[Homestead] Moderate Muslims exist, likely to disappear in the gathering storm

Tvoivozhd tvoivozd at infionline.net
Wed Sep 8 15:13:25 EDT 2004

When you poke a hornets nest like the Jihadist massacre did in a Russian 
school, the normal reaction is to eliminate the Jihadists by whatever 
means necessary.  The last time this sort of thing happened in Russia, 
Stalin on 22 Feb., 1944 pulled armed forces from the German front to 
deport 600,000 Chechens, Ingush and other Muslims to Central Asia---one 
quarter of them were dead within five years and the dispirited remainder 
ceased fighting the Russians. A crushing blow, no voice of sweet reason 
or a tit-for-tat forever-war.

Sufi science, tolerance of 8th to 13th Century vanished in present-day 
Islamic virulence.  The unremitting attacks by Jihadists on the West 
will be met---if moderate Islamist won't or can't do it, the weapons of 
the West certainly will be brought to bear on pro-Jihadist and 
anti-Jihadist alike.

I do not believe a moderate Muslim (reat that a sceptical Muslim, not a 
True Believer), has the chance of a snowball in hell of reversing the 
tide of war commenced by Saudi financing of Wah-habi hatred for the past 
thirty years.  Inside Saudi Arabia you have 1,500,000 young males 
educated exclusively as Imams, where they cannot and will not be 
employed.  The odds of five thousand House of Saud princely leeches 
dying in the near future iare excellent.  The U.S. had better crank up 
the renewable energy machine fast while some financial resources exist 
to fund a transition from oil.  Where are the Manhattan Project planners 
among the Republicrats?

      The International Herald Tribune

Beslan massacre: The anguish of a faithful Muslim
Nassrine Azimi IHT
Wednesday, September 08, 2004

HIROSHIMA, Japan Many people around the world, Muslims among them, 
turned away in shock from their newspapers and televisions, like me sick 
to their stomach, as the hostage-taking in Beslan, Russia, reached its 
grisly climax.

Even in the litany of terrorist attacks we are now resigned to expect 
daily, the premeditated seizure of a school and the slaughter of 
innocent children in a sleepy Russian town by Chechen, Arab and other 
Muslim terrorists defies imagination. To think that men and women 
actually gathered, maybe months in advance, to plan such evil is 
incomprehensible; that it was done in the name of Islam is crushing.

I, too, am a Muslim. Like many other Muslims (and Christians, Jews, 
Buddhists and people of different faiths trying to cope with our modern 
age), I try to accept my religious identity on my own terms and am 
adamant that there be no place for politicized or even institutionalized 
Islam in my spiritual life. Let me promptly add that this impatience 
with radicalism in my faith extends equally to other religions, whether 
Christianity or Judaism.

My religion actually takes a rather secondary place to my spirituality. 
I am primarily concerned, through my faith, to find answers to those 
questions that have preoccupied humans from times immemorial: Who am I? 
Where do I come from? Where do I go from here? And, most importantly - 
how should I conduct a true and purposeful existence?

Still, I consider myself a Muslim. I grew up with the privilege of 
tolerant parents who, while creating a Muslim home for us, allowed my 
siblings and me to attend Christian and Jewish schools. I opted to keep 
my Islamic identity for at least two reasons. Firstly, there is much 
about Islam's rituals that I find elevating (there is of course also 
much about it that I simply find irrelevant to life in general and to my 
life in particular, like the segregation of women). I deeply cherish the 
month of Ramadan, for example - something holy, truly cleansing, 
permeates this period of the year when from dawn to dusk we commit to 
not eat, drink, steal, curse or otherwise misbehave. I also like Islam's 
sense of community and self-discipline (before these qualities were 
debased and deformed by Al Qaeda and the like).

Secondly, I feel a need to provide some continuity. Let me explain. Most 
of my family, including my devout parents, having observed first hand 
the brutality, ignorance and corruption that accompanied Khomeini's 
Islamic revolution in Iran, came to doubt Islam altogether. My father, 
at one time the most practicing among us, became so disillusioned with 
Islam that to his dying day he never again called himself a Muslim.

I sometimes feel that in a generation or two, the tolerant, humane and 
all-embracing Islam I knew will have all but disappeared. In its place, 
Osama bin Laden's version of Islam could well win the day. I feel that 
having been born a Muslim I should try and uphold something of the 
gentler culture I knew. Maybe it is too late.

Cycles of violence are, of course, perpetrated and repeated over great 
expanses of time - some of the seeds of Sept. 11, 2001 may well have 
been sown in 1953, when the United States and Britain conspired to 
topple Mossadegh, the democratically elected nationalist leader of Iran, 
thus paving the way for virulent Islamic movements that later engulfed 
Iran and other parts of the Middle East. Seeds for the calamity in 
Beslan may have been sown with the invasion of Afghanistan by Soviet 
forces in 1979, and by the atrocities committed by Russian forces in 

Most extremisms arise when people don't know where to turn: the gross 
vulgarities that pass for freedom in many Western democracies may have 
irredeemably frightened many moderate Muslim societies into the arms of 
more dogmatic, nonsecular movements. Still, Muslim countries must start 
questioning why so many of their sons and daughters go about claiming an 
Islamic inspiration for murderous acts. Who are those who perpetrated 
the Beslan tragedy in the name of Islam and where, pray, are Muslim 
politicians and commentators to condemn, unequivocally, their cruelty?

Muslims have already spent too much time blaming others for their woes. 
However justified, it is time to stop. Could it be that we have become 
more driven to begrudge others their present glories than to retrieve 
the glories of our own past? Where, I ask my fellow Muslims, do we turn 
when so many atrocities are committed daily under the banner of our faith?

I continue to believe that at its heart, as in other great faiths, there 
is a kernel of timeless beauty and humanity in Islam. To whoever would 
listen - there are fewer and fewer of them - I keep talking of the real 
Islam: the Islam of the esoteric Sufi tradition, the Islam of the Golden 
Age of knowledge and commerce, from the 8th to the 13th centuries, the 
Islam of tolerance, inclusiveness, science and the arts.

Today, watching the dead children of Beslan and the unbearable suffering 
of their parents, even to my own ears these claims are starting to sound 

Nassrine Azimi is director of the Hiroshima Office for Asia and the 
Pacific, United Nations Institute for Training and Research. This is a 
personal comment.


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