How can moderate Muslims convince us they want to live in peace in a civilized world?

The question in posed in the title today is an important question that affects all Americans and possibly the entire civilized world. Today, you and I are going to have a unique opportunity to discuss this question with a number of people who would describe themselves as moderate Muslims First, some background on how this opportunity came about.

On August 2, 2013, I wrote a post in which I called Islam a cult of sociopaths. I went do far as to say that Islam does not deserve to be protected under the First Amendment to our constitution. The culture of Muslims, I said, can not be separated from their religion and that culture can not coexist with our culture or any other culture. In other words, I was saying that the Muslim culture and belief system precludes them from being able to live in peace among other civilized cultures. That is a pretty strong position, to say the least.

This past Saturday a I received a comment on that post from someone by the name of Abby who described herself as an American and a moderate Muslim who has lived the last three years in Egypt. Considering the harshness of the position I took on Islam, I was impressed by the civility of her comment. So, I sent Abby an e-mail telling her that instead of replying to her on an older post that likely not be seen by anyone else, I would write new post (this post) in which I would reproduce her comment with my reply so that all of you could read them and add your own comments. I then asked Abby if she and some liked minded friends would be willing to come by today and engage in a dialogue with you and I on the question in today’s title. To my delight, she immediately agreed. Abby has e-mailed a copy of the earlier post to several friends and invited them to join in today’s conversation. Abby and I have agreed on the rules of engagement, which I will get to in a moment; but first, as promised, I will share Abby’s comment and then my reply. Then I will explain what I hope this post will acheive.

Comment by Abby to my article:: Islam _ A Cult of Sociopaths… “

Wow, that is a very strong opinion and it is not my place to change it. You are entitled to it. Time and research may or may not change it. And you are right to blame not just the current White House occupant but previous ones too. Lets not forget who created those problems and armed them in the first place before their strategic use was nullified. And then they let them go on. Hmm. Suddenly strategic advantage turned to strategic liability.

A couple of things.

As an American moderate Muslim I myself am frustrated at the rise of terrorist activities in the name of religion and have been wondering where the moderates are. Here is what I realized that since the moderates concern themselves with their individual relationship with the divine they are not organized. (You many know a few and don’t even realize it. It was only after September 11th that my friends asked me what I was). As such, how could they control the sociopaths. They have started but this takes time.

Second surprise surprise, having been in Egypt during the past 3 years, I watched with shock as the US supported the rise of an ORGANIZED EXTREMIST ISLAMIC PARTY with known terrorist ties to the first elected presidency. And when the moderates took to the street, the White House continued siding with the Islamic Party… Not a good time to be an American here.

As the dogma of these extremist is revealed, my surprise continues at how much they deviate from what the moderate Muslims learn of their religion. Which confirms two things:
1) Most terrorists are created by them through economic hardships and brainwashing.
2) These people are not after religious domination they are after POWER AND CONTROL.

The use of religion and its interpretation is changed to serve that goal. You have no idea what they have been allowing here in the name of religion. If it makes you feel better, here’s one, they call the Muslim Egyptians who are Anti Morsi (the ousted president) infidels… has a familiar ring?

I hope you do not feel offended with my comment, I just wanted to share with you that we share the same frustrations and anxieties. And as the moderates voices rise around the world the end you are looking for may be achieved. Hopefully during our lifetime.

My Reply to Abby

First let me say publicly what I said to you privately. It took courage for you to walk into the lion’s den and you did it with class. And now, my response:

  • To your second point about how  “the US supported the rise of an ORGANIZED EXTREMIST ISLAMIC PARTY with known terrorist ties to the first elected presidency”, I think you would find I and my regular followers at Asylum Watch are just as upset about government’s involvement in the affairs of Egypt nor any other country in the  Middle East or North Africa. I have written a number of post on that subject.
  • On the subject of Moderate Muslims vs. Extremist Muslims _ This is the key subject that I hope we will all get into today. We are told repeatedly by numerous pundits that there are well over a billion Muslims in the world and that the vast majority of them only want to live in peace and are not interested in converting or killing every non-Muslim they come across. That is not the image we in the West see. What we see are massive demonstration against Americans and Jews, We see Muslims dancing in the streets to celebrate the deaths from the latest terrorist attack. Is this just media bias? Where are the massive demonstrations by the “majority” moderate Muslims against these atrocities? You said: “… I realized that since the moderates concern themselves with their individual relationship with the divine they are not organized…. As such, how could they control the sociopaths. They have started but this takes time.”  Abby, these atrocities have been going on for many years! Here is what I think I see. In 1917, I doubt that the majority of the Russian people were interested in communism. But, they did not resist the Bolsheviks and millions died. In the 1930’s, II don’t think the majority of the German people wanted to be controlled by the Nazis; but they didn’t resist the Nazis and millions died. Abby, are we seeing the same thing with “moderate” Muslims vs. extremist Muslims?
  • Sharia Law _  Sharia Law is another reason I don;t believe Muslims, moderate or otherwise, can coexist inside of another culture, such as, the United States. There are some aspects of Sharia law that are just not acceptable to the rest of the world: the requirements for a woman to prove rape, that a husband can beat a wife that misbehaves in his opinion, that a woman accused of being unfaithful to her husband can be killed by stoning, and that even a petty thief should have his hand cut off. If the Aztec culture had survived to this day and Aztecs were living in America, we would not tolerate their ritual of sacrificing virgins to their gods, either.
  • Trusting Moderate Muslims _ Abby, people like me have a real problem trusting Muslims who say  they are moderates. I am not an expert in the Koran but I have read many articles by “experts”, both former Muslims and non-Muslims. They tell us that Muslims are taught the lying is wrong except when it is necessary to deceive the infidels until the Muslims have the strategic strength to force the infidels to convert and if they refuse to convert the Muslims can either enslave the infidel or kill him. Let me share three incidents that support my questioning if moderate Muslims are really all that moderate. 1.) An elementary school teacher wrote a letter to the editor of a major US newspaper s few years ago . She related a story that took place back in the time when Salman Rushdie was in the news because a Irani Mullah had ordered his death for writing a book that supposedly defamed Islam. This teacher was in the habit of inviting people of different ethnic backgrounds to come and speak to he class about their cultures. This was very popular with the children. One couple that had spoken to her classes over the years was a Muslim couple. It was shortly after the Rushdie story was in the news that she once again had the Muslim couple speak to her class and once again the children were delighted. After she had dismissed her students she ask the Muslim couple what they thought of the order to kill Salmon Rushdie. She was shocked when the Muslim man responded, and I am paraphrasing here, ” As a good Muslim, if my path should cross with that of Salman Rushdie, I would be obligated to kill him. So, this seemingly moderate Muslim would not go out hunting for Mr. Rushdie, but if by chance their paths crossed, his faith in Islam would oblige him to kill Mr. Rushdie, 2.)  Several years ago a young Muslim man living in the United States joined the Us Army. He would rise to the rank of Major. No small task, His name is  Nidal Malik Hasan. Around two years ago, while at Fort Hood in Texas, he took out his gun and while yelling Allahu Akbar, he murdered 13 of his comrades-in-arms and seriously wounded dozens more. Certainly Major Hasan was thought to be a moderate Muslim. He had taken an oath to defend our constitution against all enemies foreign or domestic. 3.) More recently we have the case of two Chechen brothers who set off bombs at the finish line of the Boston marathon. These Chechen brothers came to the US with their parents seeking asylum from religious persecution in Chechnya. America welcomed them with open arms. Gave the subsidies for housing and food stamps. The brothers grew up and attended our public schools and went to university. They certainly seemed to be moderate Muslims until the day of the Boston marathon. So, Abby, you see that people like me do have a serious trust issue with “moderate” Muslims as well as with the extremists.

For the purpose of today;s post, my response to Abby lays out what I think are the issues that Abby and her friends need to address in order to answer the question the day.  You and they may see other issues. That’s fine!

Abby and I are sincere in our quest to get a dialogue going. For that to happen, you my friends, have to be willing to participate in a back and forth with Abby and her friends. That means you  will need to first answer the question yourselves and then come back later tonight or tomorrow ( due to the time difference between our part  of world and Egypt, some of Abby’s friend may not have a chance to comment until tomorrow.) I will stick this post to top of my Home page for a few days or as long as a meaningful dialogue continues. So, we have a special opportunity here to ask questions of Muslims you have always wanted to ask.

Rule of Engagement

This is not the place to argue the  merits of one religion over another. Please stick to the question posed in the title. No vulgar language! No name calling! Be as frank as you feel necessary, but please be civil about it. Today, Abby and her friends are guests in my house. Please treat them accordingly.

Let the dialogue begin!

Well, that’s what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?

40 thoughts on “How can moderate Muslims convince us they want to live in peace in a civilized world?

  1. that was a very nice response she offered. I think before 9/11 I had a reasonably positive impression of Moslems. It is only since then that these radicals have gone nuts.

  2. Can moderate Muslims convince us they want to live in a civilized world? I had a Muslim supervisor for 3 1/2 years. He had his prayer rug in his office. He was a nice man. Like most first generation immigrants he had his foot in both cultures. He liked being American but he still considered Muslim law superior.

  3. Non-Muslims do not understand Muslims.

    What, in your opinion, are the most common misconceptions about Muslims that non-Muslims believe? What, in your opinion, is the corrected view and why?

  4. Jim,

    First, let me thank you on behalf of myself and any friends of mine who choose to participate for this opportunity, Second, I want to highlight that I have yet to receive responses as it seems that end of summer vacations with the kids are in full gear for many of them especially as it comes on the heels of the Holy month of fasting and the Eid. Yes, many people apparently still leave their laptops and internet behind when on vacation this side.

    You have raised many points and I believe one post and one view would not be enough but I will try my best until the rest return.

    On the subject of Moderate Muslims vs. Extremist Muslims:

    You raise the question of media bias. And here I would have to agree. They go where there is action and controversy to report. So after terrorist attacks, where do they go? To the countries or communities that they know will be happy. The Palestinians, Iraqis, Iranians, Pakistanis or Afghanis who already have a beef with the west and especially the US. Why would you go poll Muslims who are just as shocked as their Christian, Jewish, Hindu or other religious counterparts.

    The second part of your question, why don’t you see demonstrations from moderate Muslims against such acts. My answer to this question is two parts. Moderates living in the western world (who are few in numbers) have been participating in such demonstrations. They just don’t get coverage and their organization is more fluid then structural. They only receive print coverage – Canada, Luton UK, and South East Asia are a few areas they are protesting. In certain cases they even clash with the extremists. The movement may not be massive but it is a start. The second part of the answer is the ability to protest. Until recently, the countries where the majority of moderate Muslims live did not allow protests and the only organized movements were those of the extremists. I am of course referring to North Africa where revolutions first against dictatorships started in 2011 and are reigniting against extremists. These populations have their hands full right now to address how the western world views Islam.

    Which brings me your comment about whether we will see the same thing happen as Russia and communism or Germany and Nazis. All I can say having lived here for the past 3 years is preliminary indicators say not. However, the process is just starting and what happens after the toppling of an extremist reign and the building and development phase starts to reintegrate these countries back into the international community will determine much. No crystal ball can predict these outcomes. In fact, at this stage it is still a toss up whether these countries exit unscathed or go the way of Syria or even Libya.

    As you have noticed, I have intentionally not raised the issue of the 1 billion plus Muslims who want to live in peace and quiet here, nor have I espoused that it is a small percent who wreck havoc. That is because I agree with you, it is time we did something. The biggest challenge tends to be how and where to start and how to identify and connect.

    I think I will end on this now and look forward to comments. Next response will address your comments on Sharia Law.

    Thank You again

    1. Abby, in regad to the minimu resistance shown to date, you mention the difficulty in organizing and making contacts. Two questions occur to me.

      First, although we don’t want to try to estimate in percentages how many moderates Muslims there, if they are numerous, would I be save to assume that there must also be “moderate’ clerics in the Mosque where moderates worship? Can they not organize the resistance to extremism?

      Secondly, how much of the lack of resistance is due to fear, which would be understandable. As with the communist in Russia and the Nazis in Germany, it is the extremist who are armed and more than willing to use them against any resistance. Thomas Jefferson wrote : “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants”. Will it have to come to that?

      1. You are absolutely right, there are many moderate clerics in mosques where moderates worship. They have been trying to organize with mixed results. The challenges both moderate clerics and muslims face tend to be of three types: (1) Financial, of course; (2) Organization (3) Reach and validation of who is a moderate and who just appears that (yes Jim we also have the same problem you raised). Extremists don’t advertise themselves especially if they are what we call in the US Sleepers.

        Of the three, the second deserves a few words as I was asked it before. Many assume that the Islamic Council or Body of Scholars maintains a hierarchical structure with the clerics similar to the Church. I can assure you that is not true. Clerics are by definition not a higher power of authority they are a higher level of knowledge. While that is an advantage as you can search for a like minded cleric, the disadvantage is that anyone with the right credentials can step up to the pulpit and talk and the more backing you have and the more financial funding you get, the more you reach.

        Your comment on fear is interesting. I really hope some of my list answers. I do know that freedom of speech has been lacking in many countries and the fear from both authorities and fundamentalists may play a role in the resistance yet many of my list live all around the world. I am here talking so I can’t answer for them.

        While I sincerely hope Jefferson’s quote does not come true, there are instances where it is necessary and may come to that.

  5. It is curious to me how the poor treatment of women can be embraced. This weekend having gone to a water park, the contrast was stunning. The women attired head to foot, literally having a heatstroke, not permitted to even enter the water, but looking after the male children having fun. I saw no female children. The adult male sat lounging comfortably in his swimming suit. This is no anomaly. Numerous times it is the same thing. Where are the moderates who do not challenge the abuse of women?

  6. I will repeat the statement of azleader that non-Muslims, especially those living in non-Muslim countries, do not understand your religion. Living in a country that has no state religion and that cherishes freedom of as well as freedom from religion, the intertwining of your laws with your religion is baffling.

    While terrorist acts are the most flagrant examples of extremism, in my opinion, the bondage of Muslim girls and women within your societies is just as tragic. I would like to hear your views on the treatment of women in the Muslim communities and to understand if moderate Muslims prescribe to many of these same anti-woman laws and practices or if they are strictly a byproduct of Sharia law and extremism.

  7. Jim and Abbey, I will converse here over the next few days, while this entry will be short. I’ve just set up a new computer and still have much to do to make everything work but I looked forward to your post today.

    The question is how can moderate Muslims convince us they can live in peace with a civilized world.

    I would like to see a massive number of Muslims publicly explain why the Koran does not require that infidels die or be submissive to Islam – especially in Western countries.

    I would like to see massive numbers of Muslims give their own clerics the same message – that you will not tolerate a governance that is considered a religion to require such, and do it in open letters in newspapers or online.

    I would like an explanation of the conflicting verses in the Koran. I understand the differences in the Christian Old Testament and the New Testament which has a covenant with God’s people. Where is that in the Koran? Is it there?

    I would like to see massive numbers of Muslims stand up today and decry the Million Muslim March in Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2013. The constructive way to do it is to try to stop the permit for using the Washington Mall for the millions on that day.

    I would to see every Muslim mother who lost her daughter to an honor killing be comforted by a massive movement of Muslim women who say this will NOT BE TOLERATED. I would suggest that the movement take a knife to the man/men who perpetrate this obscenity, but I suppose then the women would end up in a horrible prison. That’s the problem. It’s about control and the control is uncivilized.

    I hope I am not sound trite or mean-spirited, because truly, the above is from my heart. I do not understand how these things (with the exception of the March) can be a part of a “religious” belief.

    God bless you Abbey for the dialog. So many of us are totally confused.

    1. Maggie, Thank you. I can not promise that my friends and I will be able to address every question but we will attempt at least. You raised several key points which confirm to me that due to the lack of dialogue, certain actions in the Middle East which are really cultural and have no basis in the religion have been interpreted as such. I was just checking to see new posts as I work on my responses to the Sharia Law topics that I know.

      On the subject of honor killing, I can assure you that they are not Islamic but cultural with a very high focus in Upper Egypt and certain geographic locations that have a more tribal history. However, even though high ranking clerics deride it and civil law condemns it, it continues as part of the culture unfortunately. And here is the challenge.

    2. Maggie, this is the first I have heard of that march. I had read that Americans are planning to march on Washington on September 9th to protest against Obama but no mention of denominations. Is this a different march? What are they protesting and more importantly who is leading this and what are their affiliations?

      1. Abby, The Million Muslim March was the first name, but recently has been changed to Million American March Against Fear, according to The American Muslim Political Action Committee (AMPAC). The first goal is to get the government to “tell the truth about 9-11-01,” and is intended to “hold Obama accountable for transparency.” They do not want the word “terrorist” to be synonomous with “Muslim” in the media. It isn’t anywhere except Fox News unless the terrorist is American-born and/or white. They have invited the Nation of Islam and 9-11 truthers (other than Muslim) are planning to march in solidarity.

        The whole of the above is to have Muslim Civil Rights protected. My question is:

        Can anyone give just one instance of a Muslim’s civil rights in America being denied without a similar instance of the same thing happening to a Christian American?

        Sharia’h for American is also taking part.

  8. Jim at Asylum Watch: This comment was e-mailed to me to be posted anonymously.

    Personally, I don’t accept “moderates”. To me, that’s just an excuse for not committing to the parts that person has decided are unappealing. The general defense for moderation is interpretation and that religions in particular have many so no one interpretation is superior to others. Case in point –

    1. Lending credibility to the theory of fear keeping moderate Muslims from standing up against the Muslim wing of terror, I would like to offer that America has a large % of population right now who are cowed down by political pressure from a very threatening administration. People are truly afraid of the ruling class in this nation as power has been usurped illegitimately from them. That said, I agree with Jim that Sharia is an anathema to our way of life and Constitution, so trying to accommodate the two together will never work. I also agree that the treatment of women by Muslim orthodoxy is barbaric, i.e pre-modern civilization and also anti-Christian in the understanding of the woman being the equal partner to man.

      I don’t believe there is such a thing as a “moderate” Muslim unless you equate that to people who are cafeteria Christians, picking and choosing which parts of the Bible they wish to follow. So I don’t think I’m going to be convinced here by Abby. Also, isn’t there something called Dhimmitude, (spelling) the gradual and deceptive method of converting a culture to accept Islam by any means. So given that…I’ll let you all carry on.

  9. She had a great response and it is great to know there are moderates out there like her, I just wish they would speak up more but it could be that they are afraid to speak up.
    I am reading Chris Kyle’s autobiography. Chris Kyle is the American sniper with the most recorded kills in US history and he was shot to death while assisting disabled veterans at a gun range earlier this year. (I still have questions as to what actually happened.) In his book he made the claim that many of the suicide bombers are drugged up before being sent out to carry out their attacks. I have not heard that before and would like to hear from the moderates who promised to post here if that is true.

    1. Steve, your guess is as good as mine. These terrorists don’t leave enough of them selves for any blood analysis. If I had to guess, I would say probably yes for two reasons:

      1. The act of killing themselves is of itself condemned by Islam. You are not permitted to take your own life. This is actually a ticket to Hell. Fighting to the death and killing yourself are two different things. So if there is any type of last minute remorse on the part of the terrorist the plan will be foiled. Hence potentially the drugs and the years of brainwashing.

      2. The act of killing innocents – children, women, elderly and non-armed civilians is also condemned. These are the basic rules of warfare.

      Maybe someone else will have a definitive answer.

  10. I suppose the answer I would want to hear is simple. If moderate Muslims expect to convince me they want to live in peace in a civilized world, they are going to have to stop the radical elements of their religion from pushing them around. I have no doubt moderate Muslims exist, but I have plenty of doubt that they have the wherewithal to withstand the pressures put on them by radical Islam.

  11. Two years ago, I decided to read the Quran. It is online. As most of you know, I am pretty current on world events so I was well aware of the history of violence involving people who practice Islam.

    I did not see the Quran as an inclusive, kind of loving manuscript that practices tolerance in some God like fashion. I saw it quite differently. It was the same old man made dogma that preaches fear, obedience, and intolerance for others. In short, it was the exact opposite of what I consider a loving higher power might be.

    To summarize, quite honestly, I see no room in Islam for other religions. They have no tolerance for non believers or other religions and the Quran states this. I do’t like the way they treat women like second class citizens. In short I think of Islam as a philosophy of hate and as I have stated before- if this is God- I don’t want him.

    I don’t think we can live peacefully with fanaticism- because it’s not the moderates carrying that message and peace is not the message of the Quran.

    As I post this response, Egypt enters a most critical phase with the forced dispersion of the Pro Morsi camps in Cairo. It has been a very sleepless and highly tense night here. With the highly organized, armed and extremist sects of the Muslim Brotherhoods continuing threats, the coming few days will be… ok loss of words here. I wonder if the Police force and the Army will be able to cover all areas or will the Egyptians have to take certain measures into their own hands.

    I want to start this section very carefully as I am no expert on Sharia Law myself. However, I am detecting a few themes from the comments and questions raised. On my list of friends that I have invited to participate is a female expert on Sharia Law (yes can you believe this). Since her command of English is not US standards, I have paired her with one who is and have asked her if she would be willing to answer any technical questions we are unable to address and to ensure that if there are different interpretations to share them.

    While in the US, I realized that many believe that Sharia Law application is the basis for any Muslim Country’s legal system. I want to assure you that it is not true. While there is a Sharia Law counsel in most countries, the legal system is civilian rather than Islamic. Few countries practice many of the actions that you are asking about. Again media reporting has much to do with that by focusing on countries that implement it without questioning it.
    To draw a parallel in an effort to clarify Sharia law, think of it as similar to the Halakha (the collective corpus of Judaic law) applied by the Beth Din practiced by Jews in American. In fact, Beth Din in Arabic means House of Religion. Do not misunderstand me, I am not advocating Sharia law in the US, I am drawing a parallel here. Islam is not the only religion that maintains a codified, separate body of laws that govern their followers practice sometimes unknown to the residents of the country, not through secrecy but through privacy.
    The definition of Sharia Law is similar to Halakha, it is the divine law to many Muslims. For them it is derived from the Koran. (I can hear the wheels turning, so it is true the Koran supports all these actions. Indulge me for a few minutes).
    Most of the Sharia laws deal with many aspects of daily living, marriage, inheritance, science etc. The issues that receive worldwide shock are the punishments sections for criminal or social infractions that go against the religion. And so we start.

    This is probably the biggest controversy and inhuman act attributed to Islam. So I will address it first. Let me first share my view. Moderate Muslims are taught that religions are progressive. So it is a requirement of all muslims to believe in all Prophets, Messengers and religions starting from Abraham through to Mohamed (Peace Be Upon Them All). If we believe that then how can we condone a Judaic practice that what abolished by Christianity? (Jesus Christ’s famous words – those of you without sin may cast the first stone).
    Now we turn to the Koran and Sharia. In the Koran, there is no specific verse that says stone. Again Sharia students are taught many things and we will hear from some experts later but as it stands I have repeatedly challenged any student of Islam to show me the verse that refers to stoning. And none have so far. And if Sharia Law is the divine law of the Koran, then I don’t want to hear, “well this is interpreted this way” on such a crucial issue. Especially since the argument of extremists is the claim of the literal. But this is my view.
    Second, the punishment for adultery stated in the Koran is lashing. And for the punishment to be applied, the act of adultery has to be witnessed by four people or a direct admission by the adulterer.
    Finally, surprise, surprise, the punishment is supposed to be applied to both sexes. Not just women.
    Can you tell me the last time you heard of an act of adultery witnessed by four. Even in the western world, it would give a new meaning to the word voyeurism.

    Again, this brand of punishment is applied in very few countries. I believe that the Saudi Legal system is being touted as the same across the Muslim World hence distorting perception. In most countries, thieves receive jail sentences. Instead of arguing what is right or wrong here, I will recount a story about the Caliphate Omar Ibn El Khataab, the second Caliphate after the death of the Prophet (pbuh). During his reign, economics slumped in the Muslim world. He was presiding over a trial of a man charged with thievery. When he asked the man why did you steal, the man answered to feed my children. The Caliphate said: when the day comes that a man has to steal to feed his children then he is not the problem, we are and he pardoned him. The moral of this story, was the act done from desperation or from greed.
    So yes, the Koran does say cut the hands of thieves but it also provides mercy. Just as the Judaic Christian testaments states “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” however its application is suspended based on civil and merciful measures.

    Women Treatment
    That is a huge topic that continues to be debated in each Islamic country with advances achieved but rarely noted. It is difficult to recount it all however, here are a view notes:
    First of all beating of women in Islam is not allowed. Abusive husbands under Islam are forced to repent or divorce the wife (this through a family council or a legal figure). Beating is the application of the extreme view. I will await further confirmation from experts but from my knowledge no, it is not allowed even if she is disobedient. There are other venues including divorce. Divorce is legal and acceptable in Islam.
    As to attire, I do not know where you are Bunkerville so I cannot address specifics. Each country has its own cultural heritage and attire. While head covers are more prevalent in some, it is a choice many make. Nikab (full cover including the face) is a different thing. That, I cannot help with. I just wish I can send you pictures of the complete opposite where Muslim women lounge in Bikinis with men around and go swimming. But I can’t as they are not expecting their pictures to be broadcasted on the web.
    An interesting aspect of Sharia Law that is never portrayed by western media is the degree of rights women are granted that even western women do not have or only recently acquired. And in some cases these laws are not enacted in the civil system of many countries. For example, under Sharia law women have the right to own properties and businesses in their own name without any sharing with the spouse or family. Additionally, they stand to inherit regardless of their ranking in the siblings. In specific circumstances, they are allowed to divorce their husbands without the husband’s consent. Again, I am no expert on all the rights but these are the ones I know.

    With the state of current events that may be occupying many on this side or worldwide, I would like to ask the readers and contributors if they want to continue or suspend this discussion until more people are available to participate.
    Look forward to your comments and will try to reply at individual levels. This was an attempt to address many questions at once.

  13. “How can moderate Muslims convince us they want to live in peace in a civilized world?”

    For the majority of non-Muslims, this is likely not possible. Islam has 7 main beliefs in the Iman ul Mufassal. “I believe in Allah, His Angels, His Books, His Messengers, the Last Day, Measurement, both the good and the bad are from Allah the exalted, and in life after death”.

    Of the five books known to possess the teachings of Allah, only the Qur’an of Muhammed still exists. To believe in Islam and be a true Muslim means to accept the Qur’an in its entirety so professing to be a “moderate” wouldn’t seem possible.

    Obama is no different in his claim to be a Christian. You can’t cherry pick your beliefs from the Word of God and get to the Promised Land. It’s all or nothing.

    Convert or die is clearly the phrase of concern. I would contend Christianity also contains this ultimatum. You either accept the Lord as your Savior or you go to Hell. Essentially that’s convert or die when you consider life after death.

    The difference being that Christianity is perceived as relating one’s personal relationship with God and Islam is interpreted as mandating that it is a Muslim’s duty to convert others. Yes, of course Christians witness to others but nowhere do you see violence as the answer in anothers rejection of God.

    That’s my sticking point and I am fairly confident most other non-Muslims as well. How can one commit to Islam without complete acceptance of all of its tenents? Is it accepted that one merely interprets it as they see fit? You did say that the “extremists” change religion to fit their goal. How is this different?

    1. Greg, with all due respect, this is not a scholarly discussion and nobody is telling you what Islam is. You are more than entitled to follow your interpretation of Islam. This is just a sharing of views dialogue. No need for name calling or making assumptions and accusation about what type of Muslims are talking here. And how would you know who speaks Arabic or not. It is responses like yours that make dialogue difficult. Either converse politely or leave this dialogue.

      1. this is you pretend to speak for a billion people as you apologize for those of us who have the audacity not to pray to Jesus. You notice my comments were removed? And this is from people who live under a first Amendment. I tell them they have no right to pretend they have any say over my prayers…and I get censored…and you are the only “moderate” they will let post here….sister you need to go to mosque or find non Muslims really interested in honest dialogue.

      2. not a scholar just a person, For thousands of years wars have been fought because of religion, a shame i’m sure all the gods are in agreement with. Now the amount of people that actually do not make an effort to live their lives practicing their religion i’m sure is high,so my thought here is maybe the practice of one’s religion is taken too far by too many. Should not maybe, ones religion be practiced more as a private matter and not influence separate groups of people so as to make them combatants meaning my religion is better than yours. Maybe the people of the world should take a step back and i don’t know, just practice what religion is not what the group says it is. Sorry if this is not elegant or worded properly but not sure exactly how to word the thoughts. PLJ peace love and joy

  14. When I started this dialogue and invited my friends to participate, I had no agenda. My intent was a sharing of views from which we both learn something new. Us moderates, maybe what could be done more to stem the tide of terrorism in the name of religion, you whether what you have learned about Islam is mainstream or not. Of my friends whom I invited and who responded, a few declined to participate and cautioned me to be careful. Others wanted to read before they commit. That was before all hell broke loose in Egypt and regardless of where they are, they are monitoring this situation 24X7. With Tunisia and Algeria on similar brinks, and the Muslim Brotherhoods promising a bloodbath on the streets of Egypt today, tensions are running very high.
    Over the past few days I have written a response to two sections of your questions providing answers and clearly separating what is my view and what is a fact. Last night, I stumbled on Maggie’s website and spent some time reading some of the responses and what is posted there or shared on it. I was rather taken aback for three reasons:
    1) That my comments are being shared on other websites with an invite to provide comments that are not seen on your webpage and with no notifications. Privacy issues aside this is an issue of respect of the dialogue especially since the participant is posting questions and receiving answers and not enforcing the agreed rules of engagement on the other site.
    2) That Maggie herself has an agenda in participating in this dialogue as she eloquently stated, “Tomorrow Israel”. Not that I mind, but a hidden agenda in an open discussion which specifically stated not religious attacks and with potentially multicultural participants is interesting.
    3) That the sharing is selective since my response to Greg’s comment was not included, nor were any of my longer posts.
    At this stage, with no other participants but myself and apparently a sharing on the other side without knowledge or consent, I would like to ask to terminate such a dialogue. I know there will be those who say coward or not up to par or that is what moderates do. I don’t care because I know who I am, what I believe, what I know and do not know and am willing to learn. The question is do you? On closing, would like to share with you a couple of pictures from Egypt as to what understanding, sharing and tolerance among the religions can do under massive fire from terrorist: These are Muslims protecting a Church from terrorists during prayer time. This translates as: “You burn Churches, we will pray in Mosques. You burn Mosques, we will pray in Churches. You burn both we will pray on the streets, side by side. We are one blood and have one feeling. We are all Egyptians.”
    I wish you all the best and for those of you who really want to learn, there are many sources out there besides me and I am sure you all have intelligence to do your own research should you want to.

    God Bless

    1. Sr, Abby,

      I don’t doubt our intentions and may Allah reward you, but you are answering a loaded question that skews the debate. If a Muslim breaks the law in America, I have never seen a single American Muslim institution saying American Muslims should not live by US law and no Muslims anywhere in America is having that conversation. The conversation here and across too much of conservative America seems to be that they believe they should decide and label our Islam for us (“moderate”), from their living room couches. For too many of them, Muslims are not protected by the First Amendment. This is the ONLY real debate about Muslims living in America. How I choose to practice is irrelevant. When I break the law, there is nothing in US law that says we should review my religious practice in judging me or my punishment as a criminal. And as long as I am not breaking any laws, how I pray IS NOBODY’S BUSINESS. Prayer and worship are private matters. This is basic first Amendment stuff. “Convince you”???? This comes from people who don’t believe the Constitution applies equally to everyone. The reality is that American conservatives are at a crossroads and they only have one way out. They need to convince the non white rapidly growing parts of this country that they are willing to put down their old prejudices and to treat all people as human beings and recognize our right not to be Christian or worship white American culture. This is the real question. We Muslims are rapidly growing in the Europe and America. We already coexist. The only issue is the fate of the extreme right wing conservative haters. We need to figure out will they change or die off…or will the Republican party and the tea party continue to cover up for them and protect them at the expense of Hispanics Muslims and black Americans. With all this denial coming from their side, so far it’s not looking so good for them.

    2. Abby, yes I did have an agenda by participating in this forum that Jim has provided. My agenda was to read what a Moderate American Muslim had to say about Jim’s post that started this. That was my agenda and I hoped to stir interest for him.

      I wrote a post at my blog (certainly not hidden) asking others to come and join and be polite and I cleared it with Jim before I did so. I’m sure some of the comments were not to your liking, but that’s the problem. We have these real-life situations that play out right in front of us. Some of my commenters said what they wanted to say at my blog, and politely refrained from coming here to say things that might be hurtful to you. You remember Jim’s comment that started this, right?

      My first post was very direct. I asked questions that I hoped you would answer. From your comments about my blog, you are standing right where most Muslims stand when we voice our opinions that we cannot coexist peacefully – it’s our thinking that is skewed. We simply can’t buy that until we see it playing out.

      “Tomorrow Israel” is a huge issue with most of us. How does Israel stay safe with Jew Haters all around them? Egyptians elected the Muslim Brotherhood who believes Jews are descendants of apes and pigs. We didn’t elect them. We cautioned about them long before they peeked out of their underground operations in Egypt – and we were appalled, while people were dancing in the streets over the free and fair elections.

      Maybe my only question should have been, do you believe Israel has the right to exist right where it is now?

      My agenda is right out in the open. I accepted the invitation to discuss what can convince me that you want to live peacefully in a civilized world – and I remind you that your friends cautioned you about coming here. Many non-Muslims felt the need for caution and didn’t come, but I did.

      God’s blessings to you as your country is in such turmoil. Stay safe.

  15. I am not Muslim but I have travel extensively through many different countries with many different religions. So often I see people using opinions as facts and creating very broad comments to support their ‘opinion’.
    My computer is on right now. This is a fact.
    Blue is a good color. This is an opinion.
    Fanatics exist on both sides. So many of the comments about how can a moderate Muslim co-exist site the behaviors of a few and then put the burden on them to stop them. That seems pretty fanatical as anti-muslim which is just as bad. Are all Christians the same? Certainly not and some that claim to be Christian are pretty bad. I use Christianity as a comparison simply because it is so often used.

    “Yes, of course Christians witness to others but nowhere do you see violence as the answer in anothers rejection of God.”

    Ireland. Two Christian branches fighting. Violence is also not the only weapon religions use.

    “You can’t cherry pick your beliefs from the Word of God and get to the Promised Land. It’s all or nothing.”

    Why not? How many branches of Christianity are there because of exactly this? Anything taken in the most literal sense can be misrepresented.
    “And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire.” Does this mean we should all start plucking out our eyes? It is about a concept and phrased in what was most appropriate at the time.
    “Anyone arrogant enough to reject the verdict of the judge or of the priest who represents the LORD your God must be put to death. Such evil must be purged from Israel.” (Deuteronomy 17:12 NLT)
    This sounds pretty extreme as well. Can Christians co-exist?
    How can you have a set of rules that have to be followed exactly (some being open to interpretation) that can remain static for thousands of years? You can’t unless society doesn’t change. Groups such as the Amish take this route.

    There are good and bad people in virtually all groups. Judge them on their actions rather than vague general labels that just provide the next ‘enemy’. Be cautious but when someone proves they can co-exist on an individual basis accept it.

    I agree with Abby that most “news” etc is now just demagogs seeking to gain power and followers to advance themselves. Actors playing to fanatics. I would rather live next door and co-exist with her than many of the people leaving the comments.

  16. Truthfully I as a muslim living in the western world do not understand why we can not all live together peacefully? Most Muslims are taught to respect other peoples beliefs and to not force Islam or said religion on to another person. Also concerning your points about sharia laws it says in the Quran that wherever that muslim is to be living s/he should respect that country’s law. Furthermore, I personally think that the western media portrays Islam with bias. It is constantly shown to be barbaric and always focuses on the negativity and the minority. I would just like to remind you that the Islamic extremists are NOT in any way true Muslims, what they do goes against everything Islam even stands for and just uses the religion as an excuse due to the fact that they were brainwashed into believing what theyre doing is right. To sum up my point I just wanted to clear any misconceptions and I completely respect your opinion after all it is YOURS

    1. Yasmin, thank you for coming by and sharing your thoughts. It’s a shame you couldn’t have been part of the thread while it was going on. You say that most Muslims are taught to respect other peoples believes. Unfortunately, that is not the side of Islam that millions of us see. Abby did e-mail me some photos from Egypt showing Muslims circling a Christian church to protect it from the extremists. You all need to do much more to get that kind of documented evidence made known. It’s not easy, I know. You, who have a command of English, need to write blogs. It’s not likely that you would get Islamaphobes like me to follow, but you could visit stites like this one when Islam is being addressed and leave comments showing the other side of Islam and leave links to your articles and photos. Just a thought.

  17. why do they have to?do you have to prove that you don’t belong to the a sicilian do i have to prove i don’t belong to the mafia.

  18. Why should I be expected to live among people that let wholly disgraceful matters and offences to their own kind pass unpunished; forced marriage of young, female genital mutilation, extremism, terrorism against nations opening their borders to diversity and multiculturalism, treasonable acts on nationals serving to enforce security in a nervous world?

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