– Violence : Do you condone or condemn the Palestinians, Chechens, and Kashmiris who give up their lives to kill enemy civilians? Will you condemn by name as terrorist groups such organizations as Abu Sayyaf, Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya, Groupe islamique armee, Hamas, Harakat ul-Mujahidin, Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, and Al-Qaeda?
Sure, I have no problem condemning them. But, Mr.Pipes, would you acknowledge that Palestine, Chechnya and Kashmir issues are about more than just terrorism?
– Modernity : Should Muslim women have equal rights with men (for example, in inheritance shares or court testimony)?
Why not? In fact, all women, regardless of religion or ethnicity, should have equal rights, regardless of the specific right, with men. Do you agree? Muslims definitely have a lot of problems in this area, but the problems are not confined to Muslims. Should we designate everyone, of any religion or ethnicity, who does not believe in equality as extremist? I think we should.
Is jihad, meaning a form of warfare, acceptable in today’s world?
In my opinion, it is the rare war that is right. Most wars are unjust and result in killing lots of people but without any redeeming value. Is jihad as a defensive war ok? If not, are you a pacifist? I am not a pacifist, but I abhor war. If other defensive wars are allowed, then why not a Muslim one (unless one is a pacifist, a position I respect)?
Do you accept the validity of other religions?
I accept all religions and none. How many Americans accept the validity of atheism or of Islam? Are those people extremists? What is meant by validity? Meriam-Webster defines “valid” as:
- : having legal efficacy or force; especially : executed with the proper legal authority and formalities <a valid contract>
- a : well-grounded or justifiable : being at once relevant and meaningful <a valid theory> b : logically correct <a valid argument> <valid inference>
- : appropriate to the end in view : EFFECTIVE <every craft has its own valid methods>
- of a taxon : conforming to accepted principles of sound biological classification
Which meaning is he referring to? How many religious people accept another faith as “well-grounded or justifiable” or “logically correct”?
Do Muslims have anything to learn from the West?
Yes. Everyone has something to learn from another. I am doing a Ph.D. here after all, ain’t I?
– Secularism : Should non-Muslims enjoy completely equal civil rights with Muslims?
May Muslims convert to other religions?
Go for it. As an aside, I knew more atheists in Pakistan than I do in the US.
May Muslim women marry non-Muslim men?
Who am I to decide who a woman can or cannot marry? Mr.Pipes, if your daughter wanted to marry a Muslim guy, would you be ok with it?
Do you accept the laws of a majority non-Muslim government and unreservedly pledge allegiance to that government?
I accept laws everywhere. Regarding pledging allegiance, don’t all naturalized Muslim citizens have to do that when they became citizens? No born citizen is required to explicitly pledge allegiance. Why should it be any different for Muslims? Mr.Pipes, didn’t you just say something about equal civil rights for Muslims and non-Muslims (I hate that word)?
Should the state impose religious observance, such as banning food service during Ramadan?
When Islamic customs conflict with secular laws (e.g., covering the face for drivers’ license pictures), which should give way?
Same as when a Christian’s (or anyone else’s) beliefs conflict with state laws. Mr.Pipes, you would do well to read some legal history as you would find out that non-photo driver’s license cases started with Christians. And while I think Sultana Freeman was wrong in her interpretation, she still has both a right to her interpretation and a right to go to court.
– Islamic pluralism : Are Sufis and Shi’ites fully legitimate Muslims?
Yes. What about Ahmedis or Nation of Islam? I think self-identification is the way to go. If Mr.Pipes says he’s a Muslim, I’ll accept his statement. Do all religions do that? Are Mormons Christians?
Do you see Muslims who disagree with you as having fallen into unbelief? Is takfir (condemning fellow Muslims one has disagreements with as unbelievers) an acceptable practice?
There are a billion Muslims in the world and 2 billion disagree with me. So obviously I can’t excommunicate them.
– Self-criticism : Do you accept the legitimacy of scholarly inquiry into the origins of Islam?
Go ahead. I look forward to reading scholarly, non-polemical work in this area. And Mr.Pipes, what you do is definitely not scholarship.
Who was responsible for the 9/11 suicide hijackings?
– Defense against militant Islam : Do you accept enhanced security measures to fight militant Islam, even if this means extra scrutiny of yourself (for example, at airline security)?
I thought you said something about equal civil rights for all, Mr.Pipes?
Do you agree that institutions accused of funding terrorism should be shut down, or do you see this a symptom of bias?
Accused? Or convicted? Accusations can be false, you know. Innocent until proven guilty and all that.
– Goals in the West : Do you accept that Western countries are majority-Christian and secular or do you seek to transform them into majority-Muslim countries ruled by Islamic law?
I don’t particularly like the fact that the US is majority Christian. If it were up to me, I would convert everyone to agnosticism and atheism. Would you like that, Mr.Pipes? On the other hand, I don’t particularly care for anyone’s religion, so I respect your choice of religion.
And don’t some Christians want to run the US according to Christian morals or rules? Are they extremists too?
And while we are on the subject of religion, I live with three other guys: One each from the US, France and Iran. I am originally from Pakistan myself. Guess who is the only religious one in our apartment? A very nice and reasonable fellow, by the way.
It is ideal if these questions are posed publicly – in the media or in front of an audience – thereby reducing the scope for dissimulation.
I have publicly answered your questions, Mr.Pipes. Regarding dissimulation, I don’t believe in it and I don’t practise it. If you had done your research, you would know that dissimulation in the Middle East (and probably elsewhere that I am not familiar with) has been practised by small, persecuted communities or sects.
And for the record, I am not a moderate Muslim, whatever that means. I am a secular Muslim.