Why I Despise The Term “Moderate Muslim”

Why I Despise The Term “Moderate Muslim”

With the terrorist attacks of ISIS and the constant conversations about radical Islam, we hear the term moderate Muslim frequently. The term is meant to represent the views of those muslims who do not subscribe to the ideology and methods of ISIS and other violent islamic extremists. However I believe the term is intellectually dishonest, moronically simplistic, patronising to the millions of muslims around the World and simply lazy.

The reason I find the term so teeth-grating is because it is not representative of humanity and human views. By using that phrase, we are splitting 1.6 billion muslims into the two groups of moderates and violent extremists. It is such a lazy term that is actually includes those who hold the same vile views as ISIS and other extremists, but simply do not wish to use violence to achieve them.

Those who criticise Islam can often be accused of generalising muslims as one large group (this is an argument for a different post). I believe that is exactly what the term moderate muslim does.

Muslims are the same as any other substantial group of people who hold certain beliefs. There are different levels and sub levels of variations of belief within those 1.6 billion muslims.

Because this is a simple blog post and not a book or collection of academic work, I will perform an act of simplification but one that I hope is more intellectually honest than the term I have referred to.

For me, and this applies to every group there are six levels on the spectrum of belief.

  • Violent extremists
  • Non-Violent extremists
  • Ultra-conservatives
  • conservatives
  • liberals
  • reformists

I myself as an atheist but also as a liberal will always stand with the islamic liberals and reformers because they are the ones who will transform their religion in order for it to co-habitate with liberal democracies. These are those muslims who will stand up for women’s rights, stand by homosexuals against bigotry and promote secularism in order for muslims to practice their faith along side christians, jews, Hindus etc.

I will always stand against those who wish to stand against those principles. These are usually ultra conservatives who believe Islam (in the same way that ultra conservatives from other religions) should be dominant in that country or community.

This is why I believe the term moderate muslim is not only unhelpful, it is dishonest because we can see that Islam is not made up of two groups whether that be violent extremists or moderates. It is a far broader religion than that and its followers are far broader than even I have stated.

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