A moderate is one who is given to moderation in views and practices, and who avoids extravagance and excesses. Moderation is considered a virtue in both ancient philosophy and revealed religions. Greek philosophers regarded moderation as one of four fundamental moral virtues.
The Qur'an, which acknowledges the Torah and the Gospel, directs Muslims to seek moderation in religious practices and spending, and warns Muslims against fanaticism and extravagance. The Prophet of Islam, likewise, warned Muslims not to commit excesses, and took every occasion to remind them to be moderate. "Seek religious duties with care and avoid hast," he stressed, "for the hasty often fails to complete his journey and destroys the vessel that carries him."
In modern days, the term is frequently used in reference to the political centrist: "a person who takes a position in the political center." A moderate is a person who is neither on the extreme left nor extreme right of the political spectrum. A moderate also is one who does not resort to violence or intimidation to achieve political goals.
Since 9/11, we have seen a rash of articles by pundits who seek to identify moderates within the American Muslim community. After spending a lot of energy and efforts to find the elusive Muslim moderate, the pundits settle for less than perfect Muslim moderates by stretching the definition of "moderate", "Muslim", or both. Jen Shroder tells her readers that her hatred of Islam and contempt of the Qur'an does not prevent her from loving all Muslims. "I have liked every Muslim I have ever met." In an article appropriately entitled The Plight of Moderate Muslims, a People without a Religion, published in Alan Keyes's Renew America, she cautions against treating moderate Muslims harshly. "As America slowly admits the enemy is true Islam," Shroder stresses, "every effort must be made to embrace the moderate Muslim, not persecute them." Shroder goes on to explain why it is okay to be kind to moderate Muslims: "The answer is not to blind our eyes and try to convince ourselves that moderate Muslims represent true Islam. They don't. Islam is defined by its holy books, and the holy books proclaim death to all who oppose it [sic], even moderate Muslims."
The cynicism of the extreme Religious Right aside, the need to distinguish moderate from extremist Muslims is genuine. The terrorist attacks on the American homeland have demonstrated the ruthlessness of the terrorists and their willingness to inflict harms on noncombatant civilians, and the terrorists who undertook these attacks were apparently religiously motivated Muslims. Americans of all religious and ideological backgrounds have a genuine interest in ensuring that religious fanatics do not threaten the safety and security of the public.
9/11 was particularly hard on the American Muslim community. In addition to suffering a high number of casualties, 9/11 attacks brought additional pain to the Muslim community, as Muslims had to deal with suspicious public and added scrutiny by law enforcement agencies. The Muslim community has had more than its fair share of the pain inflicted on Americans as 358 Muslims perished in the attacks on the twin towers and the Pentagon. American Muslim organizations were the first to issue condemnations of the attacks and their perpetrators. Despite several dozen statements by Muslim organizations and leaders denouncing terrorism, the Religious Right pundits continue to complain that Muslim leaders have not denounced terrorism, and continue to demand more condemnations.
The search for moderate Muslims has become a priority of highest importance in post 9/11. American leaders recognized the need to distinguish between Muslim extremists who are willing to employ terror to achieve political ends, and moderate Muslims who abhor intolerance and indiscriminate targeting of civilians, and who share with their fellow Americans deep concern for the wellbeing of their country. George W. Bush's emphasis on the peaceful nature of Islam during a visit to the Washington Islamic Center, shortly after the 9/11 attacks, and his clear distinction between the peace-loving and law-abiding American Muslims on the one hand, and political extremism and religious fanaticism on the other, was important for reassuring the public and calming public fear immediately after the attacks.
The search for moderate Muslims has attracted a number of ultra-conservative groups, who have, for decades, displayed apprehension and anxiety about the growing presence of Islam in America. Taking advantage of the climate of vulnerability and fear brought about by the horrific attacks of 9/11, and the lack of knowledge on the part of the American public of Islam's values and civilizational contributions, hardliners embarked on an anti-Islam campaign to discredit and isolate mainstream American Muslim organizations.
Hardliners are engaged in cynical efforts to undermine the work of mainstream organizations who have been working for decades to develop Muslim institutions to nurture the needs of the growing American Muslim community, help the community integrate into the larger American society, and protect the civil rights and liberties of Muslims. Hardliners are busy in inventing Muslim organizations whose main missions are to roll back American Muslim achievements.
Daniel Pipes, whose whole carrier is built on bashing Muslims and confusing the public through half truths and innuendos, is yet to find moderate Muslim organizations or leaders. He has accused every Muslim organization and leader of repute of extremism, militancy, and radicalism. His list of militant organizations includes: The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Muslim American Society (MAS), and others. Muslim organizations have for years been the subject of his attacks and accusations. He, most recently, added the newly founded Progressive Muslim Union of North America (PMUNA) and the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) to the list.
Pipes collaborates with a group of off-centrists that includes David Horowitz, Kenneth Timmerman, Steve Emerson, and Steven Schwartz in attacking Islam and Muslims. The group employs smear tactics of "quotes taken out of context, guilt by association, errors of fact, and innuendo," and utilizes neo-conservative publications such as the Daily and Weekly Standards, National Review, Insight, and Front Page Magazine, to coordinate their attacks.
Pipes's mean-spirited and bigoted attacks against Muslim organizations came to the fore few months ago when he embarked on a smear campaign against the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID). Using his leverage as a member of the board of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), he pressed hard to cancel a seminar the Institute organized jointly with CSID. Pipes accused CSID of being "part of the militant Islamist lobby," and contended that it was "well-disguised, and has brought in all the Islamist trends, giving them a patent of respectability."
After conducting a thorough investigation of Pipes's claims, USIP issued a statement that brought out the irresponsible nature of Pipes's attacks. "The Institute was aware of and took seriously the accusations made against CSID and some of the speakers at the event," Kay King, the director of Congressional and Public Affairs at USIP. "These allegations were investigated carefully with credible private individuals and U.S. government agencies," she went on, "and found to be without merit. The public criticism of CSID and the speakers was found to be based on quotes taken out of context, guilt by association, errors of fact, and innuendo." Pipes was defiant in the face of USIP's rebuke, contending that "President [George W.] Bush appointed [him] to the USIP board in part to serve as a watchdog against militant Islamic groups." He was ultimately pushed out from the USIP's board as his recess nomination was not renewed."
Failing to isolate Muslim organizations and to scare them off, the Anti-Islam campaign is now testing the old strategy of divide and conquer with the Muslim community. Pipes has procured seed funds for a new organization whose main mission is to recruit "moderate Muslims" to undermine leading Muslim organizations. The Center for Islamic Pluralism (CIP), led by Steven Schwartz, who serves as its executive director, was created to serve as "a think tank that challenges the dominance of American Muslim life by militant Islamist groups," the Center's mission statement reads.
CIP executive director does show profound appreciation of Pipes's moral and financial support, and is fully committed to his agenda and completely behold to his jargon. Jim Lobe states, in a report that came out couple of month ago, that Pipes was "working with Stephen Schwartz on a new Center for Islamic Pluralism (CIP) whose aims are to 'promote moderate Islam in the U.S. and globally' and 'to oppose the influence of militant Islam, and, in particular, the Saudi-funded Wahhabi sect of Islam, among American Muslims, in the America media, in American education ... and with U.S. governmental bodies.'"
"The 'extremists,' according to the CIP proposal, are mainly represented by the 'Wahhabi lobby,' an array of organizations consisting of CAIR, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the North American Islamic Trust (NAIT), the Muslim Students' Association of the U.S. and Canada (MSA), the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), as well as 'secular' groups, including the Arab-American Institute (AAI) and the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)."
Having failed to find moderate Muslims, Pipes and company is now ready to invent them. The great irony, though, is that those who are busy producing moderate Muslims have long time ago moved from the center to the ideological fringes of the American society. The fact that they are still able to procure funds to finance their hate mongering business speaks volumes to the deep seated prejudices against Islam and Muslims that lurk among Religious Right groups who finance and support both their public and furtive operations.
The pundits leading the anti-Islam campaign will continue their business as usual, and are unlikely to be deterred by a limited exposure of their deception and distortion. The exposure must be complete. The American Muslim Community cannot, however, continue doing business as usual. It must take responsibility for the fact that Muslim bashers are exploiting its inability to mount a strong response to stop those who are digging under its feet. More specifically, American Muslims must intensify their efforts and take more seriously their work in the following areas:
1. Building national institutions and supporting organizations engaged in building leadership capacity within the Muslim community, and defending the rights and dignity of American Muslims.
2. Joining hands with local and national organizations that provide public services, and channeling its human and financial resources to serve the larger American public.
3. Coordinating their activities so as to avoid duplication and bickering, and to act in unison in face of those who espouse ill-will and ill-intentions toward Islam and American Muslims.
Muslim bashers can plot and deceive, but they cannot change the facts on the ground: American Muslims are proud citizens of this country and are intent on building their lives on the basis of the sublime values of compassion and dignity. It only takes a direct and open exposure of the American Muslims' serious work, and the vanity of their detractors, for the deception to dissipate. "Thus does God show forth truth and vanity. For the scum disappears like froth cast out; while that which is for the good of mankind remains on the earth." (Qur'an 13:17)
Dr. Louay M. Safi serves as the executive director of ISNA Leadership Development Center, an Indiana based organization dedicated to enhancing leadership awareness and skills among American Muslim leaders. He writes and lectures on issues relating to Islam, American Muslims, democracy, human rights, leadership, and world peace. His current affairs commentaries can be found on his blog at http://blog.lsinsight.org
My second point is that Mr. Yahya is quite correct about Imam W. Deen Mohammed. I'm a non-Muslim but I admire the good Imam as an honorable and courageous man. As the son of Elijah Mohammed he could have simply sat back and just blindly followed his father's brand of "Islam". Instead he chose to break with his father's teachings and follow the Sunni path. He confronted his father while his father was living, and not after his father's death, and it took courage to turn his back on his father's false teachings. This man deserves more respect than he is presently receiving from the Muslim world and indeed, the US itself.
Speaking of in search of moderate, whatever that mean to these thugs. This is a 10 pages article titled Hearts, Minds, and Dollars. A must read read for every Muslims, and why not also the American tax payers.
On the other hand, they made it sound like a failure upon failure, but is it really?
I cannot speak for the 1.3 billion muslims, but I would like to think that the majority will feel the same. evin if majority are in bad way minority will pray their rolle and allhah will assist those who will be in right way inshallha
Much of the Muslim youth has gotten too caught up in this world and has completely forgotten the importance of the next! Because they're trying to be "moderate," Muslim youth give up the sunnah and many even stop praying!
What's worse, however, is that they ridicule those who do adhere to the Quran and Sunnah. They are often called extremists and somtimes crazy simply for doing what is required!
Brothers and Sisters: be moderate the way Islam teaches you to be moderate, not the way you want to be. Stick to Quran and Sunnah, have faith in Allah and never stop praying for guidance.
As for 'MODERATE MUSLIMS', how does one measure modesty.
Do we compromise Islam to please the very people who seek to destroy Islam & muslims. The very people who would want us to practice a more acceptable form of Islam? NO!
I cannot speak for the 1.3 billion muslims, but I would like to think that the majority will feel the same.
We are not the ones who are waging the 'WAR ON TERROR' and as a result attempting to impose a NEO CONSERVATIVE version of democracy by using lethal force, killing innocent people and children.
for brother yahya! w deen have done what he can do for his people. he informed the African Americans to follow Allah and his messenger. I heard that in many of his speechs. unfortunatly some of his followers idolize him and that's forbidden in Islam. but remember? it's the responsability of the majority of his followers to make his followers understand the truth without adding new things in it. part of that responsability is yours my brother.
The brother you mentioned seems to have some aqeedah problems, but he's a good brother. Anyways, you should check about zaytuna.org for Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Imam Zaid Shakir, Siraj Wahaj, Abdul Hakim Quick.
As for Pipes and Co., the Islam haters, I am confident that they are the true extremists. Perhaps they should follow what they preach.
I am a practicing muslim and a proud US citizen, who proudly served in the armed forces.
Thank you for this informative article!
I ask Allah to expose Pipes and his gang, and to protect our Umah from their evil work. I am sure that they can never deceive Allah. I pray to him to protect the American people, from all faiths, from Pipes and all his followers.
As for us Muslims, we need to stick together and be the peaceful citizens and neighbors that the peaceful Islam teaches us. Obviously, Pipes and his followers do not read history.
Anyways, there is no such thing as a moderate muslim. A true muslim who follows the Quran and Sunnha is already moderate. A 'moderate muslim' as defined by those people is one who barks when he's told to bark, roll when he's told to roll... sounds nothing like a house negro.. Brother Malcolm X stated (I'm paraphrasing), that 'leaders' who are given platforms to speak on the behalf of their people are house negros... they don't serve their people, they serve The Masters.
The problem with this article are the insults against the native born african-american muslim community under the leadership of Imam Warithud deen Mohammed. It completely ignores his leadership of about 3 million muslims (african-americans mostly) and his community. Every since Imam W Deen Mohammed was accepted as the leader of what was once the nation of islam under his father the Honorable Elijah Mohammed he has been breaking down barriers and opening doors for better religious understanding and dialog. If there was ever a muslim leader in america that someone can look to who is a moderate Imam W Deen Mohammed is that one. He's definitely not an extremist nor a fanatic. He is a patriotic muslim american for what is the best in americas values of excellence and virtues. He has been honored by many government officials, religious leaders of all faiths, and heads of states from many countries both muslims and non-muslims. He is one of the international presidents of the organization "World Conference of Religion and Peace". He has renounce racism, bigotry, moral neglect, and illiteracy in all forms.
The problem is for some strange reason both media and our islamic immigrant muslim community often ignores his works at least publicly. He often get attacks from fellow muslims because of his moderate views. My belief is when muslims from overseas gets tired of being targeted for not speaking out or being extremist they will begin to openly seek councel from muslim-american leader Imam W Deen Mohammed to show them how to intergret into american society and be accepted as a legitiment developement of american culture that is here to stay and make it's contributions in a more superior way than what it did in the past during the renansiance.
American media and our immigrant muslims you can't keep ignoring the servant-girl community who is giving birth to her mistress. There is a fresh way of veiwing the qur'an and it's application for Am.-WD
I do believe that a good Muslim can live in the West and coexist with his neighbors, but he can not act like them.
1. That, it is unwise to unquestionably subscribe the idea that nineteen muslims are in fact responsible for nine eleven tragedy. It takes only few minutes to discover volumes of information available that refutes the popular theory. At the minimum you must read the work of Prof. David Griffin of Claremont College.
2. That, those who are now labelled as 'extremists' are in fact nurtured and made to be so by the very people who abhor and are scared of them. The extremists have nothing to do with Islam but they have everything to do with the US Government.
Our Ummah finds itself having to deal with this argument because of the following reasons:
1. The Muslim scholars that guide Islamic practices are compromised by the governments that rule their lands
2. The cultural practices of the Arabs has perverted what is "Islamic practice"
3. 90% of our Ummah lives in poverity and is uneducated
4. Qur'an and Ahadith are only used to motivate HATE, REVENGE, and to create outlets for the Ummah's ills
5. Islamic literature has been currupted by a particular "view" or "interpetation".
IF and WHEN we can undo these ills, Muslims will then no longer have to defend what it is they practice.
- Sucide bombers
- Killing a sister because she was raped or fell into temptation
- Blind HATE towards other faiths
- Blaming the white man for our ills
- Stupid things like divorcing your wife via text message
and the list goes on and on and on and on....
There is there sickness out there that our Ummah is lost until Muslims rule the world as we once did. This is propoganda from the thieves, criminals and power hungry that rule muslim lands.
Freedom and Education are our allies....until our masses make this connection ... we will continue to be the door mat on which the rest of the world wipes it's feet.
Lastly, it's a common thought in Islam to believe whatever happens is "the will of ALLAH"
Question: Why did ALLAH give the atomic bomb to the west and not the east?
Answer for yourself....
Please remember ... we have to learn to disagree peacefully and remember ... the only true judge will be ALLAH ... not your sect, not your imam, and not your view.
Firstly, this article is strangely titled, and written in a condescending way, making the author look just as bad as those people attacking Muslim organizations. I say this because he really has no point in what he's saying, he's just putting some information out there without any constructiveness. We all know about Pipes and Schwartz and the rest of these people, but the way you wrote this article makes it sound like you are scared of them. I don't think that's the way to go about solving our problems. You say one thing but you mean another. You want Islamic unity, then why do you talk negatively about Sufi Islam, connecting it with Schwartz, making Sufi teachings look like they are a product of Stephen Scwartz, when that's not the truth at all? Sufi teachings have been around for over 1000 years before Stephen Scwartz, but all of a sudden, his comments speak on behalf of Sufi teachings? I think that's the first biggest mistake you've made because that sort of approach automatically creates disunity amongst Muslims. It seems like you have a hidden agenda Mr. Safi.
some people think showing cleavage & rampant sex is a moderate lifestyle - yet others find it an extreme abomination. so thanks to Allah (God), muslims have the guideline to live the definition of moderate.
basically my point is -- you want a human definition of moderate, or God's definition of moderate?
it's up to you.
I like the conclusions of this article but I don't know what you talk about 100%. I careless to anyone of the examples who spoke about Islam and you mentioned them. It's my first time to read their names and not interesting to those who speak from their hate later claim it "love". I liked the conclusions cause ignoring the ignorants and doing the right work is what makes the difference. Subhana Allah one more miracles of the Quran is the intention you read it with, is what you get from. if your intention is just to destroy Islam, reading Quran Amplify that intention.
At the End the Book and the Faith are protected by Allah and Amplifying the intention of those who want do harm, destroy them without know.in the other hand, ignoring the ignorants and working to Please Allah and live the right example of Islam is what gonna benefit the true muslims in this life and the hereafter.
thank you for this important conclusions.
Excellent article. Very informative. Muslims all over the world can take some cue from this.
In my view, Muslims must avoid two things at all cost.
1. Taking more extreme position in Islam as a reaction to what Pipes & Co. are doing.
2. Ridiculing our own geniun moderates.