Moderates v. Fundamentalists 

Some of what Sam Harris, author of the New York Times bestseller, End of Faith, W. W. Norton, 2004, wrote about "moderate" Muslims:

Many authors have pointed out that it is problematic to speak of Muslim "fundamentalism" because it suggests that there are large doctrinaire differences between fundamentalist Muslims and the mainstream. The truth, however, is that most Muslims appear to be "fundamentalist" in the Western sense of the world—in that even "moderate" approaches to Islam generally consider the Koran to be the literal and inerrant word of the one true God…

The world, from the point of view of Islam, is divided into the "House of Islam" and the "House of War", and this latter designation should indicate how many Muslims believe their differences with those who do not share their faith will be ultimately resolved. While there are undoubtedly some "moderate" Muslims who have decided to overlook the irrescindable militancy of their religion, Islam is undeniably a religion of conquest. The only future devout Muslims can envisage—as Muslims—is one in which all infidels have been converted to Islam, subjugated, or killed. The tenets of Islam simply do not admit of anything but a temporary sharing of power with the "enemies of God."

p. 110

Harris is not convinced that favouring Muslims who believe in democracy is the answer.

At this point in their history, give most Muslims the freedom to vote, and they will freely vote to tear out their political freedoms by the root. We should not for a moment lose sight of the possibility that they would curtail our freedoms as well, if they only had the power to do so… This situation must be remedied, but we cannot merely force Muslim dictators from power and open the polls. It would be like opening the polls to the Christians of the fourteenth century.

p. 132

His hope for the world is still with the so-called "moderates", as unlikely as it is that they will be able to change Islam before Islam inevitably changes us, or kills us.

It does not seem much of an exaggeration to say that the fate of civilization lies largely in the hands of "moderate" Muslims. Unless Muslims can reshape their religion into an ideology which is basically benign—or outgrow altogether—it is difficult to see how Islam and the West can avoid falling into a continual state of war, and on innumerable fronts. Nuclear, biological and chemical weapons cannot be uninvented (sic) … weapons of mass destruction will soon be available to anyone who wants them.

p. 152

The True Unbelievers

Allah does not expect believers to make value judgements, such as expressing a preference for the message conveyed by one His messengers to that of another. A Muslim who does that is not a believer at all. He or she is worse than a regular unbeliever, more or less in the same league as believers who don’t remain steadfast in their beliefs, e.g., apostates. They will get a commensurate punishment.

4:150 Those who disbelieve in Allah and His Messengers and want to make a distinction between Allah and His Messengers, and say: “We believe in some and disbelieve in the others”, wanting to take a middle course in between,

4:151 Those are the true unbelievers, and we have prepared for the unbelievers a demeaning punishment.

The difference between a true unbeliever and a believer is simple:

4:152 But those who believe in Allah and His Messengers and do not discriminate between any of them those He will grant them their rewards. Allah is All-Forgiving, Merciful!

3:84 Say: “We believe in Allah and what has been revealed to us and has been revealed to Abraham, Isma’il, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes; and in what Moses, Jesus and the Prophets have received from the Lord. We do not discriminate between any of them, and to Him we Submit.”

Don’t be fooled. What Allah revealed to prophets from the Bible in His Koran is highly abbreviated, self-serving and often conflicting (recommended: Shared Prophets - Biblical Figures in the Koran - What They Said and Did, Boreal Books). Where scriptures pertaining to shared prophets were dissimilar, the believers were expected to believe in what was revealed in the Koran.

Narrated Abu Huraira:

The people of the Scripture used to read the Torah in Hebrew and explain it to the Muslims in Arabic. Then Allah's Apostle said, "Do not believe the people of the Scripture, and do not disbelieve them, but say, 'We believe in Allah and whatever has been revealed.' (3.84)

Bukhari 93.632

God’s reluctance to let believers adopt a “middle course” that does not involve “believing with certainty” in everything He “clearly expounded”, and which radiate so much hatred, makes reforming Islam next to impossible.

45:20 This (Qur’an) is an illumination for mankind, a guidance and mercy unto a people who believe with certainty.

11:1 [This is] a Book with Verses which are elaborately formulated and clearly expounded from the Wise, the All-Aware.

Reformers Beware

Muslims who wish to reform their religion face a risky uphill battle.

2:8 There are some who say: “We believe in Allah and the Last Day;” but they are not real believers.

2:9 They seek to deceive Allah and the believers, but deceive none other than themselves, thought they are not aware of that.

2:10 In their hearts is a sickness; so Allah has increased their sickness. A painful punishment awaits them because of their lying.

2:11 And when they are told: “Do not sow mischief in the land”, they say: “We are only doing good.”

2:12 It is they who make mischief, but they are unaware of that.

A translation by Sheikh Muhammad Sarwar of verses 2:11 and 2:12:

2:11 When they are told not to commit corruption in the land, they reply, "We are only reformers.”

2:12 They, certainly, are corrupt but do not realize it.

Rashad Khalifa’s translation is even more to the point. Reformers are evildoers!

2:12 In fact, they are evildoers, but they do not perceive.

The most dangerous time for young would-be reformers will be the days leading up to Judgement Day.

Narrated Ali:

I heard the Prophet saying, "In the last days (of the world) there will appear young people with foolish thoughts and ideas. They will give good talks, but they will go out of Islam as an arrow goes out of its game, their faith will not exceed their throats. So, wherever you find them, kill them, for there will be a reward for their killers on the Day of Resurrection."

Bukhari 61.577

Muhammad expected Judgement Day to occur during his lifetime or shortly after his death.

Narrated Sahl bin Sad As-Sa'idi (a companion of Allah's Apostle):

Allah's Apostle, holding out his middle and index fingers, said, "My advent and the Hour are like this (or like these)," namely, the period between his era and the Hour is like the distance between those two fingers, i.e. very short.

Bukhari 63.221

It may have had something to do with one a coy revelation from Allah.

21:1 Mankind’s reckoning is drawing near, but they are turning away heedlessly.

Muhammad dying before the advent of Judgement Day would lead to a wholesale reinterpretation of what he had revealed about an impending doomsday.

When Muhammad died before the eschaton’s (the end of the world) arrival and the Hour continued to be delayed, the early Muslims had to radically reorient their religious vision. The Hour was thus increasingly differed into the distant future, and in less than a century Islam swiftly transformed itself from a religion expecting the end of the world to a religion that aimed to rule the world.

Stephen J. Shoemaker, The Death of a Prophet – The End of Muhammad’s Life and the Beginnings of Islam, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012.

The believers’ behavior after Muhammad’s death is the clearest indication that they now expected God to wreak the vengeance promised in 43:41.

43:41 Were We to carry you off, We would then wreak vengeance upon them.

Had it not been for Abu Bakr—who would succeed Muhammad as leader of the believers—quoting a verse that none had ever heard, that Muhammad was going to die like everyone else, who knows what would have happened with people running around in terror thinking that Judgement Day was at hand?

3:144 Muhammad is merely a Messenger, before whom many Messengers have come and gone. If then he dies or gets killed, you will turn on your heels? Should any man turn on his heels, he will not cause Allah any harm; and Allah will reward the thankful.

Conscientious Objectors

The following is about another group in ”in whose heart” God said, “is a sickness.” In this instance, it is because they will not obey revelations demanding they go to war and kill people who are not a threat and done them no harm. What we might call conscientious objectors.

47:20 The believers say: “If only a surah is sent down”, but when a sound surah is sent down and fighting is mentioned therein, you will see those in whose heart is a sickness look at you like one who has fainted in the throes of death. Far better for them,

47:21 Would have been obedience and a fair word! So when the matter is resolved, it would have been better for them to be true to Allah.

Conscientious believers were rightly concerned that these militant verses that, in effect, demanded they accept to fight and kill under the leadership and at the discretion of Muhammad was giving him too much power and he would do what God accused others of doing: “spread corruption in the land.”

47:22 Would you, perhaps, if you were to rule, spread corruption in the land and sever the bonds of your kin?

47:23 Such are those whom Allah has cursed, and has made them deaf and blotted out their eyesight.

47:24 Will they not ponder the Qur’an, or are there locks upon their hearts?

Conscientious objectors have been deluded by Satan into refusing to follow orders.

47:25 Surely, those who have turned upon their heels after the Guidance was manifested to them, it was Satan who insinuated to them and deluded them.

47:26 That is because they said to those who disliked what Allah has sent down: “We shall obey you in part of the matter”, but Allah knows their secretiveness.

They will be snatched by angels on Judgement Day and beaten on the buttocks while being flown to Hell.

47:27 How, then, will it be when the angels shall carry them off, beating their faces and their buttocks?

47:28 That is because they have followed what has angered Allah and were averse to His good pleasure. So He has foiled their works.

You will know these conscientious objectors by their objections to going to war: “their distorted speech”, Revelation 47:30. Had God wished, He would simply have revealed who they were.

47:29 Or do those in whose hearts is a sickness think that Allah will not bring their rancours (sic) to light.

47:30 Had We wished, We would have shown them to you, so that you might know them by their mark (faces). And you shall surely know them by their distorted speech. Allah knows your works.

47:31 And We shall test you so as to know who are the fighters among you and who are the steadfast, and we shall test your news (ascertain about you, Moududi).

They will have no impact on Allah’s war against the unbelievers.

47:32 Indeed, those who have disbelieved and barred (men) from Allah’s Path and were at odds with the Messenger, after the Guidance became manifest to them, will not cause Allah any harm, and He will foil their works.

Confirming that Muhammad is in charge:

47:33 O believers, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and do not render your actions vain.