Islamism: Radicalism at the Core of Islam?
I had a recent exchange with my cyber-friend Bill Vallicella, who had posted a blog entry of the proposed mosque near Ground Zero, but the issue that we discussed was Islamism. I began the discussion with a reference to his post:
Just read your post "Yet More on the Mosque and Matters Muslim." I haven't fully decided one way or the other yet on this mosque, but here's my take on Islamists versus moderate Muslims. Islamists are radicals, but they're radicals at the core of Islam, not at its peripheries (whereas moderates are distant from that core).Bill replied:
That's why Islamists pose a recurrent, tenacious threat.
I hadn't thought of that way of putting it. Very interesting. Are you suggesting that true Islam is represented by the radicals? And that they are therefore not distorters of it? And as a corollary, that so-called moderates are not true Muslims but have watered the religion down to the point of distorting its authentic message?I responded:
Yes, something like that. We usually think of radicals as extremists, people on the extreme fringe of a movement. This isn't the case with Islamists. They draw on core texts in Islam and core doctrines. Radicals in the true sense of the term, they go back to Islam's roots in the Qur'an and Shariah. They are thus radicals at the core of Islam.Bill is taking a week off from blogging, so I've not yet heard a reply, but I thought that I might as well blog on the issue this morning since I'm also on vacation and can only seem to find time for light blogging.
Have you seen what I wrote on the three Islams?
This schema is coherent with my radicalism-at-the-core idea and also helps explain the world's recurrent problem with Islam.
The three Islams, by the way, refers to Ibn Warraq's use of Bernard Lewis's threefold distinction among Islam One (Qur'an), Islam Two (Shariah), and Islam Three (Civilization). In my meaning above, Islam One and Islam Two form the core of Islam. Herein lies the problem with Islam, as I've noted:
Islamists, taking the Qur'an and shariah very seriously, will always work to impose Islamic law upon Islamic civilization -- even as they will also advocate Islam's dominance over non-Islamic civilizations.Hence the recurrent confrontation with Islam's offensive jihad, so beloved of Islamists. However, I would add that insofar as I can judge, terrorism seems to go beyond what is permissible at Islam's core, though we see that many Islamists nevertheless do support terrorism.