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Islamic Excommunication By: Jamie Glazov
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, March 22, 2007


Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Jamal Miftah, a Muslim who migrated to the United States along with his four children and wife in March 2003 from the tribal belt of Northwest Frontier Province in Pakistan. He started his career in banking and ended up managing family businesses in 1994. He participated in social services and politics during the years 1995 to 2002. He remained “Sarparast e Aalla” (Chairman) of All Pakistan Saadaat Wellfare Trust and also held the post of General Secretary, Malakand Division, Pakistan Muslim League (Saleem Saifullah Group). 

Now living in Tulsa, Miftah had a column published in the Tulsa World newspaper that called on all Muslims to speak out against al-Qaeda and terrorism. For this act, he was kicked out of his local mosque (the al-Salam mosque) by its leaders.

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FP: Jamal Miftah, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
 
Miftah: Thank you.
 
FP: I would like to talk to you today about the courageous stand you took as a Muslim against terrorism and the punishment you have received from your community. But first kindly give us a bit of a background on yourself.
 
Miftah: I originally hail from North West Frontier province of Pakistan which boarders Afghanistan.
 
I have my own philosophy based on my experiences, exposures and observations that I had while in different situations at different point of time during my lifetime. As a student and student leader, I witnessed exploitation of students by student wings of religious political parties in Pakistan -- as I was briefly associated with one such group in 1977. As I grown up, I witnessed exploitation of ordinary people by the so called religious/jihadi groups.
 
My conclusion is that howsoever you brand these activities, it all comes to the game of power and when you have power, you have aces to money. Be they the game players, the leaders of PLO, Hezbollah, Hamas, the Taliban, Al Qaida or Jamaat e Islami. 
 
After 9/11, when Operation Enduring Freedom was about to be initiated by NATO forces with the support of the Afghan Northern Alliance in Afghanistan to oust the Taliban regime and to root out Al Qaida terrorist camps in Afghanistan, and to bring Osama Bin Laden and his band of thugs to justice, leaders of a local militant organization by the name of 'Tehreek e Nifaz e Shari at' (TNS) started a campaign to gather volunteers to fight the NATO forces in Afghanistan. They were able to mobilize a fighting force of 10,000 men, in the name of Jihad, who crossed over into Afghanistan towards the end of September and beginning of October 2001. I knew a majority of the leaders in this organization as they were locals and their headquarters were about 8 miles from my home. 
 
After the fall of Taliban regime, the leaders of TNS started coming back into Pakistan along with the groups of ordinary people who had gone with them to fight. During the course of time, ordinary people including myself realized that all the leaders made it back to their homes safe and sound, whereas a number of the ordinary men never returned. They either got killed or were held for ransom by Afghans and possibly the Taliban.
 
During that time I also had a chance to negotiate return passage with leaders of one of the groups which was led by TNS leaders Moulvi Abdul Ghafoor and Moulvi Liaqat at the Mohmand agency side of Pakistan. The leaders of the group were adamant on carrying their weapons back to Pakistan and the officials of the government of Pakistan were not allowing them to return with weapons and the ordinary people, more than 500 in number, were suffering in that group.
 
I was a guest of a government official responsible for that region who invited me to accompany him to help mediate on this issue. The leaders of the group finally agreed to abandon their weapons at the Pakistan/Afghanistan border and the group made back to their homes in Pakistan. Moulvi Liaqat Ali got killed last year probably in November or December in an air strike on a 'Madrassa' in Bajaur Agency (an Al Qaida hideout) about 35 miles from my home town in Pakistan.
 
After 9/11, Osama bin Laden bragged about sending 19 of his comrades unto civilian planes to blow themselves up amidst civilian and military targets in their suicidal attacks. At the same time, he is on record of having sent his own son for treatment to the United States. Is this hypocrisy or something beyond that?
 
During the Soviet-Afghan conflict, many warlord groups, including that of Osama bin Laden's group, were receiving American money and equipment to fight the Soviet Union. After the fall of the Soviet Union, some of those groups joined hands to start the campaign for removal of American forces out of Saudi Arabia. They attempted to mobilize support within the Muslim world for their cause by misguiding the Muslims that the presence of 'infidels' in 'the land of pure' was a great sin and should therefore be prevented by Jihad.
 
The campaign was supported by the inflow of petro dollars and was the joint agenda of Osama bin Laden and the then Crown Prince (the present King) of Saudi Arabia. He, during Clinton's earlier era, was very vocal about the removal of American armies from Saudi Arabia. Afghanistan was thus used as a launching ground for the campaign by the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia and their most trusted family friend Osama bin Laden who was to lead the campaign and the proxy war for the Saudi Kingdom.
 
After witnessing the savage response to the Danish cartoons by Muslims around the world, and I may add here that I was also hurt by those cartoons, I wanted to express my feelings, as I am firmly of the view that the cartoons were a eye opener for the silent majority of the peace-loving Muslims around the world whose passive attitude towards Al Qaida and the like has been the main reason for such cartoons or expressions. I could not write at that time because of time constraints I was having because of the demands of my job, family and school that I was attending to at that time.
 
The next opportunity to express my feelings came toward the end of September last year (when I had more free time because I was not going to school), by way of the video message from Aiman Al Zawahiri in response to the remarks by Pope. I felt like telling that ba---rd that it was him and his group of thugs who were the cause of every thing that is said about Islam. I took the opportunity to convey my message to him and at the same time invited other Muslims to come and join this condemnation, whose silence and passive attitude was and is causing greater harm to their religion and humanity. 
 
FP: You refer to thesilent majority” of peace-loving Muslims around the world. Upon what evidence do you base this view that the “majority” are peace-loving?
 
For instance, do the majority of Muslims in the world reject the teachings of their own religion -- which mandates war against non-Muslims? (i.e. The Verse of the Sword, Sura 9:25, 9:29, etc.) Do the majority reject the imperative to subjugate the world under the rule of Islamic law – which is a mandate deeply embedded within Islamic teaching and tradition? (i.e. Sura 9:29, Sahih Muslim 4294; and a host of other evidence from all the Sunni madhahib and Shi’ite sources as well).
 
Having asked that, there are, obviously, many moderate Muslims who do reject violence. Why are they silent?
 
Miftah: Let me first clarify the misconception about the teachings of Islam or for that matter any other religion. The Qur’an was revealed over a period of 23 years. The revelation, as such, was during times of war, peace, oppression and rule of Muslims. Each verse, as such, has to be read in context of the conditions prevalent at the time of revelation and also the conditions of the Arab Society at that time. For your consumption I quote herein bellow a few other verses from Qur’an relating to war, and peace.
 
2:190 AND FIGHT in God's cause against those who wage war against you, but do not commit aggression - for, verily, God does not love aggressors.
 
42:40 But [remember that an attempt at] requiting evil may, too, become an evil: hence, whoever par­dons [his foe] and makes peace, his reward rests with God - for, verily, He does not love evildoers.
 
42:42 blame attaches but to those who oppress [other] people and behave outrageously on earth, offending against all right: for them there is grievous suffering in store!
 
42:43 But withal, if one is patient in adversity and forgives - this, behold, is indeed something to set one’s heart upon!
 
2:109 Out of their selfish envy, many among the followers of earlier revelation would like to bring you back to denying the truth after you have attained to faith - [even] after the truth has become clear unto them. None the less, forgive and forbear, until God shall make manifest His will: behold, God has the power to will anything.
 
7:199 MAKE due allowance for man's nature, and enjoin the doing of what is right; and leave alone all those who choose to remain ignorant.
 
45:14 Tell all who have attained to faith that they should forgive those who do not believe in the com­ing of the Days of God, [since it is] for Him [alone] to requite people for whatever they may have earned.
 
Further, the Arabs have a history of barbarism. In pre-Islamic times, they would burry their daughters alive and had no respect for life and property of others. They would loot and kill at will.
 
Now I have a question for you.
 
Why have all messengers for the three main religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, been sent to Arab Lands?
 
My logic for this: You have two sons Tom and Jerry. Tom is a disciplined boy, goes to school, does his home work, never fights or causes trouble and keeps his room clean and tidy whereas Jerry is the total opposite – undisciplined. He fights at school and his bunks remain dirty. Who are you going to pay more attention to and probably provide tutoring to? Who will you force to summer school? The logical answer would be Jerry.
 
To me that is the reason for God to have sent all his major prophets to Arab lands and Arab people. They were barbarians of the highest order and still possess some of those qualities. He first tried to bribe them into good behavior through Moses, could not work; tried humbleness through Jesus, still no results; finally attempted some rigid rule through prophet of Islam. That is perhaps the reason for exemplary punishments in Islamic jurisprudence and some of the strict language used in Qur’an.
 
Now I come to the reason for the majority of peace-loving Muslims remaining silent: 
 
The first and foremost reason is that they are ignorant about their own religion and their ignorance is exploited by the so-called clergy.
 
They have been brainwashed by the clergy leadership like the old time communist comrades and as such they do not question any thing or make a comment on something which is portrayed to them as 'in the name of Islam'.
 
Now if someone makes that 'stupid mistake' he/she is branded as anti-Islamic, like in my case I was accused of being anti-Islamic and forbidden from re-entering the mosque unless I apologised for my article, thus making me an example for others.
 
Then they are also ridiculed for their wit, wisdom and stature in society, like in my case, I was ridiculed by one of the leader of IST Mujeeb Cheema, who reacted to my article by commenting on my size in the Muslim community in the US (published in Tulsa World of December 1, 2006), "Tulsan Mujeeb Cheema, executive director of North American Islamic Trust, said, "I was surprised that a person who has been in the U.S. for only three years, and not part of any national Muslim organization, would speak so confidently about Islamic institutions in the U.S."
 
They also fear that if they express themselves they will be excommunicated by the clergy or may also get exposed to other threats.
 
FP: I apologize we are taking a moment to get into the details of your experience at the mosque, but let me give a brief rejoinder here.
 
Yes, of course all scripture must be understood in its historical and textual context. In his eighth-century biography of Muhammad, Ibn Ishaq explains the contexts of various verses of the Qur'an by saying that Muhammad received revelations about warfare in three stages: first, tolerance; then, defensive warfare; and finally, offensive warfare in order to convert the unbelievers to Islam or make them pay the jizya (see Qur'an 9:29, Sahih Muslim 4294, etc.). Tafasir (Qur'anic commentaries) by Ibn Kathir, Ibn Juzayy, As-Suyuti and others also emphasize that the Qur'an's ninth chapter, which contains exhortations to make war against and subjugate Jews and Christians as well as pagans, abrogates every peace treaty in the Qur'an.
 
In the modern age, this idea of stages of development in the Qur'an's teaching on jihad, culminating in offensive warfare to establish the hegemony of Islamic law, has been affirmed by the Islamist theorists Sayyid Qutb and Maulana Maududi, the Pakistani Brigadier S. K. Malik (author of "The Qur'anic Concept of War"), Saudi Chief Justice Sheikh Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Humaid (in his "Jihad in the Qur'an and Sunnah"), and others. It is, of course, an assertion of no little concern to non-Muslims, since it encapsulates a doctrine of warfare against non-Muslims and their ultimate subjugation under Sharia rules, with all that implies.
 
This contention is part of the theological underpinning of much of today's terrorism, and is based on a contextual analysis of the Qur'an, a relative weighing of Meccan and Medinan suras, and an examination of the asbab an-nazool for a large number of verses.
 
Thus an appeal to read the Qur'an in context, such as you have made here my friend, is not adequate in itself to establish that Islam teaches peaceful coexistence between non-Muslims and Muslims on an indefinite basis.
 
The problem is that no one up till now can produce a sect of Islam or a school of Islamic jurisprudence that is generally regarded as orthodox and does not teach the subjugation of unbelievers.
 
In other words, there are, surely, verses that preach peace in the Qur’an as you show. And it is a highly positive and hopeful thing that there are Muslims like you who believe that those are the verses that should represent Islam rather than the ones that command war on unbelievers. Unfortunately, this does not mean that those pro-terror verses just disappear, nor that there are many Muslims who do not deem them to be the most important commands of the Qur’an. It also doesn’t mean that Islam is not in a dire need for its leaders and scholars to make a profound and vehement refutation of the arguments of Ibn Ishaq, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Juzayy, As-Suyuti, Qutb, Maududi, Malik, and Humaid. Such a refutation has not been made; if it were made, then it could contain the key to stemming the tide of today's terrorism, and be used to convince Muslims worldwide that violent jihad and Islamic supremacism must be definitively rejected.
 
Indeed, if such a refutation occurred, perhaps Islamic terrorists would not be so confident in perpetrating violence against non-Muslims and then explaining that they did so because they were inspired by the teachings of their religious literature -- which is why they quote from it (i.e. The Verse of the Sword, Sura 9:25, 9:29, etc.)
 
I think that if we speak honestly about the elements of Islam that give rise to fanaticism and violence, then we are crystallizing truths that serve as the most crucial weapons with true Muslim moderates, such as yourself, can help disempower the fanatics who control Islam. Muslim moderates and reformers can best eradicate the sources of violence within their religion if they can isolate exactly what those sources are. No?
 
It is, of course, people such as yourself, Mr. Miftah, that give us hope. But I am not so sure that saying that radicals are engaging in violence because of a complete misunderstanding of their religion is going to help matters. Islamic moderates and leaders need to pinpoint the sources within their own religion that inspire violence and refute and delegitimize them for the entire Muslim world to hear.
 
Miftah: The religious guidelines, rules of law, constitutional clauses etc. can be interpreted and twisted and tilted the way one wants them to and a debate on such an issue could be un ending.
 
Majority of the personalities that you have referenced are the ones who have been exploiting Islam or were/are instruments of those who exploited Islam. For instance, Maududi, who I personally knew from Lahore, Pakistan or S. K Malik.
 
Islam was never spread because of such scholars or swords, it was the “Sufis,”, the peace loving pious people, who practiced what they preached and attracted ordinary people towards them and Islam because of their piety and love of life, such as Ali Hajveri, Baba Bullay Shah, Maulana Jalau-L-Din Rumi, Hazrat Khawaja Moinuddin Hasan Chishty. Such people had no desire for wordily gains and never went for publicity and their followers are humble peace-loving Muslims.
 
The teachings, personalities, and the followers of such pious people are now the target of criticism and hate by those or their followers that you have referenced. 
 
Whenever some ambitious person attempted to spread Islam with the power of sword, it backfired or fizzled. Look at Tariq Bin Ziyad and Musa B Naser and their adventure to con-conquer Europe (Spain) probably in 7th century, if I am not mistaken. Do you see Islam in that region, which was ruled by Muslim for over 800 years by the power of sword?
 
The problem that the Muslims now face is that groups following people such as Maududi have a lot of nuisance value, because they are very much organized. They have control over the media and have members ready for street demonstration at call, and if they have 10,000 people on the street in response to their call in a city of a million people, the ten thousand people protesting on the street look like the majority.
 
Look at the violent protests to the Danish cartoons, they were everywhere looking like the majority Muslims. And again organizing violent protests against Danish cartoons was more of hypocrisy then actual protest, because those street demonstrations were serving other purposes, creating hatred against the West in the minds of Muslim youth, whereas leaders organizing those protests have been sending their own sons and daughters for education and to live in the West.
 
Why did they prefer to remain silent when the mosque of Abu Bakar, a companion of prophet Muhammad, was demolished for expansion of Saudi King's palace? Why did they prefer to remain silent when grave of Prophet Muhammad's aunt was demolished by the Saudi Kingdom last year?
 
This group of so-called Muslim clerics and their followers are influenced by Wahabism and with massive (Saudi) wealth at their disposal, they can get away with everything, including the savagery of 9/11. Osama is their front man and the Taliban regime was just a group of bandits employed by them to achieve their objectives.
 
FP: Ok, well as you said, this debate could go unending. I’ve made my point already and perhaps we can expand on this issue in another forum at another time.
 
Let’s get to your own experience. You have already touched on it briefly, but expand now on the form in which you spoke out, exactly what you said, and how you were threatened for it.
 
Miftah: I published an article in Tulsa World in October 29th, 2006 against the exploitation of Muslims in general and Muslim youth in particular by terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda.
 
On the night of November 18th 2006 I went my mosque to offer my last prayer of the day (Ishaa prayer). After the prayers and a small lecture by one of the member of IST, I was meeting and chatting with other members of society when the Imam of the mosque, Ahmad Kabbani, approached me and said to me that I should be ashamed for writing the article.
 
I asked him what was wrong with the article. He replied it was anti-Islamic. I replied that I had more understanding of Islam than him and there was nothing wrong or anti Islamic in my article, to which he responded loudly by calling me anti- Muslim and that he will pray to Allah to straighten me out. I told him to keep his prayers to himself and walked out of the prayer hall along with Khan Muhammad Zareef. I was standing in the hall way with Zarref Khan and another member of the community, Mr. Ibraheem (who is Muazan of the mosque) and talking. 
 
At this time Houssam Elsouessi approached me along with two other Arabs. He started accusing me in a very loud voice of being anti-Islamic and anti-Muslim with the very apparent motive of inciting other members of the community against me. One of his companions waved his shoe at my face and said that I was a traitor and no better then his shoes, while Houssam kept calling me anti-Muslim and almost pushed me to the wall.
 
He told that I could no longer come to the mosque -- at which time five or six Arab members of the community also joined the group to find out what was going on and why I was being called a traitor and anti-Muslim by Houssam Elsouessi and his companions.
 
Mr. Ibraheem asked Abdullah, the person waving the shoe at me, not to cause me any harm. At the same time, Khan Muhammad Zareef said to Houssam Elsouessi not to touch or cause me any harm. Seeing the motives and mood of Houssam Elsouessi, Khan Muhammad Zareef pushed me out of Houssam Elsouessi’s reach and took me out of the mosque in his effort to rescue me.
 
I lodged a report with the Tulsa police about the incident. On November 19th, 2006 Houssam Elsouessi sent a message to me through Khan Muhammad Zareef, telling me that he had obtained a restraining order against me from entering the mosque and set a public apology for writing the article as pre condition for my return to mosque.
 
On the night of November 20th, 2006 the mosque leadership, including Houssam and others, discussed my article after Ishaa prayer and said to everyone that if they saw me inside the mosque that they should immediately call police and have me thrown out of the mosque and informed them about their condition of a public apology from me for the article. Mr. Amin Khan, who collects Friday cash contribution for the mosque, informed me about this development.
 
I sent a message to the mosque leadership through Amin Khan and Khan Muhammad Zareef to talk some sense into them and ask them to take their fatwa of calling me anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic back and to apologize for the way they treated me for no fault of mine. I informed them that if they did not agree to this, then I would seek remedy through other sources including the court of law.
 
On November 24th, 2006 the news on 6 aired the story of my expulsion in which the mosque leadership shifted their earlier position and stated that I was asked to leave the mosque for being loud and that I just needed to furnish apology not a public one for being loud.
 
On November 29th, 2006 another member of the mosque leadership, Dr. Sandra Rana, made the following comment about this incident:
 
“Then, about the incident. The man was physically removed from the mosque’s prayer center by the Tulsa Police Department after a discussion about the article became an argument which ended with the author cursing, threatening to hit someone and refusing to leave when requested. The building supervisor called the police at that time. A restraining order was filed but was ended after 2-3 days by request of the mosque’s leadership. He can attend prayer services at the mosque without restriction as long as he acts in an appropriate manner during prayers.”
 
On December 1st, 2006, the mosque leadership issued a statement in Tulsa World with regards lifting of the ban on me. In that press release, Houssam Elsouessi, besides other leaders of Islamic society of Tulsa, stated that he would announce at Friday’s service that I was free to attend services as long as there was no disturbance and that no one at the mosque should confront me.
 
That announcement was made after Friday services and it was said besides what was stated above that the mosque leadership is not going to pursui any legal case against me for writing the article.
 
In total disagreement with the mosque leadership’s statement, which appeared to be more of an accusative nature rather than apology, I issued a rebuttal of the false and misleading statement by mosque leadership and sent the statement to Tulsa World for publication, who preferred not to publish it. It was, however, published by some internet bloggers including Batesline.
 
FP: So what is the significance of your ordeal? How can we help Muslim reformers such as yourself save your religion from the extremists who now dominate it?
 
Miftah: If Muslims around the world and specially in the West care about their religion, its sanctity and belief that Islam is a peaceful religion (and as I firmly believe that they do), then they should raise up their voices against terrorism and counter such rogue elements within Islam, by promoting peace, love and harmony as envisaged in Islam.
 
Unfortunately, the majority of the mosques in the U.S. and in West are under Wahabi control. The Muslims living in those parts of the world should particularly be vigilant towards the activities going on in places of worship (mosques) and should rise up against the self-imposed leadership in such places, if they witness any suspicious activities. They have a responsibility to the societies they live in, raise and educate their kids and therefore should not tolerate any activity which is aimed at causing harm to the countries they live in.
 
In my case, it was a very daring attempt by the leadership of the mosque, who first tried to silence me by scaring me with the word “anti-Islamic,” which carries a lot of repercussions and finally made me an example for other Muslims by expelling me out of the mosque. It now makes me believe, from the kind of response and the treatment that I received, that there are elements within the mosque leadership who have sympathies for terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda. To root out and expose such elements we need moral support from organizations like yours and also legal help to prosecute such rogue elements.
 
FP: Jamal Miftah, thank you for joining us. We wish you the best of luck and we hold you in high esteem for your courage.
 
Miftah: It was a pleasure discussing these issues with you.
 
Also, Jamie, I would like to reach out to the readers of Frontpage and ask if there is any organization out there that would be interested in helping me pursue my case in a court of law against the Tulsa mosque leadership. I sent my case over to the ACLU, but they expressed their regrets to help because of scarcity of funds.
 
FP: Trust me, the ACLU doesn't have scarcity of funds for all kinds of things. They just don't have any funds to support a moderate Muslim against radical Islam.
 
Anyone that can help Mr. Miftah, or has an idea of how to help him, kindly contact him at jamalmiftah@sbcglobal.net.
 
Jamal Miftah, once again, thank you for joining us and we wish you the best.

Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine's editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in Russian, U.S. and Canadian foreign policy. He is the author of Canadian Policy Toward Khrushchev’s Soviet Union and is the co-editor (with David Horowitz) of The Hate America Left. He edited and wrote the introduction to David Horowitz’s Left Illusions. His new book is United in Hate: The Left's Romance with Tyranny and Terror. To see his previous symposiums, interviews and articles Click Here. Email him at jglazov@rogers.com.


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