Author Claude Salhani, writing in today’s Washington Times, delivers a sparkling endorsement of King Abdullah of Jordan’s recent efforts to counter Islamic extremism in his own kingdom and throughout the Middle East.
Jordan’s King Abdullah is on a campaign, one could say a “jihad of sorts,” to reaffirm Islam’s traditional principles. Jihad, remember, means “struggle” as well as “holy war.”
Among the endeavors of the Hashemite king, whose family claims direct descent from the Prophet Muhammad, is a brave initiative to clarify who in Islam has authority to issue fatwas, or religious edicts. Fatwas, in principle, are the domain of religious leaders, or imams. However, lately a number of fatwas have been decreed — wrongly so — by people such as Abu Musab Zarqawi and Osama bin Laden, who have no religious authority or training.
In recent months, Abdullah has worked hard to promote a gentler image of Islam and to distance mainstream Muslims from those responsible for horrendous acts of terror perpetrated in the name of Islam. The king has organized meetings with Muslim religious leaders from more than 45 countries to get them to condemn militant Islamists and to speak out against terrorist acts by Islamist groups.
In so doing, the king hopes to change the negative image that has befallen Muslims in much of the West, particularly since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.
While Abdullah’s words, as recorded by Salhani, are welcome, they are not a suitable substitute for concrete action on the part of the king. As Robert Spencer suggested yesterday, Jordan has a long way to go before it can consider itself a haven for “moderate” Islam. Perhaps Salhani should temper his lavish praise of the king until Abdullah actually does something to deserve it.