Article follows my comments;
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/
iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii[( The War of Ideas )]iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii
Finally, a debate occurred between an Islamist and an anti-Islamist Muslim
Part One of Two
M. Zuhdi Jasser
A public debate between two devotional Muslims occurred on April 5, 2008 at Edison College in Naples, Florida. We shared deeply conflicting ideas on Islam, political Islam, terrorism, and morality. Arguments so far seemingly relegated to “Muslim vs. non-Muslims” debates due to the Muslim activist predominance of the Islamist mindset were finally debated from a position deep within a Muslim consciousness.
Already a tired phrase, call it what you will, “the battle,” “the war,” “the contest” of ideas between the West (secular democracies) and the Muslim world (Islamist theocracies) remains an elusive target for many of us in the thick of the fight. As an American, the concept of debate and intellectual argumentation runs to the core of who I am. So many other anti-Islamist Muslims and I can imagine no other method of getting our ideas across to the “other” side whether discussing the political, religious, legal, social, or spiritual realm. But when it comes to our current target – the threat of political Islam within the devotional Muslim consciousness – leading Islamist figures in the U.S. have remained slippery targets, unwilling to engage anti-Islamists openly in the public square.
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 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 Imams Federation, The Assembly of American Muslim Jurists, and the MPAC (Muslim Public Affairs Council) to name a few. That, in and of itself, is telling. However, the obvious nature of their avoidance behavior in engaging anti-Islamists is not enough or even a start in the effort to win the “hearts and minds” of Muslims.
The entirety of mosques and Islamist and anti-Islamist Muslim organizations do not represent all American Muslims. Most American Muslims are actually unaffiliated with any element of the organized Muslim community. Some, if not most, are unaffiliated simply because they separate religion and politics. In fact, statistics would show that only a small minority of American Muslims maintain membership in any “Muslim” organizations.
The ideas expressed in this debate will possibly expose why. Most Islamist organizations and imams have little to no moral leadership or credibility when they espouse apologetics and excuses trying to convince the world that moral imperatives have exceptions. Hopefully the mainstream media, government officials, and the average non-Muslim American will begin to see that “Islamists” are in no way synonymous with “Muslims.” The “battle for the soul of Islam” between Islamists and anti-Islamists needs to be forged expeditiously or the Islamists will assiduously continue their grand scheme of eventual and total domination.
Since its inception, the American Islamic Forum for Democracy was created by anti-Islamist Muslims upon a foundation that our guiding ideologies simply need to be heard in the Muslim community. Then, let the chips fall where they may. With that public hearing, or “forum,” we will begin to openly challenge the ossified precepts of salafism, Wahhabism, Islamism, and various pre-modern identifications of eastern Muslim culture. With that challenge we pray that an awakening – possibly very similar to the modernization of the West, which ushered in “enlightenment” – may occur within the consciousness of Muslims everywhere, forever separating spiritual Islam or the domain of God (faith) from the domain of government and the state (reason).
It is direct forays between Islamists and anti-Islamists which highlight the profound areas of disagreement. For example, when AIFD sponsored the nation’s first Muslim rally against terrorism in 2004 entitled “Standing with Muslims Against Terrorism” and invited the local Islamist Politburo (also known as the “Valley council of imams”) to join us in a universal unqualified condemnation of terrorism, they explicitly refused citing a host of morally defunct explanations. As a group, they refused to make a public moral imperative without qualifications (apologetics) about American foreign policy as an excuse for terrorism. They not only stayed home from the rally despite repeated public calls to join us, but the imams have also repeatedly refused to go on record regarding AIFD’s mission of ideologically engaging Islamism, let alone directly engage anti-Islamists. In fact in the 2007 controversial documentary by ABG Films Islam v Islamists, local imam, Ahmed Shqeirat described our work as “liberal extremism.”
The debate this week against an imam in Naples proved that these apologetics are apparently and most unfortunately common across the nation (from Arizona to Florida) in many imam circles as a litmus test for Islamists who believe in political Islam and the Islamic state. Make no mistake: my opponents in the clerical realm try to brush off our work as “anti-imam” or anti-scholarship in Islam. A cartoon in a local Islamist publication tried to portray just such propaganda against me in 2005. The reality is quite the contrary. Many humble scholarly imams have provided the intellectual underpinnings for our anti-Islamist Muslim precepts at AIFD. In fact it is the persona of the morally corrupt imam who has been the greatest liability for the real scholars of Islam who are the anti-Islamist, anti-Wahhabi imams of virtue which are so marginalized in the American public square.
This challenge of opening this debate and even acknowledging its existence is no small undertaking, considering the number of Islamist forces working within the Muslim community against such an awakening. Further challenges include tendencies of the general public to accept minority and identity politics in the U.S. and the inherent Islamist exploitation of that in order to further tribal behavior and foment divisiveness in America. By doing so, they craftily avoid self-critique, not to mention the collaborating forces outside the Muslim community (mainstream media and many U.S. Government officials) that are all too ready to accept Islamist ideology as the de facto consensus of the orientation of the faithful.
Yet, frustratingly, many anti-Islamist Muslims have been standing alone ready to challenge the Islamist position within the Muslim community, unable to gain any traction against the conventional wisdom that Islam is Islamism and Islamists are the only devotional Muslims. Geert Wilders’ film Fitna, Ayaan hirsi Ali’s Infidel and other expressions exposing radical Islamist ideology are able to conflate Islam with political Islam and militant Islam because they have been almost inarguably unable to find a palpable debate within the Muslim community concerning the ideas they critique. Islamists often whine in an oversimplified denial immersed in pathetic victimology, while anti-Islamist Muslims remain unheard and unable to find a forum.
Certainly, many anti-Islamist Muslims have been writing and speaking out all over the world. But we have generally been “preaching to the choir” and past the Islamists and their collaborators who disagree with us. Why have we have often ended up speaking “past” them? The answer is their unwillingness to engage openly in a debate over our central differences on Islam and the Muslim consciousness. Theirs is a strategy cloaked in deliberately ignoring the debate and deliberately clouding Islam with Islamism – much to the chagrin of the average non-Islamist Muslim.
The Islamists conveniently call internal challenges to their theology a manifestation of a societal ill which they equate with “division” (fitna in Arabic). They feel that their moves to politically collectivize the Muslim community, or the “ummah,” can never be challenged. They ignore the fact that the political collectivization of Muslims runs contrary to the national interests of our collective nation and our citizenship. For the few who do accept the challenge they do so only on their terms, privately, within the community, away from media and away from any accountability to the greater American community.
This blind collectivism is the exact reason the Muslim mind in so many mosques and activist organizations is hopelessly and cowardly paralyzed in apologetics and victimization. The Islamists are thereby easily able to muster the courage of their faulty convictions enough to champion political Islam and secure its stranglehold upon the public manifestation of the Muslim consciousness.
There is no better way for Muslims to generate credibility and speed up our growth than to encourage and participate in an open public debate. Once anti-Islamist and pro-Islamist Muslims intellectually engage one another, the rest of the world can finally see that the most effective means to counterterrorism is a devotional Muslim counter to political Islam and the religious validity of the Islamic state. The determination of whose version of Islam is closer to the central message of Islam is vital to countering the visceral drive of militant Islamism.
By avoiding debate, the Islamists are not only ignoring the Prophet Mohammed’s tradition of intellectual engagement with all those who disagreed with him inside and outside the faith community, but they are falling lockstep with the fascist precept that supremacist ideologies have to be superior by virtue of their own standing and should never be challenged by other non-conforming Muslims.
Engagement can be a tenuous and possibly dangerous endeavor. Many Islamists by virtue of their apologetics for terrorism and facilitation of the Islamist ideology end up associated (if not hatched from) international and often militant Islamist organizations like Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood. But debating them is still quite helpful and infinitely revealing.
The most important element to be underscored is that debate and confrontation cannot be equated with endorsement and facilitation. It is far more dangerous to ignore these organizations and Islamist thought leaders and hand them the intellectual reins of the Muslim community unchallenged than to engage them and highlight the ideas which put them at odds with reason, spirituality, and modernity.
Recently on February 23, 2008, while I was participating in a panel on radical Islam’s threat to the West in Naples Florida, a local imam, Mohamed Al-Darsani of the Islamic Center for Peace challenged my ideas and cast me out with little substantiation as being “outside the mainstream Muslim community.” It seemed that my orthodox adherence to traditional Sunni Muslim worship and spiritual devotion made little difference to him. His charge about my position in the Muslim community was made concerning my stand on terrorism and political Islam.
I immediately responded with an open challenge to engage him in a debate on the threat of Islamism (the desire to form an Islamic state) to American security. To my surprise (and thanks to the Florida Security Council), he agreed.
With the tenacity of the local Florida Security Council, within six weeks, I had an official debate with Imam Mohammed Al-Darsani, with Michael Cromartie of the Center for Ethics and Public Policy moderating. We agreed to debate the question: “Is the Establishment of the Islamic State a Clear Ideological Threat to the United States?” I debated the affirmative and Mr. Al-Darsani the negative.
The two-plus hour long debate covered a lot of ground. Most poignantly, it highlighted the great chasm between the corruption of Islamist apologetics and the struggle to renew the moral truth of spiritual Islam separated from Islamist demagoguery. A review of the debate demonstrates the wide abyss which separates so many faithful anti-Islamist Muslims from Imam Al-Darsani and other similar Islamist apologists. One has to give the imam credit for showing up and having the courage of his convictions. Sadly, it is those very convictions which are the primary fuel for terrorism worldwide. Once we understand the relationship of political Islam and its various permutations from Wahhabism to salafism to deobandism to militant Islamism and its terror, we will be able to effectuate and progress a global anti-Islamist movement.
Debates like the one which occurred last week in Florida are the beginning of a “contest” of ideas which will herald either the victory of post-modern Islam over theocratic Islam or the converse. Global security and the continuation of American society as we know it hangs in the balance.
The debate was videotaped by both sides – ours (AIFD) and theirs (Imam Al-Darsani and the Islamic Center for Peace of Fort Myers, Florida). Our copy is in production and will not be available for a while. A Muslim member of Mr. Al-Darsani’s mosque, Greg George, has posted the entire debate online in six parts. He is apparently also a documentary producer and an unconventional (to say the least) candidate for Congress in his district. I refer you to his video links of the debate which he posted. But that is certainly no endorsement of Mr. George or Mr. Al-Darsani and his Islamic Center for Peace.
Watch the debate at these links at Google Video.
Watch the debate at these links at Google Video.
[Part 1 (Introductions and Al-Darsani Opening)]
[Part 2 (Jasser opening, Rebuttals]
[Part 3 Cross-Examinations]
[Part 4 Audience Q+A]
[Part 5 Audience Q+A and Al-Darsani Closing]
[Part 6 Jasser Closing- End of Debate]
As you watch the debate, know that this is one of the first of its kind publicly that I know of in the West between two devotional Muslims over the topic of political Islam and terror.
Human beings may often err as we engage in the confrontation of ideas. But to err is human. The only thing worse than an occasional misstep or misspeak in the public contest of ideas is the apathetic indifference and avoidance of any challenge to our own ideas. Such avoidance comes from individual weakness and the inability of many Islamists to muster the courage of their convictions. Those unwilling to withstand a public challenge to their ideas deserve neither the respect of their convictions nor the leadership of the communities which they purport to represent. In fact, their failure to do so points to a murkier Islamist plot of silencing discourse and stifling criticism to evade accountability, not only to Muslims, but to America as a whole.
In Part II of this column I will review my own perceptions of the obvious ideological demarcations made in the debate between the Islamist (Al-Darsani) and the anti-Islamist (Jasser).
SUCCESSFUL NAATIA MUSHAERA ON 2.21.14
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August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas
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Mirza A Beg
PLANNED MUSLIMS RESPONSE TO QUR'AN BURNING BY PASTOR JONES ON 9/11/13 IN MULBERRY, FLORIDA
We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.
Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”
God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.
We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration (www.UnitydayUSA.com) held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.
Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.
As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.
We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.
We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.
We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.
Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.
Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.
We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.
The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.