What is "Moderate Islam"? Supposedly, the vast majority of Muslims are "Moderates." What differentiates a Moderate Muslim from a Muslim extremist? In this age of terrorism it is important for us to define terms. The faith distinctive of Moderate Islam are delineated here. There are four principles that Moderate Muslims must believe in order to be truly moderate. If they do not hold to these four principles they are dangerous radicals and extremists. True moderate Muslims do not merely give lip service to these four principles, they diligently endeavor to make these four principles the norm for all Muslims. The principles are the following: Sharia Law has no legal authority, Violent Jihad it not valid for Muslims anywhere in the world and never will be again, Arab Christians and all non-Muslims living in Islamic countries are equal citizens with Muslims and enjoy all the same rights and privileges Muslims do, and all Muslims everywhere have the right to convert to any religion (or agnosticism and atheism) if they so chose.
Principle One: Sharia Law has no Legal Authority
In traditional Islam (or Islamic "orthodoxy") there is no division between the spiritual and the political. This means that Islam is a theocracy. Moderate Muslims reject this concept. Sharia law is Islamic jurisprudence. Sharia law is the Islamic legal system that is derived from the Koran and from the life, teaching and practice (example) of Mohammed.
Here are two examples of Sharia law:
Cutting off the hand of a thief
"As for the man or woman guilty of theft, cut off their hands to punish them for their crimes. That is the punishment enjoined by God. God is mighty and wise." (Koran 5:35-40)
Collecting the Jizya from Christians and Jews
"Make war against those who have been given the Scripture [the Christians and the Jews] but do not believe in Allah nor in the last day. They do not forbid what Allah and his messenger have forbidden and they do not follow the way of truth. Fight against them until they pay the jizya tax in acknowledgment of the superiority of Islam and they are reduced to a state of humiliation." (Koran 9:29)
(The "people of the book" are allowed to keep their religion as long as they pay the Jizya tax. If they refuse to do so, by Islamic Sharia law they may be put to death or enslaved. These laws are not enforced, except in Saudi Arabia and certain other extreme Islamic states. But the law of jizya is still a part of Sharia law although it isn't currently enforced. Despite this fact, all non-Muslim minorities living in the Islamic world are persecuted.)
Sharia law must not be applicable to non-Muslims. Anyone who tries to impose Sharia law on non-Muslims is an Islamic extremist. Sharia law must not be imposed on a Muslim. If a Muslim chooses to reject Sharia law, or anyone's interpretation of Sharia law, his right to do so must be protected and a moderate Muslim will defend every Muslims right to reject Sharia law. A Moderate Muslim believes that we cannot allow Sharia law to be on the books in any court of law nor can we allow Islamic Sharia law to be given any credence in a secular court of law.
Many Muslims claim that Sharia law is the totality of their lives. They say that they cannot live their lives outside of Sharia law. That's fine. Sharia law is a personal choice. They can live their lives by that system if they so chose. However, Sharia law has no place in the civilian courts. It is totally a private and personal lifestyle choice. The moderate Muslim believes that Sharia law is merely a personal lifestyle choice.
Sharia law is Islamic constitutional law. All Islamic countries state in their constitution that all law ultimately derives from the Koran and Sharia law. Sharia law violates the principle of separation of religion and state because it makes Islam the official state religion and the Koran the highest legal authority. Those pushing to introduce Islamic law into the courts of western countries are trying to subvert and overthrow the government. By trying to introduce the Islamic political system into western countries these Muslim groups are showing that Islam is not just a religion-it is a political system. Moderate Muslims reject the idea that Islam is a political system. A moderate Muslim believes that Sharia law must not be allowed to operate as a political or legal system anywhere in the world. A Muslim who is trying to introduce Islamic law into western countries is trying to overthrow the Constitution and establish an Islamic theocracy. Such a person is a dangerous Muslim radical. Muslim groups who are trying to make America "sharia compliant" must be identified as extremist organizations and should not be recognized as religious institutions but as the political parties which they are. All the laws applied to political parties must be applied to Islamic organizations that are trying to introduce Islamic Sharia law into the laws of the United States and of Europe. (Radical Muslims will allow the U.S. Constitution to function as long as it is brought into conformity to and compliance with Islamic Sharia law. This means that Radical Muslim demands that the U.S. government recognize the supremacy of Koranic/Sharia law and that the U.S. Constitution operates within the framework of Islamic law and recognizes Sharia law as the highest authority.) Since Sharia law is a matter of personal choice, no woman should be coerced or pressured to wear a veil is she doesn't want to. Sharia law is believed by moderate Muslims to have no legal authority at all. Some Muslims protest and say that Sharia is the whole duty of man and the totality of life. Moderate Muslims believe that Sharia may be a Muslims free choice of lifestyle but it is only a lifestyle choice and has absolutely no force of law.
Principle Two: Violent Jihad is to be totally rejected.
Moderate Muslims do not only reject Jihad-they totally condemn the practice and the ideology of religious violence.
To a non-Muslim, the very idea of using violence to further a religion is viewed as repugnant. However, this is problematic for Muslims because Mohammed used religious violence. Mohammed had non-Muslims and Jews put to death. So therefore a Muslim must believe that religious violence was at one time valid. A moderate Muslim believes that only the prophet could engage in religious violence. A moderate Muslim will believe that holy war died with Mohammed. Any act of religious violence and aggression committed after the death of Mohammed will be condemned by a moderate Muslim. This means that a moderate Muslim will condemn the Islamic Conquests as unwarranted, unjustified, illegitimate acts of aggression committed against non-Muslims. Moderate Muslims will condemn the persecution of the Zoroasterian people and the persecution and massacres of Hindus by the Muslims are wrong and immoral. Moderate Muslims will work to expose and condemn the genocide committed against Armenian Christians that occurred the 1890s-1915. Moderate Muslims condemn the slaughter of the Greeks of Smyrna in 1925. Moderate Muslims believe that it was wrong for Muslim armies to invade and occupy Spain from 711 until 1492. Moderate Muslims believe that Muslim armies were wrong to invade and France in 732 it was wrong to Muslims to attack and sack Rome in 846 and that it was wrong to besiege Vienna in 1529 and 1683. Violent Jihad is not to be carried out anywhere in the world-ever!
Some Muslims protest and say that Jihad means "struggle" and has many levels of meaning besides engaging in acts of warfare. The fact of the matter is that one of the meanings of Jihad, in fact its primary meaning, is waging in religious violence and warfare against non-Muslims. If someone uses Jihad to mean an "internal struggle" that is not the issue here. Moderate Muslims specifically reject the form of Jihad as violent acts against non-Muslims. One only has to watch the film "Fitna" and "Obsession the Movie" to see many radical Muslims preaching Jihad as acts of religious violence against non-Muslims. Moderate Muslims do not allow people to cloud the issue by talking about an "internal Jihad." Moderate Muslims totally reject Jihad as a Muslim holy war. The concept is illegitimate, wrong and to be opposed. To a moderate Muslim, Jihad is over. Violent Jihad is not a valid concept anywhere in the world-and is an ideology that is to be totally rejected. There will nevermore be Jihad either. A moderate Muslim will never resort to violence and we expose false attempts to legitimize religious violence as "self-defense." Violent Jihad is always wrong and is indefensible.
Principle Three: Arab Christians and religious minorities that live in any Islamic country are completely equal to Muslims and are to enjoy full human rights
A moderate Muslim believes all non-Muslims everywhere in the world have complete freedom of religion and of speech.
This means that a moderate Muslim believes that non-Muslim have the right to freely and openly worship as they please and to publically proclaim their faith and share it with others. This means that a moderate Muslim believes that non-Muslims living in the Islamic world have the right to proselytize. Arab Christians, Assyrians, Copts, Yezidis and Jews and all other non-Muslim minority groups living in Muslim majority countries are held to be completely equal to Moslems by Moderate Muslims. Moderate Muslims hold that these minority groups should have complete freedom of religion and speech and are free to worship openly and even to "blaspheme" Mohammed, if they so choose. Moderate Muslims believe that Coptic and Assyrian Christians (and all other indigenous Middle Eastern Religions) have the right to freely operate web-sites, radio and television stations, and to publish books, magazines, journals and newspapers freely. Moderate Muslims believe that these non-Muslims are also free to construct and repair their religious structures. Moderate Muslims believe that all non-Muslims should be free from discrimination and not have to live in fear.
A moderate Muslim believes that Muslims were wrong to put the Roman Catholic Martyrs of Cordova to death from 851-859 A.D. and that it was wrong to persecute the Mozarabs in Islamic occupied Spain.
A Muslim is a Muslim by virtue of his or her belief that Mohammed is a prophet of Allah (Arabic for "God"). A non-Muslim does not believe that Mohammad is a prophet of God. Blasphemy Laws, such as are found in Pakistan, make disbelief and the statement of disbelief a capital crime. We need interfaith dialogue. Interfaith dialogue cannot take place in the midst of violence and threats of violence. Therefore, in order to have a full and open discussion Moderate Muslims oppose and condemn Blasphemy Laws. If Islam is the true religion, it should stand on its own merits and virtues and not need to resort to violence to silence opposition. A Moderate Muslim believes that God alone will be the judge of blasphemy and that He will judge blasphemy in the world to come. In this day and age, freedom of thought, inquiry, and speech is a right that is defended by Moderate Islam. These are basic human rights given by Allah to all mankind and are freedoms from Allah that are to be exercised everywhere in the world. (A Moderate Muslims believes that non-Muslims should have the liberty to visit the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Currently, by Saudi Arabian law, any non-Muslim who enters into Mecca and Medina is to be immediately put to death. Such threats, hatred and intolerance have no place in Moderate Islam.) Asia Bibi, a 45 year old mother of fie was condemned to death in 2010 under Pakistan's "Blasphemy Laws" for "wounding the religious feelings" of her Muslim neighbors. This is absurd and Moderate Muslims demand that these "Blasphemy Laws" be repealed.
Moderate Muslim encourage all Muslims to read the Old and New Testament of the Holy Bible as they encourage Christians and Jews to read the Koran. This way we can all be informed of each others beliefs. This way we can have mutual understanding, mutual respect and greater tolerance.
Principle Four: All Muslims everywhere have complete freedom of religion and of speech
A moderate Muslim believes that any Moslem anywhere in the world has total religious freedom. This means that a moderate Muslim will support and defend the right of all Muslims to renounce Islam and to convert from Islam. A moderate Muslim supports any and all Muslims right to convert from Islam to agnosticism, atheism, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism or Judaism.
(This means no moderate Muslim will insist on conversion as a precondition to marriage.) Traditionally, Muslims do not have the right to convert from Islam and Sharia law states that any Muslim who converts from Islam is to be put to death. A moderate Muslim opposes this idea that a Muslim who converts from Islam must be put to death. A moderate Muslim believes all Muslims, even Muslims who live in Mecca and Medina, have the right to convert and renounce Islam and to become Atheist, Agnostic, Christians, Jewish, Buddhist or whatever religion or non-religious belief system they choose. Abdul Rahman was arrested in Afghanistan for being in possession of a Holy Bible. He was threatened with the death penalty for his conversion to Christianity. According to Afghan law, which follows to Hanafi school of Islamic jurisprudence, the penalty for "apostasy" from Islam is death. This illustrates why Sharia law must not have force of law. No one should be put to death for their religious beliefs. Moderate Muslims defend the right of Abdul Rahman or any other Muslim to convert from Islam.
If you do not believe in the Four Principles You are not a Moderate Muslim
Some people may protest-I am a moderate Muslim-will say-but I do not believe in your four principles. Then you are not a moderate. Someone who rejects the four principles would believe that America and all western countries should become Islamic theocracies, meaning that all laws must be derived from Sharia law, religious warfare is a valid concept, religious minorities in Islamic countries must be persecuted and that any Muslim who dares to convert from Islam must be put to death. Such a person is a dangerous Muslim radical and non-Muslims have the right to protect themselves from such a person and from his goals and ambitions.
For us to live in peace and harmony, for us to have true co-existence and mutual tolerance, Muslims must accept the four principles. If we are to preserve our freedoms, non-Muslims must insist upon the four principles. Non-Muslims have the right to defend themselves against Sharia law, against Jihad, and against the persecution of all non-Muslims and former Muslims. Moderate Muslims endeavor to truly make Islam a religion of peace through a reformation of Islam. This may be viewed by some as radical transformation or a brave new interpretation of the Islamic faith. Nevertheless, it is the way forward and the only way that Islam can truly live in peace with the global community.
A Simple Koran
The Religion of Peace www.thereligionofpeace.com
The Sword of the Prophet
Islam: What the West Needs to Know
Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West
Beyond the Veil
Fitna (A short film by Geert Wilders)
Cruel and Unusual by Nonie Darwish
The Barnabas Fund
God's Battalions by Rodney Stark