Jamal Miftah interview in FrontPage magazine

| | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (1)

Just posted on FrontPage magazine is an in-depth interview with Jamal Miftah, the Tulsa Muslim who last fall wrote a bold guest opinion condemning terrorism in the name of Islam and was expelled from the Islamic Society of Tulsa's mosque.

The interview fills in some fascinating details about Miftah's background in Pakistan -- some things that he hinted about in earlier stories and in my conversations with him. He talks about his life in Pakistan before coming with his family to the United States in 2003. Living in the North-West Frontier Province in Pakistan, on the border with Afghanistan, he saw the harm done to ordinary Pakistani Muslims by militant misleaders who led them into battle against U.S.-allied forces across the border.

After the fall of Taliban regime, the leaders of TNS started coming back into Pakistan along with the groups of ordinary people who had gone with them to fight. During the course of time, ordinary people including myself realized that all the leaders made it back to their homes safe and sound, whereas a number of the ordinary men never returned. They either got killed or were held for ransom by Afghans and possibly the Taliban.

The interview also delves into his views on his faith and on the global war on terror. Miftah doesn't believe that Osama bin Laden is running an independent terrorist organization:

During the Soviet-Afghan conflict, many warlord groups, including that of Osama bin Laden's group, were receiving American money and equipment to fight the Soviet Union. After the fall of the Soviet Union, some of those groups joined hands to start the campaign for removal of American forces out of Saudi Arabia. They attempted to mobilize support within the Muslim world for their cause by misguiding the Muslims that the presence of 'infidels' in 'the land of pure' was a great sin and should therefore be prevented by Jihad. The campaign was supported by the inflow of petro dollars and was the joint agenda of Osama bin Laden and the then Crown Prince (the present King) of Saudi Arabia. He, during Clinton's earlier era, was very vocal about the removal of American armies from Saudi Arabia. Afghanistan was thus used as a launching ground for the campaign by the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia and their most trusted family friend Osama bin Laden who was to lead the campaign and the proxy war for the Saudi Kingdom.

The interviewer, FrontPage managing editor Jamie Glazov, challenged Miftah on his belief in a "silent majority of the peace-loving Muslims around the world":

Upon what evidence do you base this view that the “majority” are peace-loving? For instance, do the majority of Muslims in the world reject the teachings of their own religion -- which mandates war against non-Muslims? (i.e. The Verse of the Sword, Sura 9:25, 9:29, etc.) Do the majority reject the imperative to subjugate the world under the rule of Islamic law – which is a mandate deeply embedded within Islamic teaching and tradition? (i.e. Sura 9:29, Sahih Muslim 4294; and a host of other evidence from all the Sunni madhahib and Shi’ite sources as well).

Miftah explains how he and many other Muslims interpret those verses:

Let me first clarify the misconception about the teachings of Islam or for that matter any other religion. The Qur’an was revealed over a period of 23 years. The revelation, as such, was during times of war, peace, oppression and rule of Muslims. Each verse, as such, has to be read in context of the conditions prevalent at the time of revelation and also the conditions of the Arab Society at that time.

In response to this and to Miftah's quoting of several verses from the Qur'an, Glazov pretty much says (as politely and graciously as he can), "No, you're wrong," and quotes a number of Islamic scholars down through the years who reject the moderate Muslim hermeneutic, including Sayyid Qutb. Miftah is not deterred and explains why he and many other Muslims reject the teachers that Glazov cited.

If you're a Christian, put yourself in Jamal's shoes for a moment. Someone who isn't a Christian comes along and tells you that you don't really follow the Bible because you don't agree with the method of interpretation used by Charles Taze Russell or Tony Alamo or David Koresh or Felix Manalo. Can you see how offensive that would be?

Glazov seems to shift his argument to say that there isn't any "sect of Islam or a school of Islamic jurisprudence that is generally regarded as orthodox and does not teach the subjugation of unbelievers." He creates a sort of circular argument. Why are the sects or schools who don't teach the subjugation of unbelievers considered unorthodox? Is it because they don't teach subjugation of unbelievers or is it for some other doctrinal reason? Or is it because they aren't backed with Saudi petrodollars?

It's a variation of the old "no true Scotsman" fallacy: "No true Muslim believes in peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims." Jamal Miftah says, "I am a true Muslim, and I believe in peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims." The response -- "Well, then, you must not be a true Muslim."

Aren't we working against our own safety and security to recognize the violent wackos as normative and to treat Muslims like Jamal Miftah as marginal?

To his credit, Glazov asks Miftah what can be done to support moderate Islamic voices. Miftah's response:

Unfortunately, the majority of the mosques in the U.S. and in West are under Wahabi control. The Muslims living in those parts of the world should particularly be vigilant towards the activities going on in places of worship (mosques) and should rise up against the self-imposed leadership in such places, if they witness any suspicious activities. They have a responsibility to the societies they live in, raise and educate their kids and therefore should not tolerate any activity which is aimed at causing harm to the countries they live in.

(Yesterday, JunkYardBlog linked to the story of a Newcastle, Australia, mosque that was taken over by university students who follow Wahhabism. The students "evangelized" members of the mosque, then won elections to control the board.)

Miftah goes into detail about his expulsion from the mosque in November, setting out a clear time line. He draws this conclusion about the actions of the mosque's leadership:

In my case, it was a very daring attempt by the leadership of the mosque, who first tried to silence me by scaring me with the word “anti-Islamic,” which carries a lot of repercussions and finally made me an example for other Muslims by expelling me out of the mosque. It now makes me believe, from the kind of response and the treatment that I received, that there are elements within the mosque leadership who have sympathies for terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda. To root out and expose such elements we need moral support from organizations like yours and also legal help to prosecute such rogue elements.

Miftah sought the help of the ACLU in pursuing legal action against the mosque, but the ACLU said they didn't have the resources. (Glazov notes that the ACLU has plenty of money for other projects. A couple of examples: defending the pederasts at NAMBLA or working with an accused terrorist operative to develop a curriculum for teaching Islam in the public schools.)

If you're an attorney and can assist Jamal with his case, please e-mail him at jamalmiftah@sbcglobal.net.

MORE on moderate Muslims:

Rod Dreher responds to a reader who emails about the notion of banning Muslim immigration, thinking about the demographic differences between Muslim immigrants to parts of Europe and those who come to America.


The point here is that the situation can be a lot more complicated than simply saying, "It's Islam's fault." And if you make a blanket indictment of Islam itself, as my friend points out, you risk marginalizing good people, solid citizens. But on the other hand, when you look at poll data of British Muslims, for example, you find shocking levels of support for Islamic law (versus British civil law). Whatever the root causes of this state of affairs, it's frightening.

I am reminded by all this of how little, really, we know about the Muslims who live in the West. Or at least in America. I know the kinds of Muslims I've interacted with professionally here in Dallas, and it's not encouraging to me as someone who would welcome truly moderate Muslims here. On the other hand, I've been told by Muslims and non-Muslims, people who know a lot more about this stuff than I do, that the leadership in mosques and Islamic institutions in the US has been bought by Saudis, and that ordinary Muslims don't dare object.

Dreher links to a National Review article he wrote about the al-Farooq mosque in Brooklyn, home to the first World Trade Center bombers and investigated for continuing to fund terror organizations. Dreher wrote about the fear non-Muslims in Brooklyn had about saying anything remotely critical of their Muslim neighbors.

If it's too dangerous for Arab Christians to speak out against Islamist neighbors, what is it like for dissenting Muslims? A senior terrorism analyst with The Investigative Project, which specializes in monitoring Islamic radicalism, insists that Muslims of goodwill believe, with reason, that standing up to Islamist thugs will get them killed. "Fundamentalists are the ones who have the drive. For non- fundamentalists, speaking out against them is not worth their life," explains TIP's Evan Kohlmann.

Kohlmann says that Islamic radicals get away with their activities both by stifling dissent within Muslim communities and by "turning any criticism into a civil-rights and a humanitarian issue. They know that by appealing to our sense of diversity and humanity, they evade scrutiny." Indeed, many non-Muslims in the liberal neighborhoods flanking the al-Farooq mosque would consider it racist and McCarthyite to question the loyalty of their Muslim neighbors.

Finally, Dinesh D'Souza wrote a four-part series in National Review Online calling on conservatives to work with "traditional Muslims" to oppose radical Islam. (Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV.)

MORE: A moderate American Islamic organization is offering to defend any of the passengers who might be targeted in a lawsuit by the "flying imams" against US Airways:

Lawyers and a Muslim group say they will defend at no cost airline passengers caught up in a lawsuit between a group of imams and U.S. Airways if the passengers are named as "John Does" and sued for reporting suspicious behavior that got the Muslim clerics booted from a November flight....

Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, a Phoenix-area physician and director of American Islamic Forum for Democracy -- a group founded in 2003 to promote moderate Muslim ideas through its Web site (http://www.aifdemocracy.org) -- told The Washington Times his group will raise money for legal fees for passengers if they are sued by the imams.

"It's so important that America know there are Muslims who understand who the victims are in air travel," said Dr. Jasser. "But I hope it doesn't get to that point because the backlash will be even greater when Americans see Islamists trying to punish innocent passengers reporting fears."

From AIFD's press release:

4. It is our hope as Americans and as Muslims that U.S. Airways stand firm in its defense of its actions to have the gentleman removed for concerns regarding their behavior after entering the plane. This is not about race or religion. It is about the privilege to fly securely.

5. The constant exploitation of America's culture of political correctness especially in this setting of what is the most dangerous environment of air travel is out of touch with America's priorities. Such misguided priorities by Muslim activist organizations like CAIR will make the legitimate defense of our civil rights far more difficult when more serious complaints of racism and discrimination are involved. America is quickly becoming numb to their constant refrains and the polls demonstrate the profound ineffectiveness of their tiring campaigns.

6. The organized Muslim community should instead be working on developing a strategic plan to counter militant Islamism within the Muslim community. That would do a lot more to change public opinion than suing the airlines who are trying to keep Americans who travel safe.

(Via JunkYardBlog.)

1 TrackBacks

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Jamal Miftah interview in FrontPage magazine.

TrackBack URL for this entry: http://www.batesline.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.cgi/2798

Next Friday night at 9, OETA, Oklahoma's public television network, will air "Islam in Oklahoma": Oklahoma is home to more than 30,000 Muslim Americans. Join leaders from Oklahoma's Muslim community as they address the questions and issues raised by Am... Read More

1 Comments

PG said:

What exactly do you, Miftah and Glavoz believe to be his constitutional case against the mosque? The IST is not a governmental entity, so it cannot violate Miftah's First Amendment rights. It is a private organization that can expel people for their speech (just as the Boy Scouts could expel someone for advocating homosexuality). Perhaps y'all should come up with a legal basis of complaint against the mosque that falls into the type of cases the ACLU does before saying that the ACLU is unsympathetic to Miftah's situation. The ACLU, as far as I know, does not assist plaintiffs in defamation cases.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 23, 2007 12:35 AM.

Tommy Allsup all summed up was the previous entry in this blog.

Has UK lifted restrictions on electronics in flight? is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Contact

Feeds

Subscribe to feed Subscribe to this blog's feed:
Atom
RSS
[What is this?]