The far Left's delusion that the likes of ISIS are not inspired by Islam is discrediting the moderate Muslims trying to reform their faith, former Islamic extremist Maajid Nawaz has told Yahoo7.
Maajid Nawaz, who was formally a member of radical Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir, is now seeking to challenge the narrative of Islamic extremists and form a more moderate Islam.
Currently in Australia for a series of talks, Nawaz told Yahoo7 that everyone has a role to play in how Islam can be reformed.
“We need a rational conversation about reforming Islam,” Nawaz told Yahoo7.
“That begins by everyone – in the Left, Right and Centre of politics – feeling like it is our conversation to have.
“Just like with Christianity or Judaism, which we feel we can discuss as they are our religions in our society.”
Nawaz said even non-Muslims have a role to play in this reform.
“You don’t need to be black to challenge racism, you don’t need to be gay to challenge homophobia, and you don’t need to be a Muslim to challenge Islam.
“You don’t even need to know anything about Islam to know that it is wrong to enslave and rape women like ISIS are doing with the Yazidi women.
“Where there is a specific duty is with the theologians, because the lay Muslim and obviously the non-Muslim cannot do the actual reform work in the theology.
“So there is a role for Muslim theologians in firstly being honest and candid about some of the challenging parts of the scripture and accepting that there are challenging parts,” Nawaz said.
Nawaz has coined the phrase the ‘Regressive Left’, which he describes as a section of the Left wing of politics who “are abusing terms such as racism, bigotry and Islamophobia to shutdown debate”.
“Islam is not a race and it is certainly not racist to scrutinise Islam just as it is not anti-Christian to scrutinise, critique and satirise Christianity.
“No idea should be above scrutiny, just as no people should be below dignity."
Nawaz said it is “absurd” to state that the likes of ISIS are not inspired by Islam, as some liberal thinkers on the Left attempt to claim.
“It is self-evident that ISIS have got something to do with Islam," Nawaz said.
“When ISIS throws gays off the top of buildings, they are using scripture. In fact there are traditions ascribed to the prophet where it says that is exactly the punishment that should be given to gays.
“When they are stoning women to death, it is in scripture. When they are chopping off hands I can read you the Arabic in the Quran which tells them to do that.
“I’m not saying that is Islam, I am saying that is a view of Islam justified by scripture,” he said.
Nawaz said that the Regressive Left's denialism of these facts is a deeply damaging stance to take.
“If you don’t recognise that Islam is being used by megalomaniac, totalitarian theocrats for their own project, what you are doing is depriving Muslim reform voices from the authority they need to reclaim their faith from those who are hijacking it.
“Muslims are complaining that their faith is being hijacked, well, if you are saying you faith is being hijacked clearly it is something to do with Islam then.
“It is a disingenuous stance to take otherwise and it hinders the voice of moderate Muslims looking towards reform,” he said.
Nawaz’s moderate views have made him unpopular with sections of the Muslim community, including in Australia.
“My fellow Muslims are slightly defensive about discussing extremism and yet we would find it infuriating if a white man, in a discussion about racism, said ‘why should I have to condemn racism?’, Nawaz said.
“Some Muslims will say ‘why should I have to condemn Islamic extremism?’ but will expect solidarity from mainstream society in the face of anti-Muslim bigotry and racism. That is a double standard.
“My fellow Muslims are not happy to speak with candor about this subject,” Nawaz added.
Nawaz is speaking at Deakin Edge, Federation Square in Melbourne on 29 January and the Everest Theatre, Seymour Centre in Sydney on 30 January. Tickets are available through thinkinc.org.au.