Well, of course! Behold the glorious complexity of Sheikh Feiz Mohammed! He doth bestride the narrow world like a Colossus, and we petty men walk under his huge legs, and peep about, to find ourselves dishonourable graves! After all, when has a non-Muslim ever understood a jihadist sheikh, or the Qur’an, or the life of Muhammad correctly? These things are beyond the ken of ordinary mortals. We need them explained to us by those who possess Secret Qur’anic Decoder Rings, and then we will see that “beat her” (Qur’an 4:34) really means “give her a dozen roses,” and that when Sheikh Feiz Mohammed says about children that we should “put in their soft, tender hearts the zeal of jihad and a love of martyrdom,” he means that we should put in their soft, tender hearts the zeal of learning their multiplication tables and a love of Bob The Builder.
SYDNEY, Australia: A radical Australian cleric who sparked outrage by encouraging children to sacrifice their lives for Islam has claimed his remarks were misinterpreted, as Muslim leaders were divided Friday in their reaction to the outspoken cleric.
Sheik Feiz Mohammed, head of the Global Islamic Youth Center in western Sydney, was swiftly condemned Thursday by government leaders across Australia over a series of video lectures, in which he urged children to become “soldiers defending Islam” and sacrifice their lives for Allah.
“Teach them this: There is nothing more beloved to me than wanting to die as a mujahid,” or holy warrior, the cleric said in the videos. “Put in their soft, tender hearts the zeal of jihad and a love of martyrdom.”
The Australian Federal Police said they would investigate whether Mohammed had breached laws against sedition and was inciting violence or terrorism.
However, in an interview published Friday in The Australian newspaper, Mohammed said his words had been misconstrued.
“The jihad I speak of is not one of violence,” he was quoted as saying. “It is one of personal struggle against things like mischievousness, temptation and personal harm.”
“I don’t believe in suicide bombing. I don’t believe in violence against others,” he said. “We denounce that. This is not Islamic law and it is not moral.”
Mohammed also said in the interview he regretted implicitly referring to Jews as pigs in the videos, which were recorded in 2002 following the release of photographs showing bloody clashes between Israelis and Palestinians.
“That remark was made in the heat of the moment and I regret it,” he was quoted as saying. “It was not something I should have said and is not something I believe.”
In reality, some Muslim commentators posit that those verses refer to some Jews, but not to all Jews. However, the idea that they refer to all Jews, or at least to the Jews of today, is dominant among jihadists. Is it likely that Sheikh Feiz Mohammed really rejects that interpretation? No, it isn’t.
Several Muslim leaders have sought to distance themselves from his comments.
Keysar Trad, head of the Islamic Friendship Association, said the jihad remarks might have been misinterpreted, but he conceded that they were not helpful to Australian Muslims.
Mohammed is the latest of several Muslim leaders to spur controversy in Australia, widening a cultural divide between the majority of Australians and the country’s Muslim minority, which has been criticized for failing to suppress its extremist fringe.
Late last year Sheik Taj Aldin al-Hilali, the mufti of Australia since 1989, made international headlines when he likened unveiled women to “uncovered meat,” suggesting they invite sexual assault.
However, Rahim Ghauri, leader of the Islamic Council of Western Australia, said the Islamic community should not be held accountable for one cleric’s offensive remarks.
“Some lousy guy stands up and calls himself a leader of the Muslims, calls himself a cleric because he can read the Quran,” Ghauri told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio. “Why do people like me (have to) sit here and give an interview because every Tom, Dick and Harry gets up an makes some stupid comments?”
Well, uh, maybe because al-Hilali is the leader of the Muslims in Australia.
Ghauri and other Muslim leaders declined to speculate on the meaning of Mohammed’s videotaped remarks, but said the concept of jihad and religious martyrdom was often misunderstood by the non-Muslim public.
“Jihad … means to eschew those types of things in our lives which we see as negative, such as promiscuity and drugs and stealing,” said Kuranda Seyit, of the Forum on Australia’s Islamic Relations.
Seyit dismissed the furor over the sheik’s remarks as “another case of Islam bashing” in Australia, but acknowledged that Muslim leaders “do have to be very responsible about how they conduct themselves in public.”