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May 14, 2010

Fouad Ajami on the battle for Islam

Topics: Political News and commentaries, Understanding Islam


Via Peter Robinson at NRO: In his recent Uncommon Knowledge interview, Mark Steyn asserted that "there are moderate Muslims, but there is no moderate Islam." Today on Uncommon Knowledge, Fouad Ajami replies. that the battle for (moderate) Islam is not yet lost:

I don't agree with Mark. I was born a Muslim to a Muslim secular Shia family in Lebanon. My family were modernists --- they interpreted their faith in a moderate way. None of the women in our family were ever veiled --- it was a modern interpretation of Islam. They thought of themselves as good Muslims and they didn't want these radical Muslims telling them how to worship and how to practice their own kind of Islam. The people who say that there is no moderate Islam trouble me because I know that the battle for Islam is not yet lost.
Watch the video of the interview here ...
(Be sure to take the time to watch it all, as Ajami totally disses Obama's foreign policy and his apologizing for America to the Muslim world.)

Interestingly, Fouad Ajami, a Muslim, freely speaks of radical Islam while our Attorney General refuses to admit that there is such a thing as jihad and radical Islam.

However, Andy McCarthy watched Peter Robinson's intriguing interview with Fouad Ajami, and despite expressing admiration for Ajami, came away unimpressed and makes some very important points about self-professed "moderate" Muslims:

He seems to make Mark's point that there are moderate Muslims but not a moderate Islam. In purporting to refute this notion, Mr. Ajami basically says that he was brought up as a moderate Muslim in a family that was similarly "secular" and moderate. OK, but Islam is certainly not secular -- that's a contradiction. If Ajami is saying that his family chose to live in a secular fashion that did not incorporate many Muslim traditions (he mentions that women in his family did not wear the veil), that means they were resistant to various tenets, not that those tenets are not part of Islam.

Mr. Ajami elaborates that his family "interpreted the faith in a moderate way." OK, what was that interpretation? Is he saying there is a legitimate construction of Islam which holds that sharia needn't be followed? Or is he just saying that his family chose not to adhere to all of sharia's particulars? He doesn't say, nor does he identify a single place where the Muslims he calls "extremists" have gotten the doctrine wrong. He says the practice of Islam is very different in different parts of the Muslim world. True enough, but that implies that the "extremists" are following an authentic version of Islam, not that they are perverting the doctrine or engaged in heterodoxy.

Then there is the matter of "radicalism." Mr. Ajami says for a long time the Saudis supported it, but now even they see the "drift toward radicalism is a threat to the Kingdom." But that's only true if you equate radicalism with violence. The Saudis may have changed their view of al Qaeda over the years (though Wahhabism, which is very close to al Qaeda ideology, remains the official Islam of the Kingdom); but the Saudis remain closely allied with the Muslim Brotherhood, an alliance that is over a half-century old and that is dedicated to spreading Islamist ideology. Their disagreement with al Qaeda is mainly over methodology. Indeed, the Saudis still exclude non-Muslims from the cities of Mecca and Medina, and the Saudi regime was among the few governments in the world that recognized the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan. All of them -- al Qaeda, the Brotherhood, the Taliban, and the Saudis -- believe in the establishment of sharia law as the first step toward Islamicizing all societies, a mission they regard as a divine command.

Much more here ...

As McCarthy goes on to point out, self-professed moderate Muslims never persuasively refute the radicals - they just say the radicals are too "extreme." This doesn't come close to making the case that the radicals have Islam wrong. If your goal is to persuade other Muslims -- and everyone seems to agree that only Islam can settle its internal divisions -- that's the case that has to be made.

In other words, after all is said and done - Mark Steyn is right - every school of Islam is basically jihadist and Islam is not a religion, it's a political ideology.

You'll find chapters 1 - 4 here ...

Related videos:
The End of the World as We Know It, with Mark Steyn: Chapter 5 of 5
Walid Shoebat - Islam is NOT a Religion of Peace (1/3)

Posted by Richard at May 14, 2010 9:45 AM

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