Cathy Lynn Grossman RNS
WASHINGTON (RNS) While details are still unfolding as to why a California Muslim couple turned to murder, Muslims in the West must step up and admit terrorism is rooted in extremist Islam, said four Muslim panelists speaking at a conservative think tank on Thursday (Dec. 3).
They criticized major U.S. Muslim groups that lament such tragedies but say their religion is not responsible. They insisted the violence has roots in Islam, and that Islamist political terror is nurtured in Saudi Arabia’s strict Wahhabi branch of the faith.
And they blasted the Obama administration for steadfastly refusing to brand terror as Islamic extremism. President Obama decried the deaths and pledged a thorough investigation of the attack but cautioned against setting blame based on the killers’ Muslim names.
“President Obama simply does not embrace reality,” said Farahnez Ispahani, a former member of the Pakistani Parliament and author of an upcoming book on that Pakistan’s religious minorities.
She mocked the way that the administration responds to attacks. Rather than calling in progressive Muslim leaders in U.S civil society, she said: “They call in imams and they hold an interfaith event and they are all happy.
“But there is no clear ideological campaign to fight ISIS or Islamists,” she said, to a smattering of applause in the audience of about 50 people. Islam has been “hijacked” and people are afraid if they admit it, it will spark Islamophobia, Ispahani said.
“Terror is a Muslim issue, an Islamic issue within the house of Islam,” said M. Zuhdi Jasser, founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, “and we must own it” to fight it. He moderated the event held at the Heritage Foundation, which had been planned after the Paris attacks.
Naser Khader, a member of the Parliament of Denmark for the Conservative People’s Party, said Muslims themselves must lead the fight rather than hide behind excuses that killers are not truly Muslim. Instead, they should condemn Islamist jihadists ”without any excuses.”
“If we the Muslims do not face the problem of violence, how will we ever succeed in lifting this from those powers and bring it into the 21st century?” Khader asked. He called for rereading the Quran in the light of modern times and presenting strong religious arguments for change.
Khader and Ispahani were part of a weeklong “Summit of Western Muslim Voices of Reform against the Islamic State and Islamism.” Under the umbrella of Jasser’s forum, 20 people from the U.S., Europe and the Middle East identified as “Muslim reformers” met to propose ways to counter “the ideologies which fuel global Muslim radicalization.”
Thursday, the finger of blame was pointed directly at Saudi Arabia, which the panelists said stands on strict Quranic literalism. This takes a seventh-century view of unbelievers, women and minorities that allows for terror, murder and deprivation of human rights, they agreed.
“As an evangelical Christian obviously I disagree with Islam fundamentally,” Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptists’ Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told NPR’s “Morning Edition” on Friday.
“At the same time, I’m very disturbed when I hear the sorts of talk that we’ve been hearing over the last several months about shutting down mosques, about identifying Muslims in this country.
“That is a very dangerous place to be, both at a human rights level but also in terms of religious liberty,” said Moore.
He's right, of course, although one could argue that what we are currently doing, or not doing, is equally dangerous, and perhaps more so. Liberalizing Islam will never fly! People will always gravitate to essential fundamentals of their religious beliefs, and in Islam that is the life of Mohammed.
As the panel pointed out, we must fight radical Islam at the ideological level. But to simply point out that radicalism is wrong and not true Islam is going to accomplish nothing when it is obvious that Mohammed, himself, would be considered an extremist today. He was a murderer, an antisemite, a pedophile in his later years, a liar and a warmonger. He was also incredibly selfish. And, he put the Arab world back under 'the Law' from which Jesus Christ had set us free nearly 700 years earlier.
Of course such inflammatory statements are very dangerous and likely to be counterproductive. But such ideas can be slowly and gently raised in a manner that causes people to think and explore for themselves. It would take courage, and, unfortunately, I don't think there is anyone in the western media with that kind of courage.
Islamic radicalism cannot be defeated without defeating Islam, and that cannot be done on the battlefield.