Undoing Islam with prefixes

The old concept of carrot and stick is now being proposed under the label of hard and soft power by the American advocates of perpetual war on the Muslim world.

The latest example is Joseph S. Nye’s article (Washington Post March 30) in which he supports "moderate Muslims” and proposes to attract "Moderates" with "soft power" –” which Pipes described as recognition, grants and positions –” and punish the rest with "hard power." Together it will form a "smart power in his view.

If the few opportunists among Muslims who have jumped on the bandwagon of “moderation” fail to change their attitude, the consequences could be more horrible than they could imagine. Many others unknowingly peddle the same ideas. The US-considered-moderates claim exclusive rights on the term “moderate” which means that the rest of Muslims are not following the basic principle of the Qur’an and Sunnah exhorting Muslims to be moderate.

It is easy to deceive non-Muslims with such kind of labelling, most of whom are not aware of the actual message of Islam in this regard or a few are part and parcel of promoting this kind of division. These few enjoy Muslims bickering over the titles which have no place in Islam at all.

A Muslim cannot be a Muslim without being moderate. He has, however, to be moderate by virtue of being a Muslim, not by virtue of, say, his favorable to the US interpretation of the Qur’anic verses.

Being a Muslim, one has to be moderate and for that he neither needs any certificate of acceptance from Washington, nor assistance from the US establishment for delegitimizing the “non-moderate” discourse.

Exceeding limits set by Allah are not permitted in Islam. According to the Qur’an, Allah instructs: “Say: O followers of the Book! be not unduly immoderate in your religion…” (5.77).[1]

There are numerous Ahadith which show that Muslims need to be moderate not only in their attitude, dealings and day-to-day affairs, but also in their religious matters. Abu Huraira narrates Muhammad (PBUH) as saying, "The good deeds of any person will not make him enter Paradise" unless he is "moderate in [his] religious deeds and do the deeds that are within [his] ability" (Bukhari, Vol 7, book 70, Hadith 577).

At another occasion, Allah’s Apostle said, "The deeds of anyone of you will not save you from the (Hell) Fire." The companions asked, "Even you will not be saved by your deeds, O Allah’s Apostle?" He said, "No, even I will not be saved unless and until Allah bestows His Mercy on me. Therefore, do good deeds properly, sincerely and moderately." (Bukhari, Vol 8, Book 76. To Make The Heart Tender -Ar-Riqaq- Hadith 470.)

In the Qur’anic language, moderate is the opposite to “evil” and “evil conduct.”[2] It means those who are labelled as non-moderates are evil. We must remember that in goodness and righteousness there is no scope for moderation or extremism, except when one hurts himself to please Allah.

Furthermore, the Qur’an stresses Muslims at least 26 times to be on the straight path, which according to Imam Abu Ja’far At-Tabari: “The Ummah agreed that Sirat Al-Mustaqim, is the clear path without branches, according to the language of the Arabs.” Developing branches and then justifying each on the basis of petty rationalities and doubts is totally against the essence of the message of Islam.

‘Ali bin Abi Talha reported that Ibn ‘Abbas commented on verse (6:153) “…and follow not (other) paths, for they will separate you away from His path,” and (42:13) –” (saying) “that you should establish religion and make no divisions in it” –” and similar verses in the Qur’an “Allah commanded the believers to adhere to the Jana’ah and forbad them from causing division and disputes…” [At-Tabari 12:229].

"But we are not creating divisions" could be the argument from the new-mods of Islam. If one doesn’t pray regular prayers; if he finds it hard to fast; if he does not like to pay Zakat, or if he cannot avoid Riba, he is not supposed to justify all this in the name of liberal Islam and being liberal Muslim. He just cannot follow these obligations. This is between him and Allah. However, why should he justify and rationalise his "minimalist" approach to Islam in the name of "liberal Islam."

This rationalisation is worse than avoiding, ignoring or just not taking serious one’s obligations as a Muslim because this way he encourages others to follow the same approach and ultimately it leads to a sect or division. The problem is that there is no bottom-line to the approach of classifying Muslims. There is no end to the classification based on such vague standards.

Others doubt intentions of the self-proclaimed moderates because they openly ask for Washington’s support. They so openly advertise positions for analysts, etc. for the CIA and the books written by non-Muslims claim that the CIA bankrolled “moderate” Islam. All this hurts because there is no moderate and immoderate Islam at all.

The US promotion of such prefixes for the sake of divisions among Muslims would fail because Muslims read and reflect upon the following verses of the Holy Qur’an.

“…It is He Who has named you Muslims,…” (22:78).[3] “Lo! I am of those who are Muslims.” (41:33)[4] “…I am of those who bow in Islam"?[5] “…Bear witness that we are Muslims, (3:64)[6] and "Our Lord! make of us Muslims, (2:128)[8] show that Allah has called his prescribed way of life (Deen) as Islam[9] and named its followers as Muslims without any prefixes.

Joseph S. Nye Jr concludes: "If the United States is going to win the struggle against terrorism, our leaders are going to have to learn to better combine soft and hard power into "smart power," as we did in the Cold War. We have done it before; we can do it again."[10] What does it mean?

It means the misconception that there is no communist today and there will be no Muslim tomorrow. No matter how some opportunists among Muslims jump on the bandwagon of "moderatism" for there personal gains, the US will never be able to win this war on Islam because it is not communism and the artificial divisions among Muslims would not last long.

The yet-to-establish credibility of the so-called moderates is fast eroding in the eyes of majority of Muslims, who know what it takes to be a "moderate" from the American point of view.


[1]. Translation taken from Qur’an translation available at: http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/

[2]. “And if they had kept up the Taurat and the Injeel and that which was revealed to them from their Lord, they would certainly have eaten from above them and from beneath their feet there is a party of them keeping to the moderate course, and (as for) most of them, evil is that which they do.” 5:66 Shakir’s Qur’an Translation.

“If they had observed the Torah and the Gospel and that which was revealed unto them from their Lord, they would surely have been nourished from above them and from beneath their feet. Among them there are people who are moderate, but many of them are of evil conduct.” Pickthal’s Qur’an Translation.

[3]. Yusuf Ali’s Quran Translation

[4]. Pickthal’s Quran Translation

[5]. Yusuf Ali’s Quran Translation

[6]. Shakir’s Quran Translation

[7]. Yusuf Ali’s Quran Translation

[8]. Yusuf Ali’s Quran Translation

[9]. “Truly, the religion with Allah is Islam. And whoever seeks a religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him”(3:85). In this Ayah [3:19], Allah said, asserting that the only religion accepted with Him is Islam.

[10]. Joseph S. Nye Jr, "Why ‘Soft Power’ Matters in Fighting Terrorism," The Washington Post, Tuesday, March 30, 2004; Page A19.