bismillah, alhumdu lillah wa Salaatu wa salaam ‘ala Rasool Allah
Recently, Fox News had an interview with Naseem Mahdi, Vice President of the Ahmadiyya community in the US, on his stance of terrorism. I want to personally praise Mr. Mahdi for his public condemnation of terrorism. This is one of the issues that Muslims and Ahmadis can unite over. The recent failed Time Square attack is yet another reminder that there are individuals who take irresponsible, unproductive and haraam actions in response to injustices in the Muslim world. I acknowledge that there are wrongs in the Muslim world, but murdering innocent people is never the answer. These people not only destroy the lives of their victims, they harm their cause and soil the name of Islam.
Having said that, there are a big problems with this interview.
Ahmadis “Broke the Silence”?
Condemnation of terrorism is not some new phenomena that only the Ahmadis have taken part in. Condemnation of terrorism is so ubiquitous in the American-Muslim community that its a wonder people could say Muslims “don’t do enough”. Frankly, I do not know what more we can do. I cannot attend a conference, program, lecture, talk, or halaqa without someone speaking out against terrorism. All mainstream Islamic organizations have condemned terrorism. Don’t believe me? Here’s a list:
- Council of American-Islamic Relations’s (CAIR) condemnation of terrorism
- Islamic Society of North America’s (ISNA) condemnation of terrorism
- Islamic Circle of North America’s (ICNA) condemnation of terrorism
- Fiqh Council of North America’s condemnation of terrorism
- I’ve personally heard Shaykh Yaser Birjas, from the Al-Maghrib Institute, condemn terrorism
- Shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s Zaytuna Institute (now Zaytuna College Alhumdu lillah!) has openly spoken against terrorism
Condemnation is not just domestic, its international. Whether or not you agree with Shaykh Muhammad ibn Sālih al-’Uthaymīn or Shaykh Bin Bāz, whose views are commonly labeled as “Wahabi”, they condemned Palestinian suicide bombings before it was even popular to do so. With all of that, its a wonder that Fox News could say that Mr. Mahdi has “broken the silence”, as if he is the first to ever do that.
CAIR is Not “Brave Enough”?
Perhaps the most frustrating part of the interview was the section on CAIR, which is the umbrella and advocacy organization of all Islamic organizations in the US. This organization literally runs an Anti-Terrorism Campaign that has been active for almost a decade. It has issued numerous Fatāwa against terrorism. Recently, prominent Muslim-American personalities including Jamal Badawi, Ihsan Bagdy, Altaf Husain, and Mohamed Magid released video messages condemning terrorism.
For Ahmadis, keep in mind that this is an organization that represents anyone who self-identifies himself as a Muslim. This mean that even if you are an open Ahmadi and you experience discrimination over your beard or hijab, their lawyers will help you.
To say that CAIR is not “brave enough” because they do not want to “offend the terrorists” is a cheap shot. It not only dismisses its years of efforts, it is extremely disrespectful and not from the character of the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم, who recognized the positives even in those whom he disagreed with. [See: Sulh al-Fudhūl] I see this as nothing more than an attempt by the Ahmadis to undermine the mainstream Muslim organizations in the US.
Who Represents the Muslims?
In 2008, MuslimMatters released an article on who represents Islam, commenting on the fact that news organizations rarely bring in mainstream Muslims. The few times that they do, the interviews are combative and argumentative. Instead, the media darlings are the likes of Irshad Manji, Tarek Fatah and Ayaan Hirsi Ali who most certainly do not represent mainstream Muslims. They always condemn the clearly-not-silent Muslim masses for being silent about extremism. We can add to that list a representative of the Ahmadi community who did exactly the same thing.
I want to close by once against genuinely praising Mr. Mahdi for his statements. While his statements about CAIR were reprehensible, but I think we can all agree on the general content of his message. Besides…when your average non-Muslim American sees this, they will associate that positive message with Islam, not Ahmadiyya. So, we win.
wa sallahu ‘ala saydina Muhammad wa ‘ala aalihi wa sahbihi wa sallam