Neoconservative Sufiism?
August 24, 2006 9:55 AM   Subscribe

A previously unheard of group, The Sufi Muslim Council, claims to speak for the silent majority of Muslims. Others see it as an attempt to co-opt Sufi-ism to push neoconservative ideals. One of the main authors, Zeyno Baran has even authored a report for the conservative think tank, The Nixon Center, suggesting just that. Other think tanks have also made similar suggestions [pdf] in their publications. ( via Craig Murray )
posted by mulligan (19 comments total)
Of course, some of their positions are quite agreeable, mostly the ones that have always been found amongst Sufis and other moderate Muslim groups, such as their condemnation of what is often termed Wahhabism. It is kind of unsettling to see the group, with its substantial government and neoconservative ties, gather steam in the media, claiming to speak for Muslims, while being virtually unheard of within the UK Muslim communities.
posted by mulligan at 10:00 AM on August 24, 2006

Ah. The Silent Majority. We all know how dependable those guys are.
posted by tkchrist at 10:10 AM on August 24, 2006

The anti-SMC site may have a point about the hype behind the council, but boy is it misinformed about what "neocon" means. Nixon was not a neocon. It's not neocon to be in bed with authoritarian Uzbekistan. Neocons want to transform the world and remake it in our image, by killing people, which requires advocating the invasion of Uzbekistan, not promoting it.
posted by ibmcginty at 10:46 AM on August 24, 2006

A lot of people are now using 'neocon' as a generic insult denoting hawkishness, instead of referring to the specific crowd that recently seized control the Republican party and the country.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:50 AM on August 24, 2006

Except it's not even hawkish to support authoritarian governments, is it?

Regardless, you're right that it's being used as an insult, rather than a word with any actual meaning. Kinda like "fascist."
posted by ibmcginty at 10:59 AM on August 24, 2006

ibmcginty writes "It's not neocon to be in bed with authoritarian Uzbekistan."

posted by clevershark at 11:11 AM on August 24, 2006

From the "about us" section of their website:

As Muslims in UK, we declare that we do not support any extremists.

The Nazis--oppressors of many nations and of the Jews - stand condemned. Christian-Irish extremists engaged in fratricide stand condemned. Christian-Serbian extremists, oppressors of innocent Muslims in Bosnia and Kosova, stand condemned. Extremist Jews attacking innocents, stand condemned. Similarly, Muslim extremists, like bin Laden and his affiliates--such as Omar Bakri and Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri and their circles--must be condemned. Therefore, we stand up as Muslims in UK, declaring that we are not supporting any of these extremists, nor do we have anything to do with them.


Sufi Muslim Council CORE PRINCIPLES

* SMC strongly adheres to the classic Quranic teaching: “Obey God, obey His Prophet and obey those in authority over you”. This is a fundamental principle to uphold the laws of the country in which one resides, with its safety and security in mind.
* SMC reinforces this driving principle in all our community-based and religious programs.
* SMC’s mission is to present classical, scholarly, Islamic perspectives on global issues and to work proactively with non-Muslim individuals and organisations to present Islam as a religion of moderation, tolerance, peace and justice.
* SMC condemns terrorism in all its forms, whether political, cultural, intellectual or ideological.
* SMC stresses the common heritage of Islam, Christianity and Judaism through
* Conferences, seminars, publications, media relations and community outreach efforts.
* SMC supports peace, wherever it exists, and the precept of “justice for all,” condemning all violations of human rights.
* SMC provides practical solutions for Muslims on a broad range of social issues, based on traditional Islamic legal rulings, many issued by some of the highest-ranking Islamic scholars of the world that best serve all members of the pluralist society in which we live.
* Not affiliated with any government, political party or political agenda, SMC stresses civic duty, active participation in politics, and taking responsibility for shaping the future of UK and the rest of the world..
* With a view to countering the root causes that allow a minority to undertake the criminal acts on the 7th July, and the threat that has become ever increasing to our security, it is the Intention of the Sufi Muslim Council to work in partnerships with all organisations to
* Discourage and disrupt the promulgation of the extremist Islamist ideology within the Muslim community both nationally and abroad
* Educate UK policymakers, agencies, academia and media outlets on the distinct, irreconcilable differences between classical Islam and the radical tenets of extremist groups
* Re-establish the primacy of classical Islamic theology and practice, versus current radicalised Islamist strains that have taken root in the West.

Of course neoconservative groups are going to support such organizations. Supporting moderate Muslims has been one of the cornerstones of the neoconservative agenda (this is possibly the one instance where neocons are correct about anything). So what if they may have links to the neocon movement? Their message is one of toleration and co-existence for Muslims and people of all faiths. If there were more voices like this, the ME would not be such a shitstorm. Anyone who would accuse them of being collaborators is just an apologist for terrorism and extremism. Voices of reason like this, especially internal and organically grown are the only way out of the middle ages and into the 21st century for Muslims (and people of all or no faiths).
posted by SBMike at 11:20 AM on August 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

Bush != the platonic form of neocon.

Try Bill Kristol.
posted by ibmcginty at 11:20 AM on August 24, 2006

The implication is that if something is co-opted, it is invalidated. In other words, the Sufis can't be right, because they have the support of the neo-cons, or make common cause with them.
Co-option is an interesting idea, but why apply it here? When I first encountered it, it was described as involving neutralizing opposing, not sympathetic, views.
posted by topynate at 11:45 AM on August 24, 2006

I'm not sure the argument is being made against sufis, the aregument being made is that instead of allowing the Sufis to select their representatives, those representatives are being foisted upon them.

Again, much of their positions are very much agreeable and no one is arguing against their opposition to extremism.
posted by mulligan at 11:49 AM on August 24, 2006

So wait, when someone speaks for the silent majority, are they then just a plain old majority?
posted by The Ultimate Olympian at 12:40 PM on August 24, 2006

From what I read on the SMC site, they sound like people of peace. It is ironic, however, that they profess the separation of religion and politics.
posted by owhydididoit at 12:42 PM on August 24, 2006

owhydididoit writes "From what I read on the SMC site, they sound like people of peace. It is ironic, however, that they profess the separation of religion and politics."

I have to ask -- how is that ironic? I'm not sure how "peace" can be achieved *unless* one separates religion and politics! preferably with a very thick wall.
posted by clevershark at 12:53 PM on August 24, 2006

Reminiscent of the CIA's efforts to create an anti-communist left intelligentsia through magazines like Encounter, Quadrant, etc.

Encounter being the magazine that Irving Kristol founded.

Makes you think.
posted by stammer at 4:05 PM on August 24, 2006

Well, I thought it was ironic because they seem to be a religious, political organization.
posted by owhydididoit at 4:13 PM on August 24, 2006

otherwise, agreed...
posted by owhydididoit at 4:13 PM on August 24, 2006

. Supporting moderate Muslims has been one of the cornerstones of the neoconservative agenda

Er, how so? The neoconservative agenda has served to undermine moderate muslims at every single turn.
posted by Artw at 5:01 PM on August 24, 2006

It's possible the SMC could be a legitimate group despite moral and financial support from the NeoCons, just as it was possible the studies on tobacco sponsored by the tobacco companies were legitimate and conducted by legitimate investigators, and just as it was possible the global warming skeptics groups paid for by the oil companies were legitimate, and could have sponsored legitimate climate research.

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice...uh, sh-..uh, don't get fooled again!
posted by jamjam at 5:16 PM on August 24, 2006

And where exactly is the Sufism here?
posted by rdone at 5:26 PM on August 24, 2006

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