When Saudi nationals perpetrated the September 11th attacks in the United States it did not go unnoticed that there was dancing in the streets in many Muslim nations. It is not a secret that millions of Muslims around the world and even those living in Western countries despise Western values and refuse to integrate into the free and civilized world.
Even today we have prominent American and Canadian Muslim organizations and leaders who are in league with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Wahhabi Mullahs of Saudi Arabia and are working tirelessly to destroy the West and every good it stands for.
Not all Muslims are against freedom and capitalism. Not all Muslims are our enemy. But where are these Muslims? Why don’t we hear from them? For the celebrity few who do speak out, like Ayan Hirsi Ali, or Sam Solomon there are death threats and intimidation. Many keep silent for fear of retribution from the greater Muslim community.
I was invited by Salim Mansur, professor of Political Science at Western University and a frequent quest on our show, to attend and video the September 30th launch of a new voice for the many Muslims in Canada who have either remained silent, or who have spoken out with nobody willing to listen to them. The new organization is called Muslims Facing Tomorrow. Salim Mansur is the Vice President of MFT while activist and author Raheel Raza is the President.
At the meeting journalist and television host Christine Williams spoke and the keynote address was delivered by Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, ex-USA Navy Seal Lt. Commander and Founder and President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD).
What I heard at that event is precisely what I had been longing to hear from an organization of Muslims; a call to reject all violence, to embrace Western values and freedoms, including the freedom to offend as with The Innocence of Muslims video trailer.
I did not hear a single note of reticence in their condemnation of those Muslims calling for the curtailment of free speech or any other individual right protected by both the US and Canadian Constitutions. In fact, during the question period one man stood up, gave his name and declared that he was a Muslim apostate and suggested that the crowd give up their belief in superstition. There were no gasps of shock at such an admission, in fact a few people even applauded.
If such a man can stand up in a crowd of about 160 Muslims (by my count) and declare his apostasy without fear then I knew I was in the right room.
While ideas matter it is not ideas which kill people it is people who kill people and even though there are many tenets of what many have come to understand as Islam which are antithetical to peace, freedom and justice it is not the notion of Islam which kills. It is individual Muslims who kill. Those who espouse evil should be routed out as evil and likewise those who espouse freedom and peace should be lauded for their courage to do so.
I have wrestled with the apparent contradiction of what I understand to be Islam and the individual actions of Muslims. That evening I listened as speaker after speaker affirmed that there are many types of Islam. There are Muslims who, much as many Christians do, pick and choose those things attributed to Muhammad in the Koran. Dr. Jasser outright rejected the notion, for example, that Muhammad consummated a marriage to nine year old Aisha. He simply does not believe it. He rejected the call to kill Infidels or Jews regardless of what it says in the Koran. We have seen this before in Christianity as many choose to reject those aspects of the Bible which are inconsistent with civilization and have relegated such passage to history and myth. This may be how a religion reforms itself.
As if in answer to my own thoughts Dr. Jasser also addressed the Muslim notion of al-Taqiyya. He was asked by conservative blogger Dr. Roy Eappen; ‘How does one know that they are not being hoodwinked by moderate Muslims?’ He said that putting his position on the public record and doing it consistently through word and action should be enough to convince people of his sincerity.
When a Muslim stands up publicly to denounce anti-Semitism, misogyny, violence, homophobia, arranged marriages to six year olds and acts consistently to show that he is sincere what more do we need to know to accept the fact that Islam to him is completely different than it is to the Osama-bin Ladens and Wahhabis of the world?
(Originally broadcast on Just Right #270, October 4, 2012.)