Muslim-bashing. That's the accusation many of my fellow Muslims now hurl at the various news outlets for their news stories about a Freedom House investigation that found extremist Islamic literature in some leading American mosques. This name-calling is unfortunate.
Since 1980, the Muslim world has experienced an enormous growth of religious fanaticism and extremism the likes of which Islam has not experienced in its 1,400 years. This movement continues to grow because of the spread of Wahhabi Islam; a sect that used to number no more than one percent of all Muslims, but because of money and technology, has spread to more areas around the world.
Extremism is also growing because of an ideology called political Islam. The basis of political Islam is the rejection of secularism and the belief that the mosque and the state should be completely intertwined. Unfortunately, history has shown that when politics and religion are completely
intertwined, disaster results.
Most importantly, extremism in the Muslim world continues to grow because most Muslims are unwilling to admit that we have a problem with extremism and support for terrorism. The response by Muslims to the Freedom House report is not the first time that the Muslim community resorted to denial and accusations of Muslim-bashing when presented with evidence of Muslim culpability.
After September 11, many in the Muslim world chose denial and hallucination rather than face up to the sad fact that Muslims perpetrated the 9/11 terrorist acts. After 9/11, many Muslims, including religious leaders and "intellectuals," blamed 9/11 on a Jewish conspiracy, and went as far as fabricating a tale that 4,000 Jews did not show up for work in the World Trade Center on that day.
Since 9/11, the world has watched in horror as hundreds of schoolchildren were murdered in Russia by Chechen Muslim terrorists. Scores of civilians were murdered by Islamic terrorists in Spanish train bombings. Many others have been murdered in suicide bombings in buses, restaurants and other public places, human beings have been beheaded, two Russian passenger planes were blown out of the sky, and many, many atrocities that are too long to mention. All carried out by Muslims.
With all the evidence that Islam is facing a crisis, one wonders what it will take for Muslims to realize that those who commit mass murder in the name of Islam are not just a few fringe elements. What will it take for Muslims to realize that we are facing a crisis potentially more deadly than the AIDS epidemic? What will it take for Muslims to realize that there is a large, evil movement that is turning what was a peaceful religion into a death cult?
Will Muslims wake up before it is too late? Or will we continue blaming an imaginary Jewish conspiracy and entities like The Dallas Morning News for all our problems? The blaming of all Muslim problems on others is a cancer that is destroying Muslim society. And it must stop.
Muslims must wake up, look inward and put a stop to many of our religious leaders who spend most of their sermons teaching hatred, intolerance and violent jihad. We should not be afraid to admit that as Muslims we have a problem with violent extremism. We should not be afraid to admit that so many of our religious leaders belong behind bars, and not behind a pulpit.
Only moderate Muslims can challenge and defeat extremist Muslims. We can no longer afford to be silent. If we remain silent to the extremism within our community, then we should not expect anyone to listen to us when we complain of stereotyping and discrimination by non-Muslims. We should not be surprised when the world treats all of us as terrorists. And we should not be surprised when we are profiled at airports.
Simply put, not only do Muslims need to join the war against extremism and terror, we need to take the lead in this war.