Balancing the categories of "moderation" and "extremism" in academic and lay discourse Nick Hopkins. Identity and interest: Rational Actor Theory. Actor’s desires and external environment minimalist psychological assumptions
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“Western discourses tend to regard anything Islamic as being somewhat alien, and therefore extremist almost by definition: those who are moderate are merely those who are not as extremist as other Muslims. In other words, the more Muslim you are the more extremist you are. For Muslims, of course, this does not (or should not) apply. Being Muslim is the norm, not an extreme by any definition.”
“At risk of seeming flippant, one might suggest from this perspective that being properly Muslim is moderate, while we have two extremes [ ] In terms of a political understanding of the Islamic movement, therefore, extremists could be either those whose understanding of Islam is entirely apolitical, who have accepted the Western idea of a separation of religion and politics, and reduced Islam simply to a religion: or those whose understanding of Islam has become entirely political, focusing entirely on the ‘Islamic state’ or the khilafah without a broader understanding of Islam as a personal, spiritual, communal, moral, social and cultural phenomenon.”
“The Qur’anic ayah “We have willed you to be a community of the middle way…” (2:143) is often quoted to justify any and every understanding of Islam; perhaps it should be understood not as referring to any one understanding as to an approach to finding the correct path (or the best of possible correct paths) through the myriad of different understandings put forward, a path somewhere between the many possible extremes.”