FYI, my definition of Radical Muslim is someone who wants to "legally" institute sharia law to govern the host country's Muslim community or who supports violent jihad as a way to settle international disputes.
First, I'm aware of your definition; you've written it before at DKos [Daily Kos]. I reject it. You paint Muslims with such an overly broad brush that, to us Muslims, your "definition" is meaningless. All Muslims would be "radical" by your definition. Here's why:
The notion that a Muslim is a "radical" if he or she wants to legally institute Shari'ah to help govern a country's Muslim community is patently absurd from both a theoretical and a practical perspective. First, as a Muslim jurist from Nigeria said in a BBC documentary, "Islam is Shari'ah; Shari'ah is Islam." This is true. The basis for Shari'ah is the Qur'an and Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). If one is a practicing Muslim, one will by definition be following Shari'ah. Much of Shari'ah is internalized, meaning that Muslims follow Shari'ah law in their own lives without sanction from the State (to give a Christian example, a person fasting during Lent is following the equivalent of "Christian Shari'ah"). In that regard, no one can stop Muslims from implementing some (probably most) aspects of Shari'ah. The aspects of Shari'ah that are externalized, i.e., need to be legally instituted, tend to be in the following areas: family law (marriage, divorce, inheritance, etc.) and criminal punishments (hudud). Here in secular Singapore, Shari'ah with regard to family law has been part of the country's legal code since the beginning. The Shari'ah Court system here was started over 50 years ago. Muslims are governed by Shari'ah; non-Muslims have their own code of laws. The system works very well. Only hudud isn't implemented here, and there is no pressing claim by Singaporean Muslims to implement it. So, practically speaking, Shari'ah in Singapore works very well. No one is considered to be a "radical" Muslim if he or she supports Shari'ah law. But people like you have tried to transform Shari'ah into such a bogey monster word that, without understanding how Shari'ah really works in the real world, you perpetuate misunderstandings between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities.
With respect to your second qualification, once again, by not understanding the difference between jihad and qital and harb, you malign a word that is very dear to Muslims. The other day I attended a seminar on fundamentalist and extremist Muslims. One non-Muslim participant's statement was a much better definition (IMO) than yours. He said, "Fundamentalists are people who are just trying to figure things out, versus extremists, who want to hurt other people." That works much better for me. By your definition, you would have to condemn the United States for the war in Iraq and Israel for its wars in Gaza and Lebanon because both countries have used "violent jihad" as ways to settle their international disputes. Somehow, I don't expect to hear any denunciations from you anytime soon.
The irony is that the real extremist Muslims are those people who would seem to be most like non-Muslims. At that same seminar, the professor who led it pointed out that one of the surviving 7/7 (London) bombers (whom he interviewed) did not know the basics of Islam such as how to pray or even how to perform wudu, the ritual ablutions that are required before prayer. Likewise, it's well known that the 9/11 terrorists were known to go drinking, gamble and visit strip clubs. These are not the actions of Muslims, but it is what non-Muslims might do. Your so-called "secular Muslims," the ones who non-Muslims support, are more likely to be extremists than observant Muslims. But you'd never know because they've hidden themselves in plain sight by acting like the rest of non-Muslim society.
April 6, 2009
A few days ago, when I wrote my post CSM: Ten Terms Not to Use with Muslims, I had also cross-posted it to the website Street Prophets as well. The post there, not surprisingly, has generated a lot of commentary (44 comments so far). One person, "Sandbox" (an Islamophobe), has been trying to peddle their definition for a "Radical Muslim." I reject that definition, and I've explained why down below: