A new book by Florida State professor John Kelsay, Arguing the Just War in Islam, explains why moderate Muslims do not speak out more forcefully against their radical brethren. The Sunday New York Times reviewer, Irshad Manji, head of the Moral Courage Project at NYU, says the book explains that moderates can share key premises with militants, and can agree with militants that “democracy implies a kind of moral equivalence between Islam and other perspectives.
And such a situation is dangerous, not only for the standing of the Muslim community, but for the moral life of humankind.” And the same issue of the Book Review includes an essay by Fouad Ajami, an enthusiastic supporter of the democracy project in the Mideast, now acknowledging that Samuel Huntington was right that the contemporary world would see a clash of civilizations as opposed to the universalizing advance of liberal democracy at one time predicted by Francis Fukuyama.
Manji begins her review with this little report:
Before the Iraq invasion, a young imam offered some chilling advice to Muslims at the University of Toronto: if they could not fight the jihad against America with their souls or their sons, they should fight with their money. The Muslim Students Association told campus authorities that the imam did not represent the true spirit of Islam. With that, the case was closed.
This suggests that the chief purpose of “moderate” Muslims is to cover up the truth about violence in the name of Islam and to quiet those who would speak honestly. Manji is among those few Muslims who are willing to admit that jihad is indeed an authentic aspect of Islam, not a result of a hijacking of the true religion, or something rising exclusively from 20th century fascism and nazism. Her Moral Courage Project sounds like something worth supporting.