Thailand’s Prime Minister Thaksin, like Western politicians who pontificate about Islam, is not a Muslim. How does he know their interpretation of the Qur’an is wrong? Where can the correct interpretation be found? It is staggering how many people of influence repeat the mantras about Islam is peace and militant Islam is a hijacking of a great peaceful religion without ever bringing forward a tradition of Islam that abjures violence altogether, or an explanation of the Qur’an that refutes (not ignores, but refutes) the radical exegesis.
Some analysts have criticized my allies in this struggle and me because, they say, we are are bent on discrediting Islam itself, and that we have set the standard for Islamic moderation so high that no Muslim can meet it without apostasizing. They say we should encourage Muslim moderates who articulate a peaceful Islam even when their version of Islam takes little or none of the radical exegesis into account, and is utterly inadequate to refute it.
But this article shows the shoddy thinking that is involved in such criticism. Thaksin is blandly asserting, as so many others have also in the US and elsewhere, that Islamic terrorists are misinterpreting and misusing Islam. But the “correct” version has yet to assert itself. When moderates who, for whatever reason, do not respond properly to radical teachings are lionized and encouraged, the assertion of any true or effective moderate Islam is postponed yet again. Such moderates make their Western audiences feel reassured, but since they make no headway against the radicals it’s a hollow reassurance.
We need moderate Muslims to wage rhetorical war against the radical version of Islam. But this needs to be done by people who are completely honest about the teachings of Islam on jihad and the treatment of non-Muslims, as well as honest about the sources of those teachings and the need for massive reform. Anything less, and we’re just whistling in the dark with Prime Minister Thaksin.
From AP, with thanks to Ali Dashti:
BANGKOK – Islamic teachers in southern Thailand are ‘brainwashing’ students and there will be no quick end to the Muslim insurgency there, Thailand’s Prime Minister said yesterday, while police reported four more slayings in the region’s latest bloodshed.
Several Muslim teachers have been arrested recently because of suspicions that they may be encouraging students to take part in the rebellion and many militants killed in fighting have been teenagers studying at religious schools.
‘The problem is difficult to resolve because the religious teachers have been brainwashing people with the wrong interpretation of the Quran,’ Mr Thaksin Shinawatra told journalists in Bangkok.
‘It will take time to resolve the problem.’
More than 330 people have been killed in fighting this year in the three Muslim-dominated southern provinces of predominantly Buddhist Thailand.