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Islamists ruining Islam

Islamists ruining Islam

Dr. Richard L. Benkin writes from USA

Weekly Blitz editor Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury’s recent visit to the United States was an unmitigated success.   He was feted and toasted by major US lawmakers in Washington, and he appeared on the Voice of America, which hailed him as a symbol of the struggle for freedom.  He was inundated with requests to speak; and while time did not permit him to accept all or even most of the requests for in person or media interviews and speeches, he did address large numbers of Americans while he was in the United States.

At our last event, just outside the City of Philadelphia, Shoaib encountered the first and only discordant note on the entire trip.  During the question/answer period, one member of the audience referred to a publication he had read about the Quran. The questioner noted that the book quoted numerous passages that appear to support charges that the Muslim Holy Book endorses terrorism, intolerance, and murder.  “How might you explain that,” he asked the Muslim journalist and peace activist Choudhury.  I have encountered a great many people with that question.  The fact is that of all the acts of wonton terrorism carried out in our world, the greatest number are perpetrated by Muslims claiming to be doing so in the name of Islam.  The fact that major Muslim leaders—both political and religious—refuse to condemn those acts unequivocally or issue rulings condemning the perpetrators, adds to the consternation and, yes, suspicion in the non-Muslim world (which is, after all, twice the size of the Muslim world).  So, far more often than not, when people ask that sort of question, it is in an effort to learn rather than because of any bigoted agenda—most of the time.

While telling his audience he was “no Muslim scholar,” Shoaib did an excellent job of explaining the nature of translations and the context in which to understand the cited passages.  He defended his faith without justifying or rationalizing the anti-Islamic actions of the so-called radicals.  But then another individual interrupted—an individual that seemingly had an agenda—and insisted that Islam was evil.   Politely and with dignity, Shoaib responded, but his adversary would not relent.  No matter what was brought in evidence, he continued to reject it.  I even tried to buttress Shoaib’s position based on passages from the Jewish Holy Book, the Torah.  And I finally had to cut the person off so the event could continue.

More unfortunate than this one individual’s outburst is the fact that he is not alone in the sentiment he represented.  Radical Islamists who have declared war on the West and we “infidels” are getting just that, and if they are not stopped too many innocent Muslims will be victimized by their bigoted and retrograde world view.

Nor is this a phenomenon that can be wished away with a false and biased wave of the hand attributing it to President Bush or “Neocons.”  Just last week, in one of Europe’s most liberal countries, we saw further signs of it.  In Holland, a government minister compared the Quran to Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Noting that Mein Kampf was a fascist tome, he added that the Quran encouraged violence and was equally fascist.

Bloggers all over the world are fomenting similar sentiments—sentiments that find support every time an Islamic cleric justifies terrorism; every time Islamic clerics and political leaders fail to denounce terrorism because of which civilians against which it is directed.   And the evidence seems anyway to mount up with each passing day.  The recent attempts at terrorism in Britain found no unequivocal condemnation from Muslim leaders, no attempt to explain why the perpetrators felt they could justify their actions with reference to Islam.

So what is the solution?

As one Islamic scholar told me, “Radical Islam is the problem and moderate Islam is the solution.”

The only people who can win back the face of the faith of The Prophet are its followers themselves.  In his US trip, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury went far in combating anti-Islamic sentiments by being a Muslim who told Americans, it is possible to oppose the radicals and remain in the Muslim world.  He publicly condemned those who use Islam as an excuse for their adolescent fantasies, as well as those Muslims who provide them with ideological cover.

The only way that the other two thirds of humanity will overcome the ravings of those who claim Islam and Muslims are irretrievably evil is when they see more Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury’s reclaiming their faith’s credibility.  Only when Muslims say that their faith is strong enough to endure without pretending that there is no Jewish tie to Jerusalem or that the ancient Jewish Temples—foundation stones of Jewish and Christian history—never existed, even in the face of insurmountable historical (and even Islamic) evidence; only when they stop denying the Nazi murder of the Jewish people—one of the best documented atrocities in history; only when they stop looking away while Imams regularly sermonize that Jews are sons of apes and pigs, then go into an international frenzy over some cartoons—cartoons; only when Muslims stop trying to explain away their own shortcomings with reference to wild conspiracies by the US or the Jews; only when more Muslims defend their faith, as does Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, by condemning as un-Islamic Muslim terrorists from Osama bin Laden to Mahmoud Ahmedinejad; only then will Islam re-claim its rightful place among the world’s great religions; and only then will peace be possible.

Bangladesh—with its Sufi tradition—is well suited to lead that great renaissance.  I know, I have met its people.  With a change in one of the world’s most corrupt governments having taken place only seven months ago, Bangladesh can begin writing a new chapter in history—for itself, for Islam, and for the world—by allowing the Shoaib Choudhurys of its nation to speak unfettered to the rest of the world.  It was less than three weeks ago when I saw that strength triumph over anti-Islamic bigotry.  After the above questioner was silenced—and let us note that no one said we needed to understand why he was so angry—all of the assembled were able to learn more, having rejected the questioner’s agenda.

Those anti-radical Muslims of Bangladesh can now see from Shoaib’s reception in the US that they should have no fear in standing with him and for their people.

Radical Islam is indeed the problem—anti-radical Muslims are in fact the solution!
Posted on 15 Aug 2007 by Root


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