maher ali

The top five groups when discussing Muslims and Islam - Where do you sit?

Muslim Conservatives 

Muslim Conservatives believe that Islam is perfect and that the Hadith and the Quran as a whole contain no errors. They view liberalism as a Western invention incompatible with their interpretation of the faith. They believe there is a cosmic war going on between the Muslim world and the West. They won’t blow you up any time soon but whether they be Salafist or Wahhabi, they often tend to support violent jihad against the West, including violence against civilians. Few in this group engage with Western media; they are far more active in Arab and Urdu media such as Aqra Channel, Al Jazeera Arabic and the like.

Muslim Moderates

Muslim Moderates also consider Islam to be perfect and the Quran and the Hadith to be inerrant. They like Conservative Muslims still believe punishment is necessary for anyone who questions Muhammad or the Quran, Canada’s a perfect example of moderate Muslims still being advocates for blasphemy law and Sharia law. However, they don’t as often follow the Quran that advocate violent jihad and they try to deny that any link exists between jihad and Islam. They are frequently seen in Western media, especially television, stating that Islam is a religion of peace, that terrorism has nothing to do with Islam, and that terrorist groups are un-Islamic. Their views on human rights cover a broad spectrum, from advocating public killing of gays to welcoming gays as equal citizens and from defending women’s right to wear head scarves to requiring them by law. Many have been educated enough to understand the West is not their enemy, but some justify jihad as a way of addressing grievances against Western imperialism and the West’s support for Israel. In the main, Muslim Moderates argue that terrorist groups such as ISIS, al-Qaeda, and Boko Haram have nothing to do with Islam and that those who speak out against it are motivated by racism, hatred of minorities or bigotry. Some Muslim Moderate organizations have high profiles in Western media, often acting as public-relations firms and lobby groups for Muslim communities. Examples include the Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR), the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), and CAGE in the United Kingdom. Prominent Muslim Moderates often seen on television include Linda Sarsour, Dean Obeidallah, Murtaza Hussain and Mahdi Hassan.

Muslim Reformers

Muslim Reformers either don’t consider the Quran to be perfect and the literal word of Allah or concede that some of its commandments are not applicable in the twenty-first century. They try to rally against extremist interpretations and to create new ones more in keeping with modern liberal values. They accept that there is a link between radical interpretations of Islam and terrorism. Many of them advocate for liberal government and separation of religion and state. Prominent individual Muslim Reformers include Maajid Nawaz, Asra Nomani, and Irshad Manji.

Pseudo-Liberal Apologists 

Pseudo-Liberal Apologists are mainly non-Muslim white liberals, they suck up and agree with Moderate Muslims argument that terrorist groups such as ISIS, al-Qaeda and Boko Haram have nothing to do with Islam and are either a result or a creation of Western imperialism. Pseudo-Liberal Apologists tend to agree that Islam is a peaceful religion and that those who speak out against it are motivated by racism, hatred of minorities or bigotry, or hold a neoconservative imperialist agenda and desire to kill all Muslims and steal resources from Muslim-majority countries… They tend to think that the greatest enemy of world peace is Western capitalism, a view they share with many Moderate and Conservative Muslims. Pseudo-Liberal Apologists tend to receive a lot of media attention; in U.S media, members of this group receive the most attention of any of the six groups. Examples include Glenn Greenwald, Reza Aslan and Chris Stedman. 

Genuine Critics of Islam 

Genuine Critics of Islam are mainly progressives, some of them atheists, who think that there is a connection between some interpretations of the religion and bad or violent behavior. They share many agreements with Muslim Reformers. Some tend to think that Islam in the twenty-first century represents a special case, and some do not. They are acutely aware of extremist groups in the Muslim world and around the globe and see a clear link between violence and some interpretations of the fundamentals of Islam. They view Islam itself as a major reason human rights are poorly upheld in most majority-Muslim countries. Most are also very critical of Christianity but are likely to argue that the Enlightenment has had a “buffering” effect on Christianity that Islam has yet to undergo, leaving Islam in need of enlightenment or reformation. They tend to differentiate between Islam as a set of ideas and interpretations and Muslims as people. Often, they mostly rely on statistics to resist making generalizations about Muslims as a whole. Prominent examples include Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Bill Maher, Salman Rushdie, Ali A. Rizvi, Aki Muthali, Sarah Haider and many others.