This article was first Published on Friday, April 11, 2008 at – :
I wholeheartedly welcome the debate between Imam Al-Darsani and Zuhdi Jasser in the tradition of Prophet Muhammad to understand one’s faith back and forth. If some one claims righteousness of his belief, he or she must be willing to withstand the onslaught of questions and bring wisdom, rather than the circular logic to the debate.
Prior to the debate, I was not sure about the scope of it, however, it appeared that Jasser was blinded and was going to deepen the chasm rather than drive towards the intended solutions.
It is true that the establishment, be it Muslim or otherwise is usually short-sighted or perhaps overloaded with the issues and is inclined to ignore the unproven, un-established mavericks; Zuhdi is beyond that now. ISNA offers the platform to express one’s ideas in their legendary three day annual conferences. You have to be one of the many to be a presenter.
Most of the Muslims are opposed to extremist’s ideas, just like the majorities in every faith. However, Zuhdi’s approach may create a chasm rather than understand it, it may actually make each side to dig in their heels. You cannot push an idea onto others. Our effort is to bring about an understanding from Qur’aan, which is about Pluralism and co-existence. Qur’an, Al-Hujurat, Surah 49:13: “O mankind! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. The noblest of you, in sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Allah Knows and is Aware.” In fact our mission statement is driven by that verse.
It is the tiny weenie minority within each group that tends to be extremist, I believe they are 1/10th of 1% of each group. They are known as Neocons, Islamist, Zionists and Hindutvadis, they may be genuinely afraid of imaginary enemies and express that as the truth and proclaim a clear and present danger. Unfortunately for the World, but fortunately for them, they evoke enough passion to bring their respective groups to band together and are well funded for the wrong purpose. They are the most cohesive groups in the world; they are passionate about their fiction and go about making it happen. They are even willing to pre-empt God and bring about Armageddon.
Every war, genocide and killing of human beings is their work. They may adopt different methods, but killing, genocide and creating chaos is common to all of them. They just cannot sit quite and let there be peace. They feed off each other.
Our goal is to invoke a similar passion in the moderate people who are the majority and let them speak out sense and assure the Quad that if they put in the time to work on peace, their nightmares may vanish and bring some peace to them. We have to guard ourselves with our words and actions to cause peace, mitigate conflicts and nurture goodwill.
Let us re-assure the world that the grand ideas of Muslims dominating the world are a fiction. There are enough Muslims to kill it even before it germinates. In the United States itself, Zuhdi Jasser, myself and millions of Muslims are out there who prefer nothing but a pluralistic Democracy. No, let me shoot it straight, we do not want any religious governance, let alone Islamic. Islam is a religion like other religions that helps one achieve peace for the individual and what surrounds him or her. To be religious is to be a peacemaker, one who constantly seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence. God wants us to live in peace and harmony with his creation; life and mater. Indeed, that is the purpose of religion, any religion.
Zuhdi needs to substantiate his claims, “These elusive Islamists include a host of “political imams” (imams who use their pulpit to preach an Islamist domestic and foreign policy agenda) who are apparently a majority of imams in mosques around the U.S. Not only are political imams in the majority of mosques but the salafist orientation seems to predominate mosques also.”
This evokes an imaginary discomfort among all Americans. This is not the truth. He needs to prove it by statistics, at least drop the word majority from his statements. Opposing Islamism is one thing, frightening the public is another.
Zuhdi Jasser states, “This is augmented in the public place with their supporting and collaborating Islamist organizations which include ISNA (Islamic Society of North America), CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), MAS (Muslim American Society), ICNA (Islamic Circle of North America), MSA (Muslim Students Association), the North American…”
Labeling an organization as Islamist is the work of keyboard or the mouth. Zuhdi needs to substantiate it. From what I know of ISNA and CAIR, they are working for co-existence, peace and harmony. Apparently a CAIR Executive made a statement that Islam is here to dominate, he denied ever saying such a statement, and the journalist did not have anything to prove that the executive said something to that effect. An accusation of that magnitude without proof is dangerous to our society. Did CAIR founder say Islam to rule America?
“In fact, statistics would show that only a small minority of American Muslims maintain membership in any “Muslim” organizations.” Indeed, that is the case with most immigrant communities; be it a German-American association, or Czech-American, or Filipino American Association. Although it sounds right, I hope there is statistics available for it.
Zuhdi is not in touch with what is going on in the world when he states, “Wahhabism to salafism to deobandism to militant Islamism and its terror, we will be able to effectuate and progress a global anti-Islamist movement.” On March 10th, the Deoband Seminary held a conference in India gathering 10,000 Clerics who made a declaration condemning terrorism. Then similar declarations were made by Muslim organizations around the world.
Mike Ghouse is the founder of the World Muslim Congress, a group committed to building bridges and nurturing a world of co-existence. He also heads the foundation for pluralism, an organization committed to study religious pluralism and pluralistic governance. His articles can be found at http://www.worldmuslimcongress.com/ and its five blogs, the http://www.foundationforpluralism.com/ and its blogs and http://www.mikeghouse.net/