This is the concluding part of the series Unfinished Agendas of Radical Islam. In this I don’t discuss any case but address the myth of the moderate Muslim.
Dear Moderate Muslim,
I am sure this open letter will never reach you for the simple reason that you don’t exist.
Moderate Muslim is the figment of the secular Hindu’s imagination. Moderate Muslim is the creation of the useful idiot of the Hindu society, who is unable to understand the nature of radical Islam.
I have been told again and again by a long list of secular, liberal and multicultural friends that when I criticize Islam I also have to think about the moderate Muslim and assume him to be the real guardian of Islam. But I have looked for vain, and I have looked for years. And I am not alone. The search for the moderate Muslim is nothing less than the search for El Dorado. Everyone talks about it. Everyone swears by it. Everyone thinks all problems in the world will be solved when he is found. But no one has ever found a moderate Muslim. It remains a mirage; a daydream; the wishful thinking of the non-Muslim who refuses to accept that fundamentalism lies at the very heart of Islam.
I say this because moderation requires a commitment to change. Sticking to fundamentals, refusal to accommodate rival points of view, rigid following of radical ideology are the antithesis of moderation. Moderation cannot be claimed by semantics alone. Moderation requires that extremism is permanently sworn off. Moderation requires that the extremists are opposed more urgently than the ‘others’. Moderation demands that the views of the ‘others’ are not only tolerated but accepted. Moderation asks that racist, genocidal and xenophobic views are controlled. Moderation requires permanent changes in the fundamentalist ideology. Moderation requires tolerance. Moderation demands an acceptance of the ‘other’.
But, you my imaginary ‘moderate Muslim’, have done no such thing. And I will show you how. Let us start with the fundamentals.
Extremism is not a peripheral feature of Islam. It lies at the very heart of it. A non-Muslim does not have to spend a lot of time with Islam to find extremism. Intolerance of each and every kind of ‘other’ finds him at the very doorstep: at the first pillar of Islam: the Shahada.
The Shahada declares: “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his Messenger.”
A Muslim greets a non-Muslim by declaring that the non-Muslim God or gods are demons, devils and figments of his imagination. That there is no God but Allah. The extremist Muslim holds this intolerance exclusivist view. But so does the moderate Muslim.
My dear moderate Muslim, moderation would require that you reject the Shahadah. Moderation would require that you would at least change it to accommodate other gods and goddesses. Any chance of a peaceful dialogue with the non-Muslim ends the moment you commit yourself to the Shahadah and reject all gods of the non-Muslim.
The extremist Muslim believes that Islam is the only true religion and all other religions are false and their followers will rot in Hell once the Qayamat arrives. That “there can more than one path to truth” has to be accepted as the basic premise of moderation. But the moderate Muslim also believes that all other paths lead to Hell.
Moderation would require that basic human rights are extended to all, regardless of the religion, creed and ethnicity. But the fact that Islam divides humankind between two exclusive group of ‘us’ vs. ‘them’, in which the ‘othering’ is so complete that non-Muslims are not only ordained to go to Hell but are also denied all basic rights in this world as well. Islam practices equality only between the believers. The non-believers are fair game for every sort of crime, be it abduction, rape, slavery or murder.
Moderation would require that you do not consider women as inferior to men. Moderation would require that you not only reject burqa but wage a movement against its use. Moderation would require that you demand that women can also go to the mosque. The fact that you also think that a woman without burqa arouses unpious thoughts in otherwise pious Muslim men by not covering every inch of her skin shows that you have no respect for women rights and you consider them object of sexual desire and machines of reproduction.
Moderation would require that a basic equality of all in front of law is allowed to all. The Islamic law Shariat demands that the testimony of the non-Muslim does not hold in a court of law. The Islamic law demands that the testimony of a woman is only half as worthy as that of a man. This is the stuff of extremism. That the moderate Muslim does not even breathes a whimper against this basic legal discrimination attests to his non-existence.
Moderation would require that you accept the secular law as above and supreme to the religious law. The fact that just like the extremist Muslim, you also believe that the only law which binds you is the law of Islam, the Shariat shows your disrespect towards the very idea of democracy and law. This is not the stuff of moderation. This is stuff of extreme radicalization.
Moderation would require that art is given a free hand; that the artist, within limits is permitted to create human as well as animal figures as he wishes to. The fact that you also consider this wrong shows that you are no different from the extremist Muslim.
Moderation would require that you would accept the testimony of science, and most of all of Evolution and that man evolved just like all other animals and plants and is not a special creation of Allah or any other god. The fact that you still stick to the dogmas propagated in the Quran instead of accepting the testimony of science shows that you are no different from the extremist Muslim.
Moderation would require that you accept that knowledge and truth are possible outside the realms of Islam both in time and space. For that you would have to reject the concept of Jahiliya, the concept that the time before Islam was revealed to Muhammad was a time of ignorance.
Moderation would require an acceptance of the fact that direct contact with divinity is possible and that there can be more than one messenger for God. The fact that you think this is impossibility just like an extremist Muslim shows that you really are a figment of the imagination of a useful idiot.
The Quran contains some extremely intolerant and problematic verses about the non-Muslims in which the Muslims are exhorted to kill non-Muslims wherever they are found. Moderation would require that you reject at least these verses of the Quran. Moderation would require that you would argue for changing these verses so that cohabitation of Muslims with fellow non-Muslims would start to become a reality. The fact that you don’t do that once again shows your non-existence.
Moderation would require that Muslims are allowed to leave Islam; that they are allowed to follow other gods if they wish so and no god if they wish so. The fact that you consider this a crime punishable by death, shows that there is no difference between you and the extremist Muslim.
For you may not have been the terrorist, but you did not want the kaffir to live either. You weren’t the terrorist, but you also think that Kaffirs commit a crime by just being non-Muslims, that they have to convert to Islam. You may not be the terrorist, but you also think that being a non-Muslim is a sin in itself.
You were not the terrorist who shot that woman to death in Afghanistan for teaching her children to read, but you are the one who supports burqa and criminal subjugation of women. You were not the terrorist who gang-raped pagan Yazidi women in Iraq, but you always maintained that the worth of a non-Muslim life is always less than a Muslim life.
You weren’t the one who engaged in the Noakhali massacre of Hindus, or the Moplah riots, but you also accepted the two-nation theory, you also accepted that it is impossible for Muslims to live under the rule of Hindus, in a secular country.
You are not the one who kills Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh but you are the one who accepts that the only way Hindus can survive in an Islamic country is to live like second class citizens who do not even get to cremate their dead.
You were not the terrorist who killed the apostates of Islam in Bangladesh, Pakistan and many other countries, but you also think that it is legal to kill apostates.
You do not throw gays from the rooftops in Iraq but you also think that sodomy should be punishable by death or by lashes at least.
You might not be the terrorist who gang-raped and sawed in half the body of Girija Tickoo, while she was still alive, in Kashmir, but you supported the ethnic cleansing of Hindus that was going on. You also believed that Kashmir is only for Muslims and that Hindu lives do not matter.
While the extremist Muslim gets into the field and accomplishes all the goals discussed above, you, my moderate Muslim, help and facilitate him in civil society, by creating a movement conducive to his goals. You help him by silencing the dissent among the Hindus, those Hindus who really see radical Islam for what he is. You are the smokescreen that the Islamic terrorist uses to kill non-Muslims in their sleep wherever they are found. You are the diversion that the Islamic terrorist uses. You are the Shaheen Bagh that makes possible a 26/11.
You weren’t the Islamic terrorist. But you were the culture that built him. You were the bullet in his AK-47. You were the bomb that he threw.
P.S. You must be wondering who I am referring to, as the moderate Muslim doesn’t exist. I said before I started that the moderate Muslim is the figment of the secular Hindu’s imagination; and that is who I am really addressing this open letter to. The moderate Muslim is his creation. He is responsible for waking up from this daydream and start taking stock of the reality. The sooner he does so, the better chances are for the Hindu society to survive.
Featured Image: Patheos
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Pankaj Saxena is a scholar of History, Hindu Architecture and Literature. He has visited more than 400 sites of ancient Hindu temples and photographed the evidence. He has been writing articles, research papers and reviews in various print and online newspapers and magazines. He currently works as the Asst. Professor, Centre for Indic Studies, Indus University, Ahmedabad. He has authored three books so far. He maintains a blog at http://literaryfalcon.wordpress.com/