The pertinaciousness with which Western commentators avoid alienating "moderate Muslims, our allies in the fight against the radical extremists," drove them into a futile campaign of obfuscation to stay ahead of a truth that just will not abolish itself: Islam is a monstrous catastrophe and Muslims have everything to do with it; the one defines the other. Thus unfolded an unseemly spectacle of semantic acrobatics to protect the fantasy of Islam from the reality of Islam and the fantasy of Muslims from the reality of Muslims. To prop up and defend Muslims is not easy while Muslims reject such sanitisation of their perfect religion with contempt, and continue to kill both others and themselves with urgency to salvage and restore Islam to its prescribed barbaric perfection. Against this ultimate spoiler, the obscurantists find themselves compelled to continuously patch up the corral within which they seek to protect their "moderate Muslims". As reality topples each enclosure, another is quickly knocked up to take its place. Consider where this flight from reality is up to in the Great Islam Feelgood Stakes:
“Fundamentalist Islam” > “Extremist Islam” > “Violent extremism” > “Radical Islam” > “Political Islam” > “Islamism” > “Radical Extremism” > “Extremist Political Islam” > “Jihadism” > “Violent Jihadism” > anything, anything, so long as a spade is not called a spade. The list that keeps on listing...
The purveyors of terms like "Islamism", "moderate Muslims", "violent extremists", etc., will never acknowledge, let alone address, the capital that the practitioners of taqiyya extract from their self-righteous folly. Muslim leaders like Mahatir Mohamed, Recep Tayyib Erdoğan, and many others, use the contrivance of "moderate Islam" to advance that there is no such thing as "radical Islam". In other words, they resolve the false dichotomy created and maintained by people such as Alex Schmid and Daniel Pipes, by subsuming "radical Islam" into "moderate Islam", and then claiming that there is no such thing as this, that or the other Islam, since all Islam is moderate. From there it is a small step to taking what would have been Islamic terrorism and spreading it evenly over all religions.
Yet these are precisely the Muslims that Western obscurantists rely on for their own vindication. They zero in on such people as proof that Islam can be different to that expounded by the "radical extremists." Even as scholars, such people cannot be too picky. Alex Schmid, for example, is happy to convey to his readers:
The Malaysian prime minister, Najib Razak, said that “no-one has a monopoly of truth”. He also quoted, without precise source identification (possibly a hadith), the Prophet Muhammed who counseled that “moderation is the best of actions”.
Had Schmid not been so desperate to find moderate Muslims, he might have been a little more careful with his source, who lied in both instances. “No-one has a monopoly of truth,” is a lie. Najib Razak, being a Muslim, is well aware that Islam is the only truth.
Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued,” (Qur’an 9:29).
Fight until there is no more oppression, and all religion is for Allah alone,” (Qur’an 2:193).
'Fight' as used here means 'kill'. Muhammad having said, “moderation is the best of actions,” is an even worse lie. Had Schmid taken the trouble to check the hadith, rather than being so uncritically charitable to the Malaysian Prime Minister, he would have found Sahih Bukhari 2785 saying:
A man came to Allah's Messenger and said, "Instruct me as to such a deed as equals Jihad (in reward)." He replied, "I do not find such a deed."
However, Sahih Muslim 6765 does bring the words 'moderation' and 'deeds' together: "Observe moderation in deeds." This is very different to “moderation is the best of actions.” Any critical reader of the Islamic texts would immediately recognise such a quotation as out of character with Islam and examine it more carefully.
Najib Razak was simply advancing the cause of Islam. A Muslim addressing infidels is seldom a straightforward matter. But they do have more sincere brethren; those who genuinely want to live in peace with everybody else. They are quiet because they have no theological leg to stand on. No amount of cherry-picking of "moderate" verses will get around the fact that such verses have all been abrogated, the Qur'an declares Islam "perfected", and Islam deals very harshly with any who shall attempt to improve on the work of Allah. Sultan Shahin is representative of such frustrated Muslims:
But the most glaring failure has been on the part of us mainstream Muslims in not evolving a redefinition of Islamic postulates that would have left no room for the radicals to misuse Islam and our holy book, the Quran, for their nefarious purposes. [...] I feel that it is the total passivity of mainstream Islam, the nonchalance of the moderate Muslims that is largely to blame for this state of affairs.
The so-called "moderates", regardless of their number, are irrelevant because Islam stands full-square behind ISIS, and all Muslims know this, regardless of what they may say or wish. They are well aware that to stand up to the "extremists" is to apostatise, and that they cannot bring themselves to do. So the "mainstream" Muslims, the lairs and the Western obscurantists all feed off each other and keep the "moderate Muslim" industry going.
The term “Islamism” has always attempted to supplant “Islam” from its semantic domain. However, the name of the religion claiming founding by a prophet called Muhammad and laid out in the Qur’an is not and never has been Islamism. It has only ever been Islam, a brutal creed that Allah himself declared perfect, yet largely unpalatable to the delicate tastes of civilised Western people, who tend to feel it “unfair” to associate its adherents, Muslims, with such barbaric teachings, despite Muslims not taking kindly to being dissociated from their beloved Islam, even if they cannot bring themselves to acknowledge those barbaric teachings. Some Western academics ascribe such attachment to Islam on the part of "moderate" Muslims as "fear of being seen as pro-Western." It can get quite comical when a proponent of "Islam" as distinct from "Islamism" tries to challenge a Muslim who follows his religion to the letter, such as when a journalist tries to tell Anjam Choudary that he's not a Muslim, but an "Islamist".
Western kafir scholars, journalists and opinion-makers, as well as some ex-Muslims, tended to see the late-20th century Islamic resurgence as de novo, rather than the next occurrence in a long history of alternating jihad dormancy and resurgence. Muslims insisting that they are Muslims and their religion is Islam could not overcome the kafir aversion to what to them seemed like prejudice towards Muslims “who haven’t done anything wrong”. “Islamism”, as a contrivance pinned on the violence of people who were obviously Muslim, could be isolated from Islam, the peaceful religion of the nice Muslim people. Raymond Ibrahim's Al Qaeda Reader quotes Osama bin Laden:
The matter is summed up for every person alive: either submit, or live under the suzerainty of Islam, or die… Such, then, is the basis of the relationship between the infidel and the Muslim. Battle, animosity and hatred—directed from the Muslim to the infidel—is the foundation of our religion.
As long as nobody looked too closely, it would escape general notice that what the “Islamists” do and call for are exactly what Islam does and calls for, that is to say, what all Muslims are supposed to do. Still, the term “Islamism” offered the best way out even for some Muslims themselves. very few Muslim were impressed with either “Islamism” or “Islamists”. Martin Kramer offers an overview of the tortuous quest for the "Moderate Muslim" Grail, in which he analyses some Muslim responses:
In 1988, the French academic François Burgat published L'Islamisme au Maghreb, a landmark book very sympathetic to the new movements. Nonetheless, Abbassi Madani, the leader of the Algerian Islamic Salvation Front (FIS), reprimanded him: “In your book, you must first of all change the title! Why ‘Islamism’? It is Islam that is at work in Algeria, nothing but Islam. We are Muslims!” From Madani's point of view, any label but Muslim was pejorative by definition.
Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, the spiritual mentor of Hizbullah, was asked by an English-language periodical in 1992 whether he thought fundamentalist or Islamist was more appropriate. Like Ghannushi and Turabi, Fadlallah rejected fundamentalist because of its “violent” associations. But like Madani, he also found Islamist unacceptable. It was a term “used by outsiders to denote a strand of activity which they think justifies their misconception of Islam as something rigid and immobile, a mere tribal affiliation”. And his conclusion was identical to Madani's: “Having thought a good deal about this matter, I am satisfied to use the word ‘Muslim,’ which includes all the activities carried on within the scope and fold of Islam.”
Fadlallah later revised his position, apparently when he learned that Western sympathizers with movements like Hizbullah were promoting the term Islamist. “I object to the word ‘fundamentalism,’” he told the same English-language periodical six months later, “a term which has overtones of exclusivism. I prefer the term ‘Islamist movement,’ which indicates a willingness to interact and live harmoniously with other trends of opinion, rather than to exclude them. In the Western perspective, ‘fundamentalism’ has implications of violence, and the Islamists have never chosen violence. Rather, violence has been forced upon them.”
Fadlallah had taken his cue from foreign friends. But like other so-called Islamists, he was ambivalent about being called one—and with good reason. If Islamism came to be presented by its critics as a deviation from Islam itself, it too could appear pejorative (Emphasis by AP).”
I hasten to add that the Muslim Brotherhood, or any other jihad organisation for that matter, is not indispensable to Islam’s world domination ambitions; the Qur’an and the Sunnah, the emulation of the example of Muhammad, are already sufficient to set the wheels in motion. It should not be thought, as is so often the case, that Muslims do what they do because they are “influenced” by this, that or the other organisation. The influence on them is their religion itself, either directly or imbibed through culture and tradition, and that religion is firmly implanted in the child’s inchoate brain. It is only a matter of how much of a Muslim’s humanity survives his or her upbringing, and the extent to which that surviving humanity is exposed to the reality of Islam during adult life.
- Alex P. Schmid, Moderate Muslims and Islamist Terrorism: Between Denial and Resistance, ICCT Research Paper, August 2017. The hopelessness of the project to conjure a "moderate Muslim" is especially clearly on display in this publication that paints a picture of flailing and clutching to stay above water.
Beyond these three circles of jihadists, Islamists and conservative Muslims, there are non-traditional Muslims, most of whom live in countries where Muslims are not a majority, especially those living in Western diasporas. They adhere to a broader interpretation of what it means to be Islamic and are inclusivists rather than exclusivists regarding various expressions of their faith and its relationship to other faiths. They include ‘modern Muslims’, ‘cultural Muslims’, ‘sociological Muslims’, ‘liberal Muslims’, ‘reformist Muslims’, ‘progressive Muslims’, ‘Western Muslims’, ‘Muslim democrats’ and the ‘Muslim left’. How big these (often overlapping) sub-groups are, is hard to ascertain.
As one moves from the innermost circle to more outer circles, one moves away from those advocating violence to those rejecting violence, from intolerant exclusivism to more pluralist practices of faith.
2. Daniel Pipes, 'Atheism Among Muslims is “Spreading Like Wildfire”', 19 September 2021 https://nationalinterest.org/feature/atheism-among-muslims-“spreading-wildfire”-193924
3. Alex P. Schmid, above, p3.