`Moderate` vs. `Radical`

Category: World Affairs Topics: Taliban Views: 5388

Few words today carry a more negative meaning than the term Taliban. It is supposed to stand for everything backward, reactionary and benighted: harsh punishments, the seclusion of women and a mindset conducive to the promotion of 'terrorism'.

Opposed to Talibanism is something called 'moderate' Islam which is supposed to stand for progress and enlightenment. Since September 11 the United States has been spending huge sums of money in this battle of ideas, denouncing 'extremism' and promoting a fuzzy picture of 'moderate' Islam.

Whether it is meeting with any success in this battle is hard to say because the US has never been more unpopular in the Islamic world. Most rulers of Muslim countries may be America's friends, if not its satellites, but at the level of popular opinion it doesn't take much to realize that anti-Americanism is on the rise.

Much of this has to do with American double standards. American atrocities in Afghanistan and Iraq, of which there has been no shortage since the invasion of both countries, is all for the good, part of a grand design to promote democracy. Resisting American aggression and occupation is 'terrorism'.

Dishonesty up to a point is perhaps bearable but when it crosses all limits and becomes a daily occurrence don't be surprised if the reaction is outrage.

Every time President Bush appears on television and speaks on Iraq it is possible to visualize some more Arabs or Muslims going over to the anti-American camp. Al-Qaeda doesn't have to stoke anti-American feelings. The Bush administration does that job better than anyone else.

Regarding the Taliban, however, it is easy to be critical about them, less easy to say a word in their praise. But some things stand out and are difficult to ignore.

For instance, for all their narrow-minded interpretation of Islam, the Taliban at least have the courage of their convictions. Many of us may not agree with the austerity and rigor of their doctrine. But it is hard not to admire their courage and tenacity. Against all the odds they are still fighting the Americans and, hard though it may have been to imagine this four years ago, getting stronger by the day.

The best that so-called Islamic 'moderates' seem capable of is to curry favor with the US. The long-bearded narrow-mindedness of the Taliban may be frightening but the fawning attitude of the 'moderates' is sickening. The Taliban may be too rigid but so-called moderates are too spineless and seem to lack all conviction.

Post-September 11 the US asked the Taliban leadership of Afghanistan to hand over Sheikh Osama bin Laden. Mullah Omar, the Taliban Emir, refused, saying that any charges against bin Laden could be examined by an 'independent tribunal'. Call the Taliban foolhardy but at least they did not deliver their guest to his enemies.

The demonizing of Islam after September 11 has gone far enough. Muslims don't have to be apologetic about Islam or fall for the American-inspired dialectic of 'moderate' and 'radical' Islam. As far as the US government is concerned, any Muslim country toeing the American line is moderate. Any Muslim country standing up for itself is radical.

There is nothing wishy-washy about Islam. The essence of the faith as propagated by Muhammad is radical and revolutionary. Stripped off the time-serving interpretations of theologians (theologians being the bane of Islam) it stands for the empowerment of the weak, the humbling of the mighty, the liberation of women, government by consent and consultation, and bread, security, learning and hospitals for every citizen, high or low.

The Islam of the Prophet is a fusion (never attempted before or since) of two great principles, socialism and democracy. The spirit of this fusion was best expressed by the second Caliph Omar when he said that even if a dog went hungry by the banks of the Euphrates (some distance from Makkah, the Islamic capital) Omar would have to answer for this on the Day of Judgment. And by Ali the forth Caliph when he said that a tyranny, even if covered in the mantle of Islam can never endure. There's nothing 'moderate' about these thoughts. They are radical to the core.

Lest anyone be in a hurry to revive that tired chestnut of Islam being opposed to reason and learning, let me quote a few lines from William Dalrymple's excellent essay, Inside the Madrasas (New York Review, December1, 2005):

"In The Rise of Colleges: Institutions of Learning in Islam and the West, George Makdisi has demonstrated how terms such as having 'fellows' holding a 'chair', or students 'reading' a subject and obtaining 'degrees', as well as practices such as inaugural lectures, the oral defense, even mortar boards, tassels, and academic robes, can all be traced back to the practices of the madrasas."" (There is more on the same lines in the rest of the essay.)

Nothing is funnier than the frequently heard assertion that people associated with al Qaeda are madmen who hate the western worlds wealth and freedoms. To quote Dalrymple again: "As (bin Laden) laconically remarked in his broadcast timed to coincide with the last US election, if it was freedom they were against, al Qaeda would have attacked Sweden."

Agree or disagree with Osama bin Laden's tactics, his aims are intensely political: an end to American hegemony over the world of Islam, justice for the Palestinian people, the toppling of 'apostate' regimes subservient to America. Al Qaeda may be inspired by Islam but it is not a religious organization in the strict sense of that term. What it stands for and what it strives to achieve is a response, primarily, to the excesses and double standards of American foreign policy. Ignoring this sequence of cause-and-effect is both misleading and dishonest.

Ayaz Amir writes for Dawn.

  Category: World Affairs
  Topics: Taliban
Views: 5388

Related Suggestions

The opinions expressed herein, through this post or comments, contain positions and viewpoints that are not necessarily those of IslamiCity. These are offered as a means for IslamiCity to stimulate dialogue and discussion in our continuing mission of being an educational organization. The IslamiCity site may occasionally contain copyrighted material the use of which may not always have been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. IslamiCity is making such material available in its effort to advance understanding of humanitarian, education, democracy, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, and such (and all) material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Older Comments:
Benjamin nobody's kidsding you man. You're just kidding yourself. This is a joke:

"Al-Qaeda is a terrorist organization. It is responsible for the murder of innocent human beings that were and are not guilty for any of the numerous injustices perpetuated by the American government." First of all if al-Qaidah exists, it exists because of the US governments that supported the brutal occupation of Palestine and vetoed singularly every corrective international action against Israel. USA participated directly and indirectly to all Israel-Arab wars, they invaded Lebanon together with the Israelis almost starting a world war! Let me flip the coin: "USA government is a terrorist organization. It is responsible for the murder of innocent human beings that were and are not guilty for any of the numerous injustices perpetuated by the Taliban government." You have to admit Benjamin this latter statement is far closer to the truth than the former.

"Any organization, group, or government, that actively engages in and encourages the slaughter of innocent women and children deserves nothing but our disgust." Right on! And who fits better this description than the government of USA and Israel?!

"Islam, as you so beautifully described, is THE religion of justice. How is the death of innocent American and Israeli civilians justice?" Let me flip this statemet too, thus it should be closer to the truth: "Christianity, as you so beautifully described, is THE religion of justice. How is the death of innocent Palestinian and Iraqi civilians justice?"

Benjamin you cannot be just by just looking from your barn's door into the field ahead. Get up on the barn and take a pair of binoculars too with yourself and if you are not yet irreversably brain-washed you might have a glimpse of the truth, but it ain't pretty and might just hit home and be extremely painful.

Peace out!

Are you kidding me?

This must be a joke - I am stunned.

Al-Qaeda is a terrorist organization. It is responsible for the murder of innocent human beings that were and are not guilty for any of the numerous injustices perpetuated by the American government. Any organization, group, or government, that actively engages in and encourages the slaughter of innocent women and children deserves nothing but our disgust.

Islam, as you so beautifully described, is THE religion of justice. How is the death of innocent American and Israeli civilians justice?

And before you start rambling about all of America's endless crimes, I'm not saying America is perfect. It certainly isn't. But I would much rather live in America - where I can believe and think as I like, than under the Taliban and it's sick manipulation of the Prophet's message.

Glorify Al-Qaeda - be my guest, but you will have to answer to Allaah for every single innocent human being robbed of their lives by the disgusting and evil organization that Al-Qaeda is.

A very well done, thorough analysis of the Taliban, a people who have guts unlike the so called "moderate" Muslims, taking on the world's sole superpower.

They have been maligned in the Western press, yet if Afghanistan votes tomorrow (independently) they'll be overwhemingly supported by the dominant tribe of Afghanistan (Phusto).

But as we are well aware "democracy" is ok according to the pro-Israeli corrupitons in Washington, only if they are pro-Israeli and pro-US as the election of Hamas in Palestine shows.

Kamath?Is this a Jewish name?Rather not.I think it's Punjabi.Well,if I'll ever own a dog I will remember this name as an option.

Ayaz Amir is 100% right.Everything he said about Taliban is correct and comendable.Although,I stated many times myself,I do not approve in the least with their practices or doctrine,however they are the bravest people on the planet.They stand up to a formidable invasion and they survived the systematic carpet bombing and they even succeeded to kill four of my Canadian soldier compatriots.What they did in their own country is none of your business.Afghanistan is not USA,thus doesn't have US constitution in place.What happens in US is terrible from Canadian point of view,they fry and poison criminals legally.They call it death sentance.Why? did they give the life they are taking away from those individuals?They persecute the Hispanic and the racial discrimination is crasser than ever!If you dare to say something "unpatriotic" in the Fascist country of USA you might disappear without a trace. Talking about Taliban! Taliban were saints as against the US government and Israel. Look at the goddamned Israelis what they do in the occupied territories!Are you blind or you just blind yourself to the truth because you endorse US and Israeli attrocities because you are a Zionist stooge?!Spare us of your venom and hatred! Go fly a kite or go fishing,but don't come on this site to infect us with your desease! Taliban blew up the freaking Buddha statues? Big deal, big ugly stones that did not belong in Afghanistan.Cry for the life lost in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and all over the world.The stupid statues were not alive!Those killed by America and Israel were living humans, not lifeless stones!What criteria of judgement you apply?Seriously, are you affected with Down syndrome?Socialism and democracy are inspired from Islam.They couldn't be inspired from Tora and Talmud,those were Hitler's inspiration. Chosen people, the Jews replaced by Arya!

I don't like the label game. Fundamentalist Muslim has lost it's good meaning of following the basic principles of Islam and become interchangable with radical or extremist and even terrorist. Although I reject the label,the media would probably label me as a moderate. I see myself as a fundamentalist. I do not see a contradiction between believing in and following the teachings of Islam as stated in the Quran and the Sunnah and my declaration that terrorism is haram. Sure, governments of the West, especially the U.S. have a double standard. Yes, they commit terrorist acts themselves, etc. etc. Because I am a so called moderate does not make me blind to that, nor do I have a "fawning attitude". Muslims are the best of the people, according to Allah. The best of the people do not kill innocent women and children. The best of the people, during the Prophet's (PBBU) time, suffered much worse than we can imagine, but he and the sahabah NEVER stepped outside the boundaries of Islam to seek revenge. There is nothing admirable about standing up for your convictions, if your convictions are self serving rather than serving Allah. Or the convictions are based on some distarted, misinterpretation of Islm. Of course Muslims have the right and responsibility to defend themselves and protect their possesions but only within the guidelines of Allah and His Prophet (PBBU). We have rules of engagement. Let's follow them.

Mohd Haneef Yusoff:"I urge all Muslims to understand their virtues, stature and values. Muslims should not submit to the low and rejected Musyriqs ( i.e the non-Muslims)

Lailah hailallah Muhammad darasulullah carries a lot of weight. It differentiates humans from animals."
Heil Hit..., oops, sorry, I mean Mengele. This guys last sentences verify he's nothing but a .. racist. We all others are animals? Well, in that case never come in to my sight. It may happen that I bite your hand off. First.

I find Ayaz Amir's [A.A] anti-American tirades and open admiration for the Talibanis' conviction and finally crying aloud that " Islam is under attack, it is in peril, Islam." bigoted, outrageous and disgraceful.

He says-" But it is hard not to admire their courage and tenacity...". I never thought anyone in his right mind should praise these murderers. Just look at the history of Talibs who terrorized citizenry, practiced utter religious bigotry by driving non-Muslims from the country, blew up 2 millenium old Buddha religious statues and forced women into coffin like burqhas, denied them education, banned them from working, reduced them to a state of less than human beings and finally beheaded many women in the football stadium for 'adultery'. Does he read papers to know what happened in Afghanistan? At this rate I am sure "AA" would have admired Nazi thugs too who believed in their supremacist ideology and fought to death if necessary for the Fuhrer.

Here is another tallest claim by this spin master when he says," The Islam of the Prophet is a fusion (never attempted before or since) of two great principles, socialism and democracy.." Oh please God where does he stop? Did Thomas Jefferson interned under the Prophet Mohammad and must have stolen these ideas? ..

It is unfortunate that Ayaz Amir has finally come out of the closet and has shown himself his true colors. He is no different than any other fanatical bigot spewing these horrible ideas!
Need I say more?


It appears that Minister Farrakhan has the influence to unite the broken Muslim world.

This is the second time I post my disagreement but unfortunately for some reason my comments werent posted. Islam DID NOT INSPIRE AL QAEDA, ITS THE WAHABISM AND THE SAUDI GOVERNMENT INSPISRED AL QAEDA! No where in Islam says "to kill infidels or other Muslim sects that DOES NOT BELIEVE THE WAHABISM BRANCH OF ISLAM. I am nobody to judge sects or religions thats God's job, but I have a problem understanding wahabism's thoughts of "killing shias and you go to heaven" or "its better to kill ONE shia then to kill 100 "infidel". Where in Islam or where in the Holy Qoran does it say to kill innoncent people?? Or where does it say that "shias are "infidel"?? In the Holy Qoran says Jews and Christians are people of the book so therefor we can not say they are infidel.
I hope this time my commnets gets posted

This is a good article which should be made mandatory read for all those wishing to become "experts" in international relations and the Islamic world.

Instead these "intellectuals" are thought courses (esp. if one picks up the cirriculum of any major US university including Johns Hopkins Advanced Masters Degree, Harvard University School of INternational Relations, and Princeton) such as how to lobby and change minds in the Muslim world so that it becomes more pro-American instead of talking about chaning their policies.

I applaud the conviction of this writer and his eloquent defense of those anchors of truth not wishing to fall for the trap of diluting our faith into the "moderate" or "extremist" camp.

Well done!

In the Quran, human beings are divided into only four distinct categories: Mukmin, Muslim, Munafiq and Musyriq. Except for Muslim ( believer in Allah, not necessarily convinced and obedient to all Allah 's commands), there are special surah for Mukmins, Munafiqs and Musyriqs, each explaining their traits.

Muslims owes the West nothing. The Westerners are mere humans, the created and all humans are powerless. Muslims must never ever heed to any Western or Godless people's terms and names.

There is no moderates, radicals or any other Godless-people's coined terms for the Muslims. A human being is either a Muslim ( believer in Allah s.w.t), a Mukmin ( convinced of Allah s.w.t) ,a Munafiq ( pretending to be a Muslim but is actually the enemy within) and the Musyriqs ( non-believer in Allah s.w.t)

I urge all Muslims to understand their virtues, stature and values. Muslims should not submit to the low and rejected Musyriqs ( i.e the non-Muslims)

Lailah hailallah Muhammad darasulullah carries a lot of weight. It differentiates humans from animals.

So is there a country out there that is willing to take the American Muslims if the people here turn on them?

While coddling Israel, not only does the US project itself, by its dual and outrageous foreign policies as being virulently ant-Islamic, the fact that it tries to install puppet 'apostate' regimes like that of Musharaff to do it's dirty work is not lost on the citizens of such countries whose citizens groan under the harshness of such tin-pot mad-as-Hatter rulers, who cry democracy while they murder and maim their own people. To get an understanding of just how insignificant human life and suffering is to the likes of Musharaff here is his quote when interviewed by the Guardian this week in Rawalpindi: "We take extreme care to be 100% sure of the target from all sources of intelligence ... There is minimum collateral damage. If someone happens to be very close to [the target], that somebody is an abetter and they suffer the loss. Sometimes, indeed, women and children have been killed but they have been right next to the place. It's not that the strike was inaccurate but they happen to be there, so therefore they are all supporters and abetters of terrorism - and therefore they have to suffer. It's bad luck," he said. I am surprised Pakistanis have put up with this Bush poodle for so long. But then again the only Pakistani's who are suffering are the poor and the middleclass. No matter who comes to power, just as in the US, it makes little difference to the rich and affluent of Pakistan, who are the very class that maintains a choke hold on the country's power. Not until the common people over throw these parasites and free-loading rich who are directly responsible for the perpetuation of poverty and misery in the country, will anyone ever breathe a sigh of relief.


One of the better articles I've read here in a few years. Rather than promoting the domesticated U.S. house slaves/lackeys (i.e. "American" Muslim "thinkers" and self declared "leaders", many of whom advocated voting for Bush) iViews would be doing itself and it's readers the world over a favor by giving more space for writers from the Muslim world to speak uncomfortable and politically incorrect truths to power as this writer has done in this piece.

And even states that considered themselves "moderate" are still not spared by the wolves, as we can see in the case of UAE and the ports' management controversy with US.

There was an article of recent (on Islamicity) that expresses this phenomenon clearly, on the way the zionists treat the Palastenian administrations past and present. The "moderate" Arafat was imprisoned and still being asked to deliver until his death, so also was a "more moderate"? Abu mazin also abandoned, now is Hamas, and the palastenians task payers' money is being withheld so as to strangle the Hamas govt. and in the process kill more palestanians. These are the same people that are running US and given the world the words moderation, fundamentalism, extremism, traditionalism e.t.c. The irony is that it is the intelligent amongst us (the muslims) that are buying these craps, and believing that yes, when you are moderate u will be spared. Ask them to define the words they can't.

Well "moderation" by their standards means changing the laws of Allah to conform with their ways: i.e that of kufr. Allah has spoken the truth when He said they (the kuffar) will never rest untill we followed their ways. As long as u are willing to say ALLAH ONLY, establish prayers (5 times daily and in jama'a), pay the zakkat due, fast the month of Ramadan, go for hajj [ the foundations of Islam] you now become a "fundamentalist" and speak anything against Israel u are considered an "extremist". This is the situation folks the choice is ours; ARE WE READY TO BE MUSLIMS AND DAMN THE COSEQUENCIES?