Splitting a widely followed religion like Islam down the middle: either extremist or moderate; with us or against us, is the wrong path to take. In an article for Common Ground News, Asma Khalid, a Muslim woman pursuing her master’s degree in Middle Eastern/Islamic studies at the University of Cambridge, England, wrote:
I am a Muslim who embraces peace. But, if we must attach stereotypical tags, I’d rather be considered “orthodox” than “moderate.”
“Moderate,” in this context, implies that Muslims who are more orthodox are somehow backward and violent and that, in our current cultural climate, progress and peace are restricted to “moderate” Muslims. To be a “moderate” Muslim is, thus, to be a “good,” malleable Muslim in the eyes of Western society.
In the aftermath of 9/11, much has been said about the need for “moderate Muslims.” But to be a “moderate” Muslim also implies that Osama Bin Laden and Co. must represent the pinnacle of orthodoxy; that a criterion of orthodox Islam somehow inherently entails violence.
I refuse to live as a “moderate” Muslim if its side effect is an unintentional admission that suicide bombing is a religious obligation for the orthodox faithful. True orthodoxy is simply the attempt to adhere piously to a religion’s tenets.
My theory was re-affirmed by an article in Arab News — one of the best I have ever read. Dr Khaled Batarfi basically called Islamic terrorists: invisible soldiers with nothing to lose and a desire to die fighting for their cause. In short, an enemy that cannot be defeated by military might.
But that is exactly what the U.S. has attempted to do — with invasions of two Muslim countries and complicity in the bombardment of Muslims in Somalia and the continuation of the occupation of Palestine. By living up to the extremist’s claims of U.S. imperialism and conspiracies of a war against Islam, the U.S. is alienating the moderates and increasing the following of the radicals.
The gist of another of Dr Batfari’s statements was: with 2.2 billion Muslims in the world, even if U.S. policies are successful in ensuring 99% are moderate towards the U.S. and their allies, that still leaves 22 million extremists. According to western interpretation of extremism and Dr Batfari’s description of terrorists, that is 22 million, invisible, highly motivated and suicidal killing machines.
I am sure that far more than 1% of Muslim’s that feel a certain degree of anti-Americanism and would thus not be classed as moderate. But though terror attacks are numerous, they are nowhere near what would be carried out by more than 22 million Jihadists dedicated to attacking the west and willing to kill themselves to do it. This proves both that the West’s (U.S.’) meaning of extremist is inherently wrong and that the divide between moderate and extremist is not clear cut. There is another divide between extremists and terrorists.
Non-Muslim’s have come to associate the Salafist strand of Islam with extremism and terrorism, but it is not so. Salafism is anti-modernist, putting it at odds with the capitalist and technologically driven western world. But with so many followers of Salafism around the world, and most attacks happening in only a few places it shows that most Muslims and even those adhering to Salafism are quite happy to live and let live.
The extremists that do seek to attack the west, justify their actions by creating their own interpretations of Islam, and attempting to convince (brainwash) disillusioned Muslims that they are the ones interpreting their faith correctly. They attract the biggest following from countries and areas where the west, with the U.S. at the forefront has displayed its worst qualities — often to the severe detriment of the Muslim populations.
Countries like Afghanistan: predominantly Salafist and used as a proxy battleground in the super power-struggle that was the cold-war. In that country and the surrounding area there is understandably deep resentment even hatred for the west’s actions. The feelings are heightened in the current N.A.T.O./U.S. occupation, with every civilian death — much more with incidents like troops opening fire on a crowd of civilians.
In Iraq, support of Saddam Hussein’s slaughter of the Kurds and Shiites laid the same understandable resentment in those Muslim populations. Sunnis came to hate the west for turning on Saddam in 1991 and again in 2003. Like Afghanistan their hatred mounts with every incident of “collateral damage” and more so with the atrocities committed by U.S. forces. Muslim patriotism and identification with Islamic land puts them against lengthy occupations anyway — especially by the country that has largely made Israel’s oppression of Palestine’s Muslims easier than it would have been without their support.
And now the U.S. has embroiled itself in another proxy war in another Muslim country, Somalia, and is complicit in the deaths of over 1,500 innocent Muslim’s — far more than the number of combatants killed.
Somalia has become yet another front in “the War on Terror”, simply because the predominant group within the Union of Islamic Courts — overthrown by the U.S.’ Ethiopian surrogates — followed Salafism and were therefore extremists and terrorists in the U.S’ eyes. But as countless thousands of innocent Muslim’s die in the “War on Terror” it is increasing the likelihood that any moderates will become extremist in their views of the West and that any extremists will go the next step to terrorism.
If the U.S. wants to continue fighting every Muslim who does not fall into their category as a moderate Muslim. Either because they follow a particular strand of the religion or don’t not agree with the U.S.’ actions in and policies for Muslim countries, then they will be fighting forever. I just hope they realize that having an extreme belief in true Islam does not make you a terrorist, before a “clash of civilizations” becomes a dreadful reality.Powered by Sidelines