Readers of this blog will not be new to this kind of discussion, but there are times when it is good to step back and take a larger view and see if, maybe, things have really changed. The news of the last week or two has definitely been such a time. In the last few days, I sent a version of the text below to a selected group of friends, Muslims, and other countryfolk. I think it is now time to share it on the blog, as well.
It does seem like we are at a time when some folks are asking anew to hear the silent majority of the Muslim world speak. But as we keep saying, the problem is not whether anyone is speaking, but whether anyone is listening. So let us, for a moment, assume that the folks that don't usually listen to moderation, either because it doesn't make for good TV and sound bites or for other reasons, are now listening. And I might start sounding like a broken record, but I do mean both within and from outside the global Muslim community.
So here goes:
A lot of readers will not need much of an introduction to who I am. But some things bear repeating. One of the first names that comes up when things like what I am thinking and saying come up is that of Irshad Manji. Some readers will know that I am not a fan of Irshad Manji. When her name comes up, I usually refer folks to the following:
And I am definitely not on the payroll of Daniel Pipes.
But I am in an odd mood. I guess I have the cartoon controversy and the explosion that, in my humble opinion, started in Samarra on my mind. For background on what I have been saying about that, see: http://ifaqeer.blogspot.com/2006/02/cartoon-controvesyand-new-tet.html and http://ifaqeer.blogspot.com/2006/02/blast-at-shrine.html .
On the other hand, one very interesting thing to watch is a 1 hour documentary from the BBC about British Muslims: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/panorama/4727513.stm .
And here's a comment from Lebanon:
http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_ID=10&article_ID=22084&categ_id=5 . (To my Muslim brethren: in case you're thinking this guy's part of Daniel Pipes' team, read his comment on the cartoon controversy: http://www.reason.com/links/links022306.shtml)
But frankly, I doubt we are yet equipped here in the US to enagage with the issue in any way that does not involve most Muslims screaming "Anti-Muslim Nazis!" and all others--most particularly the press--screaming, or seeming like they are screaming, "All Muslims are Murderous Fanatics".
Where do we go from here? I don't know. But it does seem like some more folks, especially within the community, have been startled out of denial about the power, depth and breadth of the influence of "theo-cons"/"neo-cons" on our local communities, and about where we're headed. Of course, in terms of alternative voices, besides Irshad Manji, there are the Progressives, who seem to be doing good work to develop a progressive alternative. But a progressive is a progressive; a progressive is not a moderate. We need voices from the right and from the left; but if we don't get real about recognizing what is what, we don't have a chance of really providing an alternative and getting through to the average, common Muslim and changing how they engage with the 21st Century. Some of what I mean in that regard came up in the discussion on WNYC earlier this morning. (See: http://ifaqeer.blogspot.com/2006/02/ifaqeer-on-wnyc-new-york-public-radio.html)
I am not saying I have a solution right here, right now. (Like some others I could mention.) I am just saying that I don't see any solutions on the table right now that will, on the one hand, solve the problems facing the world right now in terms of making the world a safer, saner place, and most importantly, be embraced by the 1 billion plus Muslim population in the world. At least not anything that's visible in the press, on the grapevine, or otherwise in the mainstream. I am saying that what we might have in the present moment might, just might, be an opportunity to start a conversation that gets us to such a solution.
Technorati tags applicable to this post: Moderate Islam - Moderate Muslim - Moderate Muslims - Islam - Fundamentalism - Islam is the Solution