Thanks to the Media is a chapter from the book American Muslim Agenda available at Amazon and Kindle
Thanks to Fox News, particularly Sean Hannity and Stuart Varney. Please hold your breath and read the details before you jump to conclusions. Thanks to Dallas Morning News for publishing over 250 pieces in 5 years and 175 articles at Huffington Post in the same period. There are several others, but to name a few, it is op-ed news, the Daily Arab News, Washington Post, Houston Chronicle, Austin Statesman, Arab News, Al Bilad, Indian Panorama, Mulberry Ledger, Lakeland Ledger, and nearly 300 periodicals that have published over 3,500 articles on pluralism and pluralism in Islam.
A few vocal Muslims are as blind as the ones they accuse of others. They don’t hear things, don’t see things, yet they judge others. Facts don’t matter to them, and that is not the Muslim thing to do. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had said.
A few Muslims hated me for going on the show Hannity and were extremely agitated. An executive director of a prominent civic organization chewed me out for thirty minutes, and I listened to him to see if he made any sense; he did not. However, he did apologize for the rudeness and asked me not to write about it.
Another prominent Muslim wrote a scathing piece, calling me a useful idiot of the right in an established Muslim website. There are many such articles about the ones who speak up without verifying or seeing the whole picture. I hope the majority of Muslims will speak up against such nonsense. It does not matter to me. The truth stands on its own.
Why Fox News and Sean Hannity?
Mother Teresa had said something to the effect, “If you want to make peace with your enemies, go talk with them, talking with friends won’t change the equation.” This statement has been a source of inspiration for me to dialogue with those who differ.
Years ago, there was a Catholic nun on Tim Russert’s show Meet the Press. She said in plain English, “The moderate people don’t have the passion for giving confidence to people who are apprehensive.” She added that the moderates’ would reason with themselves, whereas the people on the right would blurt out with confidence even though they know it would not pan out.
Dukakis failed, and Bush had won on the same principle. George Bush claimed that he would chase Osama Bin Laden to the far end of the world; he did not. The logical Obama did not make tall claims, but he got the guy.
With that background, as a moderate person, I added reasonable confidence and passion in my take on issues. Hannity was my fit, and thanks to him for inviting me to be on his show—a total of 110 TV appearances with him and over 100 syndicated radio shows.
Perhaps, I am one of the first few Muslims who looked like everyone else to go on national TV. Before that, a Muslim was someone with a beard, an identifiable headgear, and robes and invariably wore their “Muslimness” by reciting a few words in Arabic to an audience who just wanted to hear a message in English. Of course, you know Juan Williams got into trouble by his comment on Muslim garb.
They gave a nongarb Muslim a break, and my first encounter was with Pamela Geller when she was demonstrating against the Ground Zero Mosque. We need to appreciate Hannity, Varney, Ingraham, Gutfeld, and Megyn at Fox for helping us see our mistakes and pointing them out to us. We need to thank them for making us think and plan on getting back on the right path.
Sean Hannity has relentlessly pursued antisharia rhetoric. All he wants is an assurance from the Muslim community that they have no interest in sharia as practiced in Saudi Arabia or Iran. American Muslims have detested such laws and would not want any of that here in America, but they have failed to express it. I have explained the reclassification of sharia into personal and public applications, which Hannity understood.
Indeed, there are two chapters on sharia in this book. Sadly, the average Mohammad, Ali, Amina, Fatima, Ayesha, and Abdul are not aware of the genesis and intent of sharia, and they may find it offensive to hear that we don’t need the public version of sharia. They are afraid to question, let alone think that it is not divine. As a Muslim, I support the personal version of sharia that is between the individual and the creator, but I firmly stand against a public version of sharia where a third party administers the justice. We are Americans, and the law of the land is our law, and there is no substitute for it.
American Muslims have placed their trust in the American justice system and will abide by it with their heart, soul, and mind. The sections on “The Genesis of Sharia” and “Fixing Sharia Laws” will explain the full story.
Let me quickly share two significant accomplishments in working with Hannity and Varney. Hannity now has a copy of Muhammad Asad’s translation and understands that by reading three verses before and after the misunderstood verse gives a clear picture of justice and mercy embedded in Quran. God is just and merciful. He has not bashed the Quran in the last several years now. Stuart Varney, on the other hand, declared on his show in November 2015 that he would not use the phrase “Muslim terrorist” anymore; instead, he agreed to use the phrase “terrorists among Muslims,” and the same was understood by Hannity, but he did not keep it after ISIS came into being.
For a long time, I was planning on a rally against ISIS and terrorism. Most Muslims wanted to do it, but they did not want to be the first one to stand out there. Stuart Varney of Fox News put me on the spot, and that prompted me to hold the rally. Thanks to Fox News, Sean Hannity, and Stuart Varney for announcing about the event and acknowledging it—one more thing out of the way in building bridges as we are all in this together.
Those Muslims who question “Who gave you the permission to speak on behalf of Muslims,” I would say, “Go ask Bin Laden and Abu Bakr Baghdadi.” Indeed, a Muslim’s authority to represent their faith is granted by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who said it was your responsibility to read, understand, and act out from this book of guidance—the Quran. He never said you must have a degree from Deoband, Al-Azhar, Qom, Rabwa, or Jakarta. Islam was not meant to be the business of clergy; it was intended for individuals to follow and live a good life of caring for what surrounds them—life and environment.
The myth that Jews control the media needs to be removed. No one stopped me from writing my opinions on a variety of subjects, including blogs on Israel and Palestine where I have boldly pointed out the mistakes of the Israeli government (not Jews or Judaism). American media is generally fair, except for a few outlets on the right and left.
I am driven by my mentors, meaning the people whose words profoundly affect me and influence my actions on a daily basis. They are Jesus Christ, Prophet Muhammad, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Lord Krishna, Buddha, Abraham Lincoln, Rabbi Gordis, VP Hamid Ansari, Michael Lerner, Pres. Barack Obama, Pope Francis, Aga Khan, and my father, mother, and a few more.
I hope you find this book meaningful and appreciate our media, the pillar of democracy.