Now Azzam Tamimi, a collaborator with John Esposito whom Martin Kramer has identified as a “Hamas extremist,” expresses the same misgivings from the opposite side. From The New Nation of Bangladesh, with thanks to Anthony:
Islam is not being challenged by democracy, it is liberal democracy that is today challenged by Islam. It is not Islam that needs reforming, it is democracy that needs urgent attention to repair the severe damage caused by the liberal democratic states in America and Europe.
Tamimi also takes Khaled Abou El Fadl, whose own “moderation” I discuss in Onward Muslim Soldiers, to task for daring to suggest that the commands of the Qur’an and the Prophet be revised. This is a problem I have identified many times (and at length in Islam Unveiled) that Muslim reformers face: when they challenge Islamic principles, their Islamic loyalty is challenged in turn by hardliners. Thus their reform attempts are essentially discredited before those who identify themselves as Muslims but are relatively uninformed. This makes the prospects for Islamic reform “” as again I have pointed out many times “” exceedingly dim.
Tamimi says of El Fadl:
He gives an example how Shari’ah may be re-interpreted so as to conform to the values he believes to be absolute and universal. For example, El Fadl would like to abrogate the Qur’anic rule (Al-Ma’idah, 5:38) concerning the penalty for theft El Fadl, because he thinks it is inhumane and unjust even if his view is contrary to the understanding and practice of the Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, himself and of his Companions and the scholars of Islam through the ages.
Tamimi further takes a shot at those who, like the increasingly shrill Islamic apologist Stephen Schwartz, blame all the troubles of Islam on the “Wahhabis” — another position that I have shown to be wanting from the standpoint of Islamic history and theology.
Betraying a political stance, El Fadl does not hide his disdain and contempt for the ‘Wahhabis’ and what he calls the ‘fundamentalists’. Both terms have become tools in the anti-Islamic propaganda to attack a broad spectrum of people, including some of the most respectable personalities in the Muslim world. Bandying about such labels only makes his work less likely to be appreciated by Muslim readers, though it may be music to the ears of people on the other side of the divide.
Unless and until self-proclaimed Muslim moderates face and deal somehow with the fact that Tamimi is right — that their use of such labels, and of such argumentation as he criticizes above from El Fadl, will indeed make their works “less likely to be appreciated by Muslim readers” — they will not make any significant headway in the Muslim world.