The Muslim Interfaith Charade - How Omar Abdel-Rahman's interpretation of Islam exposes the farce of dialogue
May 6, 2008
His current legal entanglements aside, with these credentials Abdel-Rahman might be considered preeminently qualified to participate, at a very authentic level, in the current fad of Muslim-Christian and Muslim-Jewish interfaith dialogue.
If this were the case, what would his message be?
Actually there is no need to speculate because Rahman has written and spoken voluminously on his conception of the faith and that vision should serve as welcome, though unsettling candor, in the make believe world of interfaith exchange.
Understanding the new Islamist game plan - the stealth jihad - is important because so many resources are being devoted to it and the phenomenon itself is roundly misunderstood. As we have previously written, for example in Islamic Marketing 101 - Maha ElGenaidi Takes Da'Wa Act On The Road, "...Islamic speaker's bureaus are proliferating in the United States. They represent the vanguard of a new paradigm in jihad being waged by Islamists under the guise of "dialogue." This emphasis on "legal" Islamism, the stealth jihad has been dictated in part by circumstances on the ground, where many of the most violent Islamists have been either killed, captured or forced to go into hiding, proving that aggression has been counter-productive..."
A mainstay of these Islamic dog and pony shows is the casting of the religion in a manner that is inconsistent with its history. In these exercises catchphrases such as "there is no compulsion in religion," loom large in proportion to their meaninglessness. Likewise in these talks jihad rather than being descriptive of an over one thousand year tradition of "fighting in the way of Allah," i.e., religiously sanctified warfare, becomes merely a word to denote undefined "struggle," as if blowing up the World Trade Center and struggling to stop smoking exist on the same moral plain.
During these excursions into unreality, at every problematic juncture which might cast Islam in a negative light the cause offered is always something extrinsic to the religion or attributed to "underdeveloped Muslims," or rage against the West because of the supposed sin of colonialism, etc.
In large measure, at these events Islam is not presented as it is, warts and all but as the speaker either wishes it was or at base minimum, what he wants the participants to believe it is.
It goes without saying that in many cases few who conduct these Muslim outreach efforts have any real credentials as experts outside their adherence to the faith, and even fewer possess advanced degrees in any relevant field. Because of that, these facilitators function essentially as religious salespeople, practitioners of da'wa and the necessity of remanufacturing the religion is essential to closing the deal.
Consistent with this approach these presenters are often quite quick to brand any Muslim whose public statements are at odds with this storybook presentation of Islam as being backwards, uneducated or simply mistaken.
That allegation is as self-serving as it is wrong because Islam regardless of what apologists maintain has a past that is verifiable and it has expert spokesmen - such as Abdel-Rahman - whose message is anything but accommodating.
The question remains why should someone whose level of expertise equates to a door-to-door religious hawker have any credibility to dismiss those with vastly superior credentials, simply because those individuals present Islam as a combative and aggressive ideology?
This is why Rahman is important - and dangerous to Muslim interfaith apologists - because he is not only uninterested in sugar coating Islam but his theological grounding in arguing the Wahhabist/Salafist line is beyond question.
From the time he first arrived in the country in 1990 Rahman consistently maintained that Islam, rather than being the "religion of peace," requires believers to fight in the cause of Allah, to participate in jihad as a religious duty.
The below passage was paraphrased from one of Rahman's sermons in the New Jersey mosque and scribbled in a notebook by El Sayyid Nosair, rabbi Kahane's assassin.
Perhaps Rahman's most cogent statement regarding the role of Islam in the world comes from a lengthy address that he made in U.S. federal court, just before he received a life sentence for seditious conspiracy.
Taken from Rahman's 1999 appeal of his life sentence, the court summarized Rahman's claim, which also represents his religious viewpoint:
"According to his speeches and writings, Rahman perceives the United States as the primary oppressor of Muslims worldwide, active in assisting Israel to gain power in the Middle East, and largely under the control of the Jewish lobby. Rahman also considers the secular Egyptian government of Mubarak to be an oppressor because it has abided Jewish migration to Israel while seeking to decrease Muslim births. Holding these views, Rahman believes that jihad against Egypt and the United States is mandated by the Qur'an. n1 Formation of a jihad army made up of small "divisions" and "battalions" to carry out this jihad was therefore necessary, according to Rahman, in order to beat back these oppressors of Islam including the United States." Tr. 2197. n2 [source, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, Appellee, v. OMAR AHMAD ALI ABDEL RAHMAN, IBRAHIM A. EL-GABROWNY, EL SAYYID NOSAIR, TARIG ELHASSAN, HAMPTON-EL, AMIR ABDELGANI, FADIL ABDELGANI, VICTOR ALVAREZ, MOHAMMED SALEH and FARES KHALLAFALLA, Defendants-Appellants, http://www.uniset.ca/other/cs4/189F3d88.html]
The Sheikh's obvious devotion to following the dictates of his religion has been additionally underlined in a recent interview with Andrew McCarthy, the government's key prosecutor in the Rahman case:
"...In fact, the whole experience in watching the dynamic of him and other people in the Muslim community throughout the trial was a real eye-opener for me. I wanted to believe in 1993 the stuff that we were putting out, you know, that he basically perverted who was otherwise a peaceful doctrine. But what I found was going through all of his thousands of pages of transcripts and statements, was that when he cited scripture to justify acts of terrorism, to the extent he was quoting scripture or referring to it, he did it accurately, which shouldn't be a surprise...I mean, he was a doctor of Islamic jurisprudence, graduated from Al-Azhar University in Egypt. Why in the world I would have thought that I or the Justice Department would know more about Islam than he would is beyond me now that I look back on it, but back then I was pretty confident that we must have been right when we said that he was basically perverting the doctrine..." [source, http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/daily/site_050208/content/01125110.guest.html]
Why indeed do we insist, against all evidence, that the campaign of violence - the jihad - carried out by the Islamists against the West is a perversion of Islam and inconsistent with its theology, when some of the most learned Muslim's argue convincingly to the contrary, providing specific Qur'anic based justification toward that end?
It seems then that the implication of taking these people at their word is profound. In the current case, it serves to undermine the entire concept of interfaith dialogue, because outside of its ability to mislead, of what value is an inter-religious presentation based upon falsehood and deception?
Until "interfaith" means presenting Islam devoid of platitudes and exploring why it lends itself so easily to providing a doctrinal/theological justification for a never ending war between believers and non-believers, most faith sharing events with Muslims will continue to be nothing but da'wa.
It is remarkable that some of the institutions most critical in maintaining national security, most prominently the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security, are apparently fully committed to this self-imposed blindness, making cooing sounds with terror friendly Muslim groups such as ISNA, and even cautioning their employees not to use the terms, jihad and mujahideen, because it might be seen as being provocative.
It's intellectually dishonest and manifestly harmful to separate Islam from Islamic terrorism and until these and similar issues are confronted and dealt with honestly, the ramped up interfaith industry will remain a hoax, predicated upon a lie. http://www.pipelinenews.org/index.cfm?page=rahman4.6.08.htm