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Thanks for your comments Subriah

Reader comment on item: Hamza Yusuf Fails My "Test"
in response to reader comment: Read this.

Submitted by Archimedes2 (Canada), Apr 17, 2007 at 11:00

Well said, Subriah; your words show that you are a very articulate and thoughtful young person. It is our hope that young muslims (and those of other faiths as well) in the west grow up with the kind of pluralistic and tolerant ideas that appear to be developing in you. The next generation is our hope -- or our undoing.

I hope wading into these discussions does not harden you, but that you maintain your positive and optimistic outlook. I can understand why you are disturbed at the classification here of Hamza Yusuf as an extremist, when he seems very much the opposite, and have pointed us to his site, zaytuna.org for evidence. Indeed, the writers on that site come across as much less jihadist than, say, at jihadunspun.com or salafitalk.net . I think I could count some of them as good friends.

In spite of what you may hear from muslims suspicious of westerners, Daniel Pipes is not an "Islamophobe" set on disparaging your people or religion. He is a thoughtful expert on the middle east and on the Islamist agenda in the west, and he seeks to clarify the distinction between those who are enemies of freedom and those who are genuine moderates. If you don't know that it is diffficult to discern this difference you need to get informed about this issue. Radicalizing the muslim youth is one of the top items on the jihadist agenda, and you are a target. Protect yourself by becoming informed, and don't be fooled by smooth-tongued speakers.

As children, we expect the big bad wolf to be easy to distinguish from little red riding hood. I remember once when we asked our son, who was a toddler, why he went up to a certain stranger and spoke, he said "but he wasn't a stranger -- he was a nice man". Children don't have a concept that "nice men" might actually be evil villains. But in the adult world we learn that this is, too often, the case: very nice, polite boy scout leaders turn out to be serial rapists. Kindergarden teachers run extortion rings. And Imams who speak openly of brotherhood, peace and love funnel zikat to terrorists who strap bombs to children, who blow up other children in restaurants. Of course, not all boy scout leaders, kindergarten teachers or Imams are big bad wolves.

But the most effective big bad wolves are extremely good at giving the opposite impression. They are real, they live in your world, and they want YOU -- and other positive-thinking, pious young people like you -- before you become jaded enough to be on your guard against their hidden agendas. In North America some of those muslim leaders who speak in the most generous terms about peace and brotherhood are well known as wolves in sheep's clothing. A google search will find you much discussion about the group called CAIR, which presents itself as an advocate for Islamic human rights. But CAIR has an Islamist agenda, which they are having trouble cloaking, though they are getting much better at it lately. Their leaders have been caught saying (in effect) that they hope to replace the U.S. Constitution with Sharia law in an islamic Khalifate. The founding fathers of CAIR are all associated with the terrorist group Hamas or some of its proven affiliates. CAIR sponsors terrorist speakers on U.S. soil and expends much effort and energy to impede the prosecution of terrorists and their support network -- and many current leaders of CAIR are themselves shown to have connections to terrorist networks. Some are even convicted, others deported, for these activities. In your own country, there is Sheik Hilali, the Grand Mufti of Australia. He is, I know, an embarrassment to the Sunni population there, and there is great controversy surrounding him and the inflammatory things he says. I would not blame all, or even most, Australian muslims for this man.

But one must ask, "how did he come into this position, considering what an anti-western polemic he has turned out to be?" Well, I'm sure it's more complicated than this, Subriah, but the most obvious thing we must say is "wolf in sheep's clothing". It happens; it should remind us to be on our guard. Wolves in sheep's clothing are nasty business no matter who they are, but the issue with the radical islamists who seek to deceive in this way is particularly critical because there is such a broad network of these folks, they come in so many different disguises, and they present such a danger to our society.

So it is important for those who have a good grasp of the issues involved, such as Daniel Pipes, to attempt to provide tools by which to discern the sheep from wolves in disguise. That is the background of Pipes' "test". If you know of a better test, it would be helpful to share it. Many similar tests have been proposed, and Pipes would probably be the first to say that his test is fallible. In fact, he has made it clear that his questions, themselves, are not a "test" -- they are only a working document, a proposal for the sort of questions that might appear on such a test.

The trick is not to focus on violence per se -- because not all Islamists and Islamic imperialists are violent; many are very much opposed, themselves, to violent means -- but they still want to take over the world. We need questions that will test for this, and other characteristics incompatible with western tolerance and pluralism. The reason Mr. Yusuf has come under a bit of nasty rhetoric in these pages may just be an unfortunate choice of his own words. The only reason any attention is paid to him here is because he himself made a big deal about failing Pipes' test, and then (essentially) declared that all good muslims should fail too.

My question is simply this: why did Mr. Yusuf fail? Apparently he saw some questions in this test that he knew he would answer on the "militant islam" side (by Pipes' implied categorization). I want to know which questions. Have you read the questions, Subriah? Which could Mr. Yusuf answer "the wrong way" and still be a "moderate"?

Perhaps he could say he is unwilling to condemn the list of terrorist organizations Mr. Pipes mentions. Perhaps he could not truthfully declare that he does not seek to convert western nations into majority-muslim nations ruled by Islamic Law. It might help if Mr. Yusuf would clarify here exactly which questions he thinks he might "fail" on, and why. And, perhaps, we would agree with him that in such a case he shouldn't be classified as "extremist". I have suggested in another comment, for example, that a truely moderate muslim might still practise the pronouncing of takfir in the "right" circumstances, say in order to openly denounce terrorists like Mr Bin Laden (instead of speaking in general terms about terrorism being "bad" and quoting Quranic verses about how killing one person is like killing all men).

Indeed, doing so might lead to a very positive change in western attitudes toward muslim leaders who present themselves as moderates -- for it is evident that noone of any prominence has been prepared to take this measure yet, and so take a stand against these evil men. Perhaps Mr. Yusuf will be the first to do so, and I will be the first to say that he is a true moderate who -- thank goodness -- failed that one question on "the test". But until such time, he has done the classification himself, and isn't telling us the details, so all Mr. Pipes can do is thank him for being so forthright, and all we can do is speculate on what specific points he has decided to keep to himself. Sorry for the very long post. Read lots Subriah. Keep an open mind and don't be deceived by anyone's appearances or fine sounding words (not mine; not anyone's). As the proverb says, be as wise as a serpent, and as innocent as a dove. And may God bless you.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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