Reuel Marc Gerecht, as usual uncommonly intelligent, asks whether Imam Rauf is a "moderate Moslem" today in the New Republic. I agree entirely with his assessment:
If Mr. Rauf has collected monies from individuals or Muslim organizations overseas that preach contempt for infidels, have financially supported religiously militant organizations, or, worse, provided aide to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, then his project, which has been approved by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, ought to be cancelled. Any American non-profit organization can tell you exactly whence its money comes. By contrast, it appears that the Cordoba Initiative’s funding has not been cross-checked with financial counterterrorist information within the Treasury Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Central Intelligence Agency. (If it had been, we probably would have heard about it.)
And I note, again, that Imam Rauf's association with the Perdana Peace Initiative makes it hard to believe that this isn't the case. Gerecht continues to ask, "What might be an American definition of a “moderate Muslim?” and offers the following as a rough answer:
(i) a believer who unqualifiedly rejects terrorism against anyone. This is America’s Eleventh Commandment. If a Muslim cannot renounce terrorism against Israelis, that person should not be allowed to build an Islamic center near Ground Zero. Testing for unacceptable deviancy isn’t hard. Just borrow from the former al-Qa’ida philosopher, Abd al-Qadir bin Abd al-Aziz, aka “Dr. Fadl,” who sees Palestinian suicide bombers as destined for hell. Thus: “Do you, Feisal Abd ar-Rauf, believe that Allah damns eternally Palestinian suicide bombers?” “Do you believe that rockets launched at Israeli towns by Hamas and Hizbollah are acts of terrorism, which will bring down upon the perpetrators Allah’s wrath?” Mr. Rauf’s answers ought to be short.
(ii) a believer who embraces the doctrine of “neo-ijtihad,” which holds that Muslims today are not chained to the Qur’anic interpretations and legal decisions accepted centuries ago as canonical. Specifically, a “moderate Muslim American” is someone who unqualifiedly renounces the applicability of the Sharia, the Holy Law, in American society. The “Americanization of Islam” here means that the traditional Muslim understanding of orthodoxy as orthopraxy (it’s not what you believe in your heart—that is between you and God—but how you act, i.e., apply the Sharia, in the public square that matters) is null and void. Thus, women may veil or not veil as they please; a woman’s testimony is equal to a man’s; polygyny is verboten; marriage to a menstruating child is an abomination; accepted corporal punishments—amputations and stonings—are immoral; apostasy reflects bad judgment but isn’t criminal; and Jews and Christians should spiritually no longer be viewed as dhimmis, a properly subordinate species who really don’t deserve the same social status and legal rights as Muslims. Jewish and Christian power in America and Europe isn’t an offense against the divinely-sanctioned natural order; it’s just the product of a long, difficult, and tortuous evolution. The Sharia is a lengthy and complicated corpus that developed over centuries and often constrained the worst instincts of despots. A “moderate Muslim American” would see it in much the same way that a faithful “moderate Jewish American” views the Old Testament and the Talmud: documents of a certain time that contain considerable “divine” wisdom (as well as much looniness) and many imperatives for a good, healthy life.
I agree. An excellent definition. Gerecht concludes:
If Mr. Rauf can so define “moderate Islam,” he may not be as American as apple pie, but he would certainly be as American as much of New York City. Any mosque built by such a believer would honor us all.
I agree with that as well. I would add one more point, namely that Moslems who embrace Gerecht's definition surely do exist. They are not mythological. Assertions to the contrary are ridiculous and undermine the credibility of anyone who makes them. The distinction between radical and moderate Islam is well worth drawing and must be drawn if we are to avoid radicalizing moderates by confirming the propaganda of the Narrative.