Sheikh Sa’d Sharaf is proceeding from a fact that we have pointed out here again and again: that the jihadists appeal to Muslims by presenting themselves as the exponents of “true Islam,” and moderate Muslims (not to say that Fatah is a genuine example of such people) have made no effective comeback. We have, incidentally, been harshly criticized for pointing this out; will Sheik Sa’d Sharaf now be denounced also as an “Islamophobe”?
“West Bank activists push peace, moderation,” by Joshua Mitnick for the Washington Times (thanks to Davida):
RAMALLAH, West Bank “” Some Palestinian political activists are encouraging the secular Fatah party, which controls the West Bank, to combat radical Islam by incorporating religious teachings that emphasize peace and moderation.
Sheik Sa’d Sharaf said he is pushing Fatah leaders to enlist religious figures to openly debate the violent interpretation of the Koran as espoused by the rival Hamas militia.
“The prophet Muhammad says, ‘Don’t kill those who don’t use weapons against you. Don’t kill a woman. Don’t kill a baby,’ ” he said.
He is reported to have said that. Unfortunately, the data on this point, as on so many others, is not unambiguous. There is also a hadith in which Muhammad is “asked about the women and children of the polytheists being killed during the night raid.” Muhammad responded, “They are from them,” which has generally been understood to mean that it was acceptable for them to have been killed.
Also, the idea that Fatah could possibly oppose Hamas because the latter kills women and children and the former doesn’t is laughable on its face.
Sheik Sharaf, who preaches in mosques, lectures at a junior college and hosts a television program from the West Bank city of Nablus, said the key to Islamist group Hamas’ success has been its ability to present itself as representing the one authentic version of Islam….
Oh Sheikh, you Islamophobe!
Another prominent Palestinian, Mohammed Dajani, has established a religious movement called Wasatia “” a term from the Koran meaning “centrism,” “balance” or “moderation.”
Unlike Sheik Sharaf, who hopes to moderate Fatah with religion, Mr. Dajani believes that a new political party is needed to fill a vacuum between Fatah and Hamas.
Although a secular party, Fatah militants are as deadly as Hamas. A radical offshoot of the group, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, has also boasted of dozens of suicide bombings inside Israel.
“We are undergoing a social, religious, economic and a political crisis,” said Mr. Dajani, who also teaches political science at Al Quds University in East Jerusalem.
“We feel that this crisis will not be addressed without the rise of a new party “” a middle-ground Islamic party supporting tolerance and calling for dialogue. This is the only solution.”
Alongside quotes from the Jewish holy book, the Talmud, and the New Testament, the Wasatia Web site quotes the Koran as saying “we have created you a midground nation” and ascribes to Muhammad the saying: “The best way to run affairs is moderation.”
This “balance” and “moderation” or “midground” is Qur’an 2:143: “We have created you a balanced (or middle, moderate, midground, etc.) nation….”
Mr. Dajani said he wants to change pre-school and elementary school curriculum teachings on “jihad,” which he says extol violence and discourage interfaith coexistence.
“Religion is being hijacked and misrepresented,” he said in a recent interview with a Jewish peace group. “Palestinian society is moderate, but being pushed to extremism and fundamentalism. This is not the Islam we were raised on.”
Sheik Sharaf, who wants to reform Fatah by creating a religious branch within the organization, acknowledges that politicians in the Fatah movement have largely ignored efforts.
“[Fatah] doesn’t understand the danger. They are ignorant in this,” he said.
But he also believes that in the two weeks since Hamas’ takeover of Gaza and their public executions of Fatah members, more Palestinians have become disillusioned by the Hamas brand of Islam.
“I want to prevent the misleading of the people,” he said.
Well, Sheikh, I hope you pull it off.