Esam Sohail in FrontPage makes a most welcome and long overdue statement: Silence in the war on terror is something Americans of Arab and Muslim descent cannot afford anymore.”
He details some of the “dubious pronouncements” of, among others, Abdurrahman Alamoudi (formerly of the American Muslim Council, Nihad Awad of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), and Maher Hathout, senior adviser to the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), and then declares: “A vast majority of America’s three million Muslims, some of them my relatives and friends, do not subscribe to that nonsense. They passionately love the country that has given them the chance to reach their dreams and they grieve for their friends and family lost in terrorist attacks. They hope their children grow up in a safe America, and they resent the stigma attached to their faith as a result of Islamist terror.”
Now, these organizations have condemned terror also. But their “dubious pronouncements,” and dubious actions, cast doubts on their words. The fact that Sohail condemns these organizations is a very good sign that his denunciation of terror is more truly substantive.
“It is unfortunate,” says Sohail, “for every decent person concerned that the American Muslim community is defined through the likes of CAIR and MPAC. The power to change that unflattering image, however, is in the hands of Muslim America. By making the civic decision to actively join the front ranks in the American struggle against senseless terror, American Muslims make America’s fight undoubtedly their very own. Anyone, like myself, who has traveled widely in the Islamic world and America will notice the paradoxical difference in terms of Muslim religious freedoms. Unlike Pakistan or Iran or Saudi Arabia where smaller Muslim sects are ruthlessly suppressed, the United States provides a haven for all varieties of Islam to be practiced freely. Defending this freedom is not just George Bush’s fight, it is rightly American Muslims” fight as well.
“The first order of business in this fight ought to be to reclaim Islam’s transcendent beauty by reclaiming America’s mosques, cultural centers, charities, and civic organizations from self-styled leaders who lack moral clarity on the defining issue of terrorism. Apart from creating a solid moral foundation for an essentially moral struggle, such an internal cleansing of Islamic institutions will send a much-needed message of reassurance to the rest of America.
“Secondly, America’s Muslims can use their strong transnational links to help build global social resistance against the petty merchants of religious bigotry. The prestige and social and familial networks that many successful immigrants have in their former homelands can be harnessed to turn up the heat on individuals and institutions in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the Middle East that condone terror.
“Thirdly, perhaps most importantly in the short term, Muslim America can and must become the first line of defense in the uprooting of those in the United States whose anti-American hatred is shielded behind a community”s religious faith and traditional hospitality. In their homes and hearts, amidst their councils and convocations, ordinary Muslims can make a huge dent in the ideological foundations of terror by simply saying, ‘If you don’t like America, you are not welcome amongst us.’
“Finally, as befitting any comprehensive struggle, America’s Muslims can and must become full partners in her direct confrontation with those who engage in terrorism and those who support or finance it. Apart from active service with the military and intelligence communities, Muslims here can play other key support roles. Be it as eyes and ears of law enforcement in ethnic neighborhoods, as cultural advisers to FBI field offices, or as public cheerleaders of terror-fighting agencies, American Muslims can contribute vitally to the nation’s pledge to uproot terrorism.
“Putting their hearts, souls, minds and resources on the line in this great American undertaking, this country”s Muslims can forever put to rest the nagging doubts about their loyalties. A true jihad against the al-Qaeda types could be the winning shot in the arm that the war on terror needs. Not to mention that in purely theological terms, defending America may well be something that is incumbent upon every Muslim in the United States.
“Just ask U.S. Army PFC Lana Sbitani, a Muslim American Military Policewoman in Hawaii who follows the timeless words of the Prophet Muhammad, “˜Patriotism is an unbreakable part of your faith.”
–˜I find no conflict between my religion and the idea that I must defend my country”, says Sbitani.
“America’s Muslims have an active choice between the ideals of Lana Sbitani or the ideologues of CAIR and AMC, a choice where silence passivity is construed as an endorsement of the latter. This vital choice will decide the place of Islam at America’s diverse family table.”
I would like to see how Sohail would respond to the theological arguments of Islamic radicals, which enable them to gain recruits around the world. But denouncing CAIR, AMC, and the rest of that rogue’s gallery is a most welcome development.