From Yahoo News
In our silence, Muslim Americans essentially collaborate with the Islamists
By Qanta A. Ahmed Qanta A. Ahmed Tue Mar 29, 1:09 pm ET
New York – Decapitation has a way of clearing one’s head. My invitation to a beheading came from former Israeli officer and counter-terrorism expert Richard Horowitz, who thought that if I watched a video of one in the security of his library, I would understand what he already knew: just how ferociously we in the West are hated. In the video, a Muslim boy beheads a man. The murderer is 10.
I am a woman who practices medicine and Islam. Islam took me to Mecca and Hajj. Medicine took me to Riyadh and London. Each capital hosts communities espousing Islamist neo-orthodoxy. Both spawn violent jihadist ideologies. Listening to counter-terrorism experts and examining the ugly underbelly of contemporary radical Islamism has taught me what Muslims in Mecca, Riyadh, or London could not: the difference between Islam and Islamism.
Rep. Peter King (R) of New York’s Senate hearings seek answers to these and other questions, while attacks of “Islamophobia” and “McCarthyism” threaten to suffocate this vital discourse. As a Muslim, watching Islamists at work lends me rare perspective. Mr. King’s hearings offer the public this same perspective, just when it is needed most.
Suicide bombers should be called homicide bombers Islamist terrorism places martyrdom at its center, distorting Islam into a false faith valuing death above life. Islam reviles suicide, yet suicide operations are now synonymous with Islamist terror. This is deliberate.
Suicide distracts. Suicide enthralls. Our terror terminology appears transfixed by these suicide bombers’ singular pursuit of self-destruction, seemingly overlooking the murder these martyrdom operatives commit. Dr. Joan Kirschenbaum Cohn, assistant professor of Medicine and Community Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center, observes these martyrs are better termed homicide bombers. Somehow this phrase never caught on.
These “martyrs” seek only to divide: the living from the dead; those who believe in death from those who believe in life; those who choose nihilism over those who guard pluralism. Islamist elements, not Senate hearings, have created the same divides here in America. These divides are not the work of Americans marginalizing Muslims. These divides are the work of Muslims marginalizing Muslims. We have polarized ourselves.
Shame is uncomfortable. Denial is cozy. The duplicity of the Islamist operative horrifies most. A fellow passenger on a plane, a major within our ranks, a mediocre MBA at the office, always a fellow “Muslim,” the Islamist moves among us. But for Muslims, our discomfort descends deeper. Islamist operatives claim to be the unequivocal, ultimate Muslim, shaming those who refuse to join their cause as not “real Muslims.” Such shame is uncomfortable, since being a good Muslim means being part of a global brotherhood. If we separate, we reveal the fissures among us. Instead, sheltering ourselves from this distress, we falter and choose denial.
Denial is cozy. In its inviting comfort, we endorse causality – Islamists and their attacks are explained by alienation, psychiatric disease, disempowerment. Neatly rationalizing our distress, we foxtrot straight into the denial of our own culpability.
There, in the heart of darkness, we succeed as accessories to the erosion of our own beliefs. We commit the ultimate transgression: exoneration. In our silence, we are willing executioners, and diabolically, we essentially collaborate with the Islamists. We have a hand in Islamâ€™s mutilation, a dismemberment as grotesque as the decapitation that set me upon this path.
We must be speak up, out loud The antidote is, like many medicines, hard to swallow: We must be bold, bolder than the boy with the knife. We must be bold at a time of fear. We must criticize, bear witness, and confront Islamist Muslims or the Islamist organizations claiming to speak for us. Be warned. They cry “Islamophobia!” while they suffocate only us. Just when “Islamophobia” seeks to smother debate, we must speak up, and out loud.
ANOTHER VIEW: Muslim Americans: The dangers of lumping our friends in with our enemies
Decades into the monster of radical Islamism, Mr. Horowitz, and thoughtful others in his rank have been studying Islamists long before Muslims cared. It’s time Muslims join in this grueling, thankless work. We must say what we see. Islamist martyrdom operations, suicide bombings, make-believe martyrdom as child’s play – these, and others, are a Muslim’s malady, maladies that can only be decapitated from within.
Qanta A. Ahmed is the author of “In the Land of Invisible Women,” detailing her experience practicing medicine in Saudi Arabia. She is associate professor of medicine at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook; honorary professor at Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland; and a 2010 Templeton-Cambridge Journalism Fellow in Science and Religion. Follow Dr. Ahmed on Facebook, Twitter @MissDiagnosis, and her Huffington Post blog.
via The OpEd Project
I just had to go back and tweak my subject line... here is another article by a Muslim woman on the same subject.
Also from Yahoo News
Muslim Americans: The dangers of lumping our friends in with our enemies
By Zeba Khan Zeba Khan Tue Mar 29, 11:16 am ET
Toledo, Ohio – Remember when your parents used to drag you out of bed for Sunday school? I do. Despite my best efforts to persuade my parents to let me sleep in, growing up in a religious, middle class, Muslim American home meant I attended mosque every weekend for nearly a decade. So when Rep. Peter King (R) of New York and others insist that 85 percent of mosques in this country are being run by extremists and are breeding grounds for homegrown terrorists, I have to wonder: Was my childhood mosque just an anomaly that functioned more like a church than one of those terrorist-producing institutions?
Hereâ€™s the short answer: No.
Extremists and those susceptible to being influenced by them will always exist on the fringes of any religious or political community. But casting suspicion on millions of Muslim Americans and their places of worship because of fringe elements not only goes against our American ideals but also unduly burdens and thus weakens a first line of defense against extremism: Muslim Americans.
Members of my family have been involved in our mosque’s leadership for as long as I can remember, from working with the architect who designed the mosque to interviewing potential imams to serving on the board of elders. But in addition to being active members of our local faith community, these same individuals often looked beyond the walls of the mosque to serve the wider public good, whether that meant helping newly arrived immigrants assimilate into American society, serving food to the poor at the downtown soup kitchen, or campaigning for mayoral candidates in our town.
More religious, more civic engagementTo Mr. King and his supporters, my childhood mosque would appear to be the exception to the vast majority of American mosques that King has described as controlled by “extremist leadership” and breeding grounds for radical views. But from visiting numerous mosques in the US and listening to the stories of Muslim American friends from all over the country, I know the strong connection between being involved in a mosque and being civically engaged is not at all uncommon. Recent research suggests a similar finding.
According to the Muslim American Public Opinion Survey, the largest study of Muslim Americans to date, levels of civic and political engagement rise with mosque participation. The study shows that there is a 53 percent increase in civic engagement for Muslim Americans who are heavily involved in their mosque over Muslim Americans who are not involved in mosques at all.
The study also found that the more religious a Muslim American was, the more likely he was to be politically informed and to have favorable views of the American political system. An overwhelming 95 percent of highly religious Muslim Americans surveyed believe that Islamic teachings are compatible with participation in the American political system.
Is it just me, or don’t we want more Americans to be well informed, civically engaged citizens?
Muslim communities reject extremism Muslims regularly attending mosques will not rid this country of all homegrown terrorism emanating from Muslim communities. As we’ve seen in the recent past, mosques are not impermeable to fringe extremists. Before Anwar al-Awlaki was the first US citizen ever to be placed on the CIA target list, he was an imam at a Virginia mosque. The five young Muslim men from Washington, DC, who in late 2009 disappeared from their homes only to be found in Pakistan allegedly trying to join Al Qaeda, also attended their local community mosque.
But in both cases, as with countless other cases before and since, the Muslim communities that these individuals were members of resoundingly rejected their actions and beliefs. Mr. al-Awlaki had to go to Yemen because no community here would accept him, and the parents of the DC men were the first to alert the FBI of their children’s sudden disappearance. And just three months ago, a vigilant Muslim-American community in Irvine, Calif. was so disturbed by the behavior of an undercover FBI informant posing as an extremist in their mosque, that the community turned him in to the FBI. As a recent study from Duke University and the University of North Carolina found, Muslim Americans provide authorities with more tips on suspected terrorists than any other group. (as I said above).
ANOTHER VIEW: Peter King hearing: Why won't media – or Muslims – address Islamism in America?
We need to support Muslim-American communities as they lead the fight to root out and prevent extremism in their own communities. Yes, there is much work to be done, but let’s not make it any harder by lumping our friends in with our enemies.
Zeba Khan is a writer and social media consultant. In 2009, she was recognized as a Muslim Leader of Tomorrow by the American Society for Muslim Advancement. You can follow her on twitter @zebakhan.
via The OpEd Project