by Jason Criss Howk
“Who is this enemy that has declared war on humanity? From now on I will refer to them as Violent Radical Islamists. This specifically identifies them by their ideology and actions while differentiating them from the hundreds of millions of peaceful Muslims around the globe.”
If you haven’t listened to the feedback following the President’s speech at the Islamic Center in Baltimore you might not know that it fell flat with many Americans. Instead of helping to enlighten and unite the country it has further strengthened the beliefs on both sides of the topic. What could have been a useful example of interfaith dialogue fell short of my hopes and likely spurred little change.
As a longtime student of the Middle East and Islam who has many trusted Muslim friends around the world I went through a mix of emotions as I heard the president speak in Baltimore on February 3rd at an Islamic Center.
At first I was excited and felt the discussion he was starting was long overdue. Every president since Jimmy Carter, that had to deal with direct attacks on America’s citizens by violent radical Islamists, has failed to educate all Americans about this complex but important issue.
As he started to speak I was surprised at his stated purpose for speaking at the mosque which was to make Muslim Americans feel safe in America from other Americans instead of simply saying he wants to make all Americans feel safe from the threat of radical violent Islamism. I assumed his purpose would be to unite America and the world to undermine the ideology of the current global cancer.
I was frustrated that he spent so much precious time recounting the history of Muslims; being disappointed in everyone that is confused about Islam; and bringing up worn-out straw-man arguments so he could tear them down. In the end I was disappointed.
For almost eight months now I have been traveling around my state speaking about Islam and how the religion differs from the twisted ideology followed by violent radical Islamists. After twenty years working in or studying about Islam and Middle Eastern culture, and fighting against violent radical Islamists I felt it was my duty to help Americans understand Islam. To help them dismiss the myths surrounding the Quran’s messages and to urge them to engage in interfaith dialogue by getting to know their Muslim neighbors or vice versa.
My findings, based on the questions I have been asked, by these 100% non-Muslim audiences, and over 2 decades of discussions with my Muslim teachers and friends have motivated me to rewrite the President’s speech in a way that would have appealed to almost all citizens of this country. As it was written at the White House it has further clouded the differences between Islam the religion and the violent radical Islamist enemy that has declared war on the world. As delivered it unfortunately has made non-Muslims that are afraid of another attack on our homeland again feel as if they were not important enough to be part of the President’s audience.
The speech below is an attempt to make all Americans feel safer. Maybe it can set us on a path of understanding that removes the causes of bigotry and unites our citizens. It also provides an idea about how to undermine the ideology of violent radical Islamists while strengthening our allies who subscribe to the protection of all human rights that the next administration could follow. I feel this speech would resonate better with America because I have been giving it for 8 months and received very pointed feedback from my audiences. All of them ask why our Presidents haven’t been talking like this.
It is easy to give a speech to a fawning audience but it changes few minds. True leadership is about giving a clear and necessary message to an audience that mostly disagrees with you and changing their minds or at least making them question their assumptions.
This is not a perfect product so can certainly be criticized, yet while the White House had 7 years to write this speech I have tried to form it in less than 3 weeks. In case you are wondering my speech text contains fewer words than the text of the President’s speech.
Baltimore Speech 2.0
To be delivered by President Obama.
I have spent the weekend at Camp David speaking with all the living Presidents, Secretaries of State, and Secretaries of Defense. We brought in Muslim voices from all points of view to discuss the battle being waged inside the religion of Islam. Violence is increasing between the peace loving Muslims (that believe that people of all faiths can live together) and the violent radical Islamist ideologues (that believe they are the only true Muslims and that they have the authority from God to murder, maim, and enslave anyone that does not bow to them.)
I have learned that my advisors had dangerously led me down the same path that previous presidents have gone on this issue. The other presidents agreed that this recent war over Islam has gone on so long and affected our national psyche so much partly because of the actions of the presidency. While we as a nation can only have a small effect on the outcome of this battle, that peace loving Muslims must win, I as your president can speak more clearly and use precise language to educate Americans about the religion of Islam and how it differs from the ideology that underpins a global movement of violent radical Islamists. I apologize for underestimating the intelligence of the American people. I now realize that you are more than capable of understanding this complex but critical topic. That’s on me, not you.
It is time to talk to America about the ideology of the enemy that has declared war on not just The United States, but the rest of humanity. Violent radical Islamists thrive in failed, failing, and authoritarian states because they seek to replace them with a fair theocratic empire that was lost to history. They see this historical state through rose-colored glasses and are not living up to the teachings of the Quran. The world must unite to push this enemy down wherever they start to rise.
Today I am going to rectify some mistakes I have said before because I have been listening to you, the American people, and I do not want to be the 6th president in a row that has let you down. I apologize for not doing this sooner in my administration but it has taken me this long to truly understand this topic and just how much fear there is among all my countrymen for various reasons. Fear of other people based on their religion is something that most Americans don’t subscribe to, but I understand how in this case confusion about Islam and irrational hate towards Muslims has gained ground in our country. We will reverse that confusion and hatred together.
Every day we watch people die trying to get away from the violent radical Islamists that are ravaging the Middle East. We must help peaceful Muslims rid themselves of this scourge so they can enjoy life, liberty, and family. Have no doubt that this issue will continue to visit our shore if we don’t stop it elsewhere.
There is a battle going on inside the religion of Islam for the very essence of what it means to be Muslim. In America we don’t find it polite to talk about religion especially someone else’s. But the world needs to be honest about the scope and scale of this issue occurring before our eyes in the heart of the Middle East so close to where Islam began. This ideological struggle within the religion has spilled out violently across the globe. That makes solving it a human issue, not just a Muslim one. Maybe I am the one president that can talk about this without being called a bigot by the so called “Islamic spokespeople” in America. I grew up partly in an Islamic society, I work with Muslims daily, and I have been calling for peace in the Muslim world since I became president.
Who is this enemy that has declared war on humanity? From now on I will refer to them as Violent Radical Islamists. This specifically identifies them by their ideology and actions while differentiating them from the hundreds of millions of peaceful Muslims around the globe.
There are literally millions of people, the majority Muslim, trying to escape the planned and indiscriminate violence gripping their homes. You have seen the almost indescribable brutality being employed by people murdering innocents and selectively cherry picking parts of the Quran to support their actions. We’ve witnessed beheadings, crucifixions, and even shootings by children as the radical leaders dehumanize anyone not like them. They are burning and drowning people alive. They are enslaving men, women, and children and most disgustingly created child sex slaves that are passed around like property. The ideology of these brutes is also calling for the destruction of historical items that represent the great civilizations of the world.
The people who are doing this are violent radical Islamists. They vow to not only reclaim the lands of the former Islamic Empires, but to expand their ideology and reach around the world. They are no friend to Muslims or any other human being. They have declared war on the world.
I want to spend some time today defining some common terms you are all hearing on the news. The Muslims listening to me will understand the deeper religious and cultural significance of these terms. For The non-Muslims that are hearing this for the first time I will keep my explanations short and try to find an analogy that helps you understand these concepts. We will revisit these ideas in more discussions over the next year and will explain how we as citizens can achieve a better understanding of this problem and some solutions in my call to action later in the speech. Stick with me this isn’t a college lecture and I really need to right a wrong by talking about these topics.
Precise language and clear intentions can help the world to stop the slaughter and destruction happening on nearly every continent now.
We cannot let anyone silence us. I will no longer allow the straw-man argument, that somehow using the term violent radical Islamist to describe our common enemy gives them recognition as good Muslims or a Muslim state. In fact this designation marks them as people outside the normal teachings of Islam and unworthy of positions of leadership in government or religion. They are not just terrorists but they do employ terrorism. They are not just violent extremist organizations because the deadliest enemy of all humanity clings to the ideology of violent radical Islamism that unfortunately has roots in the long history of the Muslim people. You do not suffer from Islamophobia because you discuss this problem.
I will also no longer mention the straw-man argument that if I had only called them by their proper name earlier we would have defeated them by now. I admit that no one of serious consequence has made that statement because everyone knows this is a war that must be won by Muslims with the support of the rest of the civilized world and it will take decades to tamp down this ideology.
Finally I will challenge loudly and passionately anyone that says America is at war with Islam or Islam is at war with the West. Both these statements are ludicrous and divisive. America, more than any country in the world, has led the way in integrating people of all faiths into a cohesive national community. Although not always occurring smoothly or quickly, we are a melting pot and will continue to be, because we have a guaranteed right to worship as we choose or not to worship at all. Bigotry in America is declining and the spikes we sometimes see against religious groups of all kinds will be dealt with harshly. We will uphold our constitution and we should be proud of our efforts so far, while admitting that we can always do better.
Within the battle for Islam’s soul there is a massive majority of Muslims that are trying to silence the voices calling for violence and hatred inside their religion. This majority wants to stop politicizing Islam. They seek to take back their religion from people who use it to justify violence. Some are louder than others in this call to rid Islam of the violent radical Islamists. They are called reformers or moderates but in truth they are simply the true Muslims that believe the message of Islam found in the Quran is a call for humans to become better humans and to care for each other. They see goals God has set for them that include helping their fellow man not maiming or killing him. America stands with the hundreds of millions of Muslims that want to rid their religion of the scourge of violent radical Islamists. These deadly radicals are often mistakenly called jihadists or radical Muslims. There is almost nothing religiously Islamic about what they are doing and I will explain what I mean.
So as we join the brave Muslims that stand up against death and violence we will be called bigots or anti-Muslim by some outspoken groups funded by people who support the extreme views of violent radical Islamist groups. Those well-funded and self-appointed “spokespeople” for Islam are already attacking every Muslim that calls into question the validity and disgusting deeds committed by violent radical Islamists. These “spokespeople” often spout the same twisted ideology but are too cowardly to act on it. We will win this argument about who speaks for Islam because we side with those who know Islam is best exhibited as a force for good and not a tool to be used by murderers to cover up their quest for blood and power.
Islam is one of the great religions of the world. But as one of the Islamic scholars that spoke this weekend explained, “Islam is not a religion of peace or war. Islam is a religion, just like any other. Peace and war depend on one’s interpretation and ends.” Dr. Kadhim’s is an important point that people keep overlooking. No religion purely talks about peace; and although most extoll the virtues of peace, most religions have been used to justify violence too. We need to accept that any ideology can be used to justify murder and death; and right now Islam is being misused by violent radical Islamists on a global scale.
The Quran is not evil as some bigots spend their time trying to prove. It is a religious text and to Muslims it’s the word of God as given to the Prophet Muhammad via an angel. Just like the Bible the Quran has passages that discuss warfare and violence alongside passages about giving compassion to orphans and those less fortunate. Americans know more than anyone how important the freedom of speech is and that you can’t judge a book based on selected texts. I urge you to read the Quran then compare it to the Bible before condemning it. Remember violent radical Islamists are cherry picking the passages that support their twisted views and what they can’t find in the Quran they look for in unproven “Islamic sounding” texts and seek from their ignorant “religious” leaders.
What do the Islamists seek? In rough terms, they want to turn back the clock and rebuild the Islamic Empires of the past which were called a Caliphate. By pointing out the religious ignorance of radical Islamists we are not giving them legitimacy to claim they are heirs to the Caliphate, we are pointing out that they are not worthy of leading anyone.
The Prophet Muhammad is an important figure in Islam and is a messenger and a human being. He basically built the religious structure of Islam and united many Arab and non-Arab communities for the first time. He was a very popular leader in his lifetime and is respected today; but his death caused a split that is still being felt today in Islam.
Most of you have heard of the terms Sunni and Shia. This major division in Islam was created by arguments that turned into violent battles over the succession of leadership in Islam after Muhammad died. The Sunni are roughly similar to protestant Christians in their views of religion, they have no hierarchy of religious men between God and themselves, and their mosques vary wildly in their teachings of what it means to be Muslim. Shia, on the other hand, are roughly more similar to the Catholic model of having men in various religious hierarchy positions that can provide guidance on how to live properly. The majority of the Muslim world is considered Sunni and there is often a major tension in every country between the two major sects. This is just to help you get your head around this very complex idea and is not a detailed description of Islam.
Understand that it is complex, but the Sunni – Shia split is more a description of political identity than it is a theological term. Islam, the religious model and message, is similar for both Sunni and Shia. They share the same Quran. The footnotes added by oft-political not theological writers that publish various Qurans are where you will see some differences and the differences coincide with political beliefs not religious ones. In reality there are dozens of “sects” in Islam just as there are hundreds of churches to choose from in Protestant Christianity.
More important to our discussion today is the third group of Muslims that split from the Sunni and the Shia in the early days of Islam. After Muhammad, three other men led the religion of Islam as Imam or Caliph and many disputes had already surfaced over the concept of jihad and how to distribute tithes. Amidst the tensions and arguments Ali, Muhammad’s cousin, was chosen as the leader of Islam. Soon a series of battles with another claimant to the leadership mantle began.
During the fighting there came a moment of negotiation to end the violence and some of Ali’s “partisans” (where the word Shia comes from) said he was wrong to even hold talks. They threatened to leave him and create their own sect if he didn’t admit he was a blasphemer that wasn’t following the Islamic code correctly. They were called the Khawarij (the Seceders).
If that kind of demand “to agree to an armed group’s view of your religious status,” sounds familiar it’s because that is one place where the ideology behind the modern violent radical Islamists began. Those early radical Islamists, the Khawarij, formed into armed groups setting up checkpoints and employing terrorism. They killed anyone that disagreed with them ideologically and especially if they supported Ali (those called the Shia.)
Ali, through violence, almost wiped out the entire secession movement. While one remaining group of the Khawarij settled in modern day Oman and became one the most peaceful Islamic sects in the world the others did not.
The main theological idea that the Khawarij have passed on to today’s radical Islamist sects is the idea that if a Muslim commits a grave sin he is no longer believed to be a Muslim and that gives the Khawarij the right to kill the grave sinner. You may have heard those non-believers of Islam called kafir. So this group created the legacy of Muslims calling certain other Muslims non-believers (termed the idea of takfir.)
Unfortunately there are mosques in the world that teach that kind of thinking…that it’s OK to judge another Muslim for their sins and label them a non-believer so you can kill them.
This important discussion about the rise of sectarian ideology is documented in a concise and informed blog by Dr Abbas Kadhim and can be found at the website http://www.abbaskadhim.com/?p=332 , We will post the blog link on the White House website.
A few final terms you have heard about in the news are worth discussing today.
Wahhabism is a type of Sunni Islam that relies on many of the extreme views that came from early Islam. They believe in the very strict messages of an Arabian preacher and revivalist named Muhammad al-Wahhab who aligned with the Saud family in the 1700s to gain protection while he spread his version of Islam. That partnership survives today in Saudi Arabia and this ideology of Islam is shared around the world. They naturally clash with many Muslim’s beliefs and especially the Shia beliefs.
Salafism is another term for people that take a narrow and extremist view of Islamic thinking. They strongly believe in the ability to brand other Muslims as un-believers and to use violence to spread the religion of Islam.
Jihad as a religious term means to strive to be a better follower of God and to strengthen the religion of Islam. To struggle to improve Islam and yourself. The word has been hijacked in recent decades to only describe spreading and strengthening Islam by violence. This is why you hear the word Jihadi or Mujahideen describing those who are struggling to spread or defend Islam. I would suggest not giving these current violent murderers any credit by using a religious term that honors them.
Sharia law is another hot button term worth explaining. It translates into laws that follow Islamic teachings. It is very different in each country because no one can agree on what Islamic ideas should be turned into political laws. Also each country puts their pre-Islamic culture on top of the Islamic laws. No one practices a pure Sharia law because it can’t be codified and because all nations like to pick and choose what to believe. That is very similar to Christians and the bible when it comes to law-making.
Islamism meets Takfiri: The rise of violent radical Islamists
Remember this is a very basic explanation about a complicated topic and we will talk about this more in the future.
Since the 1920s there has been a movement growing inside Islam to harken back to the days when there was an Islamic empire where religion and political power were vested in one person. The idea is called Islamism or political Islam.
In these Islamists eyes the good old days led to the rise of a great Islamic culture because of the political arrangement. Though the 1940s and 60’s They put on rose colored glasses to view the past and spoke and wrote about getting rid of all the current kings and dictators that were holding back the cleansing power of Islam to allow the great Islamic Culture to rise again to be the envy of the world. There was a great Islamic culture that saved human inventions and ideas before, during, and after the dark ages of Europe. That culture also formed thousands of ideas and inventions that endure today. But, without a doubt there were flaws in the Islamic Empires.
Groups like the Muslim Brotherhood started to spread the ideas of Islamism and place the ideas into religious centers and Universities so that as young men were educated, they would start to feel a pull towards a new solution to their political troubles.
So by the 1970s those Islamists started putting their theory into practice and while some spoke of achieving Islamism through the ballot box others decided they could get there quicker through utter and ruthless violence. They cherry picked the Quran and used invented (and not universally accepted) “Islamic” texts to try to show that they were actually following the pure Islam of the past. Those false texts and false interpretations of Islam have been passed along at some religious schools and used to indoctrinate young Muslims turning them away from a peaceful existence and towards a life of radical violence. They use the false ideas of Violent Radical Islamism to become the judge, jury, and executioner of man. The first people they often kill are peaceful Muslims that don’t submit to becoming a violent radical Islamist.
Soon violent radical Islamists perfected the tools of terror and harnessed the power of terrorism. In 1979 it spread into the Shia circles as Islamists took over Iran to rid itself of a dictator and become a theocracy that could enforce religious inspired laws on the population and bring back the religious fervor of past times. Today they export that violent radical view of religion to groups like Hezbollah and Hamas who are terrorist organizations. If you have never seen images of the Iranian government hanging homosexuals in the town square then you are ignoring their deadly ideology.
In the 1980s bands of men calling themselves jihadis went to the Afghan-Pakistan border to fight the Godless communists in Afghanistan. This is where Bin Laden grew from a young ideologue to a terrorist mastermind that would fully harness the ideals of violent radical Islamism and build Al Qaeda. AQ would declare war on America in 1996 and finally strike in a massive way on September 11th 2001.
Pakistan gladly supported and coordinated the violent radical Islamist fighters in the region during the 1980s. America used them to fight the Soviet Union but failed to provide oversight to ensure the fighters disarmed and rejoined civil society later. Pakistan has still not learned the lesson that America did from that failed oversight. Both countries, and other nations, must recognize they helped give rise to the modern organizations around the world today, by facilitating the feeding of that ideology with money and arms.
After the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001 and the invasion of Iraq in 2003 we saw a branch of AQ emerge in Iraq that was willing to work with Saddam’s old friends to fight America. Earlier the AQ forces in Afghanistan planned to work with Iran to fight a secular Saddam but the U.S. offered a better target after Hussein’s fall.
AQ in Iraq was on its heels when America quickly withdrew its forces. Our rapid departure along with the Syrian civil war and many other events conspired to super-empower the ideas of violent radical Islamism and give the world ISIS.
ISIS is AQ 10.0. They are much better at recruiting, violence, and propaganda. They are spreading globally and many other violent radical Islamist groups are aligning or allying with them. This includes Boko Haram, AQAP, radicalized individuals worldwide, Kashmiri and Pashtun Islamists, as well as criminal organizations and countless other groups.
So here we are today. Numerous violent radical Islamist groups are murdering and growing across the globe. They feel empowered by their selective understanding of Islam to act as judge, jury, and executioner of anyone they meet. They are empowered by success.
What can we do?
What can citizens do?
- Hold open and honest discussions about the small sliver of Islam that has distorted the teachings of the Quran in a way that can be used as an ideology to underpin violent behavior. Accurate messages about this history can educate people in an effort to undermine the radical twisted ideology of the world’s enemy.
- Reach out to young people whether they attend Mosque or not. Teach them the truth about the guidance from the Quran and loudly discredit the radicalizing forces that are trying to tempt them into becoming a violent radical Islamist so they can be used to commit murder and rape and turn their backs on their family, nation, and religion.
- Look inside our religious texts to ensure they are not filled with bigotry against other religions. In the case of some Qurans ensure they don’t use footnotes to elevate violent Jihad as an important religious duty or dehumanize Jews and Christians by equating them to apes and pigs.
- Be the first to reach out to other religious groups in your area to hold joint-fellowship and begin an interfaith dialogue to help dispel myths and build bonds of friendship.
- Work closely with legal authorities to identify people that are spreading this deadly ideology and recruiting young people to become murderers.
- Identify people that are becoming radical or have taken up this violent radical Islamist ideology.
- America’s leaders have done a poor job pushing and joining in interfaith dialogue. All leaders at every level must lead this discussion. I will travel the country to help you for the remainder of my term and after I retire.
- America needs to extend a neighborly hand to all legal immigrants to this country regardless of religion or ancestry. We will not stop building our American family but we can be smarter about our screening process to ensure we are protecting ourselves from danger.
- Fight against bigotry wherever you find it.
- Ignore people that will say you suffer from Islamophobia for even having this discussion. They are a powerful lobby.
What can world leaders do? (Starting with the president of the USA)
America has had a hard time expressing our national security policy in regards to the enemy that has declared war on us and has been attacking our country and citizens since the 1970s. That ends today.
For the rest of my term we will follow these concepts and I hope the next administration can continue this effort.
- Build a coalition of pro-human rights and liberty-focused nations to pressure those nations that fall short of these concepts into improving in order to gain benefits from membership in this group. Our coalition will target the ideology of violent radical Islamists and partner with peaceful Muslims the world over to:
- Increase freedom of speech.
- Require complete freedom of religion including the ability to not participate at all.
- End forced female mutilation of genitals or any other part of the body.
- End honor killings.
- Remove government laws against being homosexual (LGBT).
- Seek full rights for women. To work, go to school, and travel alone by any means they feel safe etc.
- Rape must be vigorously investigated and rapists must be jailed. Victims will be considered innocent of any crimes and must be protected in the process. Including both male and female victims.
- Women cannot be forced to dress in any specific manner.
- All law-abiding citizens must have the right to vote.
- All citizens will have equal access to the justice system.
- All citizens must be equal when it comes to property ownership laws.
- No nation can allow religion to be used to cause or justify violence.
- No nation can discriminate against anyone for their religious belief or ancestral heritage.
- No child can be married in any way before the age of 16.
- No one may be forced to marry another person in any fashion or be promised by another family member to a marriage.
- No child under the age of 18 may be used in the role of a security sector member (soldiers, police, etc.)
- Suicide bombings and all other acts of terrorism must be made illegal and also immoral.
- Develop a two tier system at the UN that only allows nations that meet these basic human rights to vote and receive money. 1st tier states are in the coalition. Second tier states must work their way in to the “free” community of nations. If the UN rejects this, start a new UN and defund the old one. The coalition would be made up initially of the top contributors to the UN so removing our funding will shake the organization.
- Evaluate nations and consider cutting-off U.S. and International Financial Organization funding and support to those nations that violate basic human rights and allow support or funding of violent radical Islamism. We will make direct micro loans and grants to women, freedom seekers, and human rights supporters world-wide to undermine their repressive governments and ensure their elevation in society.
- Continue interfaith dialogue and inter-religious community activities. (Local, state, federal, and international levels.)
- Unleash our most skilled warriors to hunt down and destroy violent radical Islamists wherever they rise to harm innocent people. Time to take the gloves off and let them do what they do best. I have heard their requests for a clear policy and less micromanagement.
American workers should not have to fear someone coming to their workplace screaming Alluah Akbar while they shoot and cut innocent victims. Government employees should not have to fear being killed in an explosion at their building. Muslim children should not feel like second class-citizens or be bullied for their religious beliefs. Christian and Jewish followers should not suspect the Muslims in their neighborhood are “up to something” because they keep to themselves. Muslims should not be afraid to interact with their fellow Americans because they think they are bigoted against them. There are many extremist murderers in the world but today I have explained how we can target one of the most deadly and fastest-growing groups worldwide.
America has a great track record of assimilating immigrants over time. We do it better than most countries. We have guarantees of free speech and religion that enable us to freely discuss tough issues and to worship in whatever way we choose to or not to. We can fix these problems together.
I am also going to get rid of my current advisors on this topic and hire the guy that wrote this speech.
I feel strongly about this topic because I have so many honorable and peace-loving Muslim friends around the world and in America. I also have great non-Muslim friends that cannot figure out the complexity of this topic because our leaders constantly cloud the issue when they speak Additionally I don’t want to see any more friends die fighting against this enemy without a strategy to defeat this ideology.
Most Americans are not aware of attacks, both verbal and physical, against Muslims in America. Most Americans don’t even know anyone that is Muslim, because we seldom talk about religion. Most people wouldn’t know if their coworkers were atheist, Muslim, Jewish, Wiccan, or Buddhist. Most Americans don’t study Islam. Nor do they study the Middle East where so many problems caused by radical Islamists today are emanating from. If you want to learn more about hateful activities aimed at Muslims you can go here.
I have yet to find a website tracking all the great work that peaceful Muslims are doing to undermine the ideology of bigotry and hatred that fuels violent radical Islamists. We need to make the world more aware of the work going on to undermine the world’s enemy. Look on social media to see them in action daily. There are many Muslims fighting this ideology and they are also being attacked everyday by radicals calling them un-Islamic while working to take down their websites and blogs. Violent radical Islamists and their supporters don’t believe in free speech or choice.
The majority of my friends want to live in peace, make an honest living, and enjoy their life with family and friends. This, I find, is the same the world over. Let’s marginalize and de-legitimize those who seek to divide humans into sub-groups of religion, race, or sexual orientation for their own selfish reasons. We can do it by educating ourselves and others, being clear to the world what we stand for, and dealing with those that would do us harm before they are able to gather enough strength to do so.
I will commit the rest of my life to bringing about a peaceful coexistence between all major religions and those who don’t believe in religion through interfaith dialogue and supporting basic human rights for all citizens of the world.
Where do you stand?
About the author:
I am not a typical American when it comes to the topic of Islam. I have prayed in mosques, synagogues, and temples although I am a Christian, because soldiers learn quickly that any house of worship will do. Some of my most trusted friends are Muslim and some of them I entrusted with my physical safety hundreds of times in Afghanistan. My master’s degree is in Middle Eastern Studies with a deep focus on Arab culture and Islam. I am a Malone Fellow in Islamic and Arab studies and have attended Middle Eastern conferences for over a decade.
My thesis on Oman was so fair to the people in that country that they translated it into Arabic and published it as a book so their students could read an American’s view of Oman. I have read the Quran a few times and own three copies of it. My current book project is writing a translation of the Quranic text in modern English. I am also writing a novel in which the main character’s most trusted friend is an Arab Muslim that lives in the U.A.E. I have volunteered to serve three times overseas and each time I went to work directly with Muslims to bring security to their country. My vacation wish list is full of Muslim countries I want my wife to see. I have acted as a sponsor for Muslim military members that were attending schools in America.
So I am not your typical American writing about our presidents failing to educate America about Islam and differentiate it from the ideology violent radical Islamists. An ideology they use to defend enslaving people and passing around girls under the age of 16 as sex slaves in some countries. I spend my spare time speaking to Americans that have no understanding of Islam in an effort to make them understand that the vast majority of Muslims are just like them. The feedback I get from my audiences tells me that six presidents in a row have failed to educate America.
Be willing to listen and learn.