Sunday, January 14, 2007
where are all moderate Muslims?
Where are all moderate Muslims?
An answer to what has become a ubiquitous question
By JILL CARROLL
I have given hundreds of talks and lectures throughout the Houston area in the past few years on issues of world religion and religion in public life. The question that always comes in the Q&A no matter what the topic, no matter if the audience is liberal or conservative, is "Where are all the moderate Muslims?"
The ubiquity of this question is deeply problematic. Not because the desire for so-called "moderate Muslims" is bad. (It isn't.) Not because the people who ask it are bad or bigoted. (They usually aren't.) The question is problematic because of what it assumes: that Islam is naturally predisposed to extremist interpretation; that most of the up to 10 million Muslims in the United States are not moderate, but radical; that those who claim to be moderate aren't because they don't stand up and denounce the extremists. None of these assumptions is supported by evidence. In fact, evidence exists to the contrary.
Muslim condemnations of terror abound, as even the most rudimentary Google search indicates. Plug in "Muslims condemn 9/11" and take an hour or so to just get started. Or read the Fiqh Council of North America's fatwa against terrorism declared in July 2005 and endorsed by 120 organizations and groups in the United States and Canada. Or go to the Council on American-Islamic Relations Web site to view the 30-second TV public service announcements they created and ran in English, Arabic and Urdu. "Why haven't we seen these things before?" you ask. You might direct that question to your local news outlets. And, given our access to the Internet, maybe we all could take more responsibility for being accurately informed citizens.