The charges have been loud and vociferous, and sometimes even outlandish. “There is no such thing as moderate Muslims”, “they are dangerous sleeper cells”, “they are in cahoots with the extremists and as such are themselves a ticking bomb”, and my personal favorite, “they have the sudden Jihadist syndrome”, or perhaps the capacity to combust, as in spontaneous human combustion.
Joseph Goebbels was right: "If you tell a lie long enough, it becomes the truth".
After all, Goebbels was the father of modern day political disinformation, and Hitler’s Minister of Enlightenment and Propaganda.
Of course, many moderate Muslim organizations, scholars, and influential opinion leaders in the U.S. and throughout the West have loudly condemned terrorism and extremism in all their forms. Alas their statements are seldom repeated beyond their release dates. Furthermore, in numerous mosques around the U.S. and Europe, Khutbahs (Friday sermons) are routinely dedicated to remind worshipers that their faith is, as the Qur’an describes, the “Middle Ground Faith”, and that extremism and fanaticism are nothing but aberrations to the Islamic norms and the tradition of the Prophet.
Currently, all these efforts are effectively muffled by a special interest coalition, a particular trilogy of influence that finds it in their political best interest to promote an erroneous perception about Islam and moderate Muslims- often through distortion and false accusations.
This trilogy is made of power-wielding Neocons and their cronies who, as the gatekeepers of the powers that be, would alienate moderate Muslims such as singer and peace activist Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) and Professor Tariq Ramadan, bulwark any contacts between moderate organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the administration, and implicate, and thus put them out of commission, almost all Muslim relief and charitable organizations.
The second component is the evangelical Christian group commonly referred to as the “Patriot Pastors”. These are super-wealthy charismatic ministers such as Rev. Pat Robertson, Franklin Graham, Jerry Falwell, and Rod Parsley who mesmerize their memberships with selective moral rectitude and provoke them with Islamophobic rhetoric.
Between these four, they referred to Islam as an “evil”, “demonic”, and “false religion”. They referred to Muhammad as a “wild-eyed fanatic” and Muslims in general as people who committed “history’s worst crimes” against humanity. Needless to say, their approach to religious understanding runs in counter-course with regard to the interfaith dialogue promoted by faith communities throughout the U.S. and Europe.
The third component is the jingoistic wing of the media who staunchly sensationalizes and routinely recycles what could only be described as Goebbelian “truth” about moderate Muslims. They insist on collective culpability on any and all wrongs committed by a Muslim. Do a quick on-line search on the phrase “moderate Muslims” and the result would be over 2 million entries. The first 10 which are the most read tell the entire story per who is constantly writing about this topic and why!
It is this trilogy’s well-orchestrated, ubiquitous political harassment that rendered moderate Muslims ineffective and puts them on defensive mode- constantly looking over their shoulders and reacting to daily barrage of character assassination and outright provocation.
Only a few days ago, one such moderate Muslim, Dr. Salah Soltan, a renown scholar and a member of the North America and the European Fiqh Council, and Sunrise Academy, a Kindergarten to Seventh Grade Islamic school which this author has been sitting on its board for the past six years, were implicated with those all too familiar innuendoes as terror-promoting individual and institution. The accusatory article was written by a gentleman who claims being a “policy researcher”….and boasts to have only spent 3 hours to arrive at that conclusion.
In post 9/11 political atmosphere, unfortunately, 3 hours are more than one needs in order to destroy reputations of Muslim individuals and reputation and endanger the lives of Muslim children, especially the girls who have to walk to bus stops wearing their hijabs.
At this stage, the strategy of this trilogy has proven successful. By and large, they intimidated, frustrated, and in some case, infuriated moderate Muslims into a paralyzing, self-defeating cynicism. Especially since the mainstream media have been callous and uninterested to level the playing-field or to provide moderate Muslims the necessary forums to disseminate their middle-ground ideology.
The reality, however, is that this trilogy may be doing more harm than good. In their attempt to discredit Moderate Muslims they simply embolden the radical ones and may even push some moderates to radicalism. The Dubai Ports Deal is a prime example of how this narrow ideology was able to discredit Muslims, or in this case an entire nation. Blanket statements, fiery rhetoric, and disinformation was used to persuade the public to react out of fear.
The overwhelming majority of Muslims are moderates. Many in this majority would not only find it in their interest to engage, counsel, and correct any of their brethren who might resort into extremism and fanaticism, but will find it as their obligation.
The Prophet said “Support your brother when oppressed and he is being the oppressor”. When confused companion asked him for clarification by saying “I understand supporting my brother when he is the oppressed. How should I support him when my brother is the oppressor?” The Prophet, without any hesitation, answered: “You stop him from oppressing others”.
However, as a result of the aforementioned conditions, many moderate Muslims feel that they do not have the luxury of engaging and reforming others when they themselves are targets who have to constantly dodge for cover.
Finally, reconciliation between Islam and the West is practically impossible without the spiritual and intellectual influence of the moderate Muslims- something that may never come to fruition so long as the said trilogy continues to sabotage such effort.
In recent months, some independent-minded people around the world have been indicating that they have awakened to the daunting reality that they were riding on an ideological runaway train into Armageddon. They started speaking, though less authoritatively.