When Nidal Malik Hasan, a military psychiatrist allegedly opened fire on his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood last week, it opened another chapter in the ongoing saga of whether or not Islam is a threat to civilized society. One of the most compelling arguments against Islam has been the assertion that no Muslim ever publicly condemns religious based violence. So I was eager to find some condemnation in the wake of the Fort Hood massacre. First, I saw a headline in the Huffington Post that gave me hope:
Alas, the article was more about Muslim groups preparing for backlash than it was about them delivering an unqualified condemnation. Then on MSNBC’s “Hardball” there was an interview with the national director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Nihad Awad. The interview almost immediately descended into defensiveness and claims of victimhood with any condemnation of the violence being secondary. I was becoming frustrated. I was beginning to despair that the very vocal critics of Islam who frequent my blog were right and I was wrong.
Then on a subsequent edition of MSNBC’s “Hardball”, I hit pay dirt. Chris Matthews’ guest was Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. If you can ignore the host’s speechifying and focus on what Dr. Jasser has to say, this clip is well worth watching.
Here are some of the key statements from Jasser that resonated with me:
I will tell you, my parents came here. They taught me. And the reason I joined the military was, this country was able to give my family the protection, the freedom, the liberty to practice our faith like we could nowhere else in the world. …
However, that’s our Islam. There are other forms of Islam that are a threat. And we have to be careful that political correctness is driving us away from protecting ourselves from the enemy within and from the enemy abroad. And there is a political ideology that has masked itself within a theology that I love, but we can’t deny.
It’s time for Muslims to stop complaining and stop being victims, and say, you know, what we have to start within combating, no different than at the time of the American Revolution. They determined that there were Christians that were part of the Church of England, that were enemies of America, and there were Christians that believed in a country based on the Establishment Clause and based on freedom and liberty, that were about what the west was about.
… political Islam has made huge advances, while the West has been asleep against the spread of the, quote unquote, Islamic state movement. And I think clearly there are parts of the ideologies of hate of the West, of America, of conspiracy theories that this guy started to follow that were warning signs. via ‘Hardball with Chris Matthews’ for Monday, November 9 – Hardball with Chris Matthews- msnbc.com.
Without flinching, Dr. Jasser stated that there is a faction within Islam that is indeed dangerous. He confirmed my belief that the answer to our problem is for more Muslims who take messages of love and brotherhood from the Koran and discard the rest, to rise up and oppose the fanatical branch of the religion.
I am no authority on organized religion, nor a particular fan of it. However, history teaches us that reform within a religion is possible. Whether it is the Protestant reformation that strove to drive financial corruption out of the church, or the modern efforts of the Catholic church to wake up to an insidious pedophilia problem or the evolution of Mormonism to reject polygamy as a fundamental cultural phenomenon (albeit under pressure from the US government). There is no reason why Islam cannot be righted by peaceful, law-abiding and outspoken members of that faith.
There are those who want to deport Muslims from this country, stop immigration of Muslims, and essentially outlaw the practice of the religion within the US. Nothing could be more antithetical to the essence of what it is to be an American. The only decent solution to the problems that modern-day Islam presents us is to align ourselves with people like Dr. Jasser to ensure that the peaceful worship of Allah prevails and the barbaric violence of decadent Muslims comes to an end.
For more information on Dr. Jasser’s organization, visit the web site for the American Islamic Forum for Democracy.