Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Thomas Friedman Redux: More on Moderate Muslims' Reactions to the Islamic State

Thomas Friedman Redux

A week or two ago, I reported some of Thomas Friedman's findings on Muslims' disgust with the Islamic State and even disgust not only with Islamism but even with Islam itself, some Muslims opting for atheism, and Friedman reports on more such reactions this week:
[There is an] online backlash against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, by young Muslims declaring their opposition to rule by Islamic law, or Shariah, and even proudly avowing their atheism . . . . Ismail Mohamed, an Egyptian on a mission to create freedom of conscience there, started a program called "Black Ducks" to offer a space where agnostic and atheist Arabs can speak freely about their right to choose what they believe and resist coercion and misogyny from religious authorities. He is part of a growing Arab Atheists Network. (Friedman, "How ISIS Drives Muslims From Islam," New York Times, DEC. 6, 2014)
Not all choose atheism:
Another voice getting attention is Brother Rachid, a Moroccan who created his own YouTube network to deliver his message of tolerance and to expose examples of intolerance within his former Muslim faith community[, for] he's converted to Christianity . . . . In . . . [a] recent segment on YouTube, which has been viewed 500,000 times, Brother Rachid addressed President Obama: "Dear Mr. President, I must tell you that you are wrong about ISIL. You said ISIL speaks for no religion. I am a former Muslim. My dad is an imam. I have spent more than 20 years studying Islam . . . . I can tell you with confidence that ISIL speaks for Islam . . . . ISIL's 10,000 members are all Muslims . . . . They come from different countries and have one common denominator: Islam. They are following Islam's Prophet Muhammad in every detail . . . . They have called for a caliphate, which is a central doctrine in Sunni Islam . . . . I ask you, Mr. President, to stop being politically correct - to call things by their names. ISIL, Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Al Shabab in Somalia, the Taliban, and their sister brand names, are all made in Islam. Unless the Muslim world deals with Islam and separates religion from state, we will never end this cycle . . . . If Islam is not the problem, then why is it there are millions of Christians in the Middle East and yet none of them has ever blown up himself to become a martyr, even though they live under the same economic and political circumstances and even worse? . . . . Mr. President, if you really want to fight terrorism, then fight it at the roots. How many Saudi sheikhs are preaching hatred? How many Islamic channels are indoctrinating people and teaching them violence from the Quran and the hadith? . . . . How many Islamic schools are producing generations of teachers and students who believe in jihad and martyrdom and fighting the infidels?"

ISIS, by claiming to speak for all Muslims - and by promoting a puritanical form of Islam that takes present-day, Saudi-funded, madrassa indoctrination to its logical political conclusion - has blown the lid off some long simmering frustrations in the Arab Muslim world.
I hope this new-found skepticism leads to an opening among Arabs and the Muslim world. Last time I posted on this, I noted that some Muslims were reading the hadith and sunnah for the first time and discovering that the Islamic State has textual support for its actions.

The question therefore poses itself: Where is the line between Islam and Islamism to be drawn?

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At 11:07 AM, Blogger skholiast said...

The line will be drawn pragmatically, as it always is. Texts (and disputes over texts) figure in this pragmatism, to be sure, but so do many other factors.

At 8:29 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Perhaps, but I wouldn't think lines are always drawn pragmatically. Sometimes, an enemy has to be utterly defeated, and Islamism may well be such a case.

Jeffery Hodges

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