I find it odd that many Muslims have adopted using the term "Moderate" Muslims to somehow justify that they're good people and to score points with the media perhaps. Mr. Rehab, in the video clip below, had good things to say for the most part, yet he used the term more than once and that got me reflecting. Technically, I cannot find evidence that there is such term as "moderate Muslim", please correct me if I'm wrong. Moderate relative to which point of reference? Moderate about what exactly? does this term, as it's being used in the media, refer to Muslims who reject terrorists? does it refer to Muslims who relax some hard-line rules and though decisions Islam brings to their lives? does it refer to a situation whereby a Muslim under necessity chooses to follow an allowance as opposed to an optional obligation (e.g. break the fast when you're travelling)? Does Moderate Muslim changes meaning depending on who uses it - a Muslim referring to another Muslim or a non-Muslim referring to a Muslim? I am yet to hear a good definition that justifies the use of this term which has become mainstream. As a Muslim, you're either one doing the best you can out of your day like the neighbor next door; or you're more critical of your surrounding and serious about understanding your religion's fundamentals and roots in which case you're more likely to be of good service to your surrounding, or you're disturbed in which case no matter which religion you subscribe to you would be eventually doing something outrageous and ruining it for yourself and others with the help of Pamela Geller and the likes.
If you are a Muslim looking in from within, what does "Moderate Muslim" mean to you? if you are someone looking at Islam from outside, what does the term mean to you?
Oh and watch the video below. I apologize for offering you a FOX clip, as much as I dislike FOX but that's where the anti-Muslim sentiments are nurtured and it's important for me personally to keep an eye for the people behind that.
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Thank you to bring out an important topic such as this one. The question you raise is, at the same time, complex and relevant: “Moderate Muslims” What does it mean? Before trying to answer this (and only trying to bring some clues), it seem to me important to let you know from where I speak as the answer always have a different meaning, depending on who’s speak.
So, I will try to answer from the outside, as a Western scholar, educated in social science in West.
In your questioning, you gave us some clues to answer this: - Moderate relative to which point of reference? - Moderate about what exactly? - Does this term, as it’s being used in the media, refer to Muslims who reject terrorists? - Does it refer to Muslims who relax some hard-line rules and though decisions Islam brings to their lives? - Does Moderate Muslim changes meaning depending on who uses it?
First of all, we have to remember that this refers to what Michel Foucault calls “a discursive formation,” i.e. at the same time a formalized way of thinking, the constitution of a subject (the “moderate Muslim”) as well as the formation of knowledge. Discourses always shape our views on all things. In short, discourse is a medium through which power relations produce speaking subjects, here moderate Muslims (as seen in the West).
Generally speaking, to name, to classify, to categorize, is always an act of domination, a social construction of “alterity” which is ideological. Each distinction or social division are hierarchical and are the result of processes that have for aim to over-qualified a group and discredit another. The “alterization” is always constructed with a domination aim. The delineating of symbolic frontiers between individuals and groups has also as effects to define who can belongs the community and who cannot. Categorizations are meant that can be seen as exclusion mechanism.
To come back the question of the definition of the “moderate Muslims”, drawing on Edward Said idea of Orientalism we have to ask who’s speaking about and to which ends? In the West, this categorization of “moderate Muslims” has been more effective after 9/11. As Mamood Mamdani have shown, this as exacerbate the need the define Friend and Enemy or the “good Muslim” (the moderate) and the “bad Muslim” (the extremist). The West, particularly in the domain of International Relations, was looking for “good” interlocutors in the Muslim World (mean pro-US). The construction of this dichotomy is the result of both western politicians and academics (such as Straussians) who want to identify, among Muslims who are those “like us”. It also as to do with the western idea of secularism (see the work of Talal Asad on this), which is so important at this time. To my point of view, the rhetoric use of the term “moderate Muslim” is a way to construct “alterity,” a mode of domination.
The only way to suppress this constructed “alterity” (that is the moderate Muslim) is, in my sense, the use by Muslims themselves of this term (a re-appropriation of the term) in order to redefine it in their own words. Maybe this re-appropriation by Muslims can be seen a kind of resistance from the domination the West imposes on them?
So, having said that, I will not try to give you a “good definition” of this term, as in doing this I will participate to this kind process of domination which I everyday try to deconstruct in my professional and personal life.
I can't hide it too buddy.This phrase Moderate Muslim is a little bit inacurate,and surely those who know Islam well will find it really disturbing.Because and very briefly, the word Muslim means nothing but Moderate. A muslim is someone who surrenders himself to God. I guess the wisdom behind the concept Islam/muslim stems form the Historic fact when people were at a relentless war with each other,when humans were killing humans mainly due to their ignorance of their humanity ,that is to say,their diverse cultures and colors and beliefs.This very act of ignorance made them as if they were at war with the Creator himself.The wisdom of Allah required that he sends the most simple and comprehensive appeal/message of all times through his Prophet Mohamed (pbuh),which is Islam or In the plain english Surrender,Peace,Harmony and Moderation.
O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations... and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).Quran