Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Moderates vs. Radicals

Although the attacks on September 11, 2001 brought a new intensity to the study of Islam, the world's attention had already long been directed to the political impact of radical Muslims: the 1972 attack on the Munich Olympics and the 1979 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iran being merely two of many examples.

One question lingers: what about the moderates? We know that there are many peaceful and friendly people in America who call themselves Muslims - people who would never dream of attacking or killing. We know that a moderate form of Islam exists in the United States. But what about in the Middle East? Is there a chance that moderates live in places like Saudi Arabia or Iran?

Joel Rosenberg, from Syracuse University, offers evidence that moderates exist, even in the Middle East:

A ferocious battle is raging for the heart and soul of the Muslim world.

One side is the theology of the Radicals, which as we have seen teachers that true Islam requires violent men to wage violent jihad against apostates and infidels in the name of Allah.

On the other side is the theology of the Reformers, which teaches that true Islam is a religion of peace, that the Qur'an is a book of peace, and that the Radicals are perverting Islam to their own fascist, power-hungry ends.

Do we believe Rosenberg? Is there a chance that moderate Muslims exist, not only in America, but also in the Middle East? Are there individuals and groups willing to depart from the militant heritage of Islamic traditions? And if they do exist there, are there enough of them to make a political difference?

The world will spend a few years pondering these questions; we don't know the answers yet, but those answers will influence the lives of millions, for good or for evil. We know that there are moderate Muslims in America. Let us hope that they exist elsewhere, and in large number.