A Note to Muslims: Stop Saying Crazy Things
Posted by Shadi Hamid
I was quietly sipping coffee and checking my mail when I stumbled upon what I, initially, found to be an interesting and relatively inocuous article, the kind that Muslims always send to each other on Muslim listservs because it makes us feel "good," or at least mildy validated.
It's a fairly long piece. And apparently Laurie Goodstein likes to include the whoppers at the end of her articles, and preferably nestled in the very last paragraph. The article talks about two American Muslim clerics, Hamza Yusuf and Zaid Shakir. They are "traditionalists." Traditionalists are usually consistent in condemning Islamic extremism and terrorism and seem to evince a sincere hatred of Bin Laden, Zarqawi, and their ilk. That's the good news. On the other hand, they are deeply suspicious of Western liberalism and pretty much all the foundational tenets of post-enlightenment thought. They are not liberals and they are not democrats. They are often - I'm not sure what else to call it - absolutists.
In any case, here's the part which awoke me from my stupor (also known as the WTF effect):
He [Zaid Shakir] 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."
I had to read it over, because I couldn't believe that a mainstream American Muslim leader would say something so stupid and, well, frightening. It's one thing for him to believe that America should be ruled by Islamic law. It is altogether another for him to imply that all "honest" Muslims believe the same thing. As such, it is incumbent upon moderate Muslims who believe in freedom, democracy, and the US constitution to repudiate such remarks. My God, what's up with Western Muslims wanting to be ruled by shariah? I'm curious, though, how non-Muslims interpret Shakir's remarks. Feel free to post your comments or email me directly with your thoughts.