How often have you heard talk radio and TV personalities lament that Muslims don’t denounce terrorism?
The general public also worries about that, and a major reason is that the mainstream media regularly ignore such denunciations when they occur.
Consider the June 12 Orlando attack. North American Muslims scrambled and got out a response of condolence and outrage the very next day, with more than 450 endorsers. The Guy found coverage only from a veteran Godbeat specialist, CNN religion editor Daniel Burke.
This significant statement, “On the Carnage in Orlando,” hedged matters by noting the assumption of radical Muslim inspiration was based on news reports. But if that’s the case, the signers declared, that “would be a reprehensible distortion of Islam” that made this great world faith one of the victims of the attack.
“Any such acts of violence violate every one of our Prophet’s teachings,” they asserted. “Such an act of hate-fueled violence has no place in any faith.” Also, the “foulness” of the attack was worsened by occurring during Ramadan, Islam’s month of charity and spiritual purification.
There was also a plea to non-Muslims not to “place collective guilt on an entire community for the sins of individuals,” which would be “an egregious offense against the culture and laws of America.”
Did you hear about this? Did you see press coverage?
Organized Islam lacks the money, staffing and savvy to mount much-needed public relations campaigns. So assignment editors should keep this document on file because it names 450 moderates who can be phoned for comment after the next atrocity. The list features leaders from most major national Muslim organizations and local groups across North America.
July 5 brought a follow-up from one of the signers, Hamza Yusuf. He’s a leader of considerable importance as the co-founder and president of Zaytuna College in Berkeley, Calif., which last year became U.S. Islam’s first liberal arts college with regional accreditation. Born Mark Hanson to Catholic and Eastern Orthodox parents, Yusuf converted to Islam at age 17 and spent long years studying the new faith in Britain, Spain, the Mideast, North Africa and at San Jose State University. He’s firmly rooted in both his faith and his American homeland.
Yusuf’s plea to fellow believers, “The Plague Within,” was posted on several Muslim Websites. (Thanks to former AP religion colleague Rachel Zoll for spotlighting this via Facebook.) He wrote at the conjunction of U.S. Independence Day and the end of Ramadan, the sacred month that produced a wave of “Islamist” bloodshed for innocent victims in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, the U.S., Yemen and even the Prophet Muhammad’s city of Medina.
Yusuf declared that “a faith-eating plague has been spreading across the global Muslim community” with a source that “must be identified so we can begin to inoculate our communities against it.” Bloodthirsty young Muslims “are the bitter harvest of teachings that have emanated from pulpits throughout the Arabian Peninsula” and reach “all corners of the world” through well-funded mosques, organizations, and publications.
This takfiri movement has merged with “political Islamist ideology” over decades to create the religion’s “calamitous situation,” he asserted. Yes, interventions and misadventures by the West worsen matters but that’s long been true. Muslims must understand the new “ideological plague” that is “responsible for the chaos and terror” and the way this “demonically deceptive” cause sullies “Islam’s good name in the eyes of the world.”
Yusuf rejects “vacuous arguments that this militancy has little to do with religion; it has everything to do with religion: misguided, fanatical, ideological and politicized religion. It is the religion of resentment, envy, powerlessness, and nihilism” that has “nothing to do with” the teachings of the Prophet. And so forth.
Reporters: In the next few hours, who not glance at the Religion Guy’s article “Who speaks for Islam in a time of terrorism?” and then place a phone call to Zaytuna College.