Moderate Islam and the Things People Miss: I posted a link to our conversation about whether Islam itself is the enemy to my Facebook page. Some of my friends here in Istanbul (who are Moslems, and, as the word "friend" suggests, not my enemy) weighed in with responses that I think confirm my assertion that the Islamic world is not monolithic. In particular, my friend Babür left a long, thoughtful response....
I later left this comment: I've just walked down a street filled literally with thousands of Moslems of exactly the kind many people are seriously arguing do not exist. I saw them with my own eyes, as I have every day for the past five years. With so many other questions in the world, why waste time debating this? Book a ticket to Istanbul, spend an afternoon here, have a lovely time, drink some tea, meet friendly, tolerant, warm, welcoming Moslems (mostly), and see for yourself. They exist! They're my neighbors and my friends! Babür, is there anyone at our gym, for example, who would not describe himself as a Moslem? Would any member of our gym endorse terrorism, honor killing, forcing me to wear the hijab, or subjecting me to a dhimmi tax? The idea is so absurd it's beyond discussion -- and yet we're discussing it.
Theo Spark found the conversation sufficiently interesting to link to it in his blog. He described the discussion as a "raging debate." I notice that his post has been picked up at Right Wing News. So now this chat among my friends is a raging and somewhat public debate, I guess. The odd thing is that the "raging debate" is about whether moderate Moslems exist. That they do is a proposition so easily verifiable that I don't even have to leave my apartment to do it. I can just look out the window.
But no one even noticed the snake pit of controversy embedded in Babür's claim that Shi'a Islam is a heresy. Now, as people who know the Islamic world well will tell you, that is--what is it Andrew Sullivan calls it?--the money quote. You just watch and see how much more blood is yet to be spilled over that claim. And no one even noticed it--their attention was elsewhere.