I’ve been in lots of disputes and debates over the years about Islam, Islamism, Islamophobia and Islamic jihadism.
In every case I will be lectured by well-meaning libertarians and leftists who say that the world is simply bubbling over with calm, moderate Muslims who are lumped into the jihadist set by ignorant Islamophobes who believe only in a caricature of Islam.
So here is my challenge.
Let’s define “Moderate Muslim” in the same way that we would define “Moderate Christain.” In pure black and white terms let’s define a “Moderate” as one who does not demand that government itself should be a theocracy.
That’s more or less the definition of “secularism” and “secularism” has been the hallmark of “moderate” religionists for going on five hundred years. Secularism is the very foundation of the US concept of freedom of religion meaning that you are free to practice your religion, but you are not free to use the legal mechanisms of the state to enforce a state religion. At a more fundamental and important level, it means that government can be “of the people, by the people and for the people” with laws and customs being defined through democratic means.
When you look into the statements of “moderate” Muslims, however, you find no such acceptance of secularism. In fact you find it repudiated directly in favor of Sharia law, the theocratic rule of Muslim religious authorities operating under the iron heel of Koranic mandate.
So the next time I am in a debate on the subject, I am going to take the position that unless a Muslim “authority” on the subject is willing to accept secular rule coexistant with religious practice (which is the fundamental concept of “freedom” in the West), then the word “moderate” does not remotely mean what “moderate” means when applied to any other “authority” from any other religion. In that sense “moderate” when applied to a Muslim “authority” means “only slightly less extremist and theocratic than the average Muslim”.