Moderate Muslims need to speak up

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

As many parts of the world face growing threats against religious tolerance from radical Muslims, the role of moderate Muslims is much needed, especially to counter such hostility, analysts say.

During the discussion of a book entitled Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes are Choking Freedom Worldwide on Tuesday, one of the authors, Paul Marshall, said that the growing radicalism is now a new worldwide phenomenon.

Marshall, who is also a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute Center for Religious Freedom in Washington DC in the United States, added that this phenomenon has never occurred before, and more Muslim authorities in recent years are suggesting that Sharia Law should be enforced on non-Muslims in non-Muslim countries.

“The role of moderate Muslims is key, and more important than anything else, and if you’re going to combat radicalism, in terms of debate and ideas, the arguments should be made by Muslims, because they [radical groups] don’t know other arguments,” Marshall told The Jakarta Post.

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Categories: Asia, Indonesia

6 replies

  1. Moderate Muslims need to speak up | The Jakarta Post
    Dear Amtul Q Farhat
    With great interest and sadness, I read the article; Moderate Muslims need to speak up (Jakarta Pot. 5th Sept 2012) about the book entitled Silenced: How Apostasy and Blasphemy Codes are Choking Freedom Worldwide by the senior fellow at the Hudson Institute Center for Religious Freedom in Washington DC.
    In his talk or interview, Mr. Paul Marshall touched upon many important issues but in a very unprofessional or un-academic manner. For example, he said that:
    “More Muslim authorities in recent years are suggesting that Sharia Law should be enforced on non-Muslims in non-Muslim countries”.
    I live in Europe, work with Muslim minorities and know that this is a false and generalizing statement. I would also like to know why your journalist did not ask Mr. Marshall to name the those Muslim authorities, the name of the countries they come from and which non-Muslim countries, they have demanded the enforcement of Sharia Laws. To just sling such a serious charge without any documentation is deplorable and does no service to his credibility as well as for the integration of Muslim communities in non-Muslim states. Besides, there is no such thing as Sharia Laws. Sharia is a set of moral guiding principles, which are always interpreted and have no enforcement mechanism except 3 Muslim countries out of 60 plus.
    Then Mr. Marshall says: “The role of moderate Muslims is key, and more important than anything else”.
    To divide Muslims in to moderate, militant, radicals and terrorist is again way beyond the realm of scholarship. Mr. Marshall should be aware that such terminology is a populist discourse and first started by neo-con lobby in USA. The followers of Islam are Muslims and 95% are peaceful practitioners of the religion of Islam while a tiny minority is intolerant of minorities and non-Muslims. They are indeed misguided but let us not divide Islam and Muslims in to Western devised and in my opinion, Islamophobic categories.
    The sad part of the article is that many Muslim scholars and researchers, who should know better, are also adopting such biased terminology.
    Ahmad Syafii Ma’arif’s statement “If Islam is led by the moderate, the enlightened people, then I think Islam can compete with any nation,” is a clear example of my worries. How can he, being a Muslim expert compare his religion Islam, which is a universal entity to any nation, which is a description of a group of people living in a nation state?
    As far as speaking up against extremism and violence committed by some Muslims, many voices from Muslim communities are raised on regualr interval. Unfortunately, the western press does not bring the message of peace to the public because it has an agenda to demonise Islam and not present is as a peaceful religion.
    My request to the editors of Jakarta Post is to send some knowledgeable journalist to such meeting, where important issues of religion and politics are discussed.
    I hope that you and the readers of MTwould also think about the worry, I am expressing.

  2. Dear Bashy Qurashy, you write:

    The followers of Islam are Muslims and 95% are peaceful practitioners of the religion of Islam while a tiny minority is intolerant of minorities and non-Muslims.

    I wish it was true! But, a significant population of Pakistan does sympathize with the fundamentalists and militants. For example, a recent poll in Pakistan showed that a large portion of the population, if my memory serves me right, more than 70%, agreed with punishing apostates with death sentence.

    So, when moderates start speaking their mind rather than yielding to the extremists, like President Zia ul Haq, when they invoke the name of Islam, then Muslims will be free and ready for the twenty first century. Until then …

    If 95% of Muslims are moderate, enlightened and proactive the militants and fundamentalists will not have the guts to express their ideas. A good litmus test will be the blasphemy laws. If these are reversed in Pakistan then it would mean that moderates are waking up, otherwise, interpretation will be that moderates are appeasing the fundamentalists.

  3. Moderate Muslims? Where are they? ( Except Ahamdi Muslims, Masha’Allah and Allhamdulillah)

    Muslims population at large is confused and unbalanced now days. There are the ones that are too liberal, and thus give up Islamic spirit modernizing it to an extent that nothing remains Islamic in it. the live a secular life They are just namesake Muslims, and here in western cultures Mullah has no grudges….better say… is helpless against them.

    The others, (majority), are the ones that are radical and consider themselves, like Jews the “chosen ones” and pure. Hence look down at the others as infidel. There are very few who think rationally, but seldom speak out. Because if they do, rest of them would declare them “infidels” too. Hence they fear to come into limelight.
    Some brave and courageous people try or murmur against such radical approach but soon give up to criticism.
    Religion is someone’s very very personal matter. It is just like, any individual’s selection of food or dress, colour of his/her own choice. You can ask someone to try it, taste it but cannot force others to eat or wear what you like.
    Likewise if people have views of a religion or faith and practice it without harming the peace, or inflicting physical harm to the others, no one has the right to use a force to stop them practice it.
    Secondly Muslims that live in Non Muslims countries , to whatever sect they belong, do not and cannot incite, propagate, or demand Shariah Law. What I know they ask Shariah Laws for only Muslims, living in non Muslim countries. It is not possible that they would ask a Non Muslims Government to establish Shariah law. It sound funny and unreasonable..

  4. Dear Zia, talking about Islam, extremism and intolerance, I can only speak from my experiences, which span very wide and multi-tasked. I was fortunate to travel to most Islamic countries from Indonesia to Morocco in relation to my work with Islamophobia. I also work with many NGOs in Europe, which are actively engaged in the issues of integration, social cohesion of Muslim communities. I have family members all over Pakistan, with various understanding of Islam. Some are religious, others are not, and some are urban, while others are rural, some are highly educated while others are basic. It will be a folly on my part to lump them all as Muslims and then describe them as intolerant. Do not you think that it will be grossly unfair?
    Besides my starting point is not and would never be only Pakistani population but 1.5 billion Muslims, which Mr. Marshall was pointing towards. I believe that human beings are divine and are born gentle. It is the circumstances and upbringing, which make them intolerant or inclusive.
    As far as polls are concerned, it depends as to how you put the question and what you expect. I can also give you poll figures from PEW and Gallup, which say that an over whelming majority of Muslims are very peaceful, against extremism and violence. I am sure that 95% Muslims are peaceful and want to live their lives simply and without problems. I do not divide them in to moderate, extremists and fanatics. This is a disservice to Islam. Quran does not refer to Muslims in categories, sects or Firkas. It is man made. My request to you and other Muslim media people is to refrain from copying western impositions on us.
    As far as Blasphemy Law is concerned, it is un-Islamic and there is no jurisdiction in Islam to take someone’s life because of some religious belief or turning ones back to Islam. We should fight these brain dead Mullahs with arguments and courage. I can see the signs that even in Pakistan, people are getting fed with Moulvi power. There are many voices on Pakistan TV and in the press, which raise their voices against injustices. Listen to Najam Sethi, Hassan Nisar and Haroon Rashid.

    
Anisa, you ask, where are moderate Muslims and then you say; Except Ahamdi Muslims, Masha’Allah and Allhamdulillah. 
Muslims population at large is confused and unbalanced now days.
    If I were you, I would not generalize so heavily. To make a stronger case, one has to make alliances and not split the public. Among my close circle of friends in Copenhagen, we often discuss issue, which concern us and one issue is misuse of Islam. If you were a fly on the wall, you will be very happy to notice that all most all of them are against Blasphemy law and the way Ahmadis were and are treated around the conservative Muslim societies. It is true that their voice does not get a public attention because of the lack of a platform but it is there and slowly it is coming up to surface. I do my best to bring such issues wher ever, I go to speak or write.

  5. Thanks dear Bashy Quraishy, keep up good work. We will be working together to promote positive image of Islam and promote tolerance and peace among all Muslims, from all walks of life and denominations.

    Thanks again.

  6. It is always better to unite to fight against something bad. It is very sensible. No question to that. So be assured I am not against it.
    What I said is the general picture of most of the Mullah stricken Muslims.

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