Are you a Muslim? Do you consider yourself moderate and representative of mainstream Muslim views and Islamic scholarship?
Here’s a short quiz regarding religious opinions to think about the answer to that question (Note: this is not an interrogation, just try to answer to the best of your ability and we will discuss results afterwards):
- Do you believe musical instruments (with maybe the exception of a few) are impermissible to play?
- Do you believe that a father has the right to force his daughter into wearing the hijab?
- Do you believe that a husband has the right to force his wife into wearing the hijab?
- Do you believe that a husband has the right to hit his wife (under the conditions that the hitting takes place as a last resort, not on the face, and not serious enough to leave a mark)?
- Do you believe a man has the right to marry a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th wife irrespective of the protests of the 1st wife?
- Do you believe slavery (with the only sources of slaves being trade or war captives) is permissible?
- Do you believe a man has the right to have intercourse with his female slave?
- Do you believe that Muslims who no longer believe in Islam deserve to be put to death (after due judicial process)?
- Do you believe that offensive jihad (attacking and conquering peaceful countries to spread Islam) is a mandatory policy for an established Islamic Caliphate?
- Do you believe that the scientific view of human evolution (humans and primates have a common ancestor) is not compatible with Islam?
- Do you believe polytheism and disbelief are worse than murder and rape?
- Do you believe that religious belief is more important than living a moral life? To put the same point differently, do you believe otherwise moral people who have received a proper invitation to Islam but did not believe in the message are generally Hell-bound (without making judgements on specific people)?
- Do you believe anyone can be deserving of punishment in Hell for eternity?
Count up how many questions you answered yes to and how many questions you answered no to. Now, analyze your answers with the following facts (feel free to corroborate these with your own investigation):
a) According to the overwhelming majority of Islamic scholarship, the answer to every single one of these questions is a definitive yes.
b) There are however, fringe and small minority views within Islamic scholarship to justify the answer no to all of these questions.
I hypothesize that it would be rare to find a Muslim who confidently answers yes to every single one of the above questions. Such a person would no doubt be labelled an extremist by other Muslims.
This brings up a serious issue: how mainstream are mainstream Muslims?
Muslims oftentimes label those who propagate the above views as not representative of “true” Islam. In reality however, we know that no one group has a monopoly on defining the Islamic religion, instead we have historically found a multitude of very different views (Chapter 1.1).
Now if most Muslims do not agree with all of these views, then where do they stand in terms of mainstream and traditional understandings of Islam? How deep of a disparity is there between the views of the average Muslim and the average Muslim scholar – and where does the average Muslim lie on the spectrum of Islamic discourse?
Something to think about.