The moderate Muslim to a non Muslim like me is a moving target because no Muslim see himself as extremist and so they end up accusing each other who practice it differently as extreme, either conservatively or liberally.
I am quite irritated with this issue but I feel I have to spend some time on it after I saw this from an American friend.
The following from LiveLeak supposedly exposed to us non Muslims how a whole congregation of Muslims saw themselves as moderate. To me that is hardly moderate! This was in America.
To non Muslims, as long as Muslims set themselves apart from the broader society they cannot be regarded as moderate as we superficially understand them and prefer to accept them. Socially it is going to get harder and harder to accommodate this version of Islam.
Then I saw and grudgingly spent an hour watching Dr. Bilal Philips explained in Malaysia who is the moderate Muslim. His background is Salafism but he is against the likes of ISIS, Boko Haram etc., but before that I went to familiarize myself with Winston Churchill first hand observation and opinion of Muslim society as he experienced for himself when he was in the Middle East as a young soldier. See the following links (Snopes, The Federalist papers, Wikpedia)
To save time when I return to this post in future, the following words of Churchill is worth recording,
Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. ; but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world.
And enduring Dr. Bilal Philips for an hour indeed helped me to understand a little why Churchill had felt that way.
Here in Singapore I have utmost respect for my Muslim friends but with little understanding of their religion. The quickest way I can access Islam is through my own grasp of Christianity. Among the Christians there are also those who preach a return to the early church as well, i.e., similar to Salafism call to return to the original Islam of 1,400 years ago.
I get a bad feeling that the Salafist juggernaut is almost impossible to resist. How I wish we could put them in a bubble to try and fail just for them to learn it doesn't work. Similarly Christian preachers trying to return the churches to the early Christians era is also an unworkable idea.
Finally when I did quick check on Bilal Philips, I don't think ICA would admit him into Singapore. He styled himself as a moderate Muslim because all good Muslims believe a true Muslim by definition must be moderate! Until a Muslim terrorist begin to attack you, it is hard to tell if such is a true Muslim. Until they had tried and failed in at least an attempted terrorist act, it is hard to identify and watch them.
Update: Nov 24 9:00am
the Pew Research findings: 1 in 10 Malaysians thought well of Daesh.
Imans like Dr. Bilal Philips whilst not supporting Daesh, Boko Haram or Al Qaeda nevertheless prepare enough Muslims to be more easily influenced by extremist and violent interpretations of Islam.
Now I understand the extremist ideology better. Wahhabism came and told nominal Muslims that they were believing and practicing Islam wrong. Many of the Muslims they reached knew next to nothing of the Quran. As such they were easy pickings. If they were already well taught it would have been different. Wahhabi ideas will immediately faced challenge. Now you want to teach them other interpretations of the faith, it is going to be very hard.