“I am not a scholar actually. I am just somebody who reads,” stated Ayaz Virji, MD, concerning his knowledge of his Islamic faith during a March 2017 community presentation in Dawson, Minnesota. Nonetheless, the Washington Post found in his superficiality no objection to giving him a recent online puff-piece profile (republished, above the fold, on the July 2 Sunday front page) in yet another mainstream media whitewash of Islam.
Virji’s March lecture was one of his several presentations on Islam in recent months in western Minnesota’s small towns, including his home of Dawson. As he explained to the Post and local Minnesota media, Virji’s joy in living since 2014 in warmly welcoming Dawson turned to gloom in 2016. Presidential election results showed that Donald Trump, an “Islamophobic” bête noire for many Muslims, had won rural Minnesota by significant margins.
Not surprising given her background, Post reporter Stephanie McCrummen’s Virji profile assumes that “Trump voters must be flawed people — bigoted, ignorant or both,” as Minnesota conservative John Hinderaker noted in his critique at Powerline. Her previous writing has sanitized the Muslim Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie, notwithstanding his al Qaeda-like goals. By contrast, concerning Republicans, she is known for her strained smears associating Texas governor and presidential candidate Rick Perry with a notorious racial epithet, and for presenting a mentally imbalanced woman as a typical Trump supporter.
Contrary to Hinderaker, McCrummen does not offer any correction to Virji’s distortions of matters such as the statements on Islam by one-time Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Both in the Post story and in an Independence Day podcast for a local Minnesota radio station, Virji imagined without rebuttal “burning mosques” in America, and in the podcast he claimed that Trump “wants to put me on a registry” for Muslims. This fake news misrepresents the Trump Administration proposals to revive programs for monitoring people from mostly majority-Muslim countries with high terrorism risks.
The intern pastor at Dawson’s Grace Lutheran Church, Mandy France, appears also to have worries other than critical inquiry into Islam, as her remarks surrounding Virji’s March presentation indicate. As she explained in the YouTube event recording and to local media, she organized his speaking appearances as part of her internship project with a desire to “bring an end to Islamophobia.” Her opening comments to the audience could seem to counteract her proclaimed acceptance of controversy: “Think before you speak. Could that be interpreted as hateful or rude, and if so, choose a different word please.”
Following France, Virji’s rambling address presents considerable fake Islamic theology, such as the ubiquitous false equivalence between violent verses in the Old Testament and Quran. Contrary to critical studies, he makes the common assertion that jihadists in groups such as the Islamic State merely “are insane. They are poor, unlearned.” Noting the Arabic etymology of sharia as the “path to life-giving water,” he described this Islamic law as solely an “understanding of how to elevate yourself spiritually.” Islam’s prophet “Muhammad never imposed sharia….It cannot be imposed,” Virji stated, a view that would have certainly surprised Islam’s subjugated dhimmis throughout history.
The sources of Virji’s Islamic knowledge remain obscure, as his comments betray a strong, un-Islamic Christian influence upon his life, such as his intensive Bible readings. He attended a Lutheran school in Florida from kindergarten to the tenth grade, where he developed a strong relationship with a Lutheran pastor. Influenced by his father, Virji has embraced the ecumenical conclusion that “all religions are trying to come to Him [God] from different angles.”
The one authority Virji cites is hardly reassuring, namely Georgetown University Professor John Voll, under whom Virgi studied as a Georgetown undergraduate. During his studies, Voll was associate director of the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (CMCU), an institution that received a $20 million gift from Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal in 2005 that transformed it into the Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. The resulting ACMCU has become in later years an even more notorious center of Islamic apologetics. In addition to Voll’s own radical associations, Voll has defended convicted jihad terror supporter Sami Al-Arian, and has made unconvincing arguments for the compatibility between Islam and democracy.
Apparently Virji has taken Voll’s sophistry to heart, as Virji’s online post-presentation question responses demonstrate. “During the time of Mohammad, Christians, Jews, atheists and pagans lived together without religious persecution,” he wrote, in laughable ignorance of facts such as Muhammad’s decree that the Arabian Peninsula should only contain Muslims. “Even when the Muslims reconquered Mecca (took back what was stolen from them [Who says the Kaaba was stolen?]) they did so without one drop of blood,” Virji added. While his presentation equated websites criticizing Islam such as The Religion of Peace (TROP) with jihadist groups such as al-Qaeda, TROP provides a clear rebuttal of his false Meccan history.
Virji’s fantasies continue with his contention that “Islam forbids killing in all circumstances except in a defensive war” respecting noncombatants. Scholars such as University of Haifa Professor David Bukay have documented in detail (see here, here, and here) Islamic jihad as an offensive doctrine that has served Islam’s claim to be humanity’s one true faith. Islamic noncombatant definitions also have a troubling elasticity, as al-Qaeda has shown.
Despite Virji’s claim based on FBI studies that non-Muslims have perpetrated 94 percent of American terrorist attacks between 1980 and 2005, violent Islamic doctrines have modern effects. Muslims are merely one percent of America’s population, yet a study of American terrorism in the years 1990-2016 still disproportionately notes that “if you remove two outlier events—the September 11th  terrorist attacks and the Oklahoma City Bombing—far-right extremists have killed more than twice as many people (272) as Islamist extremists (130)” — a claim often used to minimize the gravity of the jihad terror threat, but which actually only shows that Muslims in the U.S. are responsible for terror attacks far out of proportion to their numbers.
Europol analysis of European Union terrorism for 2016 shows an even greater disproportion between Europe’s larger Muslim populations and terrorism:
Member States reported that 142 victims died as a result of terrorist attacks and 379 people were injured. Nearly all reported fatalities [specifically 135] and most of the casualties were the result of jihadist terrorist attacks.
Virji is also oblivious to the political goals of such jihadist violence as he answers the question whether the “majority of Muslims respect/tolerate other religions” with “If they don’t then they are not practicing Islam.” He declares that “Islam does regard itself as a theocracy,” yet somehow “Mohammad condemned monarchy or dictatorship-style government” as “contrary to Islam’s teaching.” Euphemizing the ayatollahs’ Iran as a “republic,” Virji writes that “there are 400,000 Christians (300 churches) and about 10,000 Jews living peacefully in Iran. I wonder why the media does not tell you this.”
Someone should tell Virji about the severe religious repression afflicting Iranian Christians, Jews, and others in a country defined by its post-1979 constitution as an “Islamic Republic.” As critical observers have analyzed, the “Iranian Constitution established an Islamic theocracy.” The stoning of adulterers shows that the Iranian “drafters of the penal code had apparently consulted the seventh century for legal advice.” Various constitutional provisions subordinate human rights to Islam and commit Iran’s Islamic republic to a global jihad.
Notwithstanding Iran’s example, Virji gushes that “Islamic Shariah was the first legal system to formally give women the right to vote [for sharia under a caliphate?], the right to own property and the right to divorce their husband.” While he attributes Middle Eastern women’s rights violations to “tribalism roots” and not numerous Islamic canonical sources, the Quran stipulates that daughters shall inherit half the share of sons. Islamic doctrines making divorce exceedingly easy for husbands, but extremely onerous for wives, also severely disadvantage the latter, as modern Egypt demonstrates.
Virji similarly apparently misunderstands the question: “If a Muslim woman is raped, does she need men to be her witnesses?” He responds that the “perpetrator would be deemed innocent until proven guilty. Witnesses could be male or female or strong circumstantial, no different than in a U.S. Court.” Unaddressed by Virji, yet presumably more pertinent to the questioners, Islamic canons absurdly hold that a female rape victim requires four male witnesses to convict a rapist absent his confession.
Virji’s example demonstrates that, almost sixteen years after 9/11, establishment media like McCrummen and the Washington Post are still vainly trying to glorify Islam as a “religion of peace,” not submission. Yet his witting or unwitting delusions become more fraudulent with Islam’s repeated unsettling appearance in every passing news cycle. Ultimately the simple, polite Trump voters in the land of Lake Wobegon know better.