Islam is a religion of peace and war—and it’s not bigotry to acknowledge it
© Getty Images

Last week, I warned a House Homeland Security Subcommittee that Islamist pressure groups were making it impossible for my fellow Muslims to do the crucial work of reforming and liberalizing Islam. Within hours, these grievance professionals were attacking me for Islamophobia and bigotry.

I’ve spent the last 15 years since the 9/11 attacks working toward reform in Islam; I recognized that, in order to change the potent and dangerous tone of the politics of global Islamism, Islamic theology must advance, as well. I am grateful that Rep. Scott Perry (R-Texas) chaired a Oversight and Management Efficiency Subcommittee hearing, “Identifying the Enemy: Radical Islamist Terror,” and gave me opportunity to tell Congress about my work with the Muslim Reform movement.

ADVERTISEMENT
In order to defeat radical Islamist terror, we must first normalize our relationship with Islam itself, treating it the way we do Christianity, Judaism or any other religion over the last century. My fellow Muslims must be able to countenance criticism of Islam, from within and without—the theology, the political ideology, everything. Only by approaching the religion’s tenets with a new spirit of inquiry can we ever disentangle the Islamic faith from the Islamism that is a metastasizing threat to human rights around the world.

We must not be afraid to approach and contend with the complexity of Islamic law and history, the good, the bad, the ugly and the viciously anti-democratic. Muslim grievance professionals and well-intentioned liberals whitewashing the aspects of the Qur’an that conflict with the values of American society in the 21st Century do us no favors. “We must realize,” I said in my opening statement, that “we are dealing with a political ideology that is parasitically feeding off a religion that is already complex by being both peace and war.”

According to sacred Islamic sources themselves—not hated Islamophobes—the Prophethood of Muhammed was, in fact, both peaceful and war-mongering. Indeed, the Prophet would have been viewed as a violent terrorist to his opponents. I encouraged the audience to not withdraw from threats of bigotry, racism and “Islamophobia.” Muslims will find that, first, we do not suffer when we are offended; even more importantly we will learn that no ideas are above scrutiny, including our own most cherished ones.

Within hours of the hearing, however, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) launched an attack on me in a breathless video hit piece, alerting the world that I “call[ed] the Prophet Muhammad a ‘Warmonger’ and Islam Terroristic.” They branded my criticism Islamophobic—choosing to ignore that I, too, am a Muslim. Do I have a right to critique my religion without being called a bigot?

On social media, Zahra Billoo, Executive Director of CAIR San Francisco, and the Executive Director of CAIR Los Angeles, Hussam Ayloush, piled on, opened up a flood of hate Tweets that has jeopardized my personal security.

They are well aware that, by framing my historical assessment of early Islam as an attack on the Prophet, they are potentially marking me for death, either as an apostate or a slanderer, under Islamic law. They’ve opened up a flood gate to a not insubstantial number of Muslims that will do anything to protect their Prophet against slander. In this way, organizations like CAIR are no different than the most extreme radicals or Islamic states.

Islamist groups like CAIR use shame tactics and exclusionary practices to silence minority voices of reform in Islam – voices like mine – all the while crying that they themselves are a minority in America deserving of special protection. Even more alarmingly, many on the left and in the media instinctively defend aspects of Islam they neither practice nor understand; what they believe to be a chivalrous defense of Muslims has the effect of keeping Islam frozen in time.

In their attack, CAIR has proven my point: Muslim grievance professionals are quick to silence minority voices in Islam, reinforcing the idea that Islam doesn’t require any change or modernization. Worse, however, is the signal these groups send to non-Muslims: that any criticism aimed at liberalizing aspects of the faith—even from Muslims themselves—is tantamount to bigotry and Islamophobia.

This must stop in order to pave the way for real reform, like the embrace of human rights for women, Jews, the LGBTQ community, and others. This is the sometimes painful and messy work that needs to be done to make Islam just another religion in America.

Shireen Qudosi is a Muslim Reformer who lives on the West Coast. She writes at Counterjihad.com


The views expressed by authors are their own and not the views of The Hill.