3/30/2018: The Mere Suggestion of Islamism Triggers Islamists

March 30, 2018
by M. Zuhdi Jasser

 Invited on Campus

I was honored to be invited by the Duke College Republicans, Alexander Hamilton Society, and Young Americans for Liberty to speak to Duke University students on Monday, April 2, 2018. The topic I am set to speak on is “The American Muslim Identity: Patriot or Insurgent?”.  Anyone who follows our work, or has even looked at any of our ubiquitous public work, are aware that at the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, we see our American Muslim identity through the lens of liberty, freedom, and the separation of mosque and state. Our legacy and rai·son d’ê·tre is reform against Islamism and for individual liberty and human rights.

Contrary to the fabrications spread about our work by American Islamist groups, we seek to offer Muslims alternative choices and critical thinking with a far more diverse identity than the theocratic and fundamentalist and monolithic one of Islamism (political Islam) which the Islamists monopolize. We also strongly believe that the predominant precursor of violent Islamism and its attendant oppressive forces including but not limited to terrorism is non-violent Islamism. Our mission has both the benefit of providing food for the independence of free-minded, critical thinking Muslims while also being a counterweight against oppressive Islamist forces which are theocratic, autocratic, monarchical, and kleptocratic.


The mere title of my talk, the mere suggestion of a talk on Islamism juxtaposing the idea of a “salafi-jihadi insurgency” with American patriotism triggered the Duke Muslim Student’s Association (MSA). Apparently, it was, wait for it….  the word insurgent that triggered them? Yet, the MSA’s across the nation are triggered even when I debate other Muslim organizations, when I’m appointed to a US Commission, and any time our ideas get a seat at the table they monopolize. They are predictably exercised over the term Islamism, terrorism and jihad among many others which acknowledge central ideas that need to be honestly targeted for reform. Their response should make any professor who wants their students to engage in critical thinking chagrined.

They re-posted ad-hominem Washington D.C. Islamist lobby talking points with not one iota of actual substantive analysis or evaluation of any of my previous speeches, commentary, books or book chapters, or multiple submissions of congressional testimony. The promoters of “agitprop” who claim to represent Muslim students at Duke University were then followed by an unsigned editorial from the Duke Chronicle which continued the temper tantrum over a Muslim led conversation about ills of Islamism (Islamic theocracy) and solutions that can be found in Americanism (See my speech in Philadelphia on Americanisim vs Islamisim as an example). Never mind the fact that much like the rest of society, odds are very high that the majority of Muslims at Duke University do not feel represented by Duke MSA and their Islamist agenda. The esteemed Chronicle even seemed to make being a physician into a pejorative. Their vacuous research couldn’t even get my specialty correct. I’m an internist with additional specialization in nuclear cardiology and medical ethics. Never mind researching the greater than 15 years of our public material which has stood the test of time.


So who’s the bully?

The MSA’s bullying behavior got to the point where the Alexander Hamilton Society, an original sponsor of the event withdrew its support and posted apologies. It stands as no small irony that Alexander Hamilton was a founding father and an author of our Constitution and nation founded upon a revolution against theocracy and for liberty—the very central mission of all of our work at AIFD against Islamism (theocracy). Imagine Alexander Hamilton apologizing to a student association of the Church of England about making Christians feel targeted?


What exactly did the MSA say?

The Duke MSA’s primary concern appears to be what they call the binary nature of the title of the April 2, 2018 talk which has yet to be given. Yet, they ignore the fact that their entire identity politic narrative approaching Muslims as a single monolithic collective is actually worse than a binary. Apparently, their radicalization of Islam and Muslims is a suffocating Muslim identity monolith that should never be questioned let alone debated from other devout Muslims who cannot even be allowed the space to love our faith. Never mind that hundreds of books and events have begun conversations with a binary of extremes in order to discuss therein the shades of grey. Their problem with the title was an ‘agitprop’ deflection. After all, hypocritically,  when their Islamist or apologist allies pose these dichotomies and they know the answer rests in their favor, they cheer {i.e see apologetic book Good Muslim Bad Muslim}. But when an anti-Islamist Muslim poses the dichotomy and educates the masses about Islamist theocracy, they bully us into silence. As Quilliam Foundation, one of our partners in the Muslim Reform Movement has written in the United Kingdom, “It’s the Salafi-Jihadi Insurgency stupid”.

The MSA advertised their protest as a Teach in Against Islamophobia and Racism. There you have it. Even an American Muslim speaker who may echo the ideas of Mustafa Akyol, Fatima Marnisi, Bassam Tibi, Asra Nomani, Raheel Raza, Usama Hasan, Arif Humayun, and so many other reformers engenders the deceptive agitprop of radicalization of Muslims as one race and dissident ideas as “Islamophobia” or a blasphemy to their singular interpretation of Islam. I hate to break it to these students, but being Muslim is an adherence to a very diverse set of idea(s), a diverse interpretation of a faith- Islam. Being Muslim, believing in the idea of Islam, is not a race.  Certainly, Muslims have equal rights of every citizen and should not compromise any of their civil rights for their personal faith practice. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the cabal of Muslim majority regimes across the planet, created the trigger-word out of the way they control speech in their own regimes. Anyone who criticizes their regimes from Iran to Saudi Arabia is arrested for blasphemy and “criticizing Islam” since the President and leaders in effect act as “God”. The term “Islamophobia” is an oppressive concept which imparts rights upon an idea- Islam. Ideas do not have rights, people do. Blasphemy laws, like the term “Islamophobia” try to obstruct any honest conversations about faith. If any country in the world can and should be able to have constructive public conversations about the threat of theocracy (Islamism), it is the Unites States founded upon the defeat of theocracy.


So who is actually defending diversity?

 Diversity among Muslims is not only about ethnic diversity or racial diversity (immutable identities), it rather about choices, about ideological diversity. There is little to no ideological diversity among the Islamist establishment organizations on campus and nationally which claim to speak for Muslims. Contrary to the fabrications of the Duke MSA postings, I have never claimed to speak for Islamist groups like the MSA, but I have tried to give voice to reformers, critical thinkers, secularists, and free thinkers left out of almost every conversation in the West on Muslims and Islam. In fact, I proudly reject any identification with organizations who have an Islamist world view.

In social media posts the MSA felt it necessary to make some assertions about how they see their identity. We at AIFD and the Muslim Reform Movement (MRM) are working to create the middle ground where the authentic conversations which need to take place about sharia texts, misogyny, anti-Semitism, anti-Americanism, intolerance, extremism and deep reform can actually be publicly had.  We see the Muslim Reform Movement and its two page declaration as a beautiful Muslim led journey of healing and authenticity.


So now we respond to the Duke MSA and ask our fellow Muslims:

  1. Are you tired of making excuses about Muslim led violence?
  2. Are you tired of hiding the fact that you are Muslim? 
  3. Are you tired of being called to defend the assumptions made about your faith with no clear public stance from Muslims against the theocratic underpinnings of mass Islamist movements?  
  4. Are you tired of the judgement and shaming by other Muslims if you happen to muster the courage to speak out?
  5. Are you tired of the denial and dismissals by the “Islamist Establishment” who in every press release claim to “be THE Muslim community”?
  6. Are you tired of the arrogance from the Islamist establishment who believes that even in the United States, intellectual laity have no rights nor qualifications to challenge the ideas and authenticity of Islamist theocratic authority?
  7. Are you tired of exaggerated excuses; like “Islam means only peace”?
  8. Are you tired of Muslim leadership in America heaped in deep denial?
  9. Do you believe that a more open, self-critical, reformist approach by American Muslims against Islamist causes of radicalization would go a long ways towards melting away any bigotry that might exist against Muslims?
  10. Are you tired of Muslims who obsess with and blame America for every Muslim problem instead of focusing on and targeting the Islamist tyrants who torture imprison, and dehumanize Muslim fighters of liberty across the planet and even preach hatred here at home?

 Well, we leaders and activists of the Muslim Reform Movement were and are…and in our Declaration we outline strategies and practices that can help us out of the crisis we faceLet’s talk about the issues we know we are up against.  Are you ready to address the lack of humanity and biases within Saudi Wahhabism? Iranian Khomeinism? Syrian Assadism? Hizballah? Hamas? Muslim Brotherhood? Jammat Islamiya? Taliban?  And any other global salafi-jihadi movement?


I invite you to attend this event about the American Muslim identity and the irreconcilable battle between Americanism and Islamism that can only be reconciled by the separation of mosque and state by leading Muslim reformers. Note change of venue: Devil’s Den, 309 Oregon Street, Durham, NC.




 About AIFD

The American Islamic Forum for Democracy is a non-profit organization based in Phoenix, Ariz. dedicated to providing an American Muslim voice advocating genuine Muslim reform against Islamism and the ideologies which fuel global Muslim radicalization. AIFD’s mission is to advocate for the preservation of the founding principles of the United States Constitution, liberty and freedom, through the separation of mosque and state. In December 2015, AIFD convened and helped launch the Muslim Reform Movement, a coalition of over 12 Muslim organizations and leaders dedicated to reform for values of peace, human rights and secular governance.


About M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D.

Dr. Jasser is the president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, a think tank dedicated to protecting American national security against the global threat of Islamism. AIFD promotes reform-minded Muslim voices for liberty, and is shaking the hold which Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood have upon Muslim leadership. Dr. Jasser is the author of “A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot’s Fight to Save His Faith“. He is also founder of Take Back Islam and a co-founder of the Muslim Reform Movement.