deny that Islamoscope has given far more time to the radical elements of Islam than it has to reformists in the field. However, to imply that the blog has not attempted to create such awareness is a big step in the wrong direction. Please note that the only group publicly supported by our blog at this point of time is a Muslim reformist movement by Muslims.
    If you were to check out the side bar under ‘We Support’ there is a badge for the “Muslims Against Sharia:Islamic Reform Movement”.
    For anyone interested in this group their website can be located here: http://www.reformislam.org/

    I will respond to the rest as time allows.

    Thanks again.

  3. Diane Vera Says:

    To jookut: Obviously there do exist Muslims with a variety of different opinions as to what Islam is. (See my previous post for a list of examples.) No one is “dividing” them. They are thinking for themselves.

  4. Diane Vera Says:

    To Islamoscope: Yes, your blog does mention a Muslim reform group on the side panel. It would be nice if there were a link to them there, not just a “badge.” It would be nice if you added a links list (blogroll) to your side panel, linking not just to Muslims Against Sharia but to other Muslim reformers as well.

    My main objection is to the way you insist on defining the word “Islam” to refer only to the beliefs of “radicals” (as you call them) and not the reformers. By defining the word “Islam” that way, you are effectively siding with the “radicals” against the reformers, though that’s probably not your intent.


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