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Sunday, December 10, 2006

"The American Muslim" attempts to show how moderate Islam is. It fails.

"The American Muslim" website is very upset that so many in the West say that Islam is not condemning terrorism consistently and loudly. In response, its editor, Sheila Musaji, has been putting together lists of fatwas and statements and articles by Muslims showing how they do indeed condemn terror.

Unfortunately, their condemnations are very selective, and it is nearly impossoble to find any of these fatwas condemning any terror attacks against Israeli civilians.

It is most disingenuous to quote Sheikh al-Qaradawi's condemnations of a terror attack against a synagogue in Tunisia in 2002 and ignore the same man's support of suicide bombings against Israeli Jewish civilians.

Perhaps Ms. Musaji thinks that no one will actually look at any of the articles she links to, such as this one showing how Saudi clerics differentiate between Jihad and terrorism:
MECCA, Saudi Arabia - Muslim scholars meeting in the holy city of Mecca stressed Thursday that terrorism is alien to Islam, which the West has often associated with terror since the September 11 attacks on the United States.

In a statement issued after a six-day meeting, a group of scholars affiliated to the Muslim World League spelled out their definition of terrorism, saying it applied to "any unjustified attack by individuals, groups or states against a human being."

This includes attacks on a person's "religion, life, property and honor," they said.

The scholars meeting in this Saudi city said "any act of violence or threat ... designed to terrorize people or endanger their lives or security" also amounts to terrorism.

"Damaging the environment and public or private facilities, and endangering natural resources" is equally an act of terror, as are "murder and banditry."

But jihad (holy war or struggle) cannot be equated with terrorism, the scholars said, noting that "struggling against occupiers and colonial settlers who drive people from their land and against those who help them" is legitimate in Islam.

Struggling against "those who renege on their commitments" or prevent Muslims from "peacefully preaching" their religion is a form of jihad, they said.
This definition of jiahd is broad enough to include every Israel man, woman and child. I did nto see one condemnation of Hezbollah's or Hamas' random firing of rockets into civilian areas of Israel.

By extension, this definition of jihad can also include any members of any nation that doesn't ostracize Israel (struggling...against those who help them.) Meaning any citizen of any nation that trades with Israel can be easily interpreted to be "helping settlers and occupiers."

So while she marshals a large number of fatwas against 9/11 or the Madrid bombings, this is hardly the same as saying that Muslims are against terror. Because as long as Muslims consider Israeli civilians as legitimate targets, as countless fatwas attest (see Islamonline.net for many examples, quoting many of the same clerics that Ms. Musaji does,) one must conclude that Islam does indeed support terror - just they would like to pretend that these cases aren't terror at all, but legitimate holy war.

Islam is a legal-based religion, and in legal-based religions each word is very important. As such, without a much clearer definition than the weasly one offered by the Saudis (terror is only an "unjustified" attack against human beings but no definition of what is considered "justification") we can only conclude that this entire list is an example of subterfuge to cover over Islam's real feelings towards terror.

I would define terror as the purposeful targeting of a civilian person for a political purpose. Qaradawi's definition of every Israeli man, woman and child as being in the military is absurd and should be condemned by any real moderate Muslim.

Where are those fatwas, Ms. Musaji? Where are solid definitions that would work consistently for all people? How can we in the West know that the Israeli "occupation" is different from the Spanish "occupation" of former Muslim Andalusia? Who dares to condemn major Muslim leaders who support suicide bombings? What Muslim organizations or individuals condemned Hezbollah or Hamas for their indiscriminate attacks against Israeli civilians?

For that matter, Ms. Musaji - as a representative of moderate American Islam -what do you think? Would you go on the record in your magazine to condemn Qaradawi's reprehensible beliefs? Would you be willing to publicly stand up against Palestinian terror attacks, and condemn Yasir Arafat's campaign of terror from the 1970s through his death? Would you condemn the heroes of the Arab world in your pages?

If you want to show the world what moderate Islam looks like, I'd love to see you put your own words behind what you say you believe, without finding exceptions that seem to only apply to Israel - at least in English.