This guy gets it from all sides. He’s Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, specialist in internal medicine and nuclear cardiology from Phoenix Az., former naval officer, critic of CAIR and the Flying Imams, and a real-life moderate Muslim. He’s Chairman of the Board and founding member of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), which supports
…the expression of Islam which is in synergy with American democracy, the U.S. Constitution, and the clear separation of religion and state. AIFD was formed on the basis that the development of this ideology at the core of the American and global Muslim consciousness is the central mission necessary in order to ultimately defeat the threat of Islamism and jihadism.
Dr. Jasser interprets the “Flying Imams” lawsuit — you will recall that several Imams behaved in ways calculated to draw attention to themselves on a US Airways flight, got themselves kicked off, and then sued the airline, the Minneapolis Airports Commission and even the anonymous passengers who complained about them — as part of a campaign by the Islamist, Saudi-funded Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) to establish itself as the voice of American Muslims in opposition to moderate groups like his own. He writes,
While the press may focus on the flying imams case, for American Muslims, the battle is broader. On one side are the imams represented by CAIR, the Islamic Society for North America, and the North American Imams Federation, all of which lean toward an Islamist view supporting greater interplay between religion and politics and the primacy of sectarian identity. On the other side are Muslims embracing Western secular democracy. The two are mutually exclusive in their interpretation of religious hierarchy, the interplay between theology and contemporary politics, individuality, and tolerance.
Responsibility for the victory of traditional, tolerant, and pluralistic interpretations of Islam lies with Muslims and Muslims alone. The intellectual marginalization of Islamists is the duty of Muslims who value the principles upon which the United States was built and now stands. This requires recognizing the primacy of the Constitution in political life, even if Muslims turn to the Qur’an in their spiritual life. Islamists, though, insist that regardless of temporal government, the Qur’an should be the central guiding document for legislation and interpretation. Islamists believe the Qur’an is the only source of law while non-Islamists believe it is just one source.
Perhaps this was the reason why the Prophet Muhammad and his companions sought to avoid creation of the same religious intermediary class that today CAIR, the Islamic Society of North America, and the North American Imams Federation presume to fill. — M. Z. Jasser, Exposing the ‘Flying Imams’
Dr. Jasser has been attacked from the American Right for saying that the correct interpretation of the Quran is one of tolerance and peace, and by Islamists for…lots of things. Here’s one Islamist’s response to Dr. Jasser:
Arizona Muslim Voice cartoon showing Dr. Jasser as a dog
I’m certain that Dr. Jasser’s views on the Arab-Israeli conflict aren’t anything like mine. But I think that our basic approach to concepts like truth, fairness, and above all the proper roles for religion and state are probably pretty close. This is a guy I could talk to.
Which made me wonder why, when Rabbi Eric Yoffie of the Union for Reform Judaism decided to reach out to American Muslims, he chose the Saudi-connected, highly controversial Islamic Society for North America (ISNA) as a partner, rather than Dr. Jasser’s AIFD.