Recently on the Michael Medved Show, Salam Al-Maryati of the Muslim Public Affairs Council criticized my characterization of radical Islam as a widespread global movement, and suggested that it was in fact a marginal radical fringe. He brushed aside my statements that moderate Muslims need to do more to convert radical Muslims to a more peaceful form of Islam, saying almost in the same breath that it was already being done on a large scale and that it couldn’t be done anyway.
Maryati may more disposed to believe Dr. Mohammad Waseem of Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, Pakistan, who has “warned that Islamic radicalism is on the rise and liberal, modern and secular sections of society are being marginalised in Pakistan.”
Waseem is no friend of the West. In the rest of his talk he blamed the West for fostering the growth of Islamic radicalism in various ways. But at least he, unlike Maryati, acknowledges that this growth is widespread.
Dr. Waseem also “criticised Western countries and their media for adopting a ‘text-based’ approach to Islam, instead of making an effort to understand Islamic societies and their ethos. In many cases, tradition and cultural norms were mistaken for religion which only contributed to the further distortion of Islam’s meaning and message.”
In the first place, Westerners should stop reading Islamic texts when radical Muslims stop using them to justify murder. Also, if calls to violence against unbelievers are in fact in the Qur’an and other texts, they can hardly be classified as “tradition and cultural norms” instead of religious ones.