E-Letter To The Christian Science Monitor and Fazlur Rahman Re: The Muslim faith, misunderstood
We appreciated your recent opinion editorial The Muslim faith, misunderstood. It is very well written and touches on some important points. We especially thought that your exhortation to Muslims in the West was very appropriate. You wrote:
We in the West must also search our souls to know what we have wrought. The United States itself armed and trained the Afghans to dislodge the former Soviet Union, whose defeat in Afghanistan played a significant part in the disintegration of the communist empire. Yet once the Soviets left, the West abandoned the Afghans and did not do enough to foster democratic transition. Besides, we can't ignore brutality committed in the West. It was just a few years ago that in the heart of Europe, in Srebrenica, Bosnian Muslim children, men, and women were massacred as Western soldiers watched.
What you mentioned is only possible due to the disunity and even deviation of the Muslim community throughout the world.
While we share some of your opinion of those who are viewed as extremists in Islam, we don’t think that they are the real problem with the world of Islam. Rather, in our opinion, it is the moderates who are to blame for much of the discrediting of the Islamic religion as well as for the rise of those who are seen as extremist or “fundamentalist”.
The problem can best be explained by a look at the Muslim community in the Western hemisphere, in the United States in particular. Those who are immigrants who come from all over the world as Muslims at times, seem to be more interested in setting up businesses and getting along with Americans and American culture and all of its degeneracy than they are interested in propagating their Islamic faith. They seem more interested in the acceptance of the American political establishment than they are in influencing or guiding the political system and society according to the wisdom and insights provided in the revelation, the Holy Qur’an.
As a result, in our opinion, they lose the respect of those whom they are seeking acceptance from. We recently saw this in the recent controversy over the Muslim group that visited the White House to meet with President Bush and then walked out of the meeting because one of the members of their delegation was asked to leave by the Secret Service. The group was offended and walked out after they learned what happened, before they met with President Bush.
While we think they had a legitimate grievance we wondered why they were so upset or surprised at what happened. After all, it was Richard Nixon in the early 1970s, who said that the real enemy of democracy and capitalism was not communism but rather, fundamentalist Islam. In addition, how many Muslims are involved in the formulation of U.S. foreign or domestic policy as opposed to Christians and Jews?
The group was at the White House to hear Bush pitch them on his faith-based initiative program. They were there because Bush wants their votes and their support. Some, of course, would say that he is trying to buy the Islamic community off by handing out a few crumbs for work that they should already be doing on their own. And of course, many believe that the U.S. government is obligated to support the good work of the numerous Imams who work in masjids and mosques throughout this country with whatever financial resources it can make available.
Whatever the reason for the meting and evolving relationship between President Bush and the Muslim community one, if they are a Muslim, must think over what Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would have thought of President Bush, the American political establishment and the American culture. It is hard to think that he would be as tolerant toward them as the Muslim community is today. The same can be said of Jesus and the Christians who say they follow him.
This brings us to our point that it is the moderates who are the real problem and not the extremists. Because the moderates are watering down significant aspects of Islam, in order to “get along” with those in power and the dominant non-Muslim group(s) in society, they actually give birth to the extremists who take the underattended aspects of the faith and make them the entire faith. The extremists, in our view, over compensate for the deficiencies of the moderates. If the moderates were more concerned with pleasing Allah and following the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) they would prevent the birth or at least the rise to power of those who are less tolerant or less gradualist in their approach to practicing and spreading Islam.
In a quest to gain acceptance and resources from those who are not Muslims, many Believers are compromising the faith. This is an important factor that contributes to the dynamic that you have written about.
Sunday, July 15, 2001