Sarwat Husain of the San Antonio chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) insists that "Islam is compatible with tolerance, democracy, personal rights and equality before the law." Characteristically for CAIR, she intolerantly tars courageous and decent men such as Daniel Pipes and Steven Emerson as bigots -- but she never acknowledges that numerous Muslim voices in Iraq and around the world are loudly saying that Islam is not compatible with tolerance and democracy. Nor, of course, does she have anything to say about the numerous ways that traditional Islamic law denies personal rights and equality before the law to non-Muslims and women.
It would be refreshing for a Muslim commentator to deal with genuine questions about Islam's compatibility with Western notions of human rights head-on instead of denying that they exist and charging those who raise them with bigotry. After all, it was a Muslim, the Iranian Sufi Sheikh Tabandeh, who wrote a book-length critique of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Islamic grounds. I suppose he was a bigot also? This from MySa, with thanks to Nicolei:
As the Hajj season draws millions of Muslim pilgrims to Saudi Arabia, it is instructive to look in that direction and see what has come from there.
Islam influenced the Enlightenment in Europe, just as the Protestant Reformation did. Science, math, international finance, even the English language itself have been shaped by the world of Islam.
The region also yielded Abraham, the patriarch of Islam and two other monotheistic faiths, Christianity and Judaism.
With all of this in common, there can be no clash of civilizations, but you couldn't tell that from listening to some in the American media, including those who claim to be scholars.
Nor could you tell it listening to innumerable radical imams around the world. It is they who are making this into an explicit clash of civilizations, between Islamic Sharia and Western secular republicanism.
As James I. Smith, author of "Islam in America" says, "The growth of Islam during the early centuries of its existence was a difficult phenomenon for Western Christianity to comprehend, and misunderstanding, prejudice, fear and in some cases hatred have characterized much of the history of encounters between the two faiths."
One can understand this misunderstanding, prejudice, fear and hatred among uneducated groups of the West. But what about the educated?
Extremists such as Middle East commentator and author Daniel Pipes, terrorism expert Steve Emerson and preachers Pat Robinson and Jerry Vines should know better. As leaders and scholars in their own respective fields, instead of promoting hatred and misunderstanding, it is their obligation to teach their audiences the truth.
Shame on Ms. Husain for promoting hatred and misunderstanding instead of thoughtfully engaging what Pipes and Emerson (as well as Robertson and Vines) have really said.
The truth is that Islam is compatible with tolerance, democracy, personal rights and equality before the law.
When I look at the 1400-year history of the institutionalized oppression of the dhimmis under Islamic law, I have some trouble with this. I have even more trouble when I see that dhimmitude is a live concept that radical Muslims will happily institute wherever and whenever they can. What is Ms. Husain doing about that?
It is their responsibility to say that there is no clash among Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Until they do, it is up to their fellow citizens to stand against the prejudice, hatred and intolerance these extremists promote.
When moderate Americans remain silent, the extremists carry on.
Indeed. That's why I started Jihad Watch.
Moderate Americans must ask themselves: How can the second-largest religion, followed by one fifth of the population of the world, be terroristic, uncivilized, ignorant and a threat to the West and world peace?
Islam's 1.3 billion people live in all corners of the world, so there must be something inherently profound for it to reach that far and last more than 1,400 years.
The very meaning of Islam is peace and submission to God.
Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy understood this call to moderate America. In December 1999, he said, "I hope that in the next century we will come to terms with our abysmal ignorance of the Muslim world.
"Muslims aren't a bunch of wackos and nuts. They are decent, brilliant, talented people with a great civilization and traditions of their own, including legal traditions.
"America knows nothing about them. There are people in that part of the world with whom we are simply out of touch. That is a great challenge for the next century."
That next century is here. Let each one of us get actively engaged in learning about and cherishing the best in each other.
I'm ready when you are, Ms. Husain. But let us have an honest exchange, free of personal smears and distortions of Islamic theology, history, and present-day radicalism.