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| The American Muslim – June 10, 2011
Mapping Sharia Project Goes Beyond Islamophobia
by Sheila Musaji
The Mapping Sharia Project just posted and article which contained the following statement:
When reading Shari’a and Violence in American Mosques, a picture emerges that may give researchers, as well as law enforcement officials, a way to monitor or potentially to predict where violent jihad may take root. Potential recruits who are swept up in this movement may find their inspiration and encouragement in a place with ready access to classic and modern literature that is positive toward jihad and violence, where highly Shari’a-adherent behavior is practiced, and where a society exists that in some form promotes a culture of martyrdom or at least engages in activities that are supportive of violent jihad. The mosque can be such a place.
The survey, Shari’a and Violence in American Mosques, found a strong correlation between the presence of severe violence-promoting literature and mosques featuring written, audio, and video materials that actually promoted such acts.
51% of U.S. mosques had texts that either advocated the use of violence in the pursuit of a Shari’a-based political order or advocated violent jihad; another 30% had texts that were moderately supportive of violence. 19% had no violent texts at all.
The mosques surveyed contained a variety of texts, ranging from contemporary printed pamphlets and handouts to classic texts of the Islamic canon. From the perspective of promoting violent jihad, the literature types were ranked in the survey from severe to moderate to nonexistent. The texts selected were all written to serve as normative and instructive tracts and are not scriptural. This is important because a believer is free to understand scripture literally, figuratively, or merely poetically when it does not have a normative or legal gloss provided by Islamic jurisprudence.
Alarmingly, many of these texts are currently endorsed by The American Muslim website in its “List of Recommended Books on Islam.” al-Misri’s Umdat al-Salik, the Tafsir Ibn Kathir, and the Qutb’s explicitly political tract, Milestones, are each singled-out for praise.
In addition, the list of recommended books contains other works by several writers included in the Mapping Shari’a Project‘s survey of texts which advocated the use of violence in the pursuit of a Shari’a-based political order or advocated violent jihad. The American Muslim recommends books by Maududi (author of Jihad in Islam and Tafhim al-Qur’an) and al-Nawawi (author of Riyad-us-Saliheen). The American Muslim also recommends work by the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Yusuf al-Qaradawi. It is no surprise that the website and its author, Sheila Musaji, have been highly critical of US anti-terror policy and any negative criticism of Islamism and the Muslim Brotherhood.
The literature assessed in mosques includes the following works. Click the book covers below to find out more.
The report this is referring to is Shari’a and Violence in American Mosques by Mordechai Kedar and David Yerushalmi which was published in the Middle East Quarterly Summer 2011 issue. You can read the full report here.
This article says that ”… al-Misri’s Umdat al-Salik, the Tafsir Ibn Kathir, and the Qutb’s explicitly political tract, Milestones, are each singled-out for praise” in the TAM recommended book list. Actually, they are not. There are only a few books on the list singled out for praise as being particularly useful in understanding a particular subject, and these are not among them.
Among the books and/or authors that are on the TAM recommended book list is Milestones by Sayyid Qutb. I would agree that this is a very controversial work, and one with which I personally disagree on most points. However, to understand anything about the development of the Muslim Brotherhood movement in Egypt and elsewhere, and the subsequent development of other extreme political movements this is a book that provides necessary understanding of the thought process that led to these movements. Anyone who is interested in understanding, and countering their arguments would need to be familiar with this book.
The only book by Maududi on the TAM recommended list is Four Qur’anic Terms – the other books by Maududi to which the authors object are not on our recommended list. The only book by al Nawawi is the 40 hadith collection. The only books by al Qaradawi are The Lawful and Prohibited in Islam and Islamic Awakening, Between Rejection and Extremism. None of these books promote violence.
Why the Mapping Sharia folks singled out the TAM list of recommended books is curious – and the fact that they do not understand much about Islam or Muslims is obvious. This same TAM book list includes many more books on Sufism than on any other topic. It includes books by Muslims and non-Muslims, by Sunni and Shia, etc. Actually, the authors of the Shari’a and Violence in American Mosques report and the Mapping Sharia project use Sheikh Hisham Kabbani as a reference in supporting their discredited 81% figure for mosques that are radicalized or promote violence. Our TAM list contains more books by Sh. Kabbani than any of the authors they object to. That is the difference between extremists of any sort who hold absolute, black and white views, and those of us who see shades of grey. I absolutely disagree with Sh. Kabbani’s statement about American mosques. However, that doesn’t mean that I therefore reject everything else that he has said or written. I absolutely disagree with some positions of Sh. al Qaradawi, but that doesn’t mean that I therefore reject everything else that he has said or written.
These folks who want to ban books must not realize that you can get Karl Marx Communist Manifesto and Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf on Amazon. You can also get Syed Qutb’s Milestones, Reliance of the Traveler, al Qaradawi’s Lawful and Prohibited in Islam as well as many more books by al Qaradawi, and lots of books by Maududi, and by al Nawawi. You can also get many of these books in public or university libraries.
Even the Shari’a and Violence report says that “The Fiqh as-Sunna and Tafsir Ibn Kathir are examples of works that were rated “moderate” for purposes of this survey.”
This article makes a personal attack on me, saying that “It is no surprise that the website and its author, Sheila Musaji, have been highly critical of US anti-terror policy and any negative criticism of Islamism and the Muslim Brotherhood.” This is not the first such attack, but it is just as spurious as the other such attacks by Islamophobes. Anyone who has read any of my published articles or who is familiar with my efforts could not make such a ridiculous statement with a straight face. I have definitely publically criticized political Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood. However, I totally reject Islamophobes like Yerushalmi and Kedar’s definition and descriptions of what constitutes an “Islamist”. All Muslims who practice the faith of Islam are not “Islamists”.
This report is an example of how far individuals who are filled with hatred are willing to go to demonize the entire religion of Islam. In a section on “Identifying Shari’a-Adherent Behaviors” we find this:
Surveyors were asked to observe and record selected behaviors deemed to be Shari’a-adherent. These behaviors were selected precisely because they constitute observable and measurable practices of an orthodox form of Islam as opposed to internalized, non-observable articles of faith. Such visible modes of conduct are considered by traditionalists to have been either exhibited or commanded by Muhammad as recorded in the Sunna and later discussed and preserved in canonical Shari’a literature. The selected behaviors are among the most broadly accepted by legal practitioners of Islam and are not those practiced only by a rigid subgroup within Islam—Salafists, for example.
Among the behaviors observed at the mosques and scored as Shari’a-adherent were: (a) women wearing the hijab (head covering) or niqab (full-length shift covering the entire female form except for the eyes); (b) gender segregation during mosque prayers; and (c) enforcement of straight prayer lines. Behaviors that were not scored as Shari’a-adherent included: (a) women wearing just a modern hijab, a scarf-like covering that does not cover all of the hair, or no covering; (b) men and women praying together in the same room; and (c) no enforcement by the imam, lay leader, or worshipers of straight prayer lines.
What are the characteristics of Imam’s at mosques that they consider “Sharia based Imam characteristics” that should be monitored or looked at with concern?
— Are men and women segregated during prayer?
What characteristics of Muslims who attend mosques are considered “Shari’a-based Worshiper Characteristics” implied to be somehow connected with the possibility of violence?
— Percentage of men with beards