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Moderates More Dangerous than Al Qaeda

Reader comment on item: When Conservatives Argue about Islam

Submitted by Linda Keay (United States), Jul 8, 2007 at 22:02

For years there's been a call in this country for moderate Muslims – as if this would be a magic defensive bullet. The U.S. should be very careful in what it asks for.

One of a group of American Muslims dubbed "moderate" includes the author of No god But God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, Reza Aslan. He lectures to several hundreds of audiences a year and he's served as a legislative assistant for the Friends' Committee on National Legislation in Washington, D.C.

And there's Hamza Yusuf, founder of the California-based Zaytuna Institute and his media savvy packaging of Islam that has galvanized American Muslims. These moderates understand that for Islam to remain relevant and to prosper and grow in the U.S., there's a need for cohesiveness and structure.

Those perceived as moderate Muslims in the U.S. have spoken about this country as the place best suited to reconcile modernity and Islam, showing the way to the rest of the Muslim world. Reza Aslan often speaks of the merging of American and Muslim values.

Salam Al-Marayati, long-time in the forefront of Muslim American advocacy, Executive Director and co-founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), is a frequent National Public Radio guest, who has spoken about the development of a Muslim infrastructure for this country. He really needs to explain what he means by this infrastructure.

Two decades ago Al-Marayati said, "We'd like people to start thinking of the U.S. as a Judeo-Christian-Muslim society." In defending himself against what he considered to be unfair accusations against him, he stated in a U.S. Department of State open forum in 2002, "There are Muslim extremists, just as there are Christian and Jewish extremists." He stated that Sharia cannot be imposed due to the Koranic edict, "Let there be no compulsion in matters of faith." However, he added this very important and revealing caveat, "Because many Muslims seek forms of government that incorporate Islamic law to one degree or another, the concept of Sharia needs more thoughtful approaches in U.S. policy-making than what we have been subject to in the past."

There are Islamic "rights" expressed in the Koran that Americans need to know about. Those rights stated in the Koran include the right to protect one's honor, the right to social welfare, the right to dignity and not to be abused or ridiculed, the right to protect religious sentiments and the right to participate in affairs of state.

A few months ago, PBS's Robert MacNeil uncritically presented what he called "moderate" Muslims in the series ‘America at a Crossroads,' including Hamza Yusuf, who is an American born convert to Islam. Hamza was introduced as, "one of the stars of a new generation of spiritual leaders who are trying to create an American Islam more in synch with American life and values."

Yusuf told a group of Muslims, "Don't just feast on the table that was prepared for you by people that went before you, but make a feast for the people that are ‘gonna come after. That's what we have to do."

MacNeil presented a disclaimer before the introduction of Irshad Manji, a Muslim woman critical of violence and other abhorrent practices expressed in the name of Islam, warning that, "This film carries the strong personal viewpoint of Irshad Manji." Why was there no disclaimer for Hamza Yusuf?

Yes -- a moderate is probably more dangerous long term than the radical maniac. Remember how bin Laden's son was supposedly upset with his father for jeopardizing global jihad with the 9/11 attacks?

There should not be a disregard for and naivete of underlying truths, even sugarcoated with moderation, in efforts to reach out to Muslims in America.


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