First, allow me to introduce myself. My screen name is Uther Pendragon. I am the man who asked Mr. Silat the questions some of which he has posed to you. The discussion in our own email discussion group began with my somewhat hyperbolic assertion that there is no such thing as "moderate" Islam. This, of course, necessitated rather lengthy discussions back and forth about what we meant by "moderate", is Islam more than a religion, how tolerant is Islam toward the ideas and concepts of the European Enlightenment, etc. We have been at this issue for many months now, sometimes with the discussion becoming very heated.
Almost all of us in the email discussion group are liberals with a philosophy of live and let live. However, some of us are fairly knowledgeable about philosphy, comparitive religion, and consider outselves to be highly critical thinkers.
My assertion to our email group is that, basically for inate philosophical reasons, American democracy and Islam as it is practiced by most Moslems in the world are fairly incompatible and are likely to remain so. The primary reason for this is the American Constitutional requirement for separation of mosque or church and state. You see, the ancestors of the American Founding Fathers were European. And for over 900 years Europe saw one murderous religious war after another. Different philosphers of liberty, men whom we revere, like John Locke, the Baron de Montesquieu (the originator of the idea of checks and balances and tri-partitie government) suggested that it might be worthwhile and avoid the bloody religious warfare if we simply separated church and government. During the 18th century the U.S. went through a rather lengthy period of disestablishment of our privileged church institutions. No religious body could identify itself as the favored of the state because of the power of the state. Each man was to be governed by the lights of his own inspiration. For us this has worked. As hard as we fight each other as Republicans and Democrats and third parties, we have managed to avoid the extreme sectarian violence that we now see happening in Iraq. The irony is that the sectarian violence now happening in Iraq is happening between the two major factions of ONE RELIGION.
So, suffice it to say that, while many of us American Enlightenment buffs believe that our "system of government" is not perfect as Islam claims to be, it does work for us and it does keep the various contending factions from resorting to bloodshed. It would seem to us from what we see now happening in Iraq and other areas of the Middle East, that Islam is somewhat imperfect in that it does not seem to have yet discovered how to avoid the bloody sectarian violence that we whose ancestors were European once fell victim to.
It does seem to many of us that all too many Moslems, even those who live here in our country, simply do not know our history, and do not understand our reason for embracing the genius of the Enlightenment American Founding Fathers as we do.
We believe in freedom and democracy. We believe that for democracy to survive its citizens must be educated about how the Enlightenment came about and what it means for our form of government. The more liberal among us resist the temptation to lecture others about what form of government they have or wish to implement. And we do realize that our form of Jeffersonian democracy is not for everyone.
But, if you live here and benefit from the Pax Americana, we expect you to understand and practice our Enlightenment Ideals even if you do not believe in them. It is how we keep from killing one another.
P.S. According to recent magazine articles that I've read, Malaysia maintains a dual system of justice: one set of Sharia courts for Moslems, one set for non-Moslems. The best that we can figure, this pleases neither Moslems nor non-Moslems. To paraphrase a Confucian proverb, "Man who have two watches never really know what time it is." A country with two separate systems of justice, one for the established religion and one for everyone else, does not really practice justice at all.
P.S. By the way, according to this Islamic website http://www.islam101.com/history/population2_usa.html
the number of Moslems in the U.S. is just over 5 million, not the 10 million stated by someone else here. Various articles on Wikipedia place the estimate of the number of Moslems in the U.S. at around 3 million.