My recent article regarding David Patterson’s effort to reach an alternative to building an Islamic Cultural Center two blocks north of the former World Trade Center site elicited the comment below and my reply. I am glad and grateful this series of articles has created the opportunity for dialogue and discussion.
Thanks for pointing to my “diatribe”. I would agree that Muslims are indeed not monolithic.
In my article, I did not mention Shia scholars because I just not aware of who the mainstream shia scholars in the States are, and sunnis form a significant majority in North America anyway.
However, outside the main sects of Islam, there are voices that do NOT fit in the mainstream, who represent very fringe voices. This includes both the extremely liberal voices like Fatah who doesn’t belong to any mainstream sect, and also extremely conservative voices like the revolution muslim crowd. Both these elements usually create acrimony, and come out with positions that defies 99% of the Muslim populace. Why then are they given ANY platform?
Think about it. Do we hold up Westboro Church as representating Baptism? Why are they set aside as being kooky and kept away from MSM platforms, and yet we have folks like Tarek Fatah whose Islam is as foreign to a Muslim as is Scientology to Chrisitans, on the public airwaves.
When we hold up people like Fatah and the revolution Muslim on the other side, it greatly irritates and disappoints the vast majority of Muslims who don’t see either of these characters or their ilk, as being remotely representative of our faith or its adherents.
There is a huge spectrum of Muslims to choose talking heads from, from the left to the right. I am not arguing for one group over another. All I am arguing for is mainstream, “normal”, “average” Muslim representation.
Hope this makes more sense now.
And, my reply:
Amad, I think the problem for Americans unfamiliar with the sects and nuances of Islam from your viewpoint is that someone like Tarek Fatah makes a whole lot of sense. From what I read about Muslims, many, like Christians, are so only in name and not in practice. But, from my own experience, that is definitely not true. Clearly, the problem lies with the activists. So, while Mr. Fatah can be dismissed as reflecting that ‘secular’ group of Muslims, we are still left to wonder why those who hate the West and what it stands for get so much attention? Of course, it is partly because a bomb gets attention.
So I think, and here is the crux of the matter, it is necessary for the education of the West not to be left up to those who bomb or mutilate or stone women. In the West, such behavior is considered barbaric and no amount of equivocation about Shar’ia Law can mitigate that. Moderate Islam, secular Islam and other sects of Islam must come forth and explain how they feel about the hot button issues for Westerners, which include the subjugation of women, Shar’ia Law, their relationship with the Western societies in which they are increasingly living, and so on.
In the West, we are only becoming increasingly confused because those other Islamic voices are speaking or fighting with each other, but not coming forth to explain to us who they are and in what they believe. In short, we are not looking for a voice that speaks for all Muslims any more than one that speaks for all Christians or Buddhists for that matter. We want to hear them all, rationally, so we can judge the truth for ourselves.