by John Hawkins | December 10, 2008 10:55 am
“I think it is true that the majority of Muslims are ‘moderate’ in the sense of not supporting violence against their neighbors and taking no steps to support terrorism aboard and generally disapproving of it. But you are right that this raises a paradox, because just as you suggest, if in fact the majority is ‘moderate’ why haven’t leaders emerged that represent those opinions?
I believe that the answer is that moderate Islam isn’t really an intellectually tenable position, and in particular isn’t sustainable if you belong to the mainstream Sunni and Shi’a traditions. As such, sustaining the opinion requires a huge burden of cognitive dissonance.
I don’t believe all religious traditions are the same. Some advocate action. Some advocate passivity. Some religions are compromising. Some are uncompromising. Christianity and Islam are both uncompromising traditions in that they advocate extremism. A true Christian and a true Muslim are both in their own way extremists. In Christians, extremism gets you something like the Amish or vows of poverty and spending the rest of your life taking care of the sick and the poor. Christian extremists end up following the model of Christ and his disciples, who were decidedly unwarlike and went to their deaths quietly and at peace.
In Islam though, extremism along the lines most clearly advocated in the text gets you warrior fanatics.” — celebrim
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