Reflections on the “Moderate Muslims” Debate

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Taha Jabir al-Alwani



I reviewed all of the answers of my respected colleagues and find that I
agree with most of their points. Therefore, in my comments, I would like to
focus on some points that researchers should concentrate on in order to
enrich our understanding and comprehension of the Muslim community in
the United States. Doing so will help engender good and strong relations
among the different groups in American society.
On Moderate Muslims: Before I explain the term moderate Muslim, I
would like to indicate that American officials have trouble working with
moderate Muslims because they see moderates as pragmatists who will
change their positions based on their interests and use religion or sacred
symbols to gain followers and support. True moderates use certain aspects
of religion for their political interests and, in this way, become more intimidating
to the fundamentalist or Islamist policymakers who do not hide their
right-wing extremism and desire to hold on to their past culture. Such moderates,
who are political pragmatists but theological lightweights, are easy
to work with and more understandable. But their understanding of Islam is
naïve and composed of stagnant interpretations.
These moderate Muslims accept most or all of the most important
western values related to politics, economics, education, and practical life.
This puts them in a better position to understand the western mind, how it
thinks, and how to interact with it based on its own methodologies.
Extremist Muslims allow no change in their culture, look at history impassively,
and consider any changes in life as quantitative, not qualitative.
Thus, they believe that they can resurrect history and bring back the earlier
Islamic centuries, especially the time of the Companions, by respecting
their paths, methodologies, and tools. However, such attitudes make them,
in the westerners’ opinion, out-of-touch with modern realities and they are,
therefore, easily isolated ...

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