Spencer uncritically supports the Rand Corporation’s litmus test for the “moderate Muslim” (see my preceding essay on this blog).
Then, in the comments field of Spencer’s Jihad Watch post, the quixotic Muslim reformer Mohammed “Tom” Haidon (Google his name along with “jihad watch” and dig around a little, and you might find a couple of instances of Hugh Fitzgerald’s sardonic trimming of him) glides right through the opening Spencer effectively gives him:
I think there are some organisations which fit the RAND standard:
The International Quranic Center
The Qur'anist Path
Other groups include
These groups meet this litmus test, and more importantly they make real attempts to, theologically, respond to Islamist tyranny.
Let’s check out these groups that “Tom” has recommended, one by one, shall we? This game is always fun, sort of like finding Waldo—spotting the loopholes in the manifestos of Muslim groups claiming to offer “reform”.
1. The International Quranic Center (www.ahl-alquran.org).
This is an organization headed by Ahmed Sobhy Mansour of Egypt who sought asylum in the U.S.A. in 2001. Mansour is a "Koran-only" Muslim—i.e., he believes
a) There is a way to reform Islam using only the Koran and jettisonning the Sunna (and who knows, perhaps beginning to create a new Sunna from scratch—why not? The world is their oyster!).
b) The Koran is good and is just fine to use for organizing the culture, societies and laws of Muslims.
a) Unrealistic. The numbers of Muslims who would accept a “Koran-only” movement would likely be insufficient for the safety and security needs of Infidels. It's certainly worth a try, but only as a back-burner project that should always yield to any safety and security concerns we might have.
b) The Koran has a quantity of content that is dangerous and unjust sufficient to put anyone who thinks otherwise under suspicion as either remarkably dullwitted, or deceitful.
2. Free-Minds (www.free-minds.org)
Ditto: same problems as #1.
3. The Qur'anist Path (www.quranists.org)
This one seems to be a little more nuanced:
“...let it be stated,” says their website, “that ProGod.org does not take an Anti-Hadeeth stance.”
Well, at least they are not so ridiculously unrealistic as the “Koran-only” Muslims. But accepting the Hadiths is hardly a satisfactory alternative. It only makes the putative reformism worse.
Explications of this “stance” which they make do not mollify—for how can they?—and only end up being examples of having-your-cake-and-eating-it-too gymnastics:
ProGod.org protests against adherence to the Hadeeths as divine guidance, and the idea that Muhammad was the perfect man for the following reasons...
“imperfection” due to “historical context”)
Okay, so what does ProGod.org propose to do? Do they cherry-pick only those Hadiths that reflect well on Mohammed (while nevertheless allowing for his
, and discard all those that reflect sufficiently poorly on his character as to render him unfit to be the basis for a religion? By what criteria and methodology do they do that? Islamic history is filled with deeply learned Islamic scholars who spent thousands of hours of lucubration sifting through all the Hadiths in order to determine credibility and authenticity—
and among those determined to be the most authentic (principally Bukhari and Muslim, followed by Abu Dawood) are thousands of statements about the words and deeds of Mohammed that disturb and dismay. Now these ProGod.org guys come along and ignore all that and create their own new tafsir? Based on what methodology? It seems the main methodology they will employ will be the aforementioned tendentious prejudicial cherry-picking. Aside from this being a blatantly myth-making enterprise, it will run into the same massive problems the“Koran-only”
Muslims will face, for such a major re-writing of the Sunna (unavoidably implying that scores of great Islamic scholars throughout Islamic history were either stupid or evil) ishardly less of a nose-thumbing of centuries of tradition as is its wholesale rejection. Aside from these problems, it is evident that ProGod.org's agenda is basically the same as the “Koran-only” Muslims—only they wish to pay a little token lip service to the Hadiths which, at the end of the day, will likely be insufficient to move the mass of tradition out of the way for the reform they unrealistically offer.
Islamic Reform (www.islamicreform.org)
Sigh... Another unrealistic, ahistorical, fantasy-based
After the death of the Prophet Muhammad, a diabolic event happened. In direct contradiction to the teachings of the Quran, male clerics dedicated the religion not to God alone, but to a “holy” corporation...
Who were this “holy corporation” whom they blame for the “corruption” of the pure Mohammed and Koran? Why, of course, various descendants of Mohammed who corrupted his pure message in the interests of power, etc. Yawn. And what did this “holy corporation” set about to do to enable their “corruption”? Why, of course, they wove the complex tapestry of Hadiths and Siras to generate a Sunna, which has kept Islam in thrall to violent supremacists for the past 1400 years—until... www.islamicreform.org came along to save the day! Sorry, I’m not about to hand over the safety and security of the world to a pipe-dreaming website. Next!
Oh my God! Is “Tom” Haidon serious!? This group is mired in numerology, for Christ’s sake! Furthermore, among their articles is an article by Noam Chomsky (about which nothing need be said); one by Harold Pinter decrying the American government for being “terrorist”; an article by Mahathir Mohamad (the ex-Prime Minister of Malaysia who in 2003 delivered a speech about how Jews are taking over and corrupting the world and therefore the only technology Muslims need to develop is military!); and an article by somebody named Ana Peréz defending Hugo Chavez (¡Ay, que lastima!).
More “Koran-only” Muslims developing elaborate explanations for why the Koran is the best thing since sliced cheese, and why for some strange reason Muslims for 1,400 solid years didn’t know that, and only now www.quranic.org (and the other rag-tag groups mentioned above) have finally discovered this and, by Gum!—they will save the world from all those nasty “radical Islamists”!
All these groups recommended by “Tom” Haidon could indeed, as he promises, pass the litmus test of the “moderate Muslim” so sloppily assembled by “Angel Sabasa” of the Rand Corporation (that name alone evokes the young, personable, up-and-coming Muslim-American grad student perfect for the job of helping the Infidel construct the squeaky clean Muslim as a broadly representative, let alone realistic, type). The problem, of course, is that the litmus test in question has enough holes to fly passenger jet planes through on a brilliantly sunny day in early autumn.
While I wish these various dreamers all the best in their mythomantic constructs, I would not squander any valuable money and resources and attention to support them. No: we have more important things to do.