“Islam Lite” and “Moderate” Muslims

This is the opening of an AP article talking about the birth of the Republic of Kosova.

GNJILANE, Kosovo (AP) — Kastriot Sadiku has a confession: Like a good Muslim, he was near a mosque when Kosovo declared independence. But like a good Kosovar, he was just around the corner, sipping suds at his favorite pub.

As minaret loudspeakers broadcast afternoon prayers, “I was having a beer,” said Sadiku, 25. “In the entire Muslim world, I think that’s probably something that can only happen here, where our religion doesn’t interfere with the rest of our lives.”

 Kosovo Touts ‘Islam Lite’

When people use the term “moderate” Muslim, they may mean a variety of different things.  One of the main contexts in which the term is used are in the context of politics and international relations, where to the American government, a “moderate” (meaning good) Muslim is one who is pro-U.S.  (see Mahmood Mamdani’s “Good Muslim, Bad Muslim”)

Another context is the cultural context, wherein a “moderate” (understood again to mean ‘good’ Muslim) is one we see in this AP article talking about Kosovar Islam as “Islam Lite.”  This is also seen sometimes in movies or television shows portraying Muslims — the way to show someone is a ‘moderate’ Muslim is to show them drinking alcohol or having a boyfriend or girlfriend.  Since these are sins in Islam, this is often incredibly offensive to Muslims in the west, who both want to be seen as pious Muslims and as “moderate” Muslims.  Of course, the creative people behind these shows respond that they are trying to create drama or entertainment of some quality and complexity.  They are not trying to make Sunday school pageants.  Now does this mean that the difference between a moderate Muslim and an extremist or fundamentalist or whatever you want to call it Muslim is that one commits sins and the other doesn’t?  But all of us know that all Muslims, even the most fundamentalist or extremist one, commits sins.  This is understood to be part of the nature of the human. 

Pious Muslims are taught to try to hide their sins and to try to repent for them.  So, being a “moderate” Muslim means that one feels nothing about their sins, that one is proud to publicize their sins, as the man mentioned in the AP article.  Somehow, they begin to see their sins as virtues.

 Similarly, in theological issues, the “moderate” Muslim is not the one who “has doubts” about God, or struggles with the level of their iman (faith), because anyone can have such internal spiritual issues, but the ‘moderate’ Muslim is the one who broadcasts their own doubts, their own spiritual weakness as if it were a strength, as if it were something of which they are proud.

Some times, the term is also used simply to refer to Muslims who are not violent and who are willing to live in peace with others.  As almost all Muslims are peaceful and do wish to live in peace with others, some will rush to say, “We are moderate Muslims.”  Even some well meaning non-Muslims will ask to be reassured that one is a “moderate” Muslim to know that they do not need to fear them.  If a Muslim, being peaceful and wanting to live in a multicultural society, says “I am a moderate Muslim,” then the other definitions will pose a problem.  Someone will say, you claim to be “moderate” but you pray five times a day and you don’t drink or shake hands with women — that’s not moderate.  You claim to be moderate but you actually believe the Qur’an is the word of God — that’s not moderate.  And then these people are accused of hiding their true natures and seeking to “deceive” and “infiltrate.”  The word “taqiyya” will be thrown around. 

 So, let me make it perfectly clear.  I am not a  “moderate” Muslim. 

 And Allaah knows best.

6 Responses to ““Islam Lite” and “Moderate” Muslims”

  1. Manal Says:

    Nice blog brother. Yeah, these “moderate Muslims” are like the “house ni**ers” of past years, or to use an Irish context, these people are “soupers” who gave up their religion for food, a name change and maybe a position.

    Thank God that I am not one of these lot.

  2. Abu Sinan Says:

    Sorry, previous post was mine. I guess that is what happens when you share your laptop with the wife!

  3. Musa Maguire Says:

    I’m a wahaberate

  4. Abu Sinan Says:

    BTW, I like the “Unrepentant Fenian Islamist”. Nice play on the usual “Unrepentant Fenian Bast**ard”.

    Tiocfaidh ar la!

  5. Mass Says:

    its all relative in others’ sight, only a practicing Muslim is a moderate Muslim.
    and we should make the definition.

  6. abunooralirlandee Says:


    Jazzak Allaahu Khayr for commenting.

    I am not sure I understand your comment correctly, though, are you saying that we should embrace the term moderate Muslim?

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