American Muslim Congress, Inc.
131 East Mount Pleasant Avenue, Livingston, NJ 07039
Tel: (973) 740-8804 Fax: (973)375-5995
To Whom It May Concern:
Some Muslims groups in the United States launched a campaign to block the appointment by President Bush of Daniel Pipes to the board of the United States Institute of Peace, a taxpayer funded institution with a mandate to promote "peaceful resolutions of international conflicts." Mr. Pipes is a scholar of the Middle East and outspoken critic of militant Islamists.
Muslims have suffered a great deal from their recent tendency to shun discussion of ideas, especially those relating to history, religion and their impact on politics. Hardliners will not tolerate questioning of their views that Islam has nothing to learn from "nonbelievers." The notion of an Islamic polity and state - supported by extremists, questioned by moderates - is also an issue which must be aired. Promoting such a debate should be an essential part of United States' engagement with the Islamic world. This objective is better served by including and debating the ideas of intellectuals such as Mr. Pipes than by attacking them.
The campaign against Mr. Pipes is an example of the tendency to suppress discussion and dialogue. Muslims who disagree with his views should respond to him with arguments of their own. Slandering him might help polarize secular Islamist Muslims, but it won't raise the level of discourse of Islamic issues. It is time for Muslim leaders in the United States to break the pattern of agitation that has characterized Muslim responses to the West.
On August 20, 2003, a group of Shia organizations endorsed Mr. Pipes. However, on September 13, 2003, few members of this group withdrew their endorsement stating that they had no knowledge of that endorsement. Also, they alleged that Mr. Pipes misrepresented the issue by listing their names as the endorsees. That was not so. He acted in good faith on the statement that was made available to him. We regret this action on their part.
We, the undersigned community leaders representing American Muslims of the Shia tradition, do hereby endorse the nomination of Mr. Pipes to the board of the United States Institute of Peace notwithstanding the differences we have with him on certain topics.
Nawab Agha Mousvi, President, American Muslim Congress, Livingston, NJ
Syed Istafa Naqvi, President, Jafaria Association of North America, Brentwood, NY
Sultan Karamali, Managing Trustee, Mehfil Shah-E-Korasan, Englewood, NJ
Masood Mirza, M.D., President, Society for Humanity and Islam in America, Brooklyn, NY
Dr. Imdad Imam, President, Al-Fatima Islamic Society, Albany, NY
Rizwan Rizvi, Secretary, Zainabia, Inc. (Islamic center), Irvington, NJ
Zamir Khan, President, Islamic Anjuman Haider-E-Karrar, Rego Park, NY
Alhaj Mustafa Ghulamhusain Jaffar, Muslim community leader, Orlando, FL