Florida Mosque Smears AIFD President
Florida Mosque Smears AIFD President Conduct unbecoming a mosque ﾅ but typical of many Islamists By Sid Shahid Now we know what happens to the voice of moderate Muslims who take on the Islamist establishment. This weekend we were witness to yet another exhibit of the rhetoric and personal invective which comes out of some mosques against pious Muslims who decide to engage these mosques publicly on their two-faced stances. On 17 May 08, the Islamic Center for Peace (ICP) Naples, FL. posted a laborious, painful, poorly written, incoherent, tangential tirade in apparent response to Dr. Jasserﾒs recent commentary entitled ﾓThe war of Ideas: Revealing the Moral Weakness and Hypocrisy of the Islamist Imam (Part 2 of 2.ﾔ (also note Part I of this commentary here). At first blush, we, at the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), were inclined to ignore this type of wandering ﾖ a personally vindictive rant devoid of any substance. The ICP mosque posted this, it would seem, out of their anger at Dr. Jasser and the results of the debate in which their imam participated in against Dr. Jasser over the threat of the ideology of the Islamic state to the U.S. on April 5, 2008 in Naples, Florida. Dr. Jasser’s commentaries noted above review the debate. This mosque’s angry posting is often ubiquitous on the web and not even worth addressing since it is more of an empty sharp personal attack rather than an intellectual defense of Imam Al-Darsaniﾒs ideology. However, in this instance it is particularly necessary since it serves to show the continued disingenuousness of the Islamist mind and moreover of Islamic Center for Peace based in Fort Myers, Florida. Taking a look at the techniques used to dismiss AIFD and Dr. Jasserﾒs positions can be highly educational in understanding the tribal mentality and dubious methods involved in using a mosque and a faith community to stifle much needed debate via personal attacks and invective. As an AIFD research fellow, I found it especially educational to look at the wandering irresponsible mind behind the anonymous posting at the home page of what purports to be a ﾑrespected mosque in Floridaﾒ. For those poor souls able to complete the entire missive, I believe the following points are particularly illustrative: 1. It is undecernable as to exactly who wrote this particular rant since it is unsigned and starts by referring to Imam Darsani in the third person and ends with what appears to be Imam al-Darsani himself speaking in the first person. Iﾒm not sure if anyone would want to take credit for this work if they didnﾒt have to. 2. One thing however is starkly clear. This is not written on any academic level but rather on a lowbrow level chock full of ad hominem and personal attacks on Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, AIFD President, who apparently committed the offense of disagreeing with ICPﾒs imam publicly and identifying his ideas for what they are– slippery, two-faced, and not far from being morally contemptible. While Dr. Jasser focused on the Imamﾒs ideas and the corruption they represent, the ICP and its ﾑfatwaﾒ (religious opinion) of sorts prefer to focus on reckless slandering and ad hominem against one of the few courageous Muslims willing to stand up against the suffocation of much needed debate in the Muslim community. 3. The writer claims that the Imam clearly condemned terrorism. His apologetics tried to both condemn and explain the ﾑoccupied situation of the terroristsﾒ. The quotations are available in Dr. Jasserﾒs last column and the full debate is available online. Somehow the writer thinks that comparing barbaric terrorists who target noncombatants to Patrick Henry and George Washington is not only morally appropriate but also is a clear condemnation of terrorism. Any rational human being not mired in Islamist duplicity and deceptiveness would call that at best apologetics and at worst corruption. How is it humanly possible to misinterpret this statement from the Imam when pressed about the moral legitimacy of terror: ﾓAbsolutely not for everyone, if I have nothing to fight with except my body against occupation, absolutely. (inaudible) and see what happened to these guys after the movie..(inaudible) killed in front of you , you are willing to give your life especially when you are trying to help,” 4. This mosqueﾒs ﾑfatwaﾒ of sorts claims that Dr. Jasser needs to retract this and that. There is nothing that Dr. Jasser needs to retract for the objective and honest reviewer. Watch the debate yourself and see the imam condemn terror then quickly retort to saying ﾓBut you need to understandﾅﾔ. Watch the imam condemn terrorism then backtrack to explain the plight of the terrorists; ridiculously comparing them to Patrick Henry and George Washington ﾖ so much for a genuine condemnation ﾅ sounds more like an endorsement for terror. 5. Make no mistake. It is indeed a sad state of affairs when a mosque finds it appropriate to turn its homepage into a public place where an imam and his mosque smears another Muslim. Yet, those of us wanting to debate Islamists on ideas know that this still is not about vicious personal attacks. Nor is it about the libelous un-Islamic immorality of likening a pious family and community oriented Muslim to a brutal Naziﾅ Hitlerﾒs right hand, Hermann Goering as they did. Somehow this so-called mosque of ﾑpeaceﾒ states, ﾓOne can only assume that he is of the Herman Goering school of thought.ﾔ If thatﾒs not slanderous propaganda, Iﾒm not sure what is. Goering was Hitlerﾒs second in command of the Third Reich and executed the Holocaust, where six million Jews were systematically tortured and murdered. Such hyperbolic libel and slander is the very nature of Islamists in their propagandizing and defamation of anyone who dares to speak against them. Moreover, what this is about is the central issue of the debate which Imam Darsani never really addressed ﾅ and this scalding ICP ﾑfatwaﾒ of sorts against Dr. Jasser never addresses – the ideology or correcting the apologetics. The brutal nastiness of this invective should illustrate the stakes in this conflict and how low some imams and mosques will stoop to smear their opponents who try to expose their immoral ideologies. 6. The Naples debate was over the goal of the Islamist terrorists, and more generally over the Islamists who are not themselves terrorists but give moral cover and excuses displaying an inability to condemn the terrorist endgame which is the establishment of the Islamic state. Dr. Jasser argued that there is no better way to diffuse the stimuli for terror than to delegitimize the Islamist goal of establishing the Islamic state. To this end, Dr. Jasser spent the majority of the debate stressing that a free secular democracy is in fact better for all faiths including Muslims who are more free to practice spiritual Islam, in a manner of their choosing, than any place else. Imam Darsani and the ICP ﾑfatwaﾒ of sorts did not address this central point. 7. The apparent ICP ﾑfatwaﾒ takes exception to the terminology used by Dr. Jasser. Much in line with the Islamist modus operandi, the word Islamist, political Islam, radical Islamist, are all seen as ﾑout of boundsﾒ for engaging in a scholarly debate about transnational Islamism as founded by the Muslim Brotherhood even though the MB standardized the use of the concept of political Islam and Islamism a century ago. This debate was about protecting America from that ideology- still ignored by the apparentﾑ fatwaﾒ. The one place that the mosque writer says anything toward the Constitutional issue is at the very end, ﾓOne may be shocked or surprised to see that it mostly echoes the Quran and the teachings of the Prophetﾔ. The issue was not the Qurﾒan but the Islamist imams and their interpretations of sharia law. The Imam said this uselessly generalized comment and then proceeded to openly defend ﾓdhimmi statusﾔ for Jews and Christians, and apostasy laws of death for those who leave Islam during the debate. Hardly, the US Constitution or the Islam I was taught. Let us not forget also that when Imam Darsani is called on by Dr. Jasser for offering apologetics for terrorism in what Darsani calls ﾓoccupied territoriesﾔ this is seen by the apparent ﾑfatwaﾒ writer as an attack and as name-calling. Dr. Jasser is again smeared for saying that Imam Al-Darsani gives political sermons, an assertion that Dr. Jasser never made. Certainly, Imam Al-Darsani appears to be a political imam. He believes in the Islamic state, governed by clerical interpretations of sharia when Muslims are a majority. His website is clearly a political pulpit. The tirade against Dr. Jasser now posted on the homepage of his mosque is exhibit one of the politicization of his position. It is chock full of politics and virtually devoid of spirituality or academia. 8. The apparent ﾑfatwaﾒ titles itself, ﾓExposing Dr. Jasser.ﾔ ﾅ exposing him ﾅ why and for whose purposes? Just because he holds certain truths to be self-evident. Certainly, he is well exposed on his own website for people of all faiths including all Muslims to see. He does not hide behind provisos when denouncing blatant acts of terror in the so called ﾓoccupied territories.ﾔ The anonymously written invective calls Dr. Jasser ﾑarrogant ﾅ egotistical ﾅ ultra neo-conservative ﾅﾒ all great for the late night hooka bar but STILL no real engagement of any serious ideas ﾅ just ad hominems and vile personal attacks. 9. The unidentified writer of the article also interestingly mentions making a reconnaissance mission here in Phoenix and visiting ﾑmany mosquesﾒ and speaking to ﾓleaders of the Islamic communityﾔ. Again, nameless individuals. One would assume Imams. Recall that six of the local imams (the majority on the Valleyﾒs Imam Council) were discussed in depth in a far more seriously academic expose by Dr. Jasser in the Middle East Quarterly of Winter of 2008. The Imams that the writer approached were most likely the same who refused to attend the first of its kind rally against terrorism that Dr. Jasser and the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) sponsored in 2004. Yet this sloppy blogger come reckless reporter spoke to a few unnamed ﾑleadersﾒ and spews slander with no evidence. And still, no mention of public engagement or substance or ideas in this character assassination of Dr. Jasser. All comments remain conveniently ﾓoff the recordﾔ and purely for invective. All so called ﾓleaders of the Islamic communityﾔ remain strategically nameless. 10. It is also interesting that while on his recent trip to Phoenix, the writer makes no mention of visiting the Mosque where Dr. Jasser regularly attends ﾅ where there is no Imam presently. The moderate imam was recently removed but he would have certainly told the writer about Dr. Jasser and his whole familyﾒs involvement with the Mosque. A little more factual reporting reveals these stories all mentioning Dr. Jasserﾒs involvement in the community: Breaking ground; Jews support effort of Valley mosque; Scottsdale mosque. But when the goal of the apparent ﾑfatwaﾒ is to smear and malign the character of Dr. Jasser, let facts not get in the way of getting as much hate and propaganda as possible from the Islamists here in the Valley whose antics against Dr. Jasser are well chronicled on the AIFD website. The apparent reconnaissance mission here in the Valley was not about truth (with sources concealed) but rather about finding other Islamist victims of AIFDﾒs attempt to bring the light of day and engagement upon their ideology. 11. Alas, according to the phantom writer Dr. Jasser remains ﾓﾅ a loose leaf floating around in a world that has refused to accept him.ﾔ Dr. Jasser was recently honored by the Phoenix Field Office of the FBI with the 2007 Community Service Award for outstanding service to the community as a Muslim. Dr. Jasser was recently invited to the Netherlands by the U.S. State Department and our American Ambassador as a moderate Muslim to engage the Dutch Muslim youth. Such a loose leaf that the Dutch Muslim Broadcasting company covered the visit in a detailed report (Part 1, Part 2). Dr. Jasser just six months ago year delivered the Templeton Lecture on ﾓAmericanism vs. Islamism.ﾔ As a prominent moderate Muslim leader, Dr. Jasser was also invited to participate in a discussion at the Hudson Institute with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen last December. I would point out to the phantom writer that this is ﾅ not ﾓrefusal to acceptﾔ ﾅ but rather a rush to embrace. 12. An assault is also made on Dr. Jasserﾒs qualifications in presenting a dissenting view of empowering the moderate Muslims to question the Islamists and their agenda in defense of our home ﾖ America– and its wonderful ideology of pluralism and freedom. Citing limited knowledge of the Arabic language and lack of Islamic training (whatever that may mean) the argument is made that Dr. Jasser is blind and those who listen to him and approve of him are blind, as well. So a graduate degree in another field for which he is greatly respected and a life time of practicing a faith with intellectual discovery leaves one unable to engage the ideology of Islamism? Give us a break. So here is their case for establishing tribal elitism and clergy in Islam which must determine and dictate to other ﾓlesserﾔ moderate Muslims what the true Islam is. The ﾑniyaﾒ (intention) which a moderate Muslim has and his/her actual ideas matters not ﾅ what matters is what the Islamist Imam dictates and there should be no debate no dissention. You are either in the smug little special club of scholars or ulemaa or you are not. The apparent ﾑfatwaﾒ from ICP clearly throws Dr. Jasser off their elite bus ﾅ fortunately this bus is off the pavement of decency, reason, and intellectual discourse. God help you if you debate one of them in the smug little club and you are not part of the club. Their tirade is only the first bad thing that will happen to you. In fact the apparent ﾑfatwaﾒ ends with a statement by someone (possibly the Imam), that states, ﾓI feel that we as a nation must work to weed out self proclaimed experts who sneak through the cracks and gain the trust of unsuspecting otherwise honorable citizensﾅﾔ Weed out? Is that a threat?ﾅ This is not the Islam I was taught. I was taught an Islam where reason prevails and where God has made spiritual Islam easy and flexible for its adherents ﾅ where every human has a direct connection with God ﾅ and on judgment day God will ask ﾅ not the Islamist Imam about my deeds or about my ﾑimanﾒ (strength of belief) ﾅ he will ask me and judge me ﾅ individually and relentlessly. So I must know my faith and be able to personally defend its ideas. By the way, it is un-Islamic to attack ad hominem ones knowledge without any factual basis. Debate and discussion is exercised and encouraged in Islam as Dr.Jasser points out in his piece ﾓWhich Islam, Whose Islam.ﾔ What is flabbergasting is that Imam Al-Darsani himself believes that his credentials are adequate to be considered an elite scholar worthy of rep
esenting the world of Muslim theology. He openly declares his mentor to be Sheikh Kiftaro who was quoted publicly in 2004 stating, “I call on Muslims everywhere to use all means possible to thwart the aggression, including martyr operations against the belligerent American, British and Zionist invaders. . . . Resistance to the belligerent invaders is an obligation for all Muslims, starting with (those in) Iraq.” Sheikh Kuftaro was a known collaborator with the Syrian government for decades and was considered the spiritual adviser to President Hafez Assad who much more appropriately can be compared to Goering. Kuftaro is a prime example of an Islamist tool of a dictatorship. Hardly a source of moral learning. 13. It is also alleged that Dr. Jasser cannot make a distinction between Islam and the action of a few. Once again, ICP and the phantom writer completely miss the distinction between political Islam and spiritual Islam ﾅ between faith and corrupting faith ﾅ between inclusion/embracing and smug tribal elitism. 14. And finally the long apologeticﾒs smoking gun ﾅ is the claim over who challenged who to the debate. It calls Dr. Jasser a liar and a fraud among other defamation. The truth is on their own video. Imam Al-Darsani acknowledges that Dr. Jasser openly welcomed debate, but insisted on inviting him for a ﾑdialogue.ﾒ Dr. Jasser when speaking personally to Imam Al-Darsani immediately after his question to the panel in which he supposedly challenged him to a debate told Imam Al-Darsani that it only makes sense to be called a debate. Imam Al-Darsani, in fact, refused to call it a debate and said he would only have a ﾑdialogue.ﾒ He insisted to Dr. Jasser that Muslims should not debate publicly and divide one another but rather ﾓcome together and dialogue publicly but debate privatelyﾔ. Then over the following weeks with the tenacity of the Florida Security Council, they agreed to calling it a debate after negotiations. This is the truth regardless of how ICP chooses to twist it. Regardless of the semantics, I have heard Dr. Jasser speak at many events. He has repeatedly stressed the need for a contest of ideas between spiritual and political Islam. He has welcomed a debate between him and any imams who were up for it, even before the Naples event was ever conceived. Dr. Jasser places the responsibility for embracing spiritual Islam and moving away from a corrupting political Islam on Muslims and Muslims alone. He walks the talk. So Mr. phantom writer, ICP, and Imam Darsani, why not focus on the gist of the main problem facing our great country the endgame of the Islamists- the root cause of terror – Islamism and on those who carry its water – the Islamists. 15. Finally, it is quite comical that Imam Al-Darsani denies being a ﾑpolitical imamﾔ yet posts on his webpage the following written by what appears to be himself, ﾓWithout a doubt America above all other nations, currently allows its citizens the most freedom to practice their faith and to live their lives the way they desire. However, we as American Citizens have allowed Government officials to hijack our Government and to pervert the rule of law that defines our freedoms. We need to take control and demand that irresponsible leaders are swiftly removed and replaced. Dr. Jasser serves as a tool for those same elected representatives who use his views to justify their positionsﾔ . This appears to be a calling for major political change of God know who or at what level while citing vague conspiracy theories of which Dr. Jasser seems to be a part. Still no concrete ideological debate ﾅ yet very typical of political Islam. What is significant here is the distinction between a voice of reason, Americanism, and moderation, and a voice of apologetics, victimology and discord. For those who are willing to see it ﾅ there is a clear distinction – between someone genuine who wants to sound out the debate within the Muslim community and between someone less than genuine who wants to stifle it. We at AIFD will not be threatened by those who want to ﾓweedﾔ us out or slander us in the Muslim community. We will forge ahead toward an honest hearing of the ideologies at conflict. _____________________________________________________________________________ Sid Shahid is an AIFD Research Fellow working for AIFD since September 2007. He has a long and distinguished career in Federal service. Sid has an undergraduate degree in Political Science and History from the University of Denver and a graduate degree in Management from Webster University. Sid is a native of Colorado and has lived in the Phoenix Valley since 2003. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Media inquiries: Gitenstein & Assadi PR. Susan Assadi email@example.com or Angela Jamison firstname.lastname@example.org Ph: 800-922-8792.