What do moderate Muslims think of Michelle Rodriguez’s unearthly beauty? fwallpapers.net

Growing up in Canada and watching Canadian news, I’ve often had issues with the usage of the term “Moderate Muslim” in our media.

According to what I’ve gathered from the zeitgeist of our television, Muslims described as moderates are great: they’re friendly, they’re calm, they’re a bit weird—but in a non-threatening way. A poll by Gallup following the September 11 attacks even confirmed, after months of study across major Muslim countries, that 93% of Muslims worldwide are moderates, and only 7% are radical in their political and religious views.

But when you get down to it, what is a moderate Muslim? And do Muslims agree with the use of the label?

The question isn’t just of semantic importance: it defines 93% of a religion that roughly 25% of the world adheres to. How do we define moderation? Does a moderate Muslim drink alcohol, abstain, or only imbibe moderate amounts? Does a moderate Muslim love America, disagree politely with their foreign policy, or just not care? Does a moderate Muslim think Michelle Rodriguez is beautiful as-is, or should she put on a hijab?

“I think the term applies to anyone who practises their religion within the confines of their home, and doesn’t let it get into the public,” says Rasheed Clarke, a fourth-year PWC and CCIT major. Under his definition, he adds, a man praying in public would breach the definition of moderate, since public space must be kept secular.

“It’s like a ‘safe’ Muslim,” says Cathy Hong, a fourth-year gender studies specialist. “One that won’t push religion down your throat.”

One could find many more opinions from Muslims and non-Muslims of what a moderate Muslim is. But this is perhaps indicative of a problem with the term itself: some Muslims disagree with the label because it is prescribed upon the Muslim community, robbing them of a level of autonomy and self-description.

Clarke believes that the term could be redemptive as a political tool.

“Some people may want to be described as moderates to distance themselves from the more negative aspects of the religion,” he comments. “It’s more beneficial to identify as a moderate and ensure that that’s how non-Muslims perceive them as the majority.”

While Clarke believes that using the term “moderate” may be beneficial for the Muslims that rally under the label, MSA president Ruqayyah Adhab believes that the term is harmful for the image of Islam.

“The problem with the term is that it implies different levels of Islamic practice,” says Ahdab. She believes it implies religious extremists are somehow more Muslim than moderates, or that a fundamentalist view of Islam necessarily creates terrorists and inequality.

“I can see how the term picked up,” Ahdab adds. “But that doesn’t mean I agree with it.”

“It’s a quasi-inquisitorial device,” said Mohhamed Fadel, a U of T professor of law, on an episode of TVO’s The Agenda. “To try and test Muslims to see whether they believe the ‘right’ things in order to enjoy the full rights of citizens.”

Well, leaving aside the issue of community autonomy and of a hazy definition in the first place, the largest problem I see with the term “moderate Muslim” is that it implies that Islam must be practised moderately to even live in the Western world, if not completely integrate.

This implies that the two are opposed to each other. I’ve editorialized a bit in this article, and would need a far greater depth of scholastic thought for, against, and in between the issue of this strange term, to do justice to this topic. However, I believe we can all safely agree that the idea of Islam and the West being incompatible is imaginary, and that this imaginary conflict causes more problems for both its imaginary sides than any desecrated mosque or car-bomb could hope to achieve.

People have called me a moderate Muslim: I’d like Egypt to get their shit together vis-a-vis the atrocious treatment of Coptic Christians, and for Saudi Arabia to at least get back to its pre-Wahhabi mentality. Of course I’d also like a bevy of beautiful women to tell me I’m handsome. It’s unfortunate that none of these are likely to happen any time soon, but I’d like them to happen nonetheless. At the same time I believe everything that I hope a good Muslim is supposed to believe. So, does that make me a moderate Muslim?

Well, that probably depends on your definition of the term. But instead of calling me a “moderate Muslim”, I’d rather people call me Amir, and maybe talk with me over coffee—perhaps telling me how handsome I am. It might just result in an interesting conversation, or at least a moderately interesting one.