Moderate Muslim Myopia | William Kilpatrick | CWR
Why the Western strategy of enlisting moderate Muslims against radical Muslims isn't going well.
Here’s a question to test your knowledge of Islam. The Muslim calendar is dated from:
a) the birth of Muhammad
b) the first revelation to Muhammad
c) the immigration of Muslims to Medina from Mecca
d) the death of Muhammad
The correct answer is “c.” This may come as a surprise to many Westerners, who might assume that the birth of a religion’s founder or his first message from God would be the most significant dates. But Muslims don’t view events through Western eyes. The fact is, Islam was a relatively unsuccessful religion during the first twelve years of Muhammad’s ministry—that is, the first twelve years after the initial revelation in 610 A.D. During that period, Muhammad never had more than one hundred followers at one time. It was only after the move to Medina and the commencement of raiding, looting, and warfare that Islam began to attract sufficient followers to force the submission of the unbelievers in Arabia.
In a recent article for Gatestone Institute, Salim Mansur, a professor of political science at Western University in Ontario, draws a distinction between Islam the religion and “Islamism,” which he describes as a totalitarian ideology “masquerading as a religion.” Along with other moderate Muslims, Mansur holds out the hope that Muslim societies can reform themselves if they embrace the “faith-tradition” of Islam and reject the “aberrant strain” of Islamism. Finally, he calls on the West to come to the aid of anti-Islamist Muslims in their struggle against the “perversion” of political Islam.
But, in fact, the strategy outlined by Mansur has been in place ever since 9/11. Since that time, Western leaders and strategists have devoted a great deal of energy to enlisting moderate Muslims against radical Muslims. The problem is, the strategy hasn’t worked. The Muslim world is even more radicalized now than it was in 2001. The drawback of the approach is that the task of separating religious Islam from political, supremacist Islam is difficult, if not impossible. The two sides of Islam are inextricably linked both textually and historically.
One reason—perhaps the main reason—the Islamists have been able to convince otherwise peaceful Muslims that militant Islam is the authentic Islam is that they have the facts on their side.