September 23, 2003


Rise of the anti-Islamist Muslims (Daniel Pipes, 9/23/03, Jewish World Review)

Anti-Islamist Muslims — who wish to live modern lives, unencumbered by burqas, fatwas, and jihad — are on the defensive and atomized. However eloquent, their individual voices cannot compete with the roar of militant Islam's determination, money, and violence. As a result, militant Islam, with its West-phobia and goal of world hegemony, dominates Islam in the West and appears to many to be the only kind of Islam.

But anti-Islamist Muslims not only exist; in the two years since 9/11, they have increasingly found their voice. They are a varied lot who share neither a single approach nor one agenda. Some are pious, some not, and others are freethinkers or atheists. Some are conservative, others liberal. They share only a hostility to the Wahhabi, Khomeini, and other forms of militant Islam. [...]

The weak standing of anti-Islamist Muslims has two major implications.

--For them to be heard over the Islamist din requires help from the outside — celebration by governments, grants from foundations, recognition by the media, and attention from the academy.

--Those same institutions must shun the now-dominant militant Islamic establishment. Moderates have a chance to be heard when Islamists are repudiated.

Promoting anti-Islamists and weakening Islamists is crucial if a moderate and modern form of Islam is to emerge in the West.

Such stories are less interesting to the media, but need to be told just as loudly as are the ones about radical Islam. And there need to be umbrella organizations--or preferably just one--to bring these voices together and amplify them. Such reform from within is far preferable to the other options available to us.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 23, 2003 8:55 AM

Slight Catch-22 here.

"Help from the outside" and "celebration by governments" is usually the first step towards deligitimization in the eyes of one's fellow Muslims.

This is one reason why even supposedly moderate voices are often heard criticizing the US. It the kind of rhetoric that grants them instant legitimization (even if they're receiving huge amounts of money/aid/assistance from the US).

Too often, it's pretty much of a closed shop. What might make that change is the neo-con gamble. Which is precisely why it might not change.

Posted by: Barry Meislin at September 23, 2003 10:03 AM

What kind of Muslim is an atheist Muslim?

Posted by: Chris at September 23, 2003 12:46 PM

Where's the evidence that these sorts of Muslims are "rising"?

That a few exist is evident. All in the West.

If they stay in Muslim countries they get murdered. "Support" short of bodyguards is not going to help them much.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 23, 2003 3:08 PM

Luther wasn't in Rome.

Posted by: oj at September 23, 2003 3:10 PM

Atheist Muslims?

I don't know if they would consider themselves as such, but there is this most fascinating site---The Institute for the Secularisation of Islamic Society:

Posted by: Barry Meislin at September 24, 2003 2:44 AM

But he needed bodyguards even so, didn't he?

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 24, 2003 3:46 PM