If there's a sound-bite-size statement to summarize this post, it would be, "not all Muslims are alike."
What's the point of bringing up all this old news?
- Not all who follow Islam are itching to kill people they don't agree with.
- There are Muslims who are willing to say, publicly, that the people who say that they're killing for Allah aren't being good Muslims
Fiqh Council of North America
I was particularly impressed with the Fiqh Council of North America a couple years ago, when they made a quite definite statement about the place of mass murder in Islam.
The short version is 'terrorism isn't right.'
The long version is still available online (NPR's All Things Considered, July 28, 2005) with a sort of digest in an MSN/NBC article of the same date.
I'm still impressed by this excerpt of the fatwa, taken from the NPR page:
"Islam strictly condemns religious extremism and the use of violence against innocent lives. There is no justification in Islam for extremism or terrorism. Targeting civilians' life and property through suicide bombings or any other method of attack is haram – or forbidden - and those who commit these barbaric acts are criminals, not 'martyrs.'
"The Qur'an, Islam's revealed text, states: 'Whoever kills a person [unjustly]…it is as though he has killed all mankind. And whoever saves a life, it is as though he had saved all mankind.' (Qur'an, 5:32)"
That's about as definite a statement as I could hope for. The statement about "religious extremism and the use of violence against innocent lives" needs a precise definition of "extremism" and "innocent" to make me completely convinced: but that's nitpicking.
Even more impressive, this was a fatwa, or "scholarly opinion on a matter of Islamic law" - which is about as authoritative as it gets in Islam. With no hierarchical authority, Islam leaves a lot of elbow-room for alternative interpretations.
Now, that keeps things interesting.
Islamic Society of Central Florida
More good news surfaced about a year ago in Florida. U.S. Muslims Warn of Threat From Within headed an article of August 31, 2006. Imam Muhammad Musri, head of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, was quoted as saying "'Here in Central Florida, talking to most people, they are literally upset by the actions of Muslims _ or so-called Muslims _ overseas in Europe and the Middle East, because they say, 'We wish they would come and see how we're doing here,'" Musri said. "'We know who the real enemy is _ someone who might come from the outside and try to infiltrate us. Everybody is on the lookout.'"
Statements from an outfit in Great Britain called "Muslims United!" They're taking a phrase from Brits who don't like what's happening in Iraq, "not in our name". More surprising, to me anyway, is their use of the Quran (Koran for the less 'inclusive').
"Whoever kills an innocent soul, it is as if he killed the whole of mankind. And whoever saves one, it is as if he saved the whole of mankind." That's what "Muslims United!" has been quoting.
A mosque in Fargo, North Dakota
They're not alone. A mosque in Fargo, North Dakota, gave the "Religion 100" class from Concordia College (across the river, in Moorhead, Minnesota) a positive experience with a Muslim community.
I'm pretty sure that there are more like these.
Salafi Islam, Wahhabi Islam, and the Muwahhidun
Salafi Islam, or Wahhabi fundamentalist Islam. Adherents more often refer to teachings of the reformer Abd Al-Wahhab as Salafi, that is, "following the forefathers of Islam." "Wahhabi" is a common term for the same group, although Salafi Muslims do not generally use it. People who belong to this type of Islam call themselves Muwahhidun (that is, "Unitarians," or "unifiers of Islamic practice"). Wahhabism is one a particular set of beliefs within Salafism. Most Islamic "puritanical" groups are Salafi, but not necessarily Wahhabi.
Then there's Sunni, Shiite, Kharijitis, Ismailis, Ismaili Druze, Hashshashin (I'm not making this up), Sufi, Baha'ism, Black Muslims (U.S.A.), Nation of Islam, and maybe Green Muslims(1) by now, but enough is enough.
Posts on this general topic:
- More about "Yeh Hum Naheen" / "This is Not Us" (August 9, 2007)
- Saudi Arabia: Non-Islamic Religious Items Verboten (August 9, 2007)
- Moderate Muslim Video from Pakistan: Very Good News (August 7, 2007)
- Rep. Ellison's Misconstrued Reichstag Remarks July 17, 2007
- There's a New Loon in Minnesota (July 16, 2007)
- Another Islamic Voice in the Debate (July 16, 2007)
- "Islam is a Peaceful Religion" 2 (July 15, 2007)
- "Islam is a Peaceful Religion" (July 6, 2007)
Related posts, on Islam, Christianity, Religion, Culture and the War on Terror.