Thursday, 23 February 2012

Islam is Islam... or is it?

The disputes and discussions about the nature of Islam, whether there can be an Islamic reformation, whether there is a benign form and a violent form, rumble on amongst Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Senior Muslims such as Turkish PM Erdogan, have made statements that "There is no moderate or immoderate Islam; Islam is Islam and that's it".
This is terribly important, if you think about if for a tick.
It informs how we deal with the spread of radical Islamic thought, the growing pressure to apply Sharia law in Muslim and non-Muslim countries, right unto how to run the war on terror, now aka "the war on Al-Qaeda".  All these efforts are affected by what we think is at the core of Islam: is it one thing, and if so, what, or is it a fractured belief system, with moderates and non-moderates, with Muslims and "Islamists".
Recently there's been a friendly spat between colleagues and Islam experts Raymond Ibrahim and Robert Spencer, the former in "Why we need words like 'Islamist'" and Robert in "Why we don't need words like 'Islamist'".  The latter has some interesting commentaries, many rather learned (a few intemperate, to be sure), and mine which is:
@ Raymond: I agree with you 100%! It's a strategic issue. While those of us this blog might well understand that - to quote Erdogan - "Islam is Islam", we need to convince those outside our circle. If we insist (correctly, let's stipulate), that the real problem is Islam in toto we have little chance to win them over. So let us say that it's "islamism" or that it's "Islamic Supremacism", or "whichever word we deem appropriate". Once those who are not now in the counter-jihad camp acknowledge the problem with "Islamism" or "Islamic Supremacism" they can learn more about the Supremacism inherent in the Islamic Trilogy The other demographic we want to encourage is surely those Muslims, like Tarek Fatah, et al, who while we might wonder - as some posters have done - why they're still Muslim, nonetheless are fighting the same pathology we are here.  In short, I'm a Spencerian on the reality of Islam, but I'm an Ibrahimian on the strategy of how to fight that reality - the egregious Supremacism of Islam. Robert and Raymond: please kiss and make up.  Let's fight the common enemy! 
Another commenter: Edna Pierce here, is interesting.  Overall, I'd give the debate to Raymond on points.  Though I do rather like the Spencerian phrase "Islamic supremacist"...

Rusty Shackleford, PhD, at the Jawa report says that if there's to be reform of Islam, it has to come from within. Though I see some of the logic of that view, I don't see why non-Muslims should not have views about Islam.  After all, we can read the core documents of Islam, the Trilogy, as well as any Muslim, and perhaps with rather more balance.  There have surely been non-Christians, even atheists, who make comment on Christianity, who took part in its reformation and up to today have views about it which are freely expressed and become part of the discussion.  Why not non-Muslims about Islam?