Sharia Laws and Fixing Them is a chapter from the book American Muslim Agenda available at Amazon and Kindle
Muslims in the public square have a problem dealing with self-proclaimed conservatives among republicans. Both sides don’t believe in dialogue or even seeing each other’s point of view.
When the republicans talk nonsense, like “We don’t want to talk with the extremists,” Muslims laugh at them for their ignorance, yet they refuse to speak with the republicans.
There were some Muslim-organized events I was connected with; no one wanted to invite the republicans to their activities. They did not want to hear them. That is pathetic, and that needs to change.
An executive director of one of the Muslim organizations called me once and cursed out for going on the show Hannity, but he called me right back and made up and concluded we did not have this conversation.
Several others have written articles about me in a derogatory manner for going on Fox News.
Both sides need to tone down their rhetoric and listen to the sage advice of Mother Teresa, “If you want to make peace with your enemies, go talk with them.” Yes, gossiping over dinner among friends will not change anything. Getting out and talking with them does change.
Muslims ought to believe in the wisdom of the Quran. “To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil” (Quran 41:34). It is also strongly urged in the Quran in the same verse, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend,” and then again in Quran 49:13 that says that the best among you are those who learn about one another. When we know one another, conflicts fade and solutions emerge.
I was on Hannity’s TV show 110 times and about 150 times on his nationally syndicated radio show. It was humiliating in the beginning, but after he knew me, he gave me the time. And many times, he gave me the last word.
The best came when he quit bashing the Quran. I gave him Muhammad Asad’s translation and explained to him the gross mistranslation of two other interpretations. He understood it and had not bashed on Quran since. If he messes up, I will have to go see him again.
Hannity was also was effective in changing Congressman Peter King’s attitude toward Muslims. King, who was hell-bent on wiretapping all Muslims, turned 180 degrees around and said to the CNN camera after the Boston Marathon bombing, “Ninety-six percent of Muslims are fine with me. I am concerned with the 4 percent.” Thank God and thank Hannity for such a flip.
You can hear the full story about the transition on YouTube under the title “Dr. Mike Ghouse on the Power of Engagement with Fox News.” That was my speech at the plenary session at the Aligarh Muslim University.
As Muslims hold a negative view of republicans, republicans mirror the same. Neither one has taken the time to understand each other. Muslims are as hard-nosed in talking with the republicans as they are.
Not the moderate Muslims, but Muslims in public square kept me at bay. The screen came off one evening when I spoke to one such group of Muslims in May 2015.
After I gave a talk about the power of engagement and shared the story of the dialogue between Sean Hannity, I said to the group that I was not a republican anymore. When I finished my talk, I was utterly taken aback for the hugs and praises lavished on me for not being a republican.
Being on Fox News made me an outcast among Muslims; a majority of them had not seen any shows but merely associated my name with Hannity. Once, Hannity asked me on a live show if Muslims hated him. My response was “not those who have understood your distinction between radicals and the moderates.”
Every place I speak, I urge Muslims to reach out to the republicans. We are all in this together. Once they see a different Muslim in you than what has been posted on their minds, they will open up to you.
A vast majority of them, like us, have heard things about others from friends, news, social media, or our knowledge of others and instantly form opinions about others. As responsible individuals, we must strive to strip stereotyping and build pathways to ensure the smooth functioning of our society, whether it is our workplace or our neighborhoods.
We need to reassure one another, particularly the disconnected ones, that together as Americans, we are committed to safeguarding the American way of life. No American needs to worry about losing their way of life. Together as Americans, we uphold, protect, defend, and celebrate the values enshrined in our constitution—a guarantor of the way of life each one of us wants to lead.
Thanks to Dalia Mogahed
In September 2015 or at the beginning of October 2015, CAIR had called a meeting to discuss the issue of the impending global rally in front of twenty mosques and community centers across America. These were the gun-toting men planning to demonstrate, and there was an element of hostility in it.
Congressman Keith Ellison had chaired the meeting, and as he was about to conclude the group’s decision to lock the mosques and stay home, I spoke.
We have seen African Americans, Baptists, Catholics, Jews, Mormons, Irish, and Italian Americans go through painful transitions of acceptance as equals; Muslim-Americans and Latino immigrants are experiencing similar shifts now.
Although every community mentioned above has endured a long transition period, Muslim Americans may have a chance to shortcut the duration by taking a proactive stand on October 10.
This may be a God-given opportunity to mend fences and come together as Americans. While it may be tempting, as American Muslims, we should avoid viewing anybody as our enemy out to get us. While asserting our rights as American citizens, we will be well served by acknowledging that many a citizen have questions about our faith and our books.
As fellow Americans, we should boldly address these questions and allay their fears. We have to come together as Americans and solve our problems together. Inaction, isolation, retraction, or hiding behind walls is not an option for us; it merely prolongs the transition process and may inadvertently serve to intensify the sense of distrust that exists among a few.
They will march with their guns and expect hostility. They have a wrong image about Muslims. This is a God-given opportunity for us to change their perception. When they come here, let’s set up tables and provide them water bottles, even serve hot dogs, wave the American flags, hoist a flag at the entrance, and welcome them. That should flip them, may be skeptical, but they will figure out that Muslims are not what they are told to believe but [are] very kind and hospitable people.
There was dead silence for nearly ten seconds.
It appeared as if I were talking to walls. The dead silence was broken by Dalia Mogahed. She spoke in support of engagement, Congressman Ellison agreed, and the decision was made not to close the mosques.
We sent a press release, and thank God, the group canceled the demonstrations in most places, except in Arizona where they were welcomed and they flipped.
Recommended Actions for Muslims
- Let every masjid (mosque) that our friends want to demonstrate around operate normally. No need to stay home.
- Every masjid should fly the American flag.
- Let every masjid provide water for the visitors in front of the building through vendors, and if funds are available, serve kosher hot dogs.
- Muslim women and youth should hold placards or banners that carry messages such as the following:
- We welcome our friends, fellow Americans.
- Join us in an interfaith prayer led by a pastor, rabbi, imam, or a priest.
- We are Americans. This is our home.
- We abide by our American laws.
- We believe in the US constitution.
- Safety of all Americans is our prime goal.
- We are all Americans. Let’s join hands.
Note: The opinion is the author’s own and does not reflect or represent the views of any organization other than America Together Foundation.
Over the years, I have faced off, dealt with, or responded to the following: Robert Spencer, David Horowitz, Brigitte Gabriel, Pamela Geller, Geert Wilders, Noni Darwish, Bill Cunningham, Jamie Glazov, Katie Pavlich, Frank Gaffney, Zuhdi Jasser, Glenn Beck, and a few others on the show Hannity and Hannity Radio. I hope to share those insights in my next book.
Former Muslims such as Wafa Sultan, Noni Darwish, Ayan Hirsi Ali, and Walid Shoebat and Muslims such as Tarek Fatah and Asra Nomani have chosen to take it out on Islam for the bad experiences they have had in their lives. They should blame the individuals who mistreated them and not the religion.
If you had a bad life as a child, you could blame the father or the relative but not their religion. A few among Catholics, Hindus, Muslims, Jews, atheists, and others are individual abusers even though their religion teaches them otherwise.
When Brigitte Gabriel’s, Robert Spencer’s, or Hannity’s quotes seem senseless, they are not illogical, and they are not cooking up; they find that nonsense in the secondary books of Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Kathir, Hassan Banna, Maududi, and their likes.
The other day, Mehdi Hasan of the Oxford Debates and Al-Jazeera fame casually mentioned that he declined to speak at a Muslim event as he was trying to avoid being stereotyped then regretted that decision as the speaker they got was an extremist.
I have a similar regret for not taking up the assignment to speak in favor of the Brotherhood when Morsi was elected to lead in Egypt. Sean Hannity asked if there was at least one thing I could talk positively about the Brotherhood; I had none, and I despised the Brotherhood for making Islam a political ideology. I said that no sane American Muslim would speak in favor of the Brotherhood, so they found Anjem Choudary in London, the creep who wanted to raise a Muslim flag on the White House. I wish I had said something positive to say about Brotherhood, and Anjem Choudary would not have been on American TV.
In 2007, Dr. Imam Yusuf Kavakci was sought to sign on a declaration that apostasy was not Islamic as a part of the initiative of Dr. Mohammad Omar Farooq. Our goal was to get one hundred signatures from the imams of America to put this indecisiveness and confusion behind. He agreed but deferred it to a name by another scholar Jamal Badawi. When Dr. Badawi signed, Dr. Kavakci chose to refrain because of pressures from the stick in the muds at the mosque.
We need to reach out and have a dialogue with the ones who are apparently opposed to us. Apostasy is wrong; most imams agree that it goes against the very grain of Islam, but they are not willing to announce it publicly. This has got to change.
Muslim leaders need to lead and not pander to the funders. One head of a Muslim organization told me, “As long as I am president of the organization, you will not do a program on sharia, let alone talk about it.” No discussion was allowed, shutting the other board members from even talking about it. The chapter “American Muslim Agenda” has the full section on Muslim leadership.
American Muslims don’t need and don’t want the public sharia in America. The public sharia involves a third-party administrator to serve justice among conflicting parties. However, let it be clear that the personal sharia is practiced by Muslims, including me. That is the how I pray, fast, eat, dress, marry, and bury the dead. It is between, and I would not allow anyone to mess with it.
Caliphate is another fear some of our conservative Americans friends are worried about. They associate caliphate with Baghdadi and the havoc he unleashed on the civilian populations. American Muslims believe in democracy, and indeed, more than 60 percent of Muslims live and thrive in democracies. They have no taste for caliphate, which is another form of dictatorship. Islam is not about governance and oppression; it is about living your life and letting others live theirs.
American Muslims are Deeply Committed to America
All people who seek freedom and who love freedom love America. We owe it to fellow Americans and continuously assure them that they need not fear about Muslims or sharia. As Americans, we uphold, protect, defend, and celebrate the values enshrined in our constitution. Our faith reinforces the idea of one nation with liberty and justice for all.
Muslims are deeply committed to America, the land of the brave and the free, with liberty and justice for all.