Corruption of Faith: Defiling what is good

The Arizona Republic and the East Valley Tribune both ran a poignant op-ed by Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe Tuesday on “Mutilations and Muslim Law.” Jacoby expressed his outrage at the barbaric proclamations of some medieval Muslim clerics. He cited the statements of Saudi sheik Shehabi and that of Sheikh Mawlawi of the European Council for Fatwa and Research from Islamonline. These are only two examples of many abroad. It is certainly obvious from their explanations of mutilation and bizarre defense of vengeance that the expression of faith of these self-appointed clerics bears no resemblance to the faith of Islam I know and yet we use the same text – the Holy Koran. The amount of damage done by such backward proclamations by self-appointed Islamic pseudo-scholars is profound. They misrepresent their faith, they embolden anti-Muslim sentiment, and they fuel militant Islamist hate. Their fatwas will continue – this week on mutilation and next week on whatever strikes their fancy. These malignant fatwas are cloaked in false theology and only clarify the theological sewage in which the enemies of freedom in Iraq and Saudi Arabia travel. To displace the sewage with learned ecumenism is the challenge for Muslims around the world. The never-ending series of militant Islamists who target innocents and behave like animals – in not only killing human beings but in mutilating corpses – continues to be too much to handle as an American and as a Muslim. What can be said, is that this global war against militant Islamo-fascism is clearly against a two-headed snake of one mind – militant Islamists and their clerical mentors, with their one ideology, the false religious justification of terrorism. To defeat them we must defeat the militants in the war on the ground and intellectually defeat the clerics who facilitate them in the ideological war within Islam. As the stream of poison from both heads of the snake continues, it is clear that war must be waged symmetrically. To wage it only on the ground will not be enough. These clerics are in fact illegitimate in a religion which has no clergy. Interestingly, they have only contrived the concept of fatwa in order to exert control much like heresy is often used in any institutionalized religion. Unfortunately or fortunately depending upon perspective, the concept of an institutionalized church with clergy is antithetical to Islam and no where to be found in the Koran. These radical clerics are simply tribal warlords basking in their nauseating light of the instant international media of the 21st century. They render self-serving violent edicts for war in the name of religion and falsely justify barbarism. We should not be deluded into thinking that medieval clerics can be reformed. But these false theologians can certainly be displaced to the ‘ intellectual dustbin of religious history’ by moderate, tolerant, compassionate teachers of a tolerant pious secular Islam. Let me be clear. In a religion which includes over a billion people world-wide most of whom currently live in autocracy, one can certainly line up hundreds if not thousands of so-called clerics bred in bastions of hate who will endlessly render horrific statements in the name of a faith . These deviant clerics have arisen out of the ashes of many of their freedom loving coreligionists who have died fighting against them for their very own religious freedom. Shades of this continues to this very day. For this reason, the liberation of Iraq will go a long way toward defeating militant Islam. For as long as the dictatorships remain, radical Islam will find a home. In Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak and his regime, “granted the state-operated Al Azhar seminary the authority to supervise and seize material deemed in violation of Islamic law {ellipsis} the regime has approved the formation of an Al Azhar force to inspect book stores and kiosks for material that counters the Sunni Islamic mainstream.” Just a small example of the pervasive pathological parasitism between Arab dictatorships and religious theocracy. No matter how well intentioned Al-Azhar University and Mubarak may be in eliminating the radical element and their systemic educational indoctrination, the use of state-sponsored entrenched theologians to enforce this remains antithetical to freedom and inculcates the very practices which they are trying to thwart from the radicals. Islamo-fascist terrorists can no longer be given a free ride without active displacement and world-wide response by moderate Muslims. They can no longer be allowed to remain unanswered in their use and misuse of Koranic verses to justify actions of revenge and vengeance that are clearly prohibited in the Koran as being against the laws of God. It is time to wake-up those who will displace the radical clerical enablers of militant Islam in the international war of ideas within Islam. Organizations like AIFD (the American Islamic Forum for Democracy) here in Phoenix are trying to do just that. For there are certainly moderate imams (‘teachers of religion’) in Islam and their voices are not often heard in global media. A body of tolerant religious commentary will have to further evolve from freedom-minded Islamic scholars. In the end, the solution will come from the disciplined relegation of Islamic scholars or clerics to a strict academic advisory role visa vie the rise of grass roots Muslim voices which are able to separate affairs of religion from that of the state. Only when Muslims can as a majority openly free themselves of the reigns of any pseudo-clergy will they be able to displace this harmful global coexistence of clerics and radicals. Organizations like AIFD here in Phoenix are in fact actively waging this type of frontline intellectual struggle for the soul of Islam in order to ultimately defeat the clerical head of the militant Islamist snake This column originally appeared online at the Arizona Republic at this link.

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