The mythical 'Moderates' in Islam.
The idea of 'moderation' within Islam is often misunderstood.
There is no moderation in or within Islam. Islam is itself moderation (within life).
Applying Western political terms to a non-Western construct like Islamic politics is begging for disaster. These terms include 'moderate', 'radical', 'extremist', 'fundamentalist', 'liberal', and 'conservative'.
To put it simply, do you take the Prophet(saw) on the one hand and a non-Muslim on the other and say "Equidistant between these two is a moderate Muslim"? No. That's a half-assed Muslim. Common-sense, no? The prophet Muhammad(saw) himself was the pinnacle of moderation within life and an example of such to all Muslims.
Therefore, a perfectly moderate Muslim would be one that has completely emulated the Islam of the Prophet(saw). Nobody can really make that claim. Such a person could perhaps be said to be halfway between the two excesses (materialism and asceticism). So being halfway between the Prophet's example and that of a typical non-Muslim puts the person at being in excess (whether materialistically or ascetically) in about 75% of their life. That is nowhere near moderation.
This can all get very confusing, but it's as simple as it initially appears. To sum it up, these would be the correct translation/application of Western political terms onto the Islamic political landscape:
Western idea of a 'Liberal' Muslim = A conservative Muslim. A complete spiritual ascetic.
Western idea of a 'Moderate' Muslim = Muslim who is attempting complete solidarity with the Prophet's Sunnah. Very few people. Most of the high-end clerics would be here.
Western idea of a 'radical/extremist/fundamentalist/conservative' Muslim = Actual liberal Muslims. Western liberalism is what spawned these groups of Muslims. All terrorists go here.
Notice how most Muslims don't fit anywhere on this spectrum. They simply don't have enough Islam to make it onto there. I'm not saying they (including me and you) aren't Muslims. But they're a tough demographic to categorize within Islam. You need to show something to fit somewhere. I guess you could call them/us 'apathetic' Muslims. The clear silent majority. I don't need to bring up the likely fate of apathetic Muslims. At least the fate of the liberal/conservative Muslims above is up for debate.
Anyway, these terms are stupid and should not be used for non-Western systems. They aren't made for them.
The closer you are to the example of the Prophet(saw) in Islam (doctrine/aqeedah), Ihsan (spirituality), and Iman (faith), the closer you are to the moderate and healthy path in life. If you mistakenly thought this was the 'conservative' path, and halfway between that and the typical Western path was 'moderation', then you are mistaken. Moderation within Islam is literally just simply half-assing it out of apathy.
Remember, complete 100% Islam is itself perfect moderation within life. To debate on that (if you're not Muslim) would require a foray into philosophy. Subject for another note.