I think I'm done with the term "moderate muslim". I'm a muslim American. Most muslims are muslim americans. Let Manji claim the "moderate" ground.

I'm also wondering whether I should continue to make the connection in my mind between being an American and being "Western" - perhaps we should recognize that America is not Western. After all, democracy is not Western. Democracy precedes the West, as does capitalism. And America, synthesis of democracy and capitalism, is tapping into an older current than "the West".

I dunno. I'm tired of these foolish labels. Lets just be descriptive - "muslim american" - rather than symbolic ("western") or relative ("moderate").


Chanad said...

the problem i have with the term "moderate muslim" is that it reeks of essentialism. it just doesn't make sense.

its as nonsensical as saying "he's a moderate american", or "she's a moderate woman". the more appropriate terms in these cases would be "moderate nationalist" or "moderate feminist" which kind of makes sense. in that respect, the term "moderate islamist" is valid (for islamists only, obviously), but certainly not "moderate muslim".

Andrew said...

Are you familiar with John Shelby Spong? He was an Atheist Anglican Bishop who, after having lost his faith, loudly proclaimed his warmed-over unbelief as the only Christianity that could exist in a world in which science has proven that there is no God. The Irshad Manji's of the world are not confined to Islam.

Aziz Poonawalla said...

Chanad - agreed. since we can never meet the standard for moderate muslim anyway, unless we repudiate our faith, we need to stop trying. Let's reclaim the terminalogy debate by using our own terms.

If "islamist" wasn't so uttterly ruined we coudl appropriate it too, though I note that Abu Aardvark has been using "moderate islamist" very well and consistently when discussing the arabic media (for example, Qaradawi).

Andrew - that doesnt surprise me at all. The threat from secularism is profound and one would imagine that people of faith would recognize the common threat that secularism poses to ther attempts at retaining their cultural identities and ways of life. There are non-destructive secularist movements (for example, some Unitarians) but not many.

true that the irshad manjis are not confined to Islam, but the Spongs of the world arent being promoted the same way, either.

emily0 said...


Ya Akhee,

1. Spong rox. His works are not apostasy, but challenging. I'm not a Christian, though my mother is a devout low Episcopalian (i.e. American Anglican of the liberal persuasion). He writes fascinating, honest works.

2. Irshad Manji is fun to read because she smoosh the haterzzzz, but she's no theologian.

3. And I'm not ashamed to say that Michael Muhammad Knight's Taqwacores rox my world for its "faith not rules" punk ethic. You can read his and others blog at Progressive Islam dot org. I do rather applaud prog-islam and suchlyke.

I tire of the "women are equal in Islam, now GET BACK IN YOUR CORNER" and homophobia rampant in Islam - heck, Sistani just recently pulled his "KILL ALL FAGS" fatwa from his website without retracting it (but left "KILL ALL LEZZERS" up).

Some point and scream ANTINOMIANS! (using smaller words, and usually ruder ones, astifiraghullaah), but a wakeup call is needed.

But what do we call ourselves? I don't usually say "I'm a Progslima, yo" except to others in clearly progressive boards because then people diss you as SECULARIST, the second-dirtiest word in the Muslim world today.

Also, then suddenly your entire life is dissected - on a table, with pins and a scalpel, usually several.