The Myth of the Moderate Muslim


Fellow blogger, Anjuli Pandavar, an ex-Muslim, and an atheist for 37 years (so far), writes this poignant piece. Within, she carefully constructs an argument, from intimate experience, of how it is impossible for a “moderate” Muslim (which she defines) to truly claim that they are an adherent of the Qur’an.

Moderate Western Muslims, if they are unable to insulate the Qur’an from scrutiny, will perform the most extraordinary linguistic and conceptual acrobatics to sanitise the Qur’an for 21st-century sensibilities, their sensibilities. If the Qur’an is not under assault, then moderate Muslims can usually find some workable balance between their humanity and their faith by ignoring parts of their humanity and ignoring parts of their faith.

While this piece is specifically about Muslims, the logic gleaned from it, can be applied to those adherents of the Christian faith, the religious faith that I come from. Read the rest of the piece here.

Comments

  1. says

    I’ve never understood the mental gymnastics necessary to be a moderate or liberal follower of the Abrahamic religions. With all the discarding, ignoring, and pretending you have to do with their holy books, what’s left is why are you even bothering with them in the first place?

    • says

      With liberal Christians (largely RC in my experience), basically they just ignore the Bible, dismiss it, and play the “it was appropriate for those times” card. They will also flat out say they don’t like certain parts of the Bible. They will dismiss and disagree with leaders, church-hop, and not go to services with celebrants they don’t like and who read from the bits of scripture they don’t like, if they go at all. Despite the fact that there are very definite rules about things, they pick the ones they wish to obey. It doesn’t really require gymnastics when you don’t think about it, but the opposite, which is laziness. When challenged, they just waa waa and “i believe”, and then stop thinking about it the moment any challenge ends.

  2. Kreator says

    I admit this is a bit of tone policing on my part, but the first thing that I took from the article is how incredibly patronizing its title was. “Saving X from themselves” reminds me of slave owners who justified the oppression of black people by claiming that they were like simple-minded children in need of guidance (a dynamic that also showed up between missionaries and Native Americans, only with the need for them to accept Jesus). In fact, I find most of Anjuli’s writing to be off-putting, it seems to me that she tends to outright dehumanize Muslims in her posts, straddling the line between legitimate criticism of Islam and Islamophobia.

    That said, I understand that I’m in no position to outright judge or accuse Anjuli of anything, as she did actively suffer under Muslim society, and furthermore is a scholar with years of hands-on experience in the field that I cannot ever hope to match. I really don’t want to be the victim blamer/mansplainer/whitesplainer, especially not in her own space; that’s why I haven’t tried to bother her with my ignorance. I respect her and her experience, I truly do. I think the views she provides are informative and worthy of consideration, that making me feel uncomfortable is not necessarily a bad thing, and that she is a valuable contributor to this network.

  3. says

    As Tabby said above, the exact same words are true for Christians and the Bible:

    Moderate Western Christians, if they are unable to insulate the Bible from scrutiny, will perform the most extraordinary linguistic and conceptual acrobatics to sanitise the Bible for 21st-century sensibilities, their sensibilities. If the Bible is not under assault, then moderate Christians can usually find some workable balance between their humanity and their faith by ignoring parts of their humanity and ignoring parts of their faith.

  4. abear says

    Kreator:

    In fact, I find most of Anjuli’s writing to be off-putting, it seems to me that she tends to outright dehumanize Muslims in her posts, straddling the line between legitimate criticism of Islam and Islamophobia.

    Do you have any examples of that? I’ve read all of her posts so far and find nothing like that. What I have seen is she doesn’t dance around the unpleasant aspects of islam and tells it like it is.
    Why not communicate that directly to her?
    There is one thing called islamophobia which I think is a poor label to communicate the phenomena of bigotry against muslims, there is another thing called the bigotry of lowered expectations which has the presumption that muslims are either incapable of or shouldn’t be expected to behave better than some of the actions that are carried out by many of that faith.

  5. Kreator says

    abear:

    Do you have any examples of that? I’ve read all of her posts so far and find nothing like that. What I have seen is she doesn’t dance around the unpleasant aspects of islam and tells it like it is.

    OK, going through the blog again, I think I was too hyperbolic in my previous post. That said, to me her most problematic article, which I admit fueled my negative bias towards her, was “Let me say some things about migrants,” which immediately begins accepting the right-wing narrative regarding the incidents at Cologne (“Following the organised and coordinated mass rapes of women by gangs of Muslim men in Cologne and several other European cities at New Year”,) and then goes on to make broad generalizations about migrants based on anecdotal evidence (her story about her work with asylum-seekers in the UK.) I didn’t need to post my opinions in the comments because Great American Satan and Giliell had already done that for me, and had been already dismissed.

    I’m also not too fond of some of her jabs at what seems, to me, to be the “regressive left:”

    * “Why I am not an apostate,” second comment (coincidentally, addressed to you:) Remember Cologne and those ten other cities and the north African and Middle Eastern men that everyone was too coy to mention?

    * “Even if it’s true, it’s a total non-starter:”“There is a position on the left that would make the truth hostage to political convenience in this way.”

    * “Calling a spade a spade:”“It used to be mainly the clergy and the “scholars” who enforced this ignorance of the Qur’an and its doctrine. Today it is apologists for Islam, liberals and leftists sensitive to charges of racism and imperialism, ex-Muslims sensitive to the feelings of peaceful Muslims, realpolitik policy-makers who want to avoid “driving moderate Muslims into the arms of the extremists,” and Muslims propagandists, who, by denying any link between terrorism perpetrated by Muslims and the doctrine that inspires them to terrorism, continue and extend the work of the clergy in shielding the Qur’an and Islam from scrutiny.”

    Why not communicate that directly to her?

    Because,

    That said, I understand that I’m in no position to outright judge or accuse Anjuli of anything

    I fully admit that my position is not rational and easily dismissable; all I have are gut feelings, and you can’t confront facts and data with them.

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