This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

← Islam's Silent Moderates

Islam's Silent Moderates - Comments

maton100's Avatar Comment 1 by maton100

What a great religion. Where do I sign up?

Fri, 07 Dec 2007 10:29:00 UTC | #90732

John Frum's Avatar Comment 2 by John Frum

Plenty of forum members here often speak kindly of these "moderate" Muslims, but I have yet to hear or see one. Perhaps they can shed some light on this?

Fri, 07 Dec 2007 10:36:00 UTC | #90734

Fanusi Khiyal's Avatar Comment 3 by Fanusi Khiyal

Oh they exist. I spoke to both of them earlier today.

Fri, 07 Dec 2007 10:40:00 UTC | #90735

JackR's Avatar Comment 4 by JackR

If that wasn't a joke, Fanusi, how nice that you spoke to them. Do you think you could do us all a favour and speak to them again, and suggest they start making some noise publicly? That they start protesting in the streets? Writing letters to newspapers? Demanding to appear on TV programs?

Because if they don't, we're going to keep giving them well-deserved shit for their craven lack of action. 'kay?

Fri, 07 Dec 2007 10:46:00 UTC | #90740

dloubet's Avatar Comment 5 by dloubet

That'll look even worse, Jack! Better that there'e no moderate Mulsim marches, than have one with only two participants.

At least let us maintain the **illusion** that there's a huge sea of moderates. ;-)

Fri, 07 Dec 2007 10:56:00 UTC | #90746

Fanusi Khiyal's Avatar Comment 6 by Fanusi Khiyal

Actually, I was being sarcastic, but you get my point.

And this is what I have been saying for so long. "All that is required for Evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing." Therefore, what evil specialises in is getting good men to do nothing.

This is what I have always claimed about Islam: It isn't that it turns all of them into fanatics. It's that those who are not fanatics have their moral confidence so undercut that they will shut up like clams and say nothing while the fanatics proceed to seize power.

In order to speak out and stake your life on a moral issue, you need to be very, very sure of your own moral correctness. In fact, even to do less than that you need to be very sure. What Islam does is undercut and destroy that capacity even amongst those decent Muslims in the world.

You can't build a case against totalitarianism, and violence from Islam. It just can't be done. But what many millions and hundreds of millions of Muslims need is the language that will allow them to understand the issues and to fight back. That's the language of the Enlightenment, and we have to provide it for them.

Fri, 07 Dec 2007 11:04:00 UTC | #90750

Mark Till's Avatar Comment 7 by Mark Till

As AHA has noted elsewhere, "moderate" really means ignoring certain parts of the belief system - cherry-picking the nice bits. In this sense, religions apparently act like homeopathic remedies - the more diluted they are, the better they are for you. Which says a lot about the original ingredient. I don't need to add what else religion has in common with homeopathy...

Fri, 07 Dec 2007 11:05:00 UTC | #90751

GBile's Avatar Comment 8 by GBile


In discussions about Islam I always argued that the extremist muslims could only be 'stopped' my moderate muslims. In this I assumed that moderate muslims actually existed. Of course various events made me conclude that this group had to be smaller (and smaller ...) than I expected. By now it seems to be an 'empty' set. In your comment (#6) you very clearly explain why this is indeed so.

So it seems there is (almost) no one around to stop extremist Islam. This is a scary thought.

Your solution is to teach to muslims the 'language of enlightenment'. I am all for that. How do we do it? It should be our challenge to find a way achieve this goal.

Fri, 07 Dec 2007 11:52:00 UTC | #90767

Pilot22A's Avatar Comment 9 by Pilot22A

It's hard to be a moderate Muslim (what an oxymoron, or maybe just moron) when one is at once beating and subjugating one's women and decrying the hijacking of Islam.

This is just another religion hell-bent on proselyting, by force, anyone who thinks.

Fri, 07 Dec 2007 12:21:00 UTC | #90777

Fanusi Khiyal's Avatar Comment 10 by Fanusi Khiyal


It's important to remember one thing: 'moderate' Muslims are by definition impotent in this struggle. When has any major struggle been won by the forces of moderation?

We teach the language of the Enlightenment by continually, to the full extent of our ability, telling the truth about Islam. About how its fundamental claims are ludicrous, how Muhammad just pulled revelations out of the ait to gratify any whim he wished for. We ask: "How likely is it that an entity that created the whole Universe, in which we are nothing but a speck, sent a special message to excuse an illiterate merchant's bad breath?"

Above all, we make it clear that they are the victims of a vicious fraud, that, if Islam should ever become ascendant, their lives will be wasted for nothing. That they will pass from dictator to theocrat to warlord and back again, and that these will use their lives, and the lives of their friends and families as just so much fodder for whims and fantasies. And all of this will be for naught and nothing.

And it does not have to be this way. Life does not have to be a pointless waste of misery, crawling before some imaginary gargoyle. Life is glorious, and too precious to be wasted out of fear of the twisted fantasies of a seventh century warlord and paedophile.

That's a message that will be listened to.

Fri, 07 Dec 2007 12:22:00 UTC | #90778

mintcheerios's Avatar Comment 11 by mintcheerios

Moderates don't help the cause because they still believe that faith is a virtue. Since they admonish people to respect religious beliefs, they implicitly protect fundamentalists from criticism. To a moderate, it is offensive to point out absurdities of one's religious beliefs while at the same time these very absurd beliefs are what fuel religious fundamentalism. Moderates may not run planes into buildings, but they are still not free of the core problem at hand. The core problem is the acceptance and respect accorded to false beliefs. As a matter of act, moderates are more guilty of this sin than fundies. At least fundamentalists can see that religions other than their own do cause carm. The truth is that some false beliefs are more dangerous than others and it so happens that billions subscribe to some dangerous ones. It is taboo to notice this, especially to the moderate.

Also it seems like it's false to believe that moderates are necessarily more likely to deconvert than fundamentalists.

Fri, 07 Dec 2007 12:25:00 UTC | #90779

JemyM's Avatar Comment 12 by JemyM

Friendly people who call themselves muslims do exist. It all depends on what kind of society you assimilated into. If you live up in a society controlled by a radical ideology, chances are that you will be loyal to those ideas, so loyal that you are willing to go very far to keep them up. If you bring the same ideas into a place ruled by a liberal government, free speech and secularism, you will interpret them very differently. Islam, like christianity differs plenty depending on region.

Fri, 07 Dec 2007 12:42:00 UTC | #90788

epeeist's Avatar Comment 13 by epeeist

On a small scale you might want to read this article -

While it is a fairly nasty story it does show that there may be a small amount of hope for the future.

There was a letter to the newspaper condemning the attack, but it wasn't by a Muslim.

Fri, 07 Dec 2007 13:09:00 UTC | #90797

John Frum's Avatar Comment 14 by John Frum

Islam does not 'differ plenty' enough for me.
Christianity does though.

Fri, 07 Dec 2007 13:17:00 UTC | #90804

spikie's Avatar Comment 15 by spikie

I know this sounds harsh, but i think that Islam is incomputable with western democracy, and that is why I don't want Turkey to be part of the European Union, EVER.

Fri, 07 Dec 2007 13:42:00 UTC | #90812

82abhilash's Avatar Comment 16 by 82abhilash

I have met a couple of moderate Muslims and they are the most unusual group of Muslims. They do not like to discuss their religion and they do not practice it seriously. Hardly any of them, prayed five times a day.

They try to explain away some of the more uncivilized aspects of their religion as part of an old custom, rather than actual tenants of their religion. But they do feel a sense of guilt and inferiority and try to make up for that by justifying the actions of their more fundamentalist peers. The most you can ever expect of them, if they agree with you on such issues is their silence.

Fri, 07 Dec 2007 14:27:00 UTC | #90831

bcortens's Avatar Comment 17 by bcortens

To JemyM
The problem is that even in western countries they don't protest the right stuff!
They protest the danish cartoons and threaten violence on film-makers but when some of their own(muslims) actually commit violence on innocents in other countries they don't hold massive protests.
If they were protesting the actions of Saudi-Arabia instead of every perceived insult to islam I might start thinking moderate muslims exist in a good number, until then I will continue to think that most muslims are not moderate, even in the region of western secular democracies.

Fri, 07 Dec 2007 15:12:00 UTC | #90853

Lara Avara's Avatar Comment 18 by Lara Avara

I am so impressed by this woman's courage and commitment. EVERYONE should be reading her writings.

Fri, 07 Dec 2007 15:15:00 UTC | #90854

Ophelia Benson's Avatar Comment 19 by Ophelia Benson

There is one moderate Muslim who is quite keen to speak out here -

Gina Khan does speak out, and she's working on getting more people to join her.

Fri, 07 Dec 2007 15:15:00 UTC | #90855

Nathan Lewellen's Avatar Comment 20 by Nathan Lewellen

I think that Islam as a religion has made one mistake: it grew up in the wrong time.

It appears to me that Islam is in the same stage of development as Christianity was back during the Old Testament times. Unfortunately, for Islam, today's world society is, in my opinion, incompatible with it's Old Testament counterpart and thus Islam's current stage of development. Imagine if you will that in today's society, every Christian became fundamentalist and readopted the Old Testament ways of stoning to death anyone who broke any of the Ten Commandments. How much different would it appear compared to today's Islamic fundamentalism?

"They try to explain away some of the more uncivilized aspects of their religion as part of an old custom, rather than actual tenants of their religion." - 82abhilash

How is this any different than todays moderate Christians? Assuming we could go back in time and find that some of the stories of Christian fundamentalism that are told in the Bible were true, do you think that we would find moderate Christians acting in much the same way that moderate Muslims are acting today? I think we would.

Finally the point. What do we do about the monstrosity that is "Islam (or Christianity, for that matter) taken literally"? That would be up to the experts and people with power to decide. I can only throw out a suggestion. Which I admit is a radical and, by sheer magnitude, probably impossible. We must, as an enlightened, reasonable, and critically-thinking group, fight to educate the world's population and, I daresay, indoctrinate children with the free-thinking skills that every human possesses before religion can infect them. It may not be the answer to delivering the entirety of the human race into freedom from religion, but by coming into politics and fighting for secular laws on every part of the globe, it would definately help to curb at least some of today's, and hopefully tomorrow's religious violence.

Sat, 08 Dec 2007 00:13:00 UTC | #90941

Goldy's Avatar Comment 21 by Goldy

indoctrinate children with the free-thinking skills that every human possesses before religion can infect them.

Methinks the word you want there is "inoculate". If we indoctrinate, we are as bad as them. Anyway, where does one find religion in the womb?

Sat, 08 Dec 2007 01:56:00 UTC | #90956

Nathan Lewellen's Avatar Comment 22 by Nathan Lewellen

I expected some response to the word. As per The New American Webster Handy College Dictionary Third Edition (I know it's a little lacking in the prestige department but for all intensive purposes it works.), the term inoculate means to imbue. Whereas the definition of indoctrinate is to imbue with a particular belief or principle. Either way, I think it can be expected that people like Christians would have found the best terminology for force-feeding information to kids, seeing as how they've been doing it for 2000 years. As I see it, it doesn't matter how you say it, what matters is the principle that they get imbued with. We will be doing well to teach freethinking no matter what you call it.

Sat, 08 Dec 2007 02:20:00 UTC | #90961

Skeptic1972's Avatar Comment 23 by Skeptic1972

Playing grammar cop for a minute:

Nathan, that's "for all INTENTS AND purposes", not "for all intensive purposes". Yes, I made the same mistake myself... just a pet peeve.

Sat, 08 Dec 2007 03:40:00 UTC | #90977

Ian H Spedding FCD's Avatar Comment 24 by Ian H Spedding FCD

Personally, I would like to commend Ayaan Hirsi Ali for a command of English which puts to shame that of many native speakers of the language.

In any community as large and diverse as that of Muslims, there must be many who are not as fanatical as the extremists but, like atheists and agnostics, they may be so widely dispersed that it is difficult for them to organize as a group. For individuals or small groups surrounded by a seething mass of violent fundamentalism, the safest course is to keep their heads down and their mouths shut. The chances that they will rise up en masse against the fundamentalists are negligible.

Sat, 08 Dec 2007 07:15:00 UTC | #91002

lulando's Avatar Comment 25 by lulando

"We hear that violence is not in the Koran, that Islam means peace, that this is a hijacking by extremists and a smear campaign and so on. But the evidence mounts up."

Yes. What a pity. What a shame. Even in circles, where one might expect a differentiated view on the matter - like in Sufi circles - no one will stand up and say: "NO!"

It was in 1995 - well before 911 - when I asked a German Sufi, a follower of a the All-mighty and All-compassionate and All-forgiving, why one should punish a thief by chopping off his hand, what good might there be in this cruel mutilation and so he answered,

"Let's not only look at this world, but also at the next."

I have not met one Muslim who would be prepared to accept a critical view on Islam as many Christians accept on their religion - let alone examine the Q'ran in a up-to-date scientific fashion.

I learned the Beauty of Islam when translating a book on Islamic architecture but I did never ever find that beauty in reality.

It is just the same with communism: the reality never matches the ideal...

Islam has entered it's Dark Age - let's hope for a reformer.

lu ::

Sat, 08 Dec 2007 07:19:00 UTC | #91004

hmj's Avatar Comment 26 by hmj

But where are the moderates?

Thank you for asking this question.

Sat, 08 Dec 2007 07:31:00 UTC | #91007

FXR's Avatar Comment 27 by FXR

In terms of organised religionism the term "moderate" means being:
A Part time participant
Cannon Fodder
Guilty by acquiescence
Guilty by association
The extremist's compost
The fanatic's shelter
The lunatic's cloak

Etc, etc.

Take your pick...

Sat, 08 Dec 2007 08:08:00 UTC | #91014

Mr. Grape's Avatar Comment 28 by Mr. Grape

lulando - "It is just the same with communism: the reality never matches the ideal..."

I disagree. The saying, 'communism sounds good on paper...' holds true, but the same can't be said about the "holy" books. :D

Sat, 08 Dec 2007 10:00:00 UTC | #91042

Vinelectric's Avatar Comment 29 by Vinelectric

Where are the muslim moderates?

I suspect that the answer will fall on deaf ears but the simple explanation is that any call for reformation is likely to be instantly labelled as a political allegiance to the West. A betrayal of sort. The sense of bitterness stemming from the Palestenian refugee problem, Iraq invasion..etc poisons the air and suffocates any attempt to indulge in healthy self criticism.

The curse of blind and irrational nationalism has too much of a grip on the middle east to allow the moderate voices to emerge any time soon.

Don't count on the modeartes at times like these. The only hope for an enlightment is to engender a climate of political stability in the Middle East. I don't know how this will be achieved (continuing American sponsorship of mideast summits always welcome). I suppose that will have something to do with a well planned financial investment in the region. Add to that, well planned interventions, unlike the idiotic involvement of the likes of the Eritreans/Ethiopians in a country that is least likely to appreciate their presence!

Anyways if that succeeds to an extent where the rigorous system of postgraduate scholarships, American/British schools and various forms of benign infiltration in the 70s and 80s then we may be able to restart an educational reformation culminating in an enlightment.

The middle easterns are just too "shut out" from the real world than most Westernes seem to realise. There lies the key to deliverance, I think.

Sat, 08 Dec 2007 13:17:00 UTC | #91122

Pantore's Avatar Comment 30 by Pantore

What's moderate about the AEI?
They are warmongers that kill or at least support the killing of a lot of people who didn't do anything to them except for sitting on a lot of oil...

And they have no problem protecting an islamic theocracy, maybe a point she wants to look at with her AEI friends.

Sat, 08 Dec 2007 16:02:00 UTC | #91182