In an inexcusable puff piece about alleged “moderate Muslims” in the U.S. in the New York Times, one of them makes a moral equivalency argument between jihad kidnappings and U.S. military action, and another says he would like to see Sharia in the United States — instituted by peaceful means, of course.
And remember: these are what the New Duranty Times thinks of as “moderates.”
Both men are converts to Islam who spent years in the Middle East and North Africa being mentored by formidable Muslim scholars. They have since become leading intellectual lights for a new generation of American Muslims looking for homegrown leaders who can help them learn how to live their faith without succumbing to American materialism or Islamic extremism….
They haven’t succumbed to extremism? Yet at least one asserts that every Muslim holds the same goal as Osama — the institution of Islamic law over the U.S.? But of course that isn’t extremism at all. It’s just mainstream Islam, as we have been pointing out again and again here for years now.
Both men draw overflow crowds in theaters, mosques and university auditoriums that seat thousands. Their books and CD’s are pored over by young Muslims in study groups. As scholars and proselytizers for of the faith, they have a much higher profile than most imams, as Muslim clerics who are usually in charge of mosques are known. Their message is that both Islam and America have gone seriously astray, and American Muslims have a responsibility to harness their growing numbers and economic power to help set them straight.
They say that Islam must be rescued from extremists who selectively cite Islamic scripture to justify terrorism. Though Mr. Yusuf and Mr. Shakir do not denounce particular scholars or schools of thought, their students say the two are challenging the influence of Islam’s more reactionary sects, like Wahhabism and Salafism, which has been spread to American mosques and schools by clerics trained in Saudi Arabia. Where Wahhabism and Salafism are often intolerant of other religions “” even of other streams within Islam “” Mr. Yusuf and Mr. Shakir teach that Islam is open to a diversity of interpretations honed by centuries of scholars.
Mr. Yusuf told the audience in Houston to beware of “fanatics” who pluck Islamic scripture out of context and say, “We’re going to tell you what God says on every single issue.”
“That’s not Islam,” Mr. Yusuf said. “That’s psychopathy.”
He asked the audience to pray for the victims of kidnappers in Iraq, saying that kidnapping is just as bad as American bombings in which the military dismisses the civilians killed as “collateral damage.”
“They’re both sinister, as far as I’m concerned,” he said. “One is efficient, the other is pathetic.”…
He said he believed that if more Muslims were schooled in the their faith’s diverse intellectual streams and a holistic understanding of their religion, they would not be so susceptible to the Osama bin Ladens who tell them that suicide bombers are martyrs.
“Where you don’t have people who have strong intellectual capacity, you get demagoguery,” he said.
Here again, we have the assertion that Osama is wrong, but no proof offered — no arguments from the Qur’an or anything else. I’d like to see Hamza Yusuf make his case before his fellow Muslims. Especially in light of the fact that:
Mr. Yusuf once was a source of the kind of zealous rhetoric he now denounces. He said in 1995 that Judaism was based on the belief that “God has this bias to this small little tribe in the middle of the desert,” which makes it “a most racist religion.” On September 9, 2001, he said the United States “stands condemned” for invading Muslim lands.
He has since changed his tune “” not for spin, he says, but on principle. “Our community has failed, and I include myself in that,” he told an audience in a downtown theater in Elizabeth, N.J., this year. “When I started speaking in the early 90’s, our discourse was not balanced.
“We were focused so often on what was negative about this country,” he said. “We ended up alienating some people. I’ve said some things about other religions that I regret now. I think they were incorrect.”
He added, “A tree grows. If you’re staying the same, something is wrong. You’re not alive.”…
But the Qur’an stays the same, Islam stays the same. What does Yusuf think they teach?
He said he still hoped that one day the United States would be a Muslim country ruled by Islamic law, “not by violent means, but by persuasion.”
“Every Muslim who is honest would say, I would like to see America become a Muslim country,” he said. “I think it would help people, and if I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t be a Muslim. Because Islam helped me as a person, and it’s helped a lot of people in my community.”