Saturday, June 17, 2006

NYTIMES finds two clerics seeking "modern middle"

Nation: I think the term modern middle is getting stretched a wee bit here.

Sheik Hamza Yusuf, in a groomed goatee and sports jacket, looked more like a hip white college professor than a Middle Eastern sheik. Imam Zaid Shakir, a lanky African-American in a long brown tunic, looked as if he would fit in just fine on the streets of Damascus. Both men are converts to Islam who spent years in the Middle East and North Africa being mentored by formidable Muslim scholars. They have since become leading intellectual lights for a new generation of American Muslims looking for homegrown leaders who can help them learn how to live their faith without succumbing to American materialism or Islamic extremism. ....They say that Islam must be rescued from extremists who selectively cite Islamic scripture to justify terrorism. Though Mr. Yusuf and Mr. Shakir do not denounce particular scholars or schools of thought, their students say the two are challenging the influence of Islam's more reactionary sects, like Wahhabism and Salafism, which has been spread to American mosques and schools by clerics trained in Saudi Arabia. Where Wahhabism and Salafism are often intolerant of other religions — even of other streams within Islam — Mr. Yusuf and Mr. Shakir teach that Islam is open to a diversity of interpretations honed by centuries of scholars. Mr. Yusuf told the audience in Houston to beware of "fanatics" who pluck Islamic scripture out of context and say, "We're going to tell you what God says on every single issue." "That's not Islam," Mr. Yusuf said. "That's psychopathy." He asked the audience to pray for the victims of kidnappers in Iraq, saying that kidnapping is just as bad as American bombings in which the military dismisses the civilians killed as "collateral damage." "They're both sinister, as far as I'm concerned," he said. "One is efficient, the other is pathetic."
Moral relativism for the win.
A Goal for America While leading a mosque in New Haven in 1992, Mr. Shakir wrote a pamphlet that cautioned Muslims not to be co-opted by American politics. He wrote, "Islam presents an absolutist political agenda, or one which doesn't lend itself to compromise, nor to coalition building." While he did not denounce Muslims who take part in politics, he pointed out the effectiveness of "extrasystemic political action" — like the "armed struggle" that brought about the rule of the Taliban in Afghanistan. A copy of the pamphlet was found in the apartment of a suspect in the first World Trade Center bombing, in 1993. Mr. Shakir says he was questioned by the F.B.I., but had no link to the man, and that was the end of it. While studying in Syria a few years later, he visited Hama, a city that had tried to revolt against the Syrian ruler, Hafez al-Assad. Mr. Shakir said he saw mass graves and bulldozed neighborhoods, and talked with widows of those killed. He gave up on the idea of armed struggle, he said, "just seeing the reality of where revolution can end." Asked now about his past, he said, "To be perfectly honest, I don't regret anything I've done or said." He added, "I had to go through that stage to become the person that I am, and I'm not willing to negate my past." He said he still hoped that one day the United States would be a Muslim country ruled by Islamic law, "not by violent means, but by persuasion." "Every Muslim who is honest would say, I would like to see America become a Muslim country," he said. "I think it would help people, and if I didn't believe that, I wouldn't be a Muslim. Because Islam helped me as a person, and it's helped a lot of people in my community."
Read the article, though I think the Times need to searching a bit more.

Forums||
Copyright Narbosa 1998-2006
Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com