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Symposium: Anti-Fascists of Islam By: Jamie Glazov
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, March 14, 2008


Should we call true Muslim “moderates” the anti-Fascists of Islam? Do they deserve a much more honorable title than that of "moderate"? To discuss this issue with us today, Frontpage Symposium has assembled a distinguished panel. Our guests today are:

Wafa Sultan, a Syrian-American psychologist and internationally known critic of militant Islam.

Thomas Haidon, a Muslim commentator on human rights, counter-terrorism and Islamic affairs. He is active in the Qur'anist movement and works with a number of Islamic reform organisations as an advisor. He has provided guidance to several governments on counter-terrorism issues and his works have been published in legal periodicals, and other media. Mr... Haidon has also provided advice to and worked for United Nations agencies in Sudan and Indonesia.


Khalim Massoud, the president of Muslims Against Sharia, an Islamic reform movement.

Robert Spencer, a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of seven books, eight monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Religion of Peace?

and

Abul Kasem, an ex-Muslim who is the author of hundreds of articles and several books on Islam including, Women in Islam. He was a contributor to the book Leaving Islam – Apostates Speak Out as well as to Beyond Jihad: Critical Views From Inside Islam.

[No pic available due
to security reasons]

FP: Wafa Sultan, Abul Kasem, Thomas Haidon, Khalim Massoud and Robert Spencer, thank you for joining Frontpage Symposium.

In our previous symposium, The “Islamo-Fascism” Debate, Christopher Hitchens affirmed that calling anti-Fascist Muslims “moderates” was a “condescending terminology.” He commented that “the anti-fascists of Islam, who have born much of the heat and burden of the day, deserve a much more honorable title that that of ‘moderate’.”

And so Mr. Hitchens became the God-Father of this symposium.

Thomas Haidon, let me begin with you. Do you think Muslim moderates deserve a much more honorable title than that of “moderate”?

Haidon: Thank you for inviting me to take part in this discussion. Mr. Hitchens is right to recognise that there are a cadre of Muslims in the West and in the Islamic world who have fought, and are fighting against Islamist tyranny. I agree that it is timely to address his question as to whether the term "moderate Muslim" an adequate articulation.

But let's put the question aside for the moment. Let us assume, for an interlude, that "moderate Muslim" is an accurate label. Far more important than any label or title is the meaning that we ascribe to that label or title. Currently, there is no cohesive formulation as to what a moderate Muslim is. If we rely on the media, and misguided Western policy makers (and influencers) we see a distorted picture. We need to develop a clear understanding of what we mean by a moderate Muslim. Basically we need an objective test. Without a basic litmus test, it is impossible to understand the Muslim enemies of civilisation. So the starting point is to look at the characteristics of these people. In my view, a moderate Muslims, in order to be considered as such, must believe that:

  • the sources of Islam are organic, that is, capable of contextual interpretation and hermeneutics.
  • the recognition that Islam, as it is currently understood in terms of jurisprudence, is generally inconsistent with fundamental human rights.
  • the fundamental human rights of all persons, as enshrined in the international bill of rights (the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, Convention Against All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women) are respected without reservation
  • that Islam, and its sources, should be open to unfavourable comment, research and debate; and
  • Islam should be separated from the state, and that the implementation of shari'ah, at a legislative or policy level, must be opposed in order to protect fundamental human rights or all

There cannot be an absolute formulation. There may be degrees of moderacy taxonomy so to speak). For instance, Muslims residing in Muslim countries may exhibit most of the characteristics above but may advocate for some form of Islamic law. For Western Muslims however, I think that all of these criteria must be exhibited to truly fit the definition. To add further clarity, I think it is also useful to spell out the characteristics that a "moderate Muslim" is not required to believe or exhibit. While Moderate Muslims must support and fight for secularism, they do not have to be secular . They do not have to abandon religious and moral principles, nor are they required to lose their identity as Muslims, and simply blend into Western society. Similarly, they don't have to like the policies of Israel or the United State. They don't have to like perceived insults to Islam either.

At this stage we need to make a separation between effective moderate Muslims and just general non-Muslims. Effective moderate Muslims, not only holds these core beliefs, but has theological reasons for doing so, that are based on Islamic scripture. Indeed, there are many, many well intentioned moderate Muslims. Many of these moderate Muslims, however, are unable to articulate the reasons for their beliefs, or have weak bases in Islamic jurisprudence. An effective moderate Muslim leader openly justifies their beliefs with cogent and well structured arguments to challenge Islamists.

With a clearer understanding of some of the characteristics of moderate Muslims and effective moderate Muslim leaders, we can more easily discern who is and who is not. Under this framework, we can clearly identify false moderates. We can break down false moderates into two distinct categories I think we can break down false moderate Muslims into two separate categories. The first class of false moderate masks an Islamist agenda with progressive rhetoric and promises of "dialogue". This class of false moderates, using their rhetoric and double speak, are increasingly influencing Western policy. A second category of false moderates are those Muslims who pursue moderacy and modernity in order to further their economic and/or political agendas. This class of Muslims often closely aligns themselves with right-wing political outfits, and are championed, as genuine reformers because they "speak out" against Islam. In all cases, this class of false moderate fails to accompany their identification of the Islamic problem, with workable solutions. Both types of false moderates are dangerous.

So. Is "moderate Muslim" adequate? I'm still undecided. When I think of the term "moderate Muslim", I often associate it with the Qur'anic injunction for Muslims to follow the "straight path" (asiratal mustaqeem). To me, it means that the best path is the "middle path", a path that is neither extreme, nor apathetic. I think this is consistent with the term "moderate". However, according to some formulations of Islam, a Muslim can still follow the middle path and justifiably commit acts of terror and oppression. On a personal level, I consider the type of Muslim that Mr.. Hitchens refers to would be regarded as jihadi or muhajideen. I would argue this descriptor is most correct. These effective moderate Muslims are using Islam to combat terror and oppression, to their own peril. Some of these Muslims have placed the lives of themselves and their family at risk to fight, with words, and reason the tyranny of traditional Islam.

Kasem: Let us begin with the Koran, since it is the life-force of Islam. Is the Koran a book of ‘moderate’ Islam? The answer is certainly ‘no’. Because the Koran, in no uncertain terms, spells out that Islam is the only religion for mankind (Koran 2:120, 3:85, 5:3, 16:52). Allah says in verse 18:50 that Muslims must not follow the path of Satan. Whoever does not embrace Islam follows the path of Satan. It is the duty of every Muslim to fight Satan (4:76, 6:121). Fight in this case means to kill. Jews and Christians are offered some concessions, that they pay protection money (jizya) to save their lives. That is, in a perfect Islamic society, non-Muslims (Jews and Christians) buy their right of life by paying a price. For the pagans and idolaters, there is only one Islamic punishment–death by beheading.

Do the anti-fascistic and/or moderate Muslims accept those hateful and murderous verses of the Koran? If they do how could they be ‘moderate’? If they do not, how could they be Muslims, in the first place? In this case they are certainly apostates of Islam.

The Koran’s doctrine is Islamist conquering of the entire world and imposing Islamic laws (sharia) by force. Is this doctrine moderate?

I think Christopher Hitchins confuses us when he raises the question: Do they deserve a much more honorable title than that of "moderate"?

There cannot be a ‘moderate’ Muslim unless there is a moderate Koran, and consequently, moderate Islam. There cannot be ‘anti-fascists’ of Islam unless there is anti-fascistic Koran.

The reality is this: there is only one Koran, and only one Islam—the Islam preached, practiced, and enforced by Muhammad. In the Koran Allah says the decision of Muhammad is binding for all (33:36). There is no alternative when Muhammad had a decision on a matter.

The stark truth is: Islam is fascistic to the core. Those Muslims who pretend to be anti-fascists of Islam, I guess these Muslims, by and large, reside in infidel lands. Had they dared to propagate such views (anti-fascists of Islam) in any Islamic countries, they would probably face death sentences for blasphemy.

If they are anti-fascists of Islam, what prevents them from abandoning Islam?

To be safe, I think, these Muslims are playing the game of taqiyya and kitman.

Thomas Haidon mentions that Mr. Hitchens is right to recognise that there are cadres of Muslims in the West and in the Islamic world who have fought, and are fighting against Islamist tyranny.

This is quite amusing. Who are these Muslims? Why are they hiding under the cloak of ‘moderate’ Muslims? Why are these Muslims fearful to spread their voices against ‘Islamist tyranny’?

How could Thomas Haidon remain a Muslim when he repudiates Islam for ‘violating the fundamental human rights of all persons, as enshrined in the international bill of rights (the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, Convention Against All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women) are respected without reservation?’

Thomas Haidon considers the straight path mentioned in verse 6:153 as a moderate path. He is certainly incorrect. Ibn Kathir, the most revered exegete of the Koran writes that Muhammad drew a straight line on sand with his hand and said that that was his path, the straight line. He then drew two lines to the left and two lines to the right of that line and said that those were other paths, on each path there is a devil who calls to it. Then he recited this verse.

The above contextual reference clearly demonstrates that Islam is anything but a moderate path.

It is important to understand that Islam has its own versions of human rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, religious rights…and so on. These Islamic rights have been formulated by the Islamist scholars of (OIC). Led by Saudi Arabia, the formation of OIC is the first step in the process of Islamisation of the world.

It would be interesting to learn what Thomas Haidon has to say about OIC and its agenda of Islamisation of the world.

Moderate Islam (Muslims), anti-fascistic Islam (Muslims) are simply hilarious terms used to confound and confuse the western populace, who naively believe that Islam is peaceful, that only the extremists have hijacked Islam and gave it a bad name. They construe Islam as just like any other religion, such as Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and so on.

To these gullible non-Muslim folks I must say that Islam is fascistic, belligerent, and imperialistic. Muslims believe that there cannot be any permanent peace until the entire humanity surrenders to Islam. To this end, if peaceful ‘persuasion’ does not work, then sword must be used. Period.

FP: Well, Abul Kasem, moderate Muslims can exist in the sense that they might not be able to deny what is in the Koran, but they can reject it. And yes, engaging in this rejection might make them apostates in the eyes of Islam, but they can still see themselves as Muslims if they so choose. In other words, the problem is Islam, not the many Muslims, some of whom are with us today on this panel, who want to bring it into the modern and democratic world. We can’t simply pretend that they do not exist. And I think it would be unwise for us not to reach our hand out to them in solidarity.

Khalim Massoud, go ahead.

Massoud: I would like to compliment Mr. Hitchens for creating this new term. And what a great term it is. I would submit that 'anti-fascist of Islam' is not only much more honorable, but also much more descriptive than 'moderate Muslim.' 'Moderate Muslim', however accurate, is a mere description. 'Anti-fascist of Islam' is truly a title. The title we could proudly wear on our sleeve.

I agree with Mr. Haidon that we must develop a clear understanding what 'moderate Muslims' means. We also must consider the fact that an average Joe (no offence to average Joe) is quite ignorant about Islam and Muslims; majority of Westerners still seem to view Ummah as a monolith. Therefore, the litmus test Mr. Haidon proposes is a little too 'cerebral' for a person whose knowledge of Islam consists of clips, sound bites, and occasional articles, most of them produced by people with little or no understanding of Islam. I think that if we use the test that addresses issues simple enough for general public to relate to, the understanding what 'moderate Muslim' is will be more wide-ranging. So here's the test that was developed by Muslims Against Sharia with the help of our readers.

First, we define what 'radical Muslim' is. Radical Muslim is the one who believes in Islamic supremacy. Hence the urge to wage Jihad for world domination that usually involves killing or subjugating infidels. After we define the enemy, the 'radical', we define 'moderate' as the opposite to 'radical'.

Issue

Radical

Moderate

Anti-Semitism

Yes

No

Caliphate

Pro

Against

Criticism of Islam

No

Yes

Deceiving non-Muslims

Yes

No

Democracy

Against

Pro

Dhimmitude for non-Muslims

Pro

Against

Every deed (and word) of Prophet Muhammad (according
to Ahadith) was noble and is worthy of emulation

Yes

No

Freedom of (from) Religion

Against

Pro

Gender equality

Against

Pro

Gihad

Pro

Against

Government

Religious

Secular

Islamic reformation

Against

Pro

Islamic supremacy

Pro

Against

Israel

Against

Pro / Neutral

Koran over Constitution

Yes

No

Reaction to criticism of Islam or Prophet Muhammad

Anger / Violence

Reason / No reaction

Religious equality

Against

Pro

Sharia

Pro

Against

Terrorism

Pro / Neutral

Against

Theocracy

Pro

Against

Universal Human Rights

Against

Pro

Use of terms such as "Islamic terrorism" or "Islamofascism"

Object

Accept

Whitewashing terrorism

Yes

No

While this table could certainly be improved, it provides a good framework for a litmus test to identify true 'anti-fascists of Islam.'

Mr. Haidon refers to two groups of 'false moderates'. I absolutely agree with his first classification. I'd like to add that Islamists masquerading as moderates seem to be able to fool the majority of the general population. I think the latest outrage of URJ-ISNA alliance proves beyond any doubt that Muslim Brotherhood front groups mastered Taqiyya to the highest degree. But I believe his second category is inaccurate. Many people (not only Muslims), including two of the esteemed panelists, Dr. Sultan and Mr. Spencer are constantly being accused of speaking out against Islam, while, in fact, they are speaking out against Islamism. Constructive criticism of Islam is not the same as wholesale bashing of Islam, and I don't believe I've met a Muslim who is truly anti-Islamic. I've met some ex-Muslims who are, but that's another story.

I agree with Mr. Kasem that modern Koran is not the kindest religious text we have today. But we believe that the Koran has been corrupted over the centuries and on our website www.reformislam.org we provide logical arguments to support our beliefs. Mr. Kasem asks: "Do the anti-fascistic and/or moderate Muslims accept those hateful and murderous verses of the Koran?" The answer is "absolutely not!" The next point is: "If they do not, how could they be Muslims, in the first place?" The answer is: "We believe in Five Pillars of Islam, and most importantly we consider ourselves Muslims, that makes us Muslims." Of course, Muslim fundamentalist would consider us apostates, but since when do we care what they think? If we believed in their authority, we'd be running around slaying infidels instead of discussing the terms like 'anti-fascists of Islam.'

Mr. Kasem states, "There cannot be a 'moderate' Muslim unless there is a moderate Koran, and consequently, moderate Islam. There cannot be 'anti-fascists' of Islam unless there is anti-fascistic Koran." I submit to Mr. Kasem that there are Muslims who do not believe everything that there is in the Koran, especially, considering that some of the Koranic verses contradict each other. As for 'anti-fascist' Koran, it is available to everyone at www.reformislam.org/koran.php. Mr. Kasem asks: "If they are anti-fascists of Islam, what prevents them from abandoning Islam?" The answer is that unlike Mr. Kasem, we believe that Islam is inherently good and we can fix it by removing parts that could not have possibly come from Allah, the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate. Christianity of the Inquisition era did not look that attractive either, but look at it today. It's up to us, Muslims, to define what Islam is, not the other way around.

Sultan: In my last interview with Frontpage Magazine, I was asked who is a moderate Muslim? Below is the response I gave:

It’s a very important question and a subject of tremendous amount of confusion which is triggered in part by the media, many in the academia, leaders of interfaith dialogue and Western government officials. We are consistently told that only a small percentage of the Muslim population is radicalized and the rest are considered moderate Muslims. While it’s correct that only a small percentage of Muslims actively support and involved in terror acts, what about the rest?

Muslims who don’t agree with the strategy of terror as a means to accomplish their aspiration, yet consider the supremacist political ideology of Islamic domination under Sharia Law as the legitimate path for Muslims to follow, and do it through “cultural Jihad”, are they considered moderates?

I don’t believe so. In that case, who are moderate Muslims?

In my opinion, a moderate Muslim is one who fully supports separation of state

and religion, rejects implementation of Sharia law and believes that it has no binding with Western codes of human-rights. A moderate Muslim is one who respects and supports our western system of liberal democracy; including equal rights of all religions, races and gender.

Last and not least, moderate Muslims ought to be courageous and honest enough to condemn crimes done in the name of Islam and admit that these crimes are all committed with the implicit approval of traditional Islamic theology.

Having said that, only a very small number of Muslims are considered moderates and these people need to be supported and empowered.

People in the West make the mistake of accepting the claim that moderate Muslims are those who are against terror. This is a crucial point because I believe most Muslims are indeed against terror. But, it is not necessarily because many of them think it’s morally wrong to kill the non-Muslims, rather, they understand that terror is a futile strategy for Islam to achieve its goal of domination. So, “Moderate” Muslims like the leaders of ISNA, (Islamic society of North America) engage in interfaith dialogue know very well how to “play the game.” They are rather successful in our politically correct environment.

Here is a good example; Zaki Badawi was one of the most distinguished UK Muslim leaders and theologians and a doyen of Interfaith dialogue. He died a few years ago. Dr. Ephraim Karsh, the head of the Mediterranean Studies Program and Islamic scholar at King College in the UK, wrote the book; “Islam's Imperial Dreams.” In his book he quotes Zaki Badawi’s statement as a testament to the issue of Islam and its imperial aspiration. "Islam is a universal religion. It aims to bring its message to all corners of the earth. It hopes that one day the whole of humanity will be one Muslim community." A different quote by Badawi states that Muslim theology "is a theology of the majority."

Badawi was the best of the lot, which tells something about the problem we face. The implicit gist is that the term “Islamist” somewhat misleading. Islam is political by nature and, as a universal religion, it aspires at world domination. Unlike Christianity, which lost its messianic drive ages ago and has undergone a process of modernization and secularization, Islam has retained its conquering impetus to date. So, the difference between the Badawis and the Bin Ladens relates to the means they are prepared to use. But the ultimate goal is the same; namely one world under Islam and its Sharia Law.

Now, please tell me how would people in the West who adhere to protection of our way of life define Zaki Badawi? Is he indeed a “progressive” moderate Muslim? I can provide numerous other examples similar to this one, but I believe it sums up the challenge of perception related to this issue.

Spencer: Thomas Haidon is certainly correct that “currently, there is no cohesive formulation as to what a moderate Muslim is.” Both liberal and conservative media figures and even law enforcement officials have been content to anoint any Muslim as a “moderate” and a spokesman for the Muslim community in the U.S., even if he has no following or influence whatsoever, as long as he issues a bland disavowal of “terrorism.”

A disavowal of the Islamic supremacist agenda is on no one’s radar screen – with the result that, as the magnificent Wafa Sultan has pointed out regarding Zaki Badawi, Muslims who share the exact same goals as Osama bin Laden but are pursuing them through non-violent means are celebrated by gullible Westerners as “moderates.” The list of false moderates who have been embraced by media and government is embarrassingly long, and is headed by the formerly influential and currently imprisoned Abdurrahman Alamoudi and Sami Al-Arian.

A rejection of that supremacist agenda in both word and deed is an essential prerequisite for those Muslims who wish to live in peace with non-Muslims as equals on an indefinite basis, without trying ultimately to subjugate them as dhimmis under the rule of Islamic law.

As for Mr. Haidon’s other criteria, his first, that “the sources of Islam are organic, that is, capable of contextual interpretation and hermeneutics,” is already widely accepted by Muslims. They just don’t always come to contextual interpretations that respect the rights and dignity of non-Muslims as human beings created by God and worthy of respect.

In his eighth-century biography of Muhammad, Ibn Ishaq explains the contexts of various verses of the Qur'an by saying that Muhammad received revelations about warfare in three stages: first, tolerance; then, defensive warfare; and finally, offensive warfare in order to convert the unbelievers to Islam or make them pay the jizya (see Qur'an 9:29, Sahih Muslim 4294, etc.).

Mainstream Qur’an commentaries by Ibn Kathir, Ibn Juzayy, As-Suyuti and others also emphasize that the Qur’an’s ninth sura, which contains an exhortation to make war against and subjugate Jews and Christians under Islamic rule (9:29), abrogates every peace treaty in the Qur'an.

In the modern age, this idea of stages of development in the Qur'an's teaching on jihad, culminating in offensive warfare to establish the hegemony of Islamic law, has been affirmed by the jihad theorists Sayyid Qutb and Maulana Maududi, as well as by the Pakistani Brigadier S. K. Malik (author of The Qur’anic Concept of War), Saudi Chief Justice Sheikh Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Humaid (in his “Jihad in the Qur'an and Sunnah”), and others. It is, of course, an assertion of no little concern to non-Muslims, since it encapsulates a doctrine of warfare against non-Muslims and their ultimate subjugation under Sharia rules, with all that implies.

And it is based on “contextual interpretation and hermeneutics” of the Qur’an. So on that basis I would rephrase Mr. Haidon’s first criteria to say that a moderate, or anti-Fascist, or non-supremacist Muslim would affirm that the sources of Islam are capable of new contextual interpretation and hermeneutics, and that Muslims are not bound to adhere to interpretations and rulings that are orthodox, traditional and mainstream.

Mr. Haidon’s other criteria for genuine moderation are reasonable, as are most of his caveats about what non-supremacist Muslims should not be expected or required to accept. I don’t like many current policies of the Israeli and American governments either, although I expect that Mr. Haidon and I dislike different policies. I do take issue, however, with his statement that non-supremacist Muslims “don't have to like perceived insults to Islam either.” The question involved in issues such as the Danish cartoons of Muhammad is not whether or not someone likes insults to Muhammad or any other religious figure. The question is whether one is willing to put up with such insults and keep the peace with one’s neighbors who don’t share one’s religious convictions. Free speech is an essential prerequisite in a society in which people have differing views on fundamental issues. Free speech laws were formulated precisely to protect speech that offended others – in the U.S., the offended parties were the British authorities who objected to talk of American independence. If a group is placed off limits for criticism and even ridicule, that group becomes a protected class, with a privileged position in society, and the idea of equality of rights before the law is dead.

Meanwhile, Abul Kasem’s statement that “there cannot be a ‘moderate’ Muslim unless there is a moderate Koran, and consequently, moderate Islam” is true insofar as those who identify themselves as Muslims are aware of and care about the contents of the Qur’an and Islamic teaching, unless they are conscious reformers who reject the Qur’an’s violence and supremacism. But there are large numbers of people who are culturally Muslim but who have no interest in working to implement all aspects of Qur’anic teaching. This may not be solely because they are indifferent to religious matters. For a variety of reasons the jihad ideology was deemphasized, particularly in Central and Southeast Asia, West Africa, and Eastern Europe for several centuries. Muslims lived devout lives with no emphasis on it. Were they not practicing Islam? Of course they were practicing Islam, as it was conceptualized in that time and place, but these teachings were not part of that practice at that time. Unfortunately, however, they were never formally rejected, and are being reasserted today by jihad recruiters who quote Qur’an, Sunnah, and fiqh in order to support their positions.

That's why I call on peaceful Muslims to confront these aspects of Islam, and formulate new ways to understand these texts, so as to blunt the force of the jihadist recruitment.

Turning to Mr. Massoud’s criteria for moderation, they are generally fine – but considering the deep roots in the Qur’an and Sunnah that many of the Muslim beliefs and practices he rejects have, it becomes clear that if any non-supremacist version of Islam is ever to become lastingly viable, it must be based on an explicit and emphatic rejection of Qur’anic literalism – or else it will collapse under the weight of proof texts invoked by Islamic supremacists. Of course, Islamic supremacists will fiercely assail a non-literal Islam as inauthentic and untraditional, a snare of the Shaytan, and will threaten its adherents with death. Only if it attains sufficient support among Muslims in spite of all this will it have any chance of survival. While this is not theoretically impossible, non-Muslims should not get their hopes up too high: it never happened thus far in 1400 years of Islamic history.

Haidon: Where do I begin with Mr. Kasem? Let me first say that I'm pleased I have been able to amuse Mr. Kasem. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same in response to his rejoinder, which is filled with "absolutes and certitudes", gross mischaracterisations, and baseless accusations and paternalistic insults. It is difficult to engage in a robust debate and discussion when someone uses such tactics. I have constructively engaged with a number of ex-Muslims, including Ibn Waraq and Dr Ali Sina, who are knowledgeable yet who do not speak with the vindictiveness and inflexibility of Mr. Kasem. I respect these men, and the assistance they provide to persons who wish to leave Islam.

To begin with, I don't take issue with Mr. Kasem on his characterisation of traditional Islam; this is largely a picture that has been constructed by Muslims themselves. His views on traditional Islam are a reflection of reality. I also appreciate, at a basic level, his scepticism for "reformers". Often, so called moderates as I have discussed above speak in two voices. We have countless examples. This is where any convergence of our ideas ends however.

I will address a couple of points from Mr. Kasem's rejoinder.

There cannot be a 'moderate' Muslim unless there is a moderate Koran, and consequently, moderate Islam. There cannot be 'anti-fascists' of Islam unless there is anti-fascistic Koran.

The reality is this: there is only one Koran, and only one Islam—the Islam preached, practiced, and enforced by Muhammad. In the Koran Allah says the decision of Muhammad is binding for all (33:36). There is no alternative when Muhammad had a decision on a matter.

The stark truth is: Islam is fascistic to the core. Those Muslims who pretend to be anti-fascists of Islam, I guess these Muslims, by and large, reside in infidel lands. Had they dared to propagate such views (anti-fascists of Islam) in any Islamic countries, they would probably face death sentences for blasphemy. If they are anti-fascists of Islam, what prevents them from abandoning Islam? To be safe, I think, these Muslims are playing the game of taqiyya and kitman.


I find this statement particularly troubling. While there is only one Qur'an, there are a number of formulations of Islam, including liberal formulations which view the Qur'an contextually. I concede however, that these movements are minority movements that carry minimal weight in the wider Ummah. I also concede that while there are several formulations of Islam, there are common threads and theme that tie them together, which include jihad, dhimmitude and the exploitation of women and non-Muslim minorities.

There are however, Muslims challenging these interpretations of the Qur'an. For instance, in recent times, true anti-facist Muslims have developed new translations and commentaries on the Qur'an in order to address and indeed pacify traditionalist interpretations. These include:

· The Qur'an: A Reformist Translation

· The Message: God's Message to Humanity

· Qur'an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text

The Muslims behind these texts have challenged traditional understandings of the Qur'an through well argued methodologies. They have challenged Mr. Kasem's assumptions of the Qur;an, and demonstrated that there is not one understanding, and that the Qur'an can be read and understood in a manner consistent with human rights. While these formulations are not mainstream, and may never become mainstream they represent valiant, well developed attempts to countenance centuries of esoteric Qur'anic exegesis.

Thomas Haidon mentions that Mr. Hitchens is right to recognise that there are cadres of Muslims in the West and in the Islamic world who have fought, and are fighting against Islamist tyranny.

This is quite amusing. Who are these Muslims? Why are they hiding under the cloak of 'moderate' Muslims? Why are these Muslims fearful to spread their voices against 'Islamist tyranny'?

How could Thomas Haidon remain a Muslim when he repudiates Islam for 'violating the fundamental human rights of all persons, as enshrined in the international bill of rights (the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, Convention Against All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women) are respected without reservation?'

It is important to understand that Islam has its own versions of human rights, women's rights, children's rights, religious rights…and so on. These Islamic rights have been formulated by the Islamist scholars of (OIC). Led by Saudi Arabia, the formation of OIC is the first step in the process of Islamisation of the world.

It would be interesting to learn what Thomas Haidon has to say about OIC and its agenda of Islamisation of the world.

Moderate Islam (Muslims), anti-fascistic Islam (Muslims) are simply hilarious terms used to confound and confuse the western populace, who naively believe that Islam is peaceful, that only the extremists have hijacked Islam and gave it a bad name. They construe Islam as just like any other religion, such as Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and so on.

Who are these Muslims? There are many. These reformers, who apparently do not exist in Mr. Kasem's mind, are on the front lines against terrorism. They are viewed, by their co-religionists, as Mr. Kasem is, apostates to Islam. Yet they do not hide behind monikers, nicknames or computers, they challenge the status quo and the ulaema's who wallow in it. Many have lost their life, and have suffered greatly for challenging the status quo. Some of these great, true anti-fascist Muslims include:

· Hasan Mahmud

· Tarek Abdelhamid

· Ahmed Subhy Mansour

· Abdulahi' Naim

· Kassim Ahmed

· Layath Al Shaiban

· Mohammed Taha

· Rashid Khalifa

· Edip Yuksel

· Amina Wadud

· Aisha Musa

· Ferydoun Taslimi

There are many, many others. For clarification, many of the names on this list operate, or have operated as reformers within Muslim countries. For purposes of clarity, I would like to ask if Mr. Kasem would find it appropriate to accuse these Muslims of taqiyya and kitman. I understand that Mr. Kasem is affiliated with the Secular Muslim movement.

One of the names above, on this list, works quite closely with this movement, and remains a devout Muslim. I wonder if Mr. Kasem would sweep him aside as a taqiyya practioner, or would refuse to acknowledge his good works. I wonder if Mr. Kasem thinks it is "simply hilarious" that Muslims like Mohammed Taha and Rashid Khalifa paid with their lives for fighting Islamic terror.

I thank Mr. Kasem for advising me that it is important to realise that Islam has its own version of human rights, et al. However, as indicated previously there is no singular formulation of Islam, nor is Islam united under a singular leadership. I don't think Mr. Kasem will find my remarks about the OIC very interesting. The OIC is an abysmal Islamist organisation, which is focused on imposing shar'iah at a global scale and works towards the establishment of the Caliphate. They are an instrumentality of the Muslim Brotherhood (despite Shi'a connections) and organisations that sympathise with Islamic terror. It is unfortunate that Western policymakers have chosen to engage this entity and the ulaema who form its leadership.

I remain Muslim, because I do not accept the traditionalist formulation of Islam. I have chosen to use my intellect to guide me, and my understanding of the Qur'an. I could not accept Islam if I believed that the traditional construct of Islam was "correct". I would join the ranks of Mr. Kasem if this were the case. The Qur'an is an organic scripture that is capable of contextual interpretation. The hermeneutics of the Qur'an has never been a "settled" issue in Islamic jurisprudence. Fuqaha have been divided on methods. So to say there is only one method for looking at the Qur'an: a literalist, positivist approach is simply wrong. In summary, Mr. Kasem has provided a bitter and vindictive rejoinder which not only attacks traditional Islam, but those Muslims who choose to fight traditional Islam. It is an over inclusive, and un-strategic approach that smacks of ignorance and intellectual laziness.

I admire Mr. Massoud for his courage to speak out against traditional Islam. However, I find it flabbergasting that Mr. Massoud rejects parts of the Qur'an, instead of trying to rationalise them, but appears to accept the Sunnah of Muhammad without reservation. This is evident through his acceptance of the 5 pillar standard, which is based on specific ahadith and not Qur'an. While I have no doubt that Mr. Massoud is courageous and genuine, I believe his efforts are severely misguided. Unfortunately, Mr. Massoud has not provided "logical arguments", here or on his website, to support his position for unilaterally removing parts of the Qur'an. If Mr. Massoud is attempting to construct a similar argument to the great reformer Mohammed Taha, he should do so in clear and unmistakable terms. Mr. Massoud calls on Muslims to fight Islamo-fascism, yet he provides no effective tools to do so. I would like to see Mr. Massoud prove me wrong, through effective arguments, not a "pick and choose" approach to Islam. That said, he adds further clarity to the formulation question.

I am in complete agreement with Ms Sultan, and I see similarities between our formulations. Our formulations provide an effective litmus test for determining who in fact is moderate.

Mr. Spencer is right to call me out on my remark that Muslims do not have to "like perceived insults towards Islam". My statement requires a slight modification. While Muslims do not have to like insults to Islam, they must tolerate them along the lines of Mr. Spencer's suggestion. This particularly applies to Muslims in the West. Muslims, who wish to express and manifest their anger towards these so called insults should do so, not towards the Geert Wilders of the world, or the Danish cartoonists of the world, but inward. It is Muslims who are responsible for creating the environment which gives rise to these "insults" and unfavourable social commentary on Islam. It is Muslims who have, on a grand scale, failed to address issues of terrorism, human rights abuses, and fascism within Islam. There is an open double standard. Muslims are free to denigrate Christians, Jews and other non-Muslims in khutbah and other fora, yet cannot tolerate criticism or satire. This hypocrisy must end.

Kasem: It is good that Mr. Massoud has provided an elaborate table listing what a ‘moderate’ Muslim should accept from Islam and what he should not. Curiously, if any Muslim follows the list he will no longer remain a Muslim; he becomes an apostate. So what is the difference between an ex-Muslim, such as I, and a new Muslim a-la-Khalim Massoud?

Mr. Massoud says: “I agree with Mr. Kasem that modern Koran is not the kindest religious text we have today.”

It is bewildering. Who has written this ‘modern’ Koran? We always thought there is only one Koran, written by Allah during the life time of Muhammad. Now Mr. Massoud wants us to believe that there is a new version of the Koran, ‘the modern’ Koran. I would request Mr. Massoud to tell us where can we buy or read this modern Koran.

Mr. Massoud has a love-hate relationship with Islam. This is quite interesting. He does not like those murderous, hateful and barbaric verses of the Koran, yet he believes in the five pillars of Islam. It is just contradictory: all those five pillars of Islam are based on the Koran, so how could Mr. Massoud repudiate Koran in one hand while embracing it in another hand?

This is really quite amusing.

Any way, I think what. Mr Massoud and his compatriots are doing might be good for humankind, if they are successful in convincing the Islamic ummah, who consider the Koran the ultimate words of Allah, and binding to every Muslim.

Ms. Sultan has provided a good definition of a moderate Muslim. She says: In my opinion, a moderate Muslim is one who fully supports separation of state and religion, rejects implementation of Sharia law and believes that it has no binding with Western codes of human-rights. A moderate Muslim is one who respects and supports our western system of liberal democracy; including equal rights of all religions, races and gender.

This is a very comprehensive, clear and unambiguous definition of a so-called ‘moderate’ Muslim. I fully agree with her.

Nevertheless, by this definition, almost all Muslims, whether living in the West or in Islamic paradises, are not ‘moderate’; they are fundamentalists, such as Dr. Mahathir, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia. Sadly, to the western politicians, Dr. Mahathir is a ‘moderate’ Muslim.

So what is the difference between a ‘moderate’ Muslim such as Dr. Mahathir and the Islamist terrorist Osama bin Laden? The answer is that there is no distinction. Their goal is the same—the Islamisation of the world. The contrast is only in the tactics adopted. A fundamentalist (moderate) such as Dr. Mahathir wants to convert the world to Islam through non-violent means, whereas bin Laden wants to Islamize the world through intimidation, terror and murder—the fascistic way.

Robert Spencer maintains that Koranic verses are contextual-based. This might be true for a very handful of verses. According to my study, I noted that out of 6239 verses in the Koran there are only around 698 verses which have any contextual references. This means only around 11 percent of the Koranic verses have any context. What this means is that most Koranic verses have no time, space, or event dependency. Koranic verses are valid for eternity. Thus, if a verse says to kill the apostates and/or unbelievers, that provision is valid forever.

It is good that Mr. Spencer has confirmed my contention by alluding to Islamic scholars such as: Syed Qutb, Maulana Maudoodi, Brigadier S. K. Malik, and Sheikh Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Humaid…etc.

I am glad that Mr. Spencer has correctly identified that the Koran is the problem.

Mr. Haidon has no kind words for me, I wonder why. I did not attack him personally, I just criticized Islam for its stand on infidels. It was too much for Mr, Haidon. Unable to defend the Koran, he lost his patience and tolerance and cast aspersions on me.

Any way, I appreciate Mr Haidon for his effort to give Islam a civilized face. However, I am surprised at the contradictions in Mr Haidon’s statements. Here is one:

“While these formulations are not mainstream, and may never become mainstream they represent valiant, well developed attempts to countenance centuries of esoteric Qur'anic exegesis.”

So what is the point of reforming the Koran when it will never become mainstream Islam? Has Mr. Haidon contemplated this?

It is good that Mr. Haidon has supplied the name of twelve modern-day reformists of Islam. Including Mr. Haidon, this list becomes thirteen. I have not underestimated the efforts of these intrepid Muslims to reform Islam from within Islam. The only trouble is, these Muslims are, perhaps, treated by the mainstream Islam as apostates of Islam.

So, where does this leave us Mr. Haidon? What is the difference between them and an apostate like me?—it is the same question I asked Mr. Massoud.

Further, if my information is correct, I guess all these reformists of Islam live in western countries. Why is it that they dare not start any Islamist reformist movement from an Islamic Paradise? Does not this demonstrate the extent of tolerance in Islam?

Mr. Haidon wrote: “For purposes of clarity, I would like to ask if Mr. Kasem would find it appropriate to accuse these Muslims of taqiyya and kitman?”

Mr Haidon, I believe they are sincere, though they are feeble. When I talked of taqiyya and kitman I did not mean these new breed of Islamist reformers. I meant those cunning and conniving Islamists who want to establish Islamic empires in the west through insidious tactics and lobbying.

Like Mr. Massoud, Mr. Haidon has a love-hate relationship with Islam. He hates Islam for what it is doing today around the globe, yet he loves Islam by inventing an imaginary Islam, which neither the Koran supports, nor does the Ummah. It is unfortunate, that even after admitting that Islam is fascistic Mr. Haidon and Mr. Massoud cannot yet cut their umbilical cords with Islam. Such is the power of Islam’s hold on its adherents.

Mr. Haidon, I think there is only one Islam, the Islam contained in the Koran, the ahadith and Sunna—the Islam preached, practiced, and enforced by Muhammad. Correct me if I am wrong.

Mr. Haidon, I agree that I hide myself under the internet, and use a pen name. So does ibn Warraq, and many other ex-Muslims who criticize Islam for its savagery, barbarism, hatred, and cruelty. . I am sure, Mr. Haidon, you know the reason why we have to hide ourselves. It is simply because your brothers in Islam would love to kill us should they learn about our whereabouts.

What do you think this speaks of Islamic tolerance, Mr. Haidon? You might be tolerant, but Islam is not. Islam is fascistic; I doubt your effort will render it anti-fascistic.

Massoud: I find Dr. Sultan's definition of a moderate Muslim quite accurate, especially the part of separating false moderates who are involved in non-violent Jihad from true moderates who reject Islamic supremacy. This huge distinction seems to be lost on most Westerners.

Mr. Haidon states, "I find it flabbergasting that Mr. Massoud rejects parts of the Qur'an, instead of trying to rationalise them, but appears to accept the Sunnah of Muhammad without reservation. This is evident through his acceptance of the 5 pillar standard, which is based on specific ahadith and not Qur'an."

We (Muslims Against Sharia) believe that rationalizing parts of the Koran that call for violence instead of rejecting them is just as disingenuous as rationalizing terrorism instead of rejecting it. Any horrendous event, including 9/11 or burning Saudi schoolgirls alive could be rationalized. Besides, if we were to assume that the Koran in its entirety is a literal word of God, there would be nothing to rationalize. We'd have to do exactly what it commands: "kill them [infidels] wherever you find them." Our acceptance of 5 pillars does not constitute the evidence that we accept the Sunnah without reservation. As a matter of fact, we specifically reject some of the practices that were employed by the Prophet himself.

Mr. Haidon also states, "Mr. Massoud has not provided "logical arguments", here or on his website, to support his position for unilaterally removing parts of the Qur'an."

This is factually incorrect. We provided our arguments many times in many different venues, including our site and FrontPage forums, but I would sum them up again:

- God is infallible

- The doctrine of abrogation contradicts the doctrine of God's infallibility, therefore it is invalid

- Koranic contradictions also contradict the doctrine of God's infallibility, therefore at least some of the contradictory verses did not come from God.

If Mr. Haidon does not have to agree with our logic, I challenge him to prove it's false.

Further, Mr. Haidon states, "Mr. Massoud calls on Muslims to fight Islamo-fascism, yet he provides no effective tools to do so."

Again, I would have to respectfully disagree. Our manifesto (http://reformislam.org/) provides 14 specific points, which reform Islam into a true Religion of Peace. If every Muslim followed those points, Islamic terrorism would disappear overnight.

Mr. Kasem asks, "[W]hat is the difference between an ex-Muslim, such as I, and a new Muslim a-la-Khalim Massoud?"

The main difference is that I do consider myself a Muslim; I choose to be Muslim by my own free will. And nobody in the world, whether it is an Islamic fundamentalist who considers me an apostate or an ex-Muslim, who also seem to consider me an apostate, cannot take it away from me.

As with "modern Koran", Mr. Kasem seems to be slightly confused. By "modern Koran", I mean a prevalent version of the Koran, which we believe is corrupted. Our (reformed) version is available on our site at http://www.reformislam.org/koran.php.

Mr. Kasem asks, "It is just contradictory … how could Mr. Massoud repudiate Koran in one hand while embracing it in another hand?"

We do not repudiate the Koran as a whole, nor do we embrace the Koran as a whole, therefore, there is no contradiction.

Spencer: I am glad to see Thomas Haidon affirm that “while Muslims do not have to like insults to Islam, they must tolerate them along the lines of Mr. Spencer's suggestion.” I hope many other Muslims follow his lead in this. However, realistically, it is highly unlikely that many will ever do so. Abul Kasem asks, “So what is the point of reforming the Koran when it will never become mainstream Islam?” It is a good and important question. Perhaps the best answer would be that to do so at least provides some hope for those Muslims who do not want to live under Sharia, but who see little or no alternative to the traditional legal formulations of Islam that are being aggressively reasserted today around the world.

The danger is always that Western analysts and policymakers will attach exaggerated importance to reformist Muslims, and take them as mainstream when actually they represent few in the Islamic world beyond themselves. This already happens on a routine basis in the U.S., where sincere and insincere Muslim reformers are given platforms by the mainstream media (both liberal and conservative) and by government and law enforcement officials who do not realize, or who do not dare to allow themselves to realize, that these reformers are actually quite eccentric within the Muslim community, and do not represent a mainstream position. To say this does not mean that we should not offer these reformers, when they are sincere, our full support; it just means that we should not do so in a way that hinders realistic analysis of the jihad problem in the U.S. and around the world.

FP: Wafa Sultan, Abul Kasem, Thomas Haidon, Khalim Massoud and Robert Spencer, thank you for joining Frontpage Symposium.


Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine's editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in Russian, U.S. and Canadian foreign policy. He is the author of Canadian Policy Toward Khrushchev’s Soviet Union and is the co-editor (with David Horowitz) of The Hate America Left. He edited and wrote the introduction to David Horowitz’s Left Illusions. His new book is United in Hate: The Left's Romance with Tyranny and Terror. To see his previous symposiums, interviews and articles Click Here. Email him at jglazov@rogers.com.


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