Militant Islam Monitor > Weblog > ASMA: American Society for the Advancement of Muslims- faux moderates promoting Islamisation by "Muslim Leaders of Tommorrow"
ASMA: American Society for the Advancement of Muslims- faux moderates promoting Islamisation by "Muslim Leaders of Tommorrow"
May 2, 2007
MIM:The American Society for the Advancement of Muslims proclaims their Islamism by name. ASMA promotes jihad through da'wa and the Islamisation of the West by grooming "Muslim Leaders of Tommorrow". At the Saudi backed 2006 MLT conference in Denmark "moderate"Islamists discussions of how to increase Muslim political and social influence was euphemistically termed "bridge building".
The Cordoba Initiative /Islamic Dialogue is lead by ASMA and is also headed by the Imam of the New York Masjid Al Farah. Together with his wife Daisy Khan are trying to put a yuppie face on Islamism. ASMA can be viewed as an American version of Hizb ut Tahrir after an "extremist makeover" where the khalifate idea is has been couched in kumbaya. ASMA's young and contemporary facade makes their radical ideology harder to detect, which poses more of a threat then an overtly aggressive organisation which refers to non Muslims as kuffars. In reality, ASMA members share the same hard line as the radicals and their use of legal and stealth Islamist strategies makes it difficult to thwart their da'wa attempts which are made under the guise of interfaith and tolerance but are actually pushing Islam as the only true religion . An ASMA Q&A reveals the Islamist view that the "perfection" of Judaism and Christianity is found only in Islam and is another example of the concept of all non Muslims "reverting" back to what is presented as the origins of their religions. According to the Islamists at ASMA Abraham established Mecca and even built the Ka'ba.
Do Islam and Christianity have different origins?
No. Together with Judaism, they go back to the prophet and patriarch Abraham, and their three prophets are directly descended from his sons – Muhammad (pbuh) from the eldest, Ishmael, and Moses (pbuh) and Jesus (pbuh) from Isaac. Abraham established the settlement which today is the city of Makkah, and built the Ka'ba towards which all Muslims turn when they pray. http://www.asmasociety.org/religion/whatis_faq.html
MIM: All da'wa all the time: In an interview with the Center for Interreligious Understanding Abdul Rauf stressed the point that Islam was no different then Judaism and Christianity - and that the greatest contribution religious leaders can make is to spread Islam.
CIU: What would you like Americans to know about Islam that they probably don't know given the limited perceptions of Islam provided by the American media?
Imam Rauf: .... Islam is very close to Judaism and Christianity and considers itself part of the same monotheistic tradition. The essential values of Judaism and of Christianity ... are also the core values of Islam.
CIU: What concrete things can religious leaders do to build better society?
Imam Rauf: We certainly need to speak about Islam more. We need to explain in simple language what the values of Islam are to non-Muslims.
MIM:At the conclusion of the first Muslim Leader of tommorrow conference in 2004 Abdul Rauf left clearly stated that ASMA's aim is to advance Muslims (and Islamism) in America a a means of "improving the conditions for Muslims ..throughout the umma" using the Trojan horses of "political engagement,interfaith work,community service, journalism, and religious service".
The characteristics all the MLT's share in common, however, is their demonstrated commitment to the Muslim community, whether it's in the area of political engagement, interfaith work, social work, community service, religious service, academia, journalism, or a slew of other professions and interests... All the MLT's are bright, have innovative and useful ideas, and are committed to improving the conditions for Muslims not only in America but throughout the umma and within the community itself.
MIM : ASMA and the Cordoba Initiative's message is clear - a devout Muslim can be a Wall Street broker , CEO, and upwardly mobile professional while living according to shari'a and doing da'wa as is the duty of a ‘Muslim Leader of Tommorrow' under the guise of promoting "inclusivity"aka the the emergence of a modern day Khalifate by exposing non Muslims to Islam and using "integration" to bring Islamist practices and ideology into every facet of political, public, and religious life in the West.
The choice of the name Cordoba is fraught with Islamist symbolism. Muslim in domination in Spain is falsely depicted at the ultimate synthesis between Islamic and Western culture. Jihadists like Osama Bin Laden and Hamas had declared that Spain aka Al Andalus must be "revert" to Muslim rule. Abdul Rauf's message of brotherhood is that of the Muslim Brotherhood i.e. that each Muslim can do jihad through da'wa by projecting Islam in every aspect of their dealings with non Muslims.Note that according to the Imam each Muslim is "responsible to embody the exalted qualities of Islam" and to be instead of trying to be more in tune with Western culture and values, and it is the duty of non Muslims to understand and accomodate them while they promote Islamist interests and ideology as "intermediaries between America and the Muslim world".
Ultimately, each American Muslim is responsible for striving to embody the exalted qualities of Islam, as defined by right consciousness, intelligence and action. Personal responsibility and accountability, as well as broad-minded education, are fundamental components of Islam. In upholding this Islamic ideal, and living it in an American context, they will automatically be expressing the deep unity that exists between the Muslim world and the West. Further, American Muslims must now face the duty of being effective intermediaries between America and the Muslim world. http://www.asmasociety.org/perspectives/letter.html
MIM:Abdul Rauf also makes clear that the American Society for Muslim Advancement is pushing the Islamist advance aimed at America (back) into a Muslim Society. Muslims believe that everyone and everything was Muslim and needs to be "perfected" and brought back to their origins which is why converts are referred to as reverts. The extrapolation of this view means that American society has all the institutions in place which are esentially Islamic in origin and that the transformation in a United States of Allah will be brought about by mass conversions of Americans and the implementation of the Shari'a.
Rauf, a Manhattan imam whose mosque is only 12 blocks from the World Trade Center site, argues that what keeps the Islamic world and America apart, and what fuels Islamic terrorism, is economics, politics, Muslim defensiveness—everything but religion. In fact, Rauf believes that America best represents Islam's true values. http://www.asmasociety.org/education/library_feature.html
MIM: The MLT conference goal in the organisers own words.
D. Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow: The ASMA Society's Cordoba Initiative proposes to convene young Muslim leaders from the US and the broader Muslim world to expand its network of Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow (MLT). The mission of the MLT is to foster a unified, uniquely American voice of Islam capable of accelerating the development of a healthy Islamic identity that is both western and closely connected to Muslim communities worldwide. MLT will act as a platform and network of emerging young Muslim leaders who are committed to this mission and have the capacity to act as change agents. With funding from the National Center for Community and Justice, ASMA launched the MLT in December 2004, convening 100 emerging Muslim American leaders, ages of twenty-five to forty-five, for a retreat in New York. ASMA now seeks to expand this network by convening two meetings, in New York and Amman, of 100 Muslim American youth leaders and 100 Muslim youth leaders from other countries around the globe. These meetings will build the MLT's leadership skills in media relations, social justice advocacy, and education; while providing a forum for them to develop action plans around shared concerns and the improvement of Islamic-Western relations. This network would energize intra-Muslim dialogue while building the capacity of Muslim Americans to play a larger role as spokespeople and leaders in American society and in the global Muslim community. Approved by the C-100 (Davos 2005).http://www.weforum.org/en/initiatives/c100/Projects/index.htm
MIM:The 100 Group behind the Cordoba Initiative and the MLT is headed and funded by the Saudis. Their directors and members list reads like a Who's Who of radical Islamist and leftist Jews and Christians who are supporting Islamism under the guise of interfaith.. The core group Saudi director smembers are H.R.H. Princess Lolwah Al Faisal, Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees and General Supervisor, Effat College, Saudi Arabia,Khalid A. Alireza, Executive Director, Xenel Industries Limited, Saudi Arabia Muna Abu Sulayman, Executive Manager, Strategic Studies, Kingdom Holding Co., Saudi Arabia.H.R.H. Prince Turki Al Faisal, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the USA, Saudi Arabia,Abdullah O. Nasseef, President, World Muslim Congress, Saudi Arabia. Jihad B. Khazen, Director, Al Hayat Newspaper Ltd, UK.Heading the list of members is Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf -Imam of Masjid al -Farah. Founder and CEO, ASMA Society. (complete directors and members list below).
MIM:The ASMA website openly promotes da'wa and states that their aim is to promote Islamic awareness and return Muslims to Islamic practice i.e the "true principles of Islam" and help "non Muslims" to overcome negative perceptions of Islam.The claim that "non Muslims are "seeking" to understand Islam and the implication that all non -Muslims must "overcome" their alleged "negative perceptions of Islam" implies a spiritual quest. ASMA's jargon is no different that that of hardcore Islamist da'wa websites.
ASMA's participants and members are drawn from two large and specific groups of individuals:
Muslims seeking to improve their own understanding of Islam and to practice their faith in the company of individuals committed to understanding the true principles of Islam, free of cultural biases;
Non-Muslims seeking to understand Islam and to overcome negative perceptions of Islam. (See complete mission statement below)
The Cordoba initative declares it's mission to be da'wa in the deceptive guise of :
A multi-faith organization whose objective is to heal the relationship between the Islamic World and America. Working through civil dialogue, policy initiatives, education, and cultural programs, the Initiative focuses on Thought, Action and Outcomes. http://www.cordobainitiative.org/
MIM: The "Thought, Action and Outcomes" MO which ASMA and the Cordoba Initiative strive for are epitomised by one of the speakers at the ASMA/ MLT conference in the person of Dhabah aka Debbie Almontaser. Almontaser is a documented Islamist who told students that she "does not consider those behind the (9/11) attacks to be Arabs or Muslims". Almontaser is an MLT poster girl. She has managed to do taxpayer funded da'wa (Thought) in the New York public schools for more then a decade and has used political activities (Action) to undermine the government (see her speech at a rally calling Bush a "nightmare" and claiming that American foreign policy is to blame for 9/11). The Outcomes are the physical manifestation of institutions aimed at promoting Islamism such as the slated opening of the Khalil Gibran International Academy and Almontaser about whom Dr.Daniel Pipes wrote:
Arabs or Muslims, Ms. Almontaser says, are innocent of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001: "I don't recognize the people who committed the attacks as either Arabs or Muslims." Instead, she blames September 11 on Washington's foreign policies, saying they "can have been triggered by the way the USA breaks its promises with countries across the world, especially in the Middle East, and the fact that it has not been a fair mediator."
At a community meeting with the New York Police Department commissioner, she berated the NYPD for using "FBI tactics" when informants were used to prevent a subway bombing, thereby polarizing the Muslim community. For Ms. Almontaser, it appears, preventing terrorism counts less than soothing Muslim sensibilities.
She calls George W. Bush a "nightmare" who is "trying to destroy the United States."
Rewarding these views, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a foreign-funded front organization, in 2005 bestowed an honor on Ms. Almontaser for her "numerous contributions" to the protection of civil liberties.
Her intentions for the KGIA should raise alarms. An Associated Press report paraphrases her saying that "the school won't shy away from sensitive topics such as colonialism and the Israeli-Palestinian crisis," and she notes that the school will "incorporate the Arabic language and Islamic culture." Islamic culture? Not what was advertised — but imbuing pan-Arabism and anti-Zionism, proselytizing for Islam, and promoting Islamist sympathies will predictably make up the school's true curriculum. www.danielpipes.org
MIM: "Muslim Leadership" as the new euphemism for da'wa signals an alarming trend whereby hardcore Islamists join forces with self proclaimed "moderates" and openly declare that their common goal is to promote Islam in the West and unite the Umma. ASMA's own mission statement is a template for this "radical moderate Islamist" agenda and bears striking similiarities to that of the Young Muslims branch of the Muslim American society (YM-MAS).
The ASMA Society, a not-for-profit 501(c) 3 founded in 1997 in New York City, is an Islamic cultural and educational organization dedicated to fostering an American-Muslim identity and building bridges between American Muslims and the American public.
ASMA's philosophical objective is to strengthen a culturally American expression of Islam based on tolerance and on cultural and religious harmony and to foster an environment in which Muslims can thrive within a pluralistic society without compromising their essential values and beliefs.
AN INCLUSIVE APPROACH
ASMA's participants and members are drawn from two large and specific groups of individuals:
Muslims seeking to improve their own understanding of Islam and to practice their faith in the company of individuals committed to understanding the true principles of Islam, free of cultural biases;
Non-Muslims seeking to understand Islam and to overcome negative perceptions of Islam.
ASMA intends to meet six key objectives over the next five years:
IDENTITY: To forge an American Muslim identity that combines the best aspects of being both American and Muslim.
EMPOWERMENT OF YOUTH LEADERS: To empower young American Muslims to become spokespeople for a tolerant, harmonious, authentic Islam by encouraging them to identify with the essentials of the Islamic faith that cut across cultural boundaries.
BUILDING BRIDGES: To aid non-Muslims overcome biases and negative perceptions by dismantling the common stereotypes and myths surrounding Muslims and Islam. Conversely, to work toward dismantling myths regarding Americans held in parts of the Muslim world.
CULTURAL EXPRESSION: To explore and celebrate the role that various expressions of Islamic art have played in contributing to world civilizations and to promote contemporary Muslim artists and their inclusion into the artistic fabric of America.
INTERFAITH: Encouraging spiritual evolution in Muslim and non-Muslim Americans by engaging with other contemplative traditions that penetrate beyond different languages, practices and faiths to the common substrate of the religious experience.
INTRAFAITH: To amplify Islamic arguments demonstrating that Islamic texts, theology and law support the principles of separation of powers, justice, women's rights, and freedom of religious practice.
ASMA manifests its mission and objectives objective through outreach lectures, inreach study groups, spiritual education, cultural and art programs, coalition building and interfaith dialogue.
MIM: Last year ASMA held a conference in Denmark, and speakers included radical Islamists Dhabah Almontaser (the principal designate of the Khalil Gibran Islamic Academy ), professional 'itjihadist' and moderate for hire Irshad Manji and Feisal Abdul Rauf, "Founder and CEO of (ASMA Society) and the Imam of Masjid Al –Farah a mosque in New York City twelve blocks from Ground Zero". His wife Daisy Khan shares in his da'wa efforts and is the :
"Executive Director of ASMA Society "…and "mentors young Muslims on the challenges of cultural assimilitation and reconciling Western and Muslim identity." and directs both the " Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow " program and the "Muslim Women Leaders Forum".
MIM:Faux moderates like "Muslim Leader of Today" Irshad Manji who promotes a warm fuzzy version of Islam called Ijtihad (a term also used by Islamists like Muqtedar Khan) also attended. Manji is on the ASMA Institutes list of Muslim Leaders of Tommorrow. The appearence of Manji who is regarded as a poster girl for a "kinder gentler Islam" is not surprising. For Islamists any way of exposing non Muslims to Islam is useful for da'wa. Manji's presence and constant talk about religion helps ASMA to bolster the facade that the Islam they are promoting is open minded and all inclusive lulls non Muslims into thinking that there is a benign "Islamism".
Manji's own website belies her moderation- she includes a picture of her with faux moderate and Arafat lackey Sari Nusseibeh (who praised the mother of a suicide bomber when he appeared with her and Hamas leader Khalid Maschal in his recent book he not only boasts of fundraising and inciting violence during the intifada but expresses pride that his son also took part in anti Israel activities). See Sari Nusseibeh's Militant Moderation"http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/25
Manji used to have a banner quote on her website about "intellectual honesty" from Edward Said - a vile anti semite who was photographed hurling stones at IDF troops and was proven to fabricated claims about his family background and ties to Jerusalem. She has since changed the Said quote to one by Rumi "The love poet" perhaps out of concern that many of her Jewish supporters would take umbrage -although her refusal to share a stage with IDF members at a Jewish event she was paid to speak at did not appear to damage her popularity as Muslimah Messiah as attested to by her present gig at Yale University.
Apparently those who hired her to teach at Yale didnt read her book, which was charitably described as "incoherent and vague". Manji, who is regarded with reverential status aka affirmative dhimmitude by her non Muslim acolytes hit back at this challenge to her deification and referred to Jihad Watch where the review was placed, as a "right wing website".
After a trip to Israel financed by the Jewish Federation in Canada Manji ( who claims she is living in constant fear of her life) was photographed in front of a Hezbollah outpost within shooting distance of a tower housing an armed guard on the Lebanese border, interviewed a Hamas operative, and insisted that she would only accept the trip on her terms i.e.that she would be able to meet with whomever she chose on the "Palestinian" side.
After deigning to accept the free trip she repaid her Jewish supporters by writing a piece in which she lambasted Sharon, referred to settlers as criminals, and equated their actions with terrorism referring to "extremism on both sides".
The first is a military occupation by the Israel Defense Forces, and the distress that it's inflicting can't be denied. Neither can the resentment fueled by Israel's security barrier, a combination of fences and walls that turns some Arab villages into holding pens.
I'm not implying that Israeli government policies are blameless. Far from it. For example, the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon refuses to arrest the criminals who set up illegal outposts in the West Bank. Such willful negligence will only feed extremism on both sides.
Ariel Sharon never adequately acknowledged the humiliation felt by a 60-year-old Arab whose family hasharvested the Holy Landfor generations when she has to show her identity card to an18-year-old Ethiopian immigrant in an Israeli Army uniform who's been in the country for eight months. In that context, fences and walls come off as cruelly gratuitous..."
MIM: Manji's kumbaya "final solution" envisions neither wall nor soldiers in Abu Dis.What she fails to add is that her utopian vision would mean that Abu Dis and all of Israel would be Judenrein.
"...Qassam missiles can killtwo or three people at a time. Suicide bombers lay waste to many more. Since the barrier went up, suicide attacks haveplunged, which means innocentArab lives have been spared along with Jewish ones...."
Like all Muslims, I look forward to the day when neither the jeep nor the wall is in Abu Dis. So will we tell theself-appointed martyrs of Islam that the people - not justArabs, but Arabs and Jews - "are one"? .."
MIM: According to Manji terrorism is simply the result of "misunderstandings" of Islam by people like Osama Bin Laden because " many Islamic leaders mistakenly enforce a more narrow-minded and literal interpretation of the Qur'an than in generations past." She is also an apologist for Muslim support of extremism and can't figure out whether to attribute it to "ignorance" or "elitism". (see below)
"She believes that many moderate Muslims have been silent in the face of terrorist acts committed by Islamic extremists because they have never been taught how to debate or dissent from what they are taught". As terrorism apologist she fails to account for the fact many Western born and university educated Muslims did learn to debate and dissent and use their universities to propagate radical Islamism.
MIM: More proof of Manji's faux moderation is her praise of Ingid Mattson, a convert who is now the head of the Islamic Society of North America, a Saudi backed group whose aim is to turn America into an Islamic society and is one of the largest da'wa organisations in North America. Manji praises Mattson for promoting ijthad the warm and fuzzy version of Islam which aims to give non Muslims the impression that Islam is open minded, compatible with democracy and forward looking making it more attactive to converts -when in reality the people who pay it lip service are hard core Islamists like Mattson.
But other scholars suggest that such elitism only cements a submissiveness that afflicts the contemporary Muslim mind -- an affliction that stops moderate Muslims from speaking up as extremists take over. According to Ingrid Mattson, professor of Islam at the Hartford Seminary, "because of our very narrow vision, our legalistic vision and our authoritarian models of decision making, we are excluding those people who can offer us a different vision of the future." Mattson, a devout Muslim, goes as far as to encourage ijtihad among comics, poets and musicians. Hers is a refreshing message: Before we can know who is worth listening to, we must let a spectrum of Muslims find their voices. Let me use my voice to proclaim: I agree.
MIM:Once again Manji makes a disingenuous and lame excuse for Muslims not speaking up against extremism and depicts it as "a submissiveness that afflicts the contemporary Muslim mind". The truth is that many Muslims who are portrayed as "moderates" (non lethal) are on the same ideological page as the Islamists only instead of jihad they promote 'itjihad' (a tradition of questioning which fits into the democratic tradition) adheres to shari'a and Islamic teachings and is simply Islamism with modern facade.
Ingrid Mattson is a case a point. As the first female convert head of one of the largest Muslim organisations in America Mattson's appointment as a woman and convert was deliberately calculated to put a modern and non threatening face to the Saudi backed da'wa goals of the organisation. By using her the poster girl of the Western educated female convert they are sending the message - you can be female, revert, and become influential in the Muslim movement. (Besides the obvious fact that an english speaking, North American born convert to Islam attacts more converts, Mattson is a poster girl for useful idioacy and was"groomed" by the former ISNA head Abdullah Idris, to take over the organisation in the hopes that her tokenism would garner more funding from wealthy Muslim women.)
Ingrid Mattson has served her organization well and it appears she has been groomed for leadership by two very powerful allies in the ISNA hierarchy, Abdallah Idris and Nur Abdallah, former presidents and pals from their activist days growing up in the Sudan. It was Abdallah Idris who brought Mattson into the loving embrace of ISNA in the late 1980's and it was he who could not stop himself from exploiting her gender to tug at the purse strings of generous women in order to meet ISNA's ever ambitious fund-raising targets. If Muslims in the West are ever going to shake the ghosts of 9/11 they need to have leaders who are indigenous to the West, whether they are brown, white or black.
MIM: Manji quotes Mattson who claims that the only way Muslims can "find their voices" is by giving a platform to everyone to "see who is worth listening to" apparently Manji has found that Mattson's is worth heeding, which is not surprising since the president of ISNA is also a faux moderate and another poster child of ASMA's vision of what Muslim Leaders of Today should be and that the views they espouse are radical.
Though Dr. Ingrid Mattson appears moderate, she is insidious precisely because she maintains that façade while steadfastly refusing to criticize radical Islamists, claiming that there is no such thing as Wahhabism and that the term "Islamic terrorism" should not be used in the media. Most shocking of all, though, is how little concern she expressed about suicide bombings in an essay she wrote shortly after 9/11.
At a CNN-sponsored "town hall" forum in October 2001, Mattson — with a straight face — claimed that the radical, Saudi-sponsored form of Islam known as Wahhabism was akin to the Protestant movement in Christianity. Wahhabism "really was analogous to the European protestant reformation," she explained.
The reason Mattson is able to pass herself off as a moderate is probably because she clears the low bar set for most Muslims: the ability to explicitly condemn suicide bombings. But she hasn't done so for very long. In a remarkably revealing essay Mattson penned for Beliefnet.com in October 2001, she wrote that, until then, Palestinian suicide bombings "simply did not cross my mind as a priority among the many issues I felt needed to be addressed." She stated it as matter-of-factly and inconsequentially as someone who apologizes for forgetting to pick up the dry cleaning because it "simply did not cross my mind as a priority." http://www.jewishworldreview.com/0304/mowbray_2004_03_26.php3?printer_friendly
Manji boasts the Ingrid Mattson shares her view of Ijtihad (but doesnt have much to say about suicide jihad) and in doing so epitomises the ASMA "good cop bad cop" strategy i.e.recognising the PR value of condemning violence using the extremists as a means of projecting themselves as the "moderate" alternative (and gaining access to funding and non Muslim groups) when in fact they are engaging in legal Islamism to promote the same agenda. In this case Manji praise Mattson's encouragement of itjihad but neglects to add that Mattson has failed to condemn suicide bombings and sees Wahhabism as the equivalent of the Protestant Reformation.
[Professional "moderate Muslims" and Itjihadists don't come cheap. Manji commands between $10,000 and $15,000 for an appearence and her her speakers buro website cautions that in some cases a $25,000 speakers fee would be warranted.http://www.speaking.com/speakers/irshadmanji.html
One can't help but wonder if the Saudis who backed the Cordoba Initiative/Muslim Leaders of Tommorrow Conference in Copenhagen where she spoke received a special discount.
MIM: At 2004 talk the United Jewish Council in Toledo, Manji refused to share a podium with the IDF. In a stunning display of "affirmative dhimmitude" the Jewish organisers apologised for offending Manji's sensibilities and removed the soldiers from her presence. According to an account of the event:
... She caused a stir by refusing to share the forum with members of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) who had also been invited, without Ms. Manji's knowledge, to help raise funds for the United Jewish Council. To her a joint appearance with IDF would give the impression that she endorses the policies of the state of Israel or its armed forces which she does not. To their credit the organizers apologized for the oversight and moved IDF presentation to another part of the Temple after the program.http://www.pakistanlink.com/sah/11262004
MIM:In response to a question by a reader on her website regarding Israel Manji quoted documented liar Edward Said on "intellectual honesty" and designated as "racist and right wing" the agendas of anyone who might cite accounts of human rights abuses to criticise the PA.
When I was in Gaza over the summer, I met a Palestinian human rights advocate who spends much of his time exposing the human rights violations that the PA itself inflicts. I asked him, 'How do you respond to those who say that your criticisms will be used by people with racist, right-wing agendas?' He responded: 'Stop the human rights violations, and those people will have nothing to exploit.' Khaleel, I think he's got it right. He's putting the burden of change on those who would seek to excuse human rights abuses rather than expose them. That's my stance too. As the late Edward Said pointed out, 'The intellectual's role is to speak as plainly, honestly and directly as possible. No intellectual is supposed to worry that what is said embarrasses, pleases or displeases the people in power.' Feel free to let me know if you think I've got it wrong . http://www.muslim-refusenik.com/lettersarchive5.html
MIM: During the recent war with Lebanon Manji posted a picture of an Lebanese flag dripping with blood and wrote :
"...As I explained in my earlier message, I stand with those who are victimized by all the sides, including criminal elements in the Israeli Defense Forces..."
MIM: Fjordman explains exactly why Manji's "moderation" and "ijthad"is so dangerous although he is too charitable in crediting her with being well intentioned, despite directing her venom at Jihad Watch which she derided as a "right wing" website.
Manji's contribution... may thus end up being negative because she will make others share her unfounded illusions about a liberal Islam at a time when we need to deal with and shed dangerous, Multicultural illusions.
Ijtihad isn't magic. The dozens of explicit Jihad verses in the Koran won't all magically disappear. As long as they exist, somebody is bound to take them seriously. And since any "reformed" Islam must ultimately be rooted in Islamic teachings and texts, this probably means that Islam cannot be reformed.
Although she never says so explicitly in her book, I get the impression that Manji largely agrees with the mantra that "Islam is whatever Muslims make of it." I don't share this view. Why do those who behead Buddhist teachers in Thailand, burn churches in Nigeria, persecute Hindus in Pakistan or blow bombs in the London subway always "misunderstand" Islamic texts? Why don't they feel this urge to kill people after reading about, say, Winnie the Pooh?
MIM: One commentator on the Gates of Vienna blog explained "the trouble with Islam" this way:
The interesting thing about Irshad Manji is when she is pressed as to why she does not leave Islam, considering all she knows of Islam, replies in an apologetic and devious way, that there are many good things in Islam and she hopes for a more peaceful interpretation of the Koran or a Reformation. On both counts, she must know that this is not possible. As long as she continues to define herself as a Muslim, ipso facto, she believes that Mohammed is the messenger of Allah and is the role model for mankind. How on earth anyone can honestly regard Mohammed as a role model for mankind beats me.
To me there is a lurking suspicion that this is all part of the war. Deception and disinformation have always been part of a major war, and Manji and others such Schwartz, are practising it - each for their own reasons. Charitably, I would say it is for fame. However, in a war we must also consider the not-so charitable interpretation.
As confessed Muslims, they realise that the Muslim project in the West is at a dangerous pass. No evidence of a significant body of Moderate Muslims, and the Infidels will begin to come to conclusions that endanger the ummah in the West. So the Ummah and the PC crowd need each other for their own particular projects. Given the exponential growth of the Ummah in the West, all it requires is for Manji, Schwartz and a few others, to lull the West for another 30 years or so. By then it will be too late, according to their way of thinking, for the West to do anything about it.
MIM: Manji was asked to comment about a recent poll showing that 26% of Muslims in the United States supported suicide bombings and deliberately downplayed the significance of the statistics true to the Islamist template.She brazenly twisted the question and berated FOX News for presenting this fact as alarming and that the good news was that were 74% who didnt claim to support them.
JOHN KASICH, GUEST HOST: A new poll of American Muslims is really raising some eyebrows. Here are some of the most interesting findings. One in four of those younger than 30 say that suicide bombings are sometimes acceptable to defend their religion. Only 40 percent believe Arab men were behind the 9/11 attacks. And more than half say it's harder being a Muslim in America since 9/11.
IRSHAD MANJI, MUSLIM AUTHOR: Well John, first of all, in the spirit of no spin, let me say that I'm disappointed with FOX News. A patriotic channel like this ought to be emphasizing all of the good news that's coming out of this report. And there's plenty of it, showing that the condition of American Muslims is so much better than that of Muslims in Europe. And that's the pat on the back for the United States. So let's not lose focus of that bigger context. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,275195,00.html
MIM: Besides Irshad Manji ASMA's list of Muslim Leaders of Today also includes:
* Abu Essa, the first name on ASMA's list of Muslim Leaders of Today appears to enjoy a "joke". On his blog he cites a report from Europol "The Islamist Threat to Europe by the Numbers" and comments "This document is long (well, 40-odd pages), but worth reading solely for the joke content." http://alternativeentertainment.wordpress.com/
*Muhammad Al Shareef the director of Al Maghrib Institute,is a Canadian born Islamist. In an essay titled "Why the Jews were cursed" the scholarly 'Muslim Leader of Today' worries that a large section of the Ummah is "being subconciously molded by what Seinfeld tells them at 8pm every evening" and sees it as his sacred duty to explain why the Jews are cursed in answer to their naive question "But Seinfeld is funny -What did he do?"
Adiyy ibn Hatim asked Rasul Allah - sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam - who it was that evoked Allah's anger? He said, "It was the Jews." - Tafseer Ibn Katheer When I was in high school, studying in journalism class, our teacher had placed on the wall a statement that I spent many days contemplating. It simply said, "Freedom of the press (speech) belongs to those that own the press!" Who owns the press? Well, you can believe me when I say that it is not the god fearing beloved of Allah.
It is this same press that molds and programs the aqeedah of a huge section of our Ummah. Many of our brothers andsisters are illiterate to the words of Allah and the guidance of Rasul Allah - sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, so it is with little doubt that their ideas are subconsciously molded by what Seifeld tells them at 8 pm every Wednesday evening. It is this same brother or sister that asks the question, "I don't understand why the Jews were cursed. Seinfeld is funny. What did he do?"
*Eboo Patel is another "Muslim Leader of Today" who plays both sides and runs a da'wa front called Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith is one of the most favored islamist tactics and is sugar coated da'wa which lures non Muslims with a "more in common then we think -feel good" dynamic which brings them into contact with Islam. Since conversion out of Islam is considered apostasy interfaith with Muslims is never a two way street.
Among the board members of Eboo Patel's IYC aka Islamisation of Youth Campaign is Kareem Irfan the head of the Islamic Council of Greater Chicago. In 2004 Irfan justified beheadings by Muslims saying they were an expression of a "primordial sense of retaliation and revenge". http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/177
*Mas'ud Ahmed Khan runs the website masud.co.uk a radical Islamist website which boasts that it is "One of the Web's Leading and Original Resources for Traditional Islam since 1996".Khan showcases the articles of Islamists like Abdullah Bin Hamid Ali who is the prison chaplain of the State Correctional facility in Chester,Pennsylvania. Ali recently lectured on Jihad at the University of Pennsylvania and justifies the murder of apostates.
*Anas Osman is the Treasurer of the Board of Directors of the Nawawi Foundation which is headed by Umar F. Abd-Allah a convert to Islam. The Nawawi Foundation does da'wa and aims to "disseminate knowledge of Islam and it's civilisation and provide Islamic guidance for Muslims in America to present relevant and time honored paradigms that empower the Muslim pyschology..."
*Ani Zonneveld's website proclaims that she is "singing for the soul of Islam". On her website she announces an award by a pseudo moderate group which se co founded called "Muslims for Progressive Values" "The Malcolm X Award for Excellence in Islamic Sermons". The absurdity of her "progressive claim" while extolling a Black Muslim leader who urged his followers to kill white people and referred to them as "blue eyed devils" is followed by an even more ludicrous claim i.e. that the award is intended to counter "imams...who have been preaching vitriolic intolerance". It appears that in "Ani's" parallel Islamist universe an Imam who urges the killing of non Muslims and apostates is to be condemned while a Black Muslim who calls for the killing of whites is an "iconic leader". According to Zonneveld "Malcolm X is one of the best known and best loved of American Muslims"..."We hope that this competition the first of it's kind to honor this iconic leader will encourage other American Muslims to follow in his footsteps".
*Azhar Uzman the head of "Allah Made Me Funny" an Islamist "activist" who jokes about blowing himself up in a Dunkin Donuts" and hijacking airplanes. Not surprisingly is a favorite on the radical Islamist convention circuit.
*Mona Eltahawy is a journalist on the board of the Progressive Muslim Union (Progressive has become the new euphemism for Western Islamist). In a statement about the killings and desecrations of 4 American contractors in Fallujah the PMU concluded that it was permissable to mutilate the bodies because "they were already dead" and that "America targetted the city (Fallujah) because of it's supposed character as a stronghold for insurgents"..."it is clear that Fallujah has become the main target of American rage". http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/331
Eltahawy helped write the PMU manifesto. Dr. Daniel Pipes exposed the group as stealth Islamists.Below the heading of the PMU manifestro and some of their radical Islamist positions which includes bashing Dr.Pipes who called the leadership of the PMU "well known extremists"
Excerpts from the announcement about the launching of the PMU are below:
Progressive Muslim Union launched in New York by Sarah Eltantawi, Hussein Ibish, Ahmed Naseef and Omid Safi 2004
"PMU will defend the Muslim community from the calumnies of those who seek to insult and degrade Islam and/or the Muslim community, in particular the relentless campaign of defamation from some evangelical preachers, like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, or from supporters of the extreme right in Israel, like Daniel Pipes.... PMU will also strongly oppose neoconservative and other extremist voices in our own country that urge the United States to act as an imperial predator". http://www.archives2004.ghazali.net/html/progressive_muslims_union.html
* Muslim Youth: The trendy brightly colored design of the website belies it's jihadist message. In a column under the heading Guidance " Relations-Muslim Umma-Interfaith' titled "What is the future of relations between Jews and Muslims in the 21st Century? What do Muslims think when they read the word "Jew?" Palestine..Israel...Zionist?" we read this hate filled Koranic verse which gives a more realistic picture of the what kind of "bridgebuilding" which ASMA is really promoting.
What Israel's creation meant however, was the systematic persecution of the indigenous Palestinian population. And it is this which pulls the strings of our hearts - images are conjured up of young Palestinian boys throwing stones at Israeli soldiers... And so Jews have became the ‘aggressor' and therefore an ‘enemy' to Muslims, losing their centuries of equal status and respect amongst Muslim communities.
The Israel-Palestine conflict has been a seed for conflicts all over the globe. What many young Muslims seem to perceive is that all Jews are Israeli or support the state of Israel; this stereotype is to stoop to the level of believing that all Muslims carry bombs in their backpacks!
The Quran states that we should be cautious in our relationships with non-believers and shouldn't prefer them as close friends or allies over believers, because in doing so we endanger our relationship with Allah, "O ye who believe! Take not for friends' unbelievers rather than believers: Do ye wish to offer Allah an open proof against yourselves?" (4:144). But Allah also tells us that there are Jews who will attain salvation, "But those among them (Jews) who are well-grounded in knowledge, and the believers, believe in what hath been revealed to thee and what was revealed before thee: And those who are steadfast in prayer and practise regular charity and believe in Allah and in the Last Day: To them shall We soon give a great reward" (4:162). However, the Quran warns us that Muslims will find great opposition in dealings with Jews, "You will find Jews and pagans among the worst of the enemies of the believers" (5:81). http://www.muslimyouth.net/guidance.php?a_id=584&id_fk=4&id_fkis=87&id_fkt=230
*Reza Aslan is the the poster boy for the Muslim Leader of Today and Tommorrow a hip Islamist who will be the keynote speaker at the CAIR banquet in New York City. The website "What Would Charles Martel Do? gives a brillant analysis of why young trendy Muslims like Aslan are so disarmingly dangerous and in doing so provides an insight in to ASMA's strategy. Excerpt from "American Islam's hip new face -Reza Aslan:
Despite the slick job of promoting that he and his representatives are doing, Mr. Aslan comes with a caveat. He is going to make the fool of anyone who fears Islamic encroachment in the West, let alone terrorism. He is going to demand respect for his Faith. Open dialogue though it may seem, be prepared for the most regularly cited examples of "Christian atrocities", or simply less than shining moments in Western history. I have yet to hear his take on Israel. But as far as mockery of more Fundamentalist sects of Christianity, as well as any reverence of Western Civilization, Aslan's part of the crowd that sets everything up so as to make themselves all come out as the hip kids and their opponents end up playing the frustrated fool.
In a step much lower that this, however, the other growing tactic that Aslan plays right into the cast of, is this business of turning those who continue to point out the giant elephant of Islamic terrorism and violence in the room as delusional alarmists.
Exemplary and rational seeming new faces such as Reza Aslan along with his essays and television appearances are ready-made to step into this scheme, helping to slowly change perceptions in our world. Helping to marginalize those willing to study and catalogue the growing unrest to outright violence with which Islam and Muslims are increasingly existing in our world. Keep your eyes open, people. Keep them open, and keep them looking for stylish new faces, like that of Reza Aslan. http://whatwouldcharlesmarteldotm.blogspot.com/2007/02/american-islams-hip-new-face-reza-aslan.html
Tahir Anwar: The Imam of the South Bay Islamic Association born in the UK to a family of Imams went to India to study and memorised the Koran. He does da'wa while lamenting that "people of other faiths ...are so unaware of what Islam is".and says he "gives the book called "What Everyone Should Know About Islam" to anyone when I get a chance".
"[I have] many opportunities to talk with people of other faiths; most of them are so unaware of what Islam is," said Imam Tahir. "They are shocked to hear what it truly is. Many of them are very open to the Islamic traditions and respect you for it. I always carry a book called What Everyone should know about Islam and Muslims by Suzanne Hanif, and give this to anyone whenever I get a chance."www.asianweek.com/.../feature_profiles.html
*Islamoyankee is website which oozes trendy Islamism and entitlement. The theme is "Narcislamist" i.e. either about Muslims, issues affecting Muslims, or how Muslims are pushing to be accomodated by non Muslims and basically being "in your face" with Islam so that it is in the "forefront" of the public debate.
We are here to comment upon the culture and society, which affects Muslims, and that are affected by Muslims.
There are more and more websites that wish to discuss the nature of the modern Islamic world, and the state of Muslims today - we link to some of them. We support this, it shows that public debate is coming back to the forefront. http://www.islamicate.com/about.html
MIM: The concept of Muslim leadership as the new da'wa us becoming more evident as Islamists join with "faux moderates" openly declare that their goals are to promote a Islam in the West and unite the Umma. The Islamist intent can be seen by this poem for Mohammed's Birthday which appears on the ASMA weblog next to the above listing of 'Muslim Leaders of Today' which proclaims "Muhammad as our role model". The poem is a clear reference to armed jihad and the submission of the Jews to Islam.
"I would be ashamed at the frown of Muhammad! The Sword of pure Haydar, the mighty Qu'ran are cornerstones of the strong faith of Muhammed.for he stood as master with Dhu'l -fiqar in every fight to the right of Muhammad. Since Ali's sword helped the mighty Qu'ran,Ali was the helper,no doubt for Muhammed. As Aaron to Moses so was Ali in rank. A partner in faith and close to Mohammed. On Doomsday both Moses and Aaron will kiss the mantel of Ali, the hem of Muhammad" ( Complete poem below)
MIM: In a recent article by Dutch Islam specialist Hans Jansen he explained that:
"Moderate Muslims too, strive after an Islamic society in the Netherlands" They intentionally make use of radicals to enforce their wishes". According to Janssen "Dutch politicians and media are downplaying excesses of of multilcultural society and thereby increasing these , in the view of Islam expert Hans Jansen. The Netherlands should resist using non –peaceful means" http://www.nisnews.nl/public/240307_2.htm
This ominous assessment highlights the ultimate aim of the ASMA society. To project a moderate, Westernised version of Islam which in reality puts an Islamist stamp on event the most seemingly innocuous and quintenssentially American or Western activities and uses legal Islamism to advance their agenda which leaves the West defenseless and a victim of it's own legal system where protected freedoms are used to attack the host culture from within.
As Dr.Daniel Pipes wrote in "How the West Could Lose"
Should Islamists get smart and avoid mass destruction, but instead stick to the lawful, political, non-violent route, and should their movement remain vital, it is difficult to see what will stop them.
MIM:Faisal Abdul Rauf the head of ASMA and the Cordoba Initiative plays a one man version of good cop –bad cop
Promoting Islamism under the guise of Islamic pluralism he believes that "jihad warfare was started by the West" and that instead of being the perpetrators of 9/11 it is Muslims who are the perpetual victims.
MIM: In an interview Abdul Rauf played a game of good cop-bad cop by explaining that jihad means to striving while also justifying the need for Muslims to wage jihad because Islam is "under attack".
CIU: What is the definition of "jihad" and is the concept of "jihad" a source of debate in the Muslim world?
Imam Rauf: The word "jihad" means "to strive." The word has been used in classical theology to mean the effort that a Muslim individual wages within himself to be as much as possible like the Prophet, to be a perfected human being, and the struggle that is waged at the community level to establish a society that reflects the values that the Prophet established in Medina during his lifetime. That effort is to create the city of God, or the Biblical city on the hill.
CIU: So the interpretation that "jihad" is a war of conquest is ultimately a misunderstanding?
Imam Rauf: One aspect of "jihad" of course is to protect the community from attacks upon itself and this naturally has been interpreted to mean a just war, usually in defense because in the very beginning the Muslim world was always on the defense. However, the application of the term "jihad" for an offensive war has been very rarely used, if ever, by Muslim jurists and scholars unless they were being forced by the political powers of the time.
However, in the current age there is a debate because the Muslim world feels very much under siege. There has been a sense among the average Muslim in the Arab world that they are, by in large, under siege. And this has led to a very modern interpretation of "jihad" that has taken the idea of "struggle" to mean a revolutionary struggle against those who are attacking the world of Islam. http://www.faithindialogue.org/update/story.cfm?chnl=20&storyid=69
According to postings on Jihad Watch:
Rauf is imam of a mosque that is just 12 blocks from where the WTC center stood. He is also the imam of the Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury, 835 Brush Hollow Road. Larry Cohler-Esses of the Daily News wrote about anti-Christian, anti-Jewish textbooks coming out of the Crescent School, same address as mosque. When pressed about the hateful content of the textbooks, "What Islam is All About", Rauf said the books should be changed. They haven't been to date. Yahiya Emerick is the publisher of the books and a teacher at the school. Ghazi Khankan of CAIR is also at this mosque, along with Faroque Khan, head of NY American Muslim Alliance and affiliated with Islamic Society of North America. This is the same mosque Congressman Peter King had cut ties with after 9/11 due to disparaging statements they made about all of us. http://www.jihadwatch.org/dhimmiwatch/archives/001246.php
MIM:Abdul Rauf,who espouses the same ideology as the hijackers, was the Muslim cleric who spoke at the interfaith memorial for victims of the attacks which he blames on the West. He also heads the American Sufi Association as a front to draw attention from his radical Islamist activities. Many Islamist clerics in the West are using Sufism (which is considered a warm fuzzy interpretation of Islam) to hide their radical agendas. Like Rauf, they alternate between propagating the destruction of the West while presenting themselves as "peacemakers" who convince non Muslims that Islam is actually the "perfection" Judaism and Christianity i.e. becoming a convert is actually "reverting" to the "perfect version" of of one's former religion.
Robert Spencer of writes that according to Abdul Rauf:
"American policies were an accessory to the crime that happened".and "Sept. 11 was not the result of a crisis within Islam" but because of "the humiliation which the Muslim world has experienced over the last century"
Faisel Abdul Rauf is the "Muslim Leaders of Tommorrow"/Cordoba Initiative" of which he is the architect is a Saudi funded da'wa enterprise being backed by the World Economic Forum/Islamic Dialouge project whose backers include radical Islamists including Faisal Al Turki and non Muslim left wing liberal terror apologists like "rabbi" David Rosen and Dutch reform "rabbi" Avraham Soetendorp. Muzzamil Siddiqui and several Saudi clerics are on the list as is professor John Esposito the director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim -Christian Understanding.
MIM:The funders for the MLT conference include the Saudi backed World Economic Forum
MIM: Imam Feisal is also the architect of the Cordoba Initiative, an inter-religious blueprint for improving relations between the Muslim world and West & America. The Cordoba Initiative takes the same position of Osama bin Laden and Hamas by depicting the Muslim sojourn in Spain as the heyday of the Islamic culture in Europe and calling for the "return" of Al Andalus to Muslim rule as part of the establishment of the Khalifat. Many "moderate" Muslims distort the history of the period to present the Muslim occupation of Spain as quasi utopian.
The Cordoba Name For hundreds of years during the middle ages, Cordoba was the capital of Muslim Spain. During much of its "golden age" from the 8th to 12th centuries, the Cordoba Caliphate witnessed a great flowering of culture, art, and philosophical inquiry amid a remarkable climate of religious tolerance. Religious freedom, while not perfect, was sufficient that many Jewish and Christian intellectuals emigrated to Cordoba, where they lived, wrote and flourished side by side with their Muslim counterparts in a strikingly pluralistic society. The Cordoba name reminds both Muslims and non- Muslims that a great Islamic civilization was once the most open and tolerant of its era.http://www.cordobainitiative.org/index.html
Imam Feisal is a member of the World Economic Forum Council of 100 Leaders (Islamic West dialogue) and the Board of Trustees of the Islamic Center of New York.
Imam Feisal Abdul-Rauf Is the Founder and Chairman of The Cordoba Initiative, a multi-faith organization whose objective is to heal the relationship between the Muslim World and the West. He is also the Founder of ASMA Society, the Imam of Masjid Al-Farah, a mosque in New York City, and a Trustee at the Islamic Cultural Center of New York. He is an active member of the World Economic ForumÕs C-100, which works to promote understanding and dialogue between the Western and Islamic worlds. He was recently awarded the Peacebuilders Award by the Alliance for International Conflict Prevention and Resolution for his work in bridging the gap between the Abrahamic faith traditions. Imam Feisal frequently interviews with various media and has previously appeared on CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS and BBC among others. His published writings include the books Islam: A Search for Meaning, and Islam: A Sacred Law. His latest book, WhatÕs Right With Islam: A New Vision for Muslims and the West, ranked among The Christian Science MonitorÕs top four Nonfiction books of 2004. http://www.asmasociety.org/mlt2006/organizers.html
Daisy Khan is the Executive Director of ASMA Society (American Society for Muslim Advancement), a non-profit religious and educational organization dedicated to building bridges between the American public and American Muslims through culture, arts, academia and current affairs. As wife of Imam Feisal, Ms. Khan mentors young Muslims on the challenges of cultural assimilation and reconciling Muslim and Western identity. She has previously created unprecedented interfaith programs such as The C—rdoba Bread Fest and a groundbreaking theatrical production on 9/11 titled Same Difference. Currently, she is directing two cutting edge intrafaith programs: Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow which seeks to empower emerging Muslim leaders in North America and Europe; Muslim Women LeadersÕ Forum, an annual international forum where Muslim women convene to develop new strategies for the advancement of their rights. Ms. Khan frequently lectures and serves on panels, and has been featured in PBSÕs documentary Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet, National GeographicÕs documentary Inside Mecca, and a Hallmark Channel program titled Listening to Islam. Ms. Khan has been quoted by print publications including Time Magazine, Newsweek, and Newsday. Born in Kashmir, India and educated in the US, Ms. Khan acquired a BFA degree in Interior Architecture and was until recently the Director of Project Management at a Fortune 500 company when she decided to dedicate herself full time to ASMA Society. http://www.asmasociety.org/mlt2006/organizers.html
The American Society for Muslim Advancement is deeply indebted to the following individuals, for their efforts in helping compile this report:
Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow Conference
Copenhagen – July, 2006
In the midst of increasing global turmoil, the Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow (MLT) program is developing a pervasive network of young Muslims who embody a pluralistic Islam that is focused on the promotion of peace. By precipitating an electrifying forum and thereby challenging the minds of its riveted participants, the program took a substantial step toward the empowerment of a new generation of international Muslim leaders who are becoming change agents in their communities.
On the one year anniversary of the July 7 London bombings, 120 Muslim leaders, scholars, authors, and artists—from 17 Western countries, all under age 45, and moreover representing a broad spectrum of views on religion, politics and ideology—convened under theme of Muslim Integration in the West. Tolerance and respect, two qualities essential to human development, peace, and prosperity, are often lacking at such charged forums in both the Muslim world and the West. The MLT conference, however, was marked by constructive and open dialogue that both encouraged and engaged a diverse set of voices on several important issues. This conference was a seminal step in developing a movement of young Muslims that will create global impact in the promotion of peace.
The diversity of viewpoints represented at the conference was evident at the very outset during an ice-breaker entitled "The Paradox of Labels." Participants were asked to place themselves inside a giant "H" encapsulating the conservative à liberal spectrum according to what they were most often labeled by others. In addition to seeing who fell on which side of the "H", it was fascinating to witness people's discomfort in attempting to compartmentalize their complex points of view into labels. While the exercise expectedly problematized labels, it was also key in breaking down ideological barriers between participants.
In the Welcome Address that followed, conference organizer and Director of ASMA Society, Daisy Khan reflected on her own extremely diverse background—Daisy spent her childhood playing with Hindus, Sikhs & Christians in her native Kashmir only to be later transplanted into a strictly Jewish neighborhood upon moving to America in her teens. Daisy poignantly described her journey toward discovering the power of resolving conflicts by combining diverse points of view. "The answer lies not with one person," she related. "Everyone contributes a piece of the solution."
John Bennett, co-founder of the co-sponsoring Cordoba Initiative and four time mayor of Aspen, Colorado, followed with this reflection: "There is conflict in the world today, but it is not a Clash of Civilizations- Muslims and Jews, or Muslims and Christians... it is between the narrow minded and the pluralistic… The ultimate question is ‘how to remain true to our own beliefs, while still respecting others?'"
Feisal Abdul Rauf, Imam of the Masjid Al-Farah in downtown Manhattan, and Chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, called for tolerance not only for the sake of global harmony, but as an essential tenet of Islam: "Only Allah knows who his standard bearers are...let God be the judge of others, not men." He followed this statement with gentle advice, reminiscent of a spiritual sohbet: "Leadership is about being yourself- perhaps you are who you are because only you are capable of making the contribution Allah wanted you to make. Focus on doing what you do… and keep trying to do it better."
On Saturday morning, delegates were welcomed to Copenhagen by Susanne Clausen of the Danish Integration Ministry. She addressed the recent controversy arising from the Jyllands Posten cartoons stating that while the Danish government did not necessarily support the offending cartoons, censorship of the Danish press is outside the range of its legal authority. She noted that while reactions in some parts of the world may have been violent, those who expected the same outrage among Denmark's Muslim population found only civilized and respectful debate.
Following Ms. Clausen's remarks, acclaimed author Reza Aslan gave us an in depth presentation on the height of Islamic civilization during A New Cordoba. According to Mr. Aslan, the scientific and cultural production of Muslim Cordoba, Spain, is perceived as the peak of Islamic Civilization in the minds of Muslims and non-Muslims alike. His point of departure for the ensuing discussion was: How do we stop looking back at this glorious past, and pave a way for a new future?
Panelists Imam Abdul Rauf and Alistair MacDonald, the session's other two speakers, were unanimous in the view that Islam expanded through the absorption of positive aspects of local cultures, and not through their suppression and replacement in favor of its own ideology. The decline of Muslim civilization was brought on by military invasions, as well as the rise of European power and ideology. Along with these outside factors, internally, according to Imam Abdul Rauf, Islamic institutions began to question their previous tradition of knowledge transfer, and moved to a policy of unprecedented thought control. This, he continued, was a departure from what was held to be a religious mandate: The mandate to seek knowledge.
Mr. MacDonald added perspective by explaining that a return to richness of knowledge and experience requires deep pluralism- pluralism that is not merely tolerance of other faiths, but of each individual's views. He reminded us that the advancements made by great minds of Cordoba are not simply stripes on the flag of Islam. In fact, they belong to all humanity. Those of us alive today can lay no claim to it, other than our sacred responsibility to build on it.
Following a brief break, the conference delegates organized into smaller groups and brainstormed in a session called Discuss the Undiscussable. The questions posed to the group were simple: What about the Muslim community frustrates you? What about it makes you proud and hopeful? What are particular obstacles specific to your country which are inhibiting the successful development of the Muslim community? What are the enablers in your country?
Animated conversations consisting of frustrations, critiques, wishes, and crushed hopes abounded, as lists got longer and longer. Amazingly, despite the diverse minds at work on the problem, the responses were remarkably similar, hinting at variations of larger problems at work. The top five frustrations regarding the state of the Muslim Ummah were: 1) a prevailing attitude of intolerance; 2) the lack of competent and clearly defined leadership; 3) antiquated attitudes towards gender roles; 4) mistrust of Muslim governments and gross injustices and violations of civil liberties; 5) being judged, by mass media and individuals, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. These common themes suggest that something must—and likely will—be done to change these trends in the Muslim community in the coming years.
The top points of optimism and hopefulness include a 1) growing number of increasingly educated young Muslim professionals who are active in community work; 2) the growing influence of Western Muslims in defining world Muslim opinion; and 3) the increased focus from all sides on Muslim-West relations.
After lunch, followed by a talent bazaar—a forum for delegates to share with other attendees their scholarly works, art, and other information on their organizational affiliations—was a short group exercise on Knowledge Transfer. Having heard historical accounts of the flourishing of Islam in A New Cordoba, and then reflecting on the frustration that has resulted from the shift in the emphasis on knowledge-seeking during Discuss the Undiscussable, one question was looming in all our minds: Quite simply, what preconditions are necessary to share and transfer knowledge?
Among the top answers were "preserving the integrity of knowledge itself;" "respect between transferor and transferee;" "interaction with original sources, without intermediaries;" "ability to think critically and criticize freely." Inherent in these answers is an underlying call for greater egalitarianism in the freedom to interpret Islam. However, many others maintained that "respect must also be had for the system of knowledge transfer already in place, one that, despite the turbulence of history, has managed to continually relay a system of belief and values for the better part of 1400 years".
The problem is that while well-intentioned Muslims scrupulously discuss whose province it is to define Islam, while being afraid of stepping on others' toes, extremists with little regard for this caution define the religion for the majority. Combined with news media that are under pressure for higher ratings and hence in search of the most sensationalist, the extremist point of view gains greater prominence, relevance, and currency, particularly among Muslim youth. According to Aftab Malik's energetic presentation on Extremism on the Internet, while most Muslims are tired of having to constantly prove to others that they are "good, moderate Muslims," it is sobering to see that much extremism is promulgated from websites run by European extremist Muslims, or in other words, people living "in our own backyards."
According to Mr. Malik, extremism on the internet represents a "crisis of authority". The case is not that Muslims lack figures to speak with nuance on Islam, but that everyone wants and claims to be speaking on behalf of Islam. Needless to say, this creates confusion for both Muslims and non-Muslims, and raises the question, "by what authority can one speak for Islam?" The Prophet himself warned his followers, "Beware of extremism in religion." Furthermore, zealotry and uncritical belief are roundly condemned elsewhere in the Qur'an and Hadith. In fact, Prophet Muhammad warned of those who "transfer Qur'anic verses meant to refer to those of no faith to refer to Muslims" and "recite the Qur'an and consider it for them but it is against them; and feared "men who interpret verses of the Qur'an out of context."
Mr. Malik showed us further characteristics of these extremist websites: 1) a belief that their school of thought possesses and exclusive understanding of the "salaf;" 2) regular condemnation or ex-communication of any who disagree with their views; 3) inherent exhibition of a medieval worldview, characterized by a Dar-el-Harb (abode of War) and a Dar-el-Islam (abode of Islam).
Clearly, the fact that others are speaking for Islam while we debate the finer points of religious pluralism should spur a sense of urgency in Muslims liberal and conservative alike. While we continue to debate and discuss, we should not forget to unite in our condemnation of the views of extremists who advocate restricting our right to do so.
From one mode of expression to another: The Artist's Role featured a panel of six accomplished Muslim artists who shared with us their art, as well as their reflections on how the process of making is, for many of them, a religious pursuit as well as a medium for advocating positive social change.
Comedian Azhar Usman explained how "stand-up" comedy can be used to "stand-up" to power. Mr. Usman performed the following day, and, aside from it being well entertained, the audience saw how many of Mr. Usman's "jokes" were simply truths that were so ludicrous that they were funny. Dutch novelist Yasmine Allas expressed a similar sentiment- that writing allowed her to be "free" without losing her religion. Ms. Allas' commitment to artistic freedom was further demonstrated by her essay tribute to Theo Van Gogh, the Dutch filmmaker who was murdered for his controversial film on Islam. It was interesting to note how this idea coalesced with the overriding conclusions reached in earlier sessions- the cries for freedom to express; the calls to embrace multiple perspectives. For this reason, as renowned contemporary artist Shazia Sikander noted, artists have always been at the forefront of social change.
While art can be liberating, it can also be devotional. Music producer Tayyeb Shah, after a conversation with Yusuf Islam several years ago, became interested in how music could be used to express love for Islam. Singer/songwriters Ani Zonneveld and Rajae El Mouhandiz create beautiful melodies that, for some, are akin to religious meditation. . Rajae in particular recounted how powerful it was for her when, upon returning to her native Morocco, she sang one of her most personal songs about Islam in concert- and was joined in the chorus by 40,000 people. Truly, one of the most amazing aspects of art as a devotional conduit is that it can be shared so easily with others.
The Imam's Circle was a chance for MLT delegates to posit questions, comments, and misgivings to an entire panel of seven western Imams, each of whom heads a congregation or jamaah in a different country. Most interesting of all, more than any question posed or response given, was getting to know the Imams themselves as people. Whereas many Muslims see their Imams as inapproachable, hearing the diverse paths each of these men—they were all men—walked to arrive at their position helped ascribe a needed quality of humanness to them.
MLT's heard Tahir Anwar of San Jose, California reminisce about how he "wanted to be a pilot before he ever wanted to be an Imam," and relate how he gets the attention of younger Muslims by listening to Qur'anic recitations on his IPod. David Munir of Portugal was a young religious student who was asked to fill in for two weeks at his local, fledgling mosque in Lisbon while they sought a replacement. Twenty two years later, they still have not found one. Sergio Yahya Pallavicini of Milan, Italy, caught participants' attention with an unusual combination of conservative Islamic views with a very contemporary dress sense. His keen fashion sense earned him the affectionate title of Imam Prada. Usama Hassan of London, England's position as an Imam shared time with his duties as a lecturer of Artificial Intelligence at a local university, as well as host of a UK based television program on Islam. An Islamic renaissance man, Mr. Hassan is a man of religion, science, and media.
The diversity on the panel was truly amazing, with one salient exception: the absence of women. Delegate Dr. Kecia Ali was the first to speak up: "There is tremendous power in the giving of khutbahs (by Imams), a power which is denied to women. What are the consequences of this?" The answers as to why the role of Imam has been denied to women were varied: one response was that women are the most important leaders in Islam to begin with, since they were mothers; another humorously complained that being an Imam was a thankless job that he would not wish on anyone; yet another, in perhaps the most frank answer to the question, responded that it was simply tradition that we as a community have not been willing to change, but may wish to in the near future. Support for the empowerment of women was apparent in participant Abu Eesa Niamatullah's exclamation that while fellow participant Dr. Ali may not become an Imam, she could become a mufti, a position that was infinitely more powerful. And if she did accomplish this, he continued, "I will be the first one to sit at your feet!"
Pluralism. The idea was first brought up in John Bennett's welcome remarks, when he asked the "ultimate" question: how do we remain true to our beliefs while still respecting those of others? The reason this is truly the ultimate question has become apparent over the past 24 hours, if it was not already: even within the fold of Islam, there are different perspectives- beliefs within the Belief. Some would have us believe that pluralism is the opposite of unity; this weekend helped to reinforce that it is just the opposite- pluralism is the only hope unity has. Without pluralism, there can be no unity.
Faiz Khan began by discussing pluralism from a Shar'i (Islamic legal) perspective. The original meaning of the word "Shariah," explained Dr. Khan, is "the path to water." The idea of Shariah is meant to be a code of conduct, or a path one walks, imagery that conjures up something subtly different from inflexible law. Shariah encompasses "latitude of behavior" in all aspects of life that lead a Muslim down the correct path. He posed a question for us to ponder: "Do you think God's embrace is singular or pluralistic?"
Where do we, as Muslims, draw the line? Do we embrace only Gnostics? Or do we include Agnostics? How do we view those who have different views than us regarding religiosity, dress, gender roles, public interaction, or political views? If the diversity of the pluralism panel was anything to go by, clearly all were welcome. The panel consisted of Irshad Manji, an out-of-the-closet ijtihad advocate; Yasir Kazi, a Salafi, University of Madinah graduate; Reza Aslan, a prolific author and self-defined progressive Shia Muslim, Anas Osman, a deeply spiritual Sunni investement banker, ; Zahra Jamal, an Ismaili anthropoligist; and Youcef Mammeri, a Sunni French Muslim of North African descent. Further the side panel of commentators on the panel was comprised entirely of women all of whom made several profound comments on the discussion.
The session to follow, Construct Your Identity, was met with some reluctance, particularly by delegates who felt questions around identity crises or trouble reconciling various national and Muslim identities were not relevant. However, the question posed by session facilitator Yousuf Siddiqui was framed differently. Yousuf asked the audience what they thought Muslims could change about their internal values to enable others to perceive them in a more positive light. The answers that emerged from the group were extremely insightful, and probably another conference moment among many others that gave hope for a more enlightened and better equipped Muslim leadership in the future. Some of these are listed below:
Build institutions in the West which reflect the needs of Muslims and which can help strengthen Islamic knowledge, particularly amongst youth.
Start from our state as a human being before building a Muslim identity: Being a Muslim is not the only thing that defines us, in fact, all extremism is rooted in not considering other people as equal human beings
Fund educators, writers and other leaders who find creative ways of fostering an environment that embraces critical thinking in Islam
Accept each other as we are without prejudice and take part and participate as a responsible citizen of your country. Debate and talk about important issues in your country rather than just complain about moral or Islamic issues
In the identity panel Anas Osman observed that often questions around identity are really questions about identity politics. Imam Abdul Rauf aptly cited an example to illustrate Anas' point, explaining how many African countries are loose coalitions, if at all, of different tribes that happen to live within the same artificial boundary drawn around them by various colonial powers. In noting this, one immediately begins to see how synthetic national identity can be.
Often itself complicit in both stirring and shaping identity politics, the media came into focus in the following session: Media and its Portrayal of Islam. Guest panelists Debra Amos of NPR Radio in the US, Kustaw Bessems of Trouw in the Netherlands, and Chris Dickey of Newsweek US, as well as moderator, Egyptian journalist Mona Elhatawy, indicated that ordinary citizens' skepticism toward media, far from unjustified, is essential to developing more accurate worldviews.
Mr. Dickey acknowledged a prevalent trend of stereotyping and using arguably "misleading" photographs to accompany articles. Ms. Amos was surprisingly candid in admitting that her job is sometimes to "simplify" the truth. The recent war in Iraq was the first time that Americans were, on a wide scale, presented in the media with the difference between Sunni and Shia Islam; Ms. Amos says her editors have difficulty with putting out stories where the picture is too complicated as the reality of any situation often is. She contends that a concept such as Sufism would be far too complex for the American public to understand at this stage.
Perhaps such lack of faith in the public toward the media is part of the problem, but these media professionals' honest accounts underscore the difficulty involved in conveying a story, with all its nuances, to the masses. Participant Usama Hassan reflected that it is in all of our interest to help the media do their job by learning how to speak wisely and eloquently, in short sound bites.
Interestingly, Mr. Bessems noted the "fear factor" present in the equation. Everyone fears being misquoted by the media; the carelessness the media exhibits in doing so leads to a destructive cycle in which the quality of information is compromised. Given its precarious position, the Muslim community Mr. Bessems has found is particularly sensitive to the fear of being misquoted.
By this point, it was late Sunday afternoon: minds were exhausted after two days of intense debate, and yet the theme of the conference remained to be discussed. Integration in the West started with moderator and scholar Hisham Hellyer asking the primordial question: On what basis are we "integrating?" Based on our faith, or our ethnicity? Panelist Ensar Eminovic brought a Bosnian perspective to the question, advocating integration in favor of being a "slave to our ethnicities." Mr. Hellyer later echoed the need for active participation on new communities within nations, saying that integration is a two-way street: "The US is a society of migrants, if the channels are open, we must contribute."
However, there was disagreement over whether such "channels" were always open in various countries. British human rights lawyer Tufyal Chaudhry stated that in his experience, Muslims want to integrate, but that frequently, Western perspectives on history, culture, and behavioral norms alienate Muslims. He noted that, historically speaking, Muslims were not only the Arabs on the "other side of the Crusades," but that they made valuable contributions to European history and identity as well, a fact that is rarely discussed.
Delegates Yousef Azghari and Famile Arslan disagreed vehemently over whose onus it is to prompt integration of Muslims in the Netherlands, their shared home country. Dr. Azghari insisted that Muslims in Holland were famous for criticizing policy, but never being politically active, or even voting. Ms. Arslan countered by citing recent elections where Muslim votes were thrown out in a highly controversial decision, simply because they engaged in block voting.
The last day of the conference started with a refrain from Imam Abdul Rauf. He framed the result of the conference in the words: "We have to move forward!" He continued, "We have the resource of six Imams here in the West. Invite them to your country or town!" He was making reference to all the individuals that participants had gained access to over the course of the conference. Other participants mentioned that the conference had opened a world of Muslim diversity to them, within a comfortable atmosphere. This they felt had been the most valuable outcome of the conference. The general feeling of the group at the end of the session was this was indeed an important and worthwhile initiative that we need to continue, expand, and replicate in various countries, with the ultimate aim of having a global MLT next year.
The morning session ended with the unveiling of the MLT website. Daisy Khan explained that the purpose of the website was to give participants a tool to continue engaging one another, and to encourage future collaboration. She urged participants to take advantage of the resources available on it.
Several fascinating debates took place during the final and most provocative session, Freedom of Expression. Flemming Rose, editor of the now infamous Jyllands Posten, was present to face his first audience with a Muslim group since the publishing of the controversial Prophet Muhammad cartoons. Mr. Rose explained the genesis of the idea: his paper commissioned several cartoonists to publish cartoons on Islam; the assignment was neutral in nature from the beginning. It became clear to Mr. Rose that this was no ordinary assignment when almost three quarters of his cartoonists either insisted on anonymity, or refused to submit entries at all, due to fear of reprisals. To a leading editor in Denmark, a country that of course values free speech but also has a long tradition of satire, such events only served as further motivation to publish the cartoons.
While the resultant cartoons were admittedly offensive, as a few audience members pointed out, they are telling in that they give an indication of how many in Europe view Islam. More specifically, they do little in the way of dispelling stereotypes in an already tense environment where many see Islam as a threat to the foundations of European culture. This alone would have been a worthy topic for debate, but it was quickly overshadowed by many who insisted that while freedom of expression is an important privilege, it comes with responsibility, a responsibility that Jyllands Posten disregarded in its decision to publish the cartoons. Panelist Reza Aslan was able to present the debate in sociological terms, explaining that those who were most upset about the cartoons- mainly Muslims in the most impoverished, war torn countries- were simply human beings who were upset about their status, largely blamed the West, and consciously or not were seeking a polarizing event to voice frustration. One Danish Muslim audience member accused Mr. Rose of knowing this, implying that his actions went beyond "journalistic curiosity" and were sheer "provocation."
Another audience member noted that while there had provocation in the affair, Jyllands Posten was not behind it. In many Muslim countries, cartoons far worse than those published by the newspaper were published, cartoons that were created by extremist Muslim groups who had an interest in inciting discontent. Panelist Jamal Mahmood was vocal in expressing that the most important revelation to come out of this controversy was the tendency of the Muslim world to impose death threats against men like Mr. Rose and others (including a Jordanian journalist who re-published the cartoons).
Flemming Rose later remarked, "Now many people in Denmark recognize that freedom comes with a price." The dialogue went on to examine how respect for the sacred and freedom of speech become competing values. Several participants asked their peers, "Why aren't we talking about death threats within the Muslim community?"
Concluding the conference, Salih Memecan an American Muslim cartoonist exhibited his insightful and humorous cartoons which portrayed deep rooted sentiments felt by many in the Muslim community. With his quick wit, Mr. Memecan cleverly depicted many of the conference themes in his cartoons, including freedom of expression, integration, the exportation of democracy, and assimilation. He ended with the hope that "in time, Muslims will become more tolerant, and the West will become more respectful."
Assessment of the Conference:
74% of participants rated its "take home value" as excellent, and 78% rated its effectiveness from Very Good to Excellent. Newsweek journalist Christopher Dickey commented that that he had never seen such a wide spectrum of Muslim voices represented; and he added, "This was the best and most educational conference I've attended in the last two or three years, if not ever…"
Another participant, noting the effect the diversity had on how he understood himself said, "This was an extremely valuable and important opportunity to network with fellow Muslims from so many different settings and, if often to sharpen differences, and not only to agree, at least to better understand and self-understand."
Similarly, another participant wrote, "I really want to thank you again for this opportunity you have given us to understand each other."
Finally, the ultimate compliment came from a participant who nearly missed the conference:
I have attended a number of conferences on similar issues that did not achieve much but I wanted to let you know that I really think it was a success in an extremely challenging and difficult area …[with] an absolutely excellent group of people and the sessions included pioneering constructive debate and dialogue…you have also revived my faith in Muslims - whilst my faith in God goes from strength to strength my faith in western Muslims had been somewhat eroded but you brought together such a lovely collection of people and I thank you from the heart… I have no doubt that this venture will go from strength to strength and that you will achieve change in a worthwhile sense.
In summary, the conference established the foundations of a Muslim leadership network, empowered the participants towards action and allowed for sharing knowledge and best practices. The participants, organizers and supporters found themselves united and resolute in their optimism and hope in the increasing interest of improving Muslim Western relations, the establishment of pluralistic societies and innovative and strategic solutions arising from civil society.
The MLT conference was organized by the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA Society) and cosponsored by the Cordoba Initiative. Assistance was provided by the World Economic Forum C-100 and other foundations.
MIM: The ASMA Society's press release on "the first anniversary of the London bombings" is a staple Islamist ploy (narcislamism) whereby terror acts are expressly used as "opportunities" to make a public condemnation of the attack as a PR stunt. In this case the bombings are a chance for "One hundred dynamic young Muslim leaders" to discuss the identity of Muslims in the the world and their relations with the West". Note how there is no mention made of the victims or the need to root out extremism. Its all about Muslims and their relationship to the West and the future of Islam. Also worth noting is how the PR about the bombings contains "a lighter note" about the appearence of the Azhar Usman whose repetoire consists of jokes about blowing himself up in a Dunkin Donuts and being seen as a potential hijacker.
On the first anniversary of the London bombings:
Young Muslim Leaders Discuss Identity and Ways to Bridge Gap with WestOne hundred dynamic young Muslim leaders from 15 countries will be meeting in
Copenhagen on 7 to 9 July to discuss the identity of Muslims in the world and their
relations with the West.
Coming from the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Holland, Italy, Denmark and other
countries, these diverse young Muslim leaders, varied in religiosity, ethnicity, culture and
individual politics will discuss key issues such as Muslim integration in the West,
struggles surrounding identity, marginalization of immigrant communities and Islamic
reaction to secularism.
Scheduled on the first anniversary of the London bombings, The Muslim Leaders of
Tomorrow (MLT) forum emerges amidst a tense global environment when many around
the world feel there is a historic need for dialogue and debate on issues of religion and
identity, especially as it pertains to the enormous challenges faced by them.
The MLT forum seeks to meet an urgent need for a constructive movement amongst
young Muslims to reject and marginalize extremism. The MLT aims to bring together
diverse Muslim voices to strategize and work toward this goal while communicating this
message widely. The purpose in doing so is also to put forth a leadership committed to
fostering healthy Muslim identities and to have these leaders work together as change
agents in their respective communities.
Among the participants are prominent Western Muslim scholars such as Imam Feisal
Abdul Rauf, author of What's Right with Islam who will moderate a very special to-bewatched-
out-for roundtable entitled "Imam's Circle". The Imam's Circle will be
comprised of young Imams from Italy, Denmark, UK, and US who will candidly debate
the challenge living Islamically in secular society. Other special event include: the
unveiling of acclaimed Turkish cartoonist Salih Memecan's cartoons in response to the
Danish cartoons. Also, on the lighter side, Azhar Usman, a popular Muslim comedian,will be performing at the conference .
About The Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow Forum
The American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA) and the Cordoba Initiative have
organized the MLT forum to address the acrimony and mutual mistrust that have now
permeated the deepest levels of both Western and Muslim societies.
The MLT forum aims to address issues such as:
• What is Islam and how is it perceived as part of identity?
• When is religion transformative and when is religiosity a reflection of insecure
• What do Muslims as a collective body mean to you? Do you think that Muslims
need to be unified and what would it mean to be unified?
MIM: The notes headlined "Wisdom Wall" which outline the discussions at the Muslim Leadership Conference in Copenhagen reveal that the MLT partipants feel that the West must do more to accomodate Islam and discussed ways to do da'wa and use legal Islamism to increase Muslim influence in Western societies "to help strengthen the Umma". The facade of moderation is stripped away on page 19 of the notes where the UK are listed as "Muslim puppets" and problems for Muslims in the US include "Daniel Pipes and other right wing institutes".
- Challenges w/ right wing press and its rhetoric
- Education underachievement è Indians ↑, Pak./Bang↓
- Blair = Poodle to US Imperial Problems
- Muslim puppets
- Courageous Muslims are those ‘West' want to hear è Media does opposite to put conservatives as representatives
- Ideological climate of suspicion = War on Terror
- Daniel Pipes and other right wing institutes
- Poisoned government initiative and academics
- Israel and Palestine è Right wing bias
- US Imperialism è also losing tangibility with the term
- Hypocrisy – my relation to faith and spirituality is personal.
- Education and basic human rights have been homogenized
- Ensuring more pluralistic media representation, certain type of image.
- Self-segregation and insularism in places we settle. Looking to the West for destination and bench-marks of "Progress."
- Adopting wholesale – even rushing towards homogenous standards.
- Sense – (overwhelming) of victim hood – no faith in ourselves.
- We ignore alternate visions of "modernity."
- Lack of pro-activity and submission = Submissiveness.
- From the mainstream: laying down the standards – assimilation, into mainstream ex: "be like us", not interested
- From the community: Self-appointed Muslim spokespeople believing themselves incapable of error. Believing they are representative and those who disagree with them are not representative. Arrogance.
- Need to come to a place of permission to speak for yourselves w/ out fear. Until we will do that we will not move ahead.
- Tired of "right" Muslim and "wrong" Muslim labeling. First of all I am human a woman, I want to be free.
- Fear around integration, holding onto separate identity.
- In many European cities migration patterns - immigrant geographic is growing
o Only similar plans in USA
- Rise of China creates competition, undermines complacency – enabler of knowledge.
o Also, emergence of new power starts a shift in thinking – brings humility to many Americans, for example, and gives some Muslims a feeling of justice.
- A new generation who are artistic, entrepreneurs, or entrepreneurial artists – more effective communicators or moderation. Part of self-defining and promoting pluralism.
- Enourmous appetite for "other side" to understand what's going on with Muslims
- Even anti-Americanism can have silver lining, compelling Americans to engage!
- The position of Muslim girls and women in Holland – insisting on more freedom thanks to education. Women are enablers of integration!
- In US, Muslims are becoming wealthier and mightier and getting more involved as citizens and not just consumers.
- Real advances in Islamic civilization came from the edge (e.g. Cordoba was not in the center: Persians, Turks, Uzbeks – the center grows complacent and edge must hustle) – Today, the edge of the Ummah is the west – our frontier. The danger is jettisoning tradition in favor of new-fangled fads.
- In danger of losing critical spirit for fear of offending Muslims (e.g. sharia law/cartoons)
- Citizenship not always constructive
- Citizenship about blood etc.
- Muslim live there physically but don't want to be there.
- No constitution as in US
- Most Muslims are middle-class. American Muslims are completely assimilating. Study abroad and return to lead communities.
- Major mechanisms such as media controls image/perception of Muslims, often originating in America, and our nuances get lost.
- Native born Muslims and so many non-Muslims have no knowledge of rest of world. How about job creation program that sends Americans abroad?
Nejib Zaafrani, Itrath Syed, Amin Azimi, Afeefa Syed, Famile Arslan, Olga Gora
- Double standards (treatment of Muslims vis-à-vis non-Muslims, especially immigrants)
- Problems (socio-economic) being "Islamized".
- Every migrant perceived as being Muslim, hence a criminal
- Image so poor: Muslims on defense and lacking capacity to deal with this and other key issues.
- Muslims own "enemies": leading to low self-esteem, limiting potential
o Affects all generations, who will be blind to positive aspects
- Muslims not moving on
- Muslim leaders not speaking to world, just limited Muslim communities (not enough dialogue)
- Knowledge amongst non-Muslims is poor
- Development agencies not aware of culture, languages, etc
- Muslims created as the "anti-citizen", the "other", which conditions Muslim psychology
- Gender politics limits experiences and engagement of women
- "What is a Muslim" is ill-defined
- Burden on Muslim women is heavier as having to prove themselves in so many areas
- Muslims not getting together and not getting act together (lack of vision and strategy)
- Muslims not treated on equal footing even on international development stage
- New community of Muslims, in the process of developing its presence
- Relationship between Muslims and the state different as colonialist/imperialist influences have lesser presence in debates
- Muslims don't feel accepted as Germans, so don't describe themselves as Germans (very weak identification with country)
- World Cup has had positive influence, first time "immigrants" waving flag
The birthday of Prophet Muhammad, our most blessed role model. From Nasir Khusraw:
Of Muhammad I chose the Qur'an and the faith of Muhammad, for that is the choice that was made by Muhammad. I'm certain by faithfully following these, my certitude will be like that of Muhammad. My key for the heavens, my guide to delight, my fortified castle: the faith of Muhammad! Muhammad is sent as God's prophet to us: thus is the imprint of the seal of Muhammad. The faith, the Qur'an they are fixed in my heart just as they were fixed in the heart of Muhammad. My hope is to be by the grace of the Lord the lowliest one in the folk of Muhammad. In the ocean of faith you see, the Qur'an is the most precious pearl in the hand of Muhammad. As every king has a treasure concealed, thus is the Qur'an: treasure trove of Muhammad! Now look at the jewel that sits on this treasure! Whom do you consider the trustee of Muhammad? His followers find yonder jewel of faith from nobody else but the sons of Muhammad. Muhammad entrusted his treasure and goods to one person, worthy and close to Muhammad. Who was such a close friend? He whose dear wife was none but the darling black-eyed, of Muhammad. From this darling child and that cousin appeared Hasan and Husayn, letters close to Muhammad. I know certainly this: Hasan and Husayn are jasmine and rose in both worlds, of Muhammad. Where could such a rose and such a jasmine appear in both worlds but out of the soil of Muhammad! I don't dare select any one among men above these two sons, lovely sons of Muhammad; I don't dare select anyone above them I would be ashamed of the frown of Muhammad! The sword of pure Haydar, the mighty Qur'an are cornerstones of the strong faith of Muhammad, for he stood as master and with Dhu'l-fiqar in every fight to the right of Muhammad. Since Ali's sword helped the mighty Qur'an; Ali was the helper, no doubt, for Muhammad. As Aaron to Moses, so was Ali in rank A partner in faith and close to Muhammad. On Doomsday both Moses and Aaron will kiss the mantle of Ali, the hem of Muhammad. Muhammad's religion resembled a thicket: The lion: Ali, in the woods of Muhammad. Muhammad said: ‘Go, and seek wisdom in China!' I went to that China, the land of Muhammad. I heard from the heir of the Prophet such words which were like the honey, so sweet, of Muhammad!
DATE: JULY 7-9, 2006 LOCATION: RADISSON, SAS SCANDINAVIA HOTEL Amager Boulevard 70 Copenhagen S 2300 Denmark T: +45 33 96 5000 F: +45 33 96 5500
In a tense global environment followed by attacks in London, riots in Paris, and now the Danish cartoon situation, young Muslims in the West find themselves in a time of enormous challenge and in an historic moment of need for dialogue and debate on issues of religion and identity. Given the acrimony that is now percolating down to the deepest levels of both Western and Muslim societies, we see it as imperative to address the issues that cause and exacerbate the divide between the former and latter. This is the very motivation behind our Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow (MLT) program.
In a word, the MLT is an intrafaith conversation among young Muslims on major issues, such as integration, identity struggles, Islamic reactions to secularism, gender equality, among other pain points that breed alienation and extremism. The forum will convene young Muslim leaders who embody a wide spectrum of Muslims living in the West: varied per ethnicity, culture, religiosity, and individual politics. The philosophy that informs our approach is that Muslims are part of the solution, and not the problem. It is then extremely important for Muslims to come together to build inter and intra community partnerships, to gauge the current internal conversation and candidly discuss its shortcomings, and to formulate and implement programs that will help bring about much needed change.
What is Islam to you and how do you see it as an aspect of your identity? When is religion transformative and when is religiosity a function of insecure identity?
What do Muslims as a collective body mean to you? Do Muslims need to be unified and what would it mean to be unified?
What breeds alienation?
Is Islam in crisis? Is it in decline? What does it mean for a religion to be in crisis?
Who does one turn to for religious knowledge and religious guidance? What constitutes religious knowledge?
Questions such as these are already being actively debated in the Muslim communities. What is needed is a forum that brings together diverse Muslim voices and communicates their conversation widely. Our purpose in doing so is not only widen and continue the conversation, but also to put forth a leadership that is committed to the fostering of healthy Muslim identities and to working as change agents in their respective communities.
Empower a constructive movement with an intended audience of both Muslims and non-Muslims, that embodies an expression of Islam that promotes pluralism, tolerance and human rights, and marginalizes fatalistic/extremist worldviews.
Engender a forum where a culturally, ideologically, and economically diverse group of Muslims can interact with one another on seminal issues regarding Muslims in the West.
Establish a strong network of young leaders for follow up programming where Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow convene to brainstorm and create opportunities for disenfranchised young Muslims.
Development of the participants into prominent leaders.
Establishing an online forum for debate that will channel participants' energies in a constructive direction, enabling new ideas to flourish, spawning collaborative projects, articles, position papers, and tangible, action-oriented strategies for reducing misunderstandings between Islam and the West.
In the long-term, generate change in public perceptions and attitudes both in the West about Islam and in Muslim countries about American/Western values.
Counter-terrorism Coordinator, Council of the European Union, Brussels
Sundeep V. Waslekar
President, Strategic Foresight Group
Andrew P. B. White
Chief Executive Officer and President, Foundation for Reconciliation in the Middle East
Hamza Yusuf Hanson
Chairman and President, Zaytuna Institute
Sheikh El Zafzaf
President, Permanent Committee for Dialogue among Monotheistic Religions, Alazhar Al Sharif
Abdullah Zainal Alireza
Minister of State, Ministry of State
Aziz G. Zapsu
Chairman and CEO, For You Ltd Sti
CAIR-Chicago Rep to Join Forum on Muslim-West Relations in Copenhagen, Denmark June 28, 2006
Communications Coordinator Sultan Muhammad to join 100 young Muslims from 15 nations
CAIR-Chicago's Communications Coordinator Sultan Muhammad is scheduled to participate in the second "Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow" forum in Copenhagen, Denmark, July 7 to July 9 alongside 100 young Muslims from 15 nations to discuss what they can do to improve Muslim-West relations. Muhammad says "It is without question humbling to have the opportunity to participate in such a defining event of our time wherein the usual is not suitable."
Those selected embody a wide spectrum of Muslim representation by: sect, ethnicity, profession, religiosity, and individual politics. The forum hopes to build a constructive movement of young Muslims to reject and marginalize extremism.
Convening the forum are two U.S. organizations dedicated to bridging the divide between Muslims and the West, the Cordoba Initiative (www.cordobainitiative.org ) and the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA, www.asmasociety.org), founded by it's Executive Director Daisy Khan.
Among the participants are prominent Western Muslim scholars such as Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, author of "What's Right with Islam" and Tariq Ramadan, author of "To be a European Muslim," acclaimed Turkish cartoonist , Salih Memecan and a showcase of popular Muslim comic, Azhar Usman. CAIR-Chicago's Sultan Muhammad will participate in a roundtable conference themed "Media and its Portrayal of Islam."
The MLT (Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow) is an intra-faith conversation among young Muslims on major issues such as integration, identity struggles, Islamic reactions to secularism, gender equality, among other challenging points that breed alienation and extremism.
The conversations to be discussed will aim toward developing strategies that will contribute to the fostering of positive Muslim identities in the West, building of intra community partnerships, and reevaluating Muslim outreach methods. The forum seeks to candidly discuss existing shortcomings, and implement programs that will precipitate much needed change.
The highly anticipated event has garnered impressive coverage by international press such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, BBC World Radio, Radio Liberty, and National Public Radio USA., not to mention an equally broad range of support from Islamic organization world wide: http://www.cairchicago.org/ournews.php?file=on_mlt06282006