Saturday, July 31, 2004

Moderate Islam's voice must be heard

Listmania Comparative ReligionThe Japan Times' George Sioris wrote an insightful article about the voice of moderate Islam. My take: his contention is that moderate Islam should be terrified of radical Islam. Why? The tenets of the radicals are simple: all other peoples and religions must be subsumed by Islam. Thus, the rest of the world has no choice but to defeat these extremist ideals.

The danger for the moderates lies in being grouped with the extremists. A clear delineation between moderation and extremism is required. It is incumbent upon moderates to recognize their true enemies and to defeat them. And it is incumbent upon the West to amplify the message of true Islamic moderates.

...Malaysia's new prime minister, Abdullah Badawi -- the personification of diplomatic ability, moderation and Islamic scholarship -- drew a line between true Quranic teachings and modern distortions, going as far as to say that "terrorism is the mortal enemy of Islam, not its consort."

...The late Palestinian Dr. Ismail al Faruqi, an authority on Islam and comparative religion, succinctly summarized man's relation to God: "Islam held as a matter of principle that no man or being is one iota nearer to God than any other. . . . Pax Islamica never meant conversion to Islam, but entry into a peaceful relationship wherein ideas are free to move and men are free to convince and to be convinced."

...[the words of] Tunisian philosopher and historian Mohamed Talbi, are inspiring... He wrote: "I am proud to be a Tunisian, but I am not the enemy of my fellow human being, and I do not consider myself more worthy than him. . . . We have to accept each other with our ways of thinking. We may fight but with humility, modesty and friendship, so that our confrontation helps the cause of truth. . . . Pluralism belongs to our future."

Talbi moved from theoretical heights to concrete problems of our times: "In any European library one can find a plethora of our [Arab and Islamic] manuscripts. There is no such case in any library of a Muslim country. As long as there is absence of interest for the other, there will be no free thought."

...There are many similarly eloquent ideas and admonitions from scores of other Muslim thinkers, a refreshing reminder that Islam has a moderate face. The question is: Are these voices heard or silenced by the fury of the fanatics?

As for the West: Is it trying hard enough to build and strengthen bridges with these elements? ...

Moderate Islam's voice must be heard

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