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Twin visions

"Twin visions" Continued...

Issue: "Rich man, poor man," May 5, 2007

The lawsuit seeks monetary compensation for civil-rights violations. But M. Zuhdi Jasser, director of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) in Phoenix, believes other motivations are in play. A practicing Muslim and personal acquaintance to several of the suing imams, Jasser nonetheless has denounced the litigation as both "frivolous" and "very concerning." He vows that his organization will help provide legal defense for any passengers.

In an interview with WORLD, Jasser explained the importance of his stance in what he views as a broader struggle between Islam and Islamism. He contends that the lawsuit, which is backed by CAIR, is part of the same broad political agenda Jamal identifies-the radicalization of moderate Muslims: "They're doing this under the guise of political correctness, but what they really seek is for the Muslim community to function as one body politic. Their endgame is to create a state and political construct in which imams and clerics that are experts in Shariah can have influence in government and society rule in order to create quasi-theocracy."

Jasser, a practicing physician and former Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy, founded AIFD to resist such politicization of Islam in America, a movement that he says has overtaken almost every national Muslim organization. Despite the highly visible presence of CAIR, MAS, and other politicized groups like the Muslim Public Affairs Council and the Islamic Society of North America, Jasser is hopeful that moderate Islam may still succeed in stamping out more radical visions.

He believes that as many as two-thirds of the nation's several million Muslims are what he terms non-affiliated, that is, uninvolved with political organizations and still open to moderate values. But his efforts to reach that non-affiliated group have come at a high social cost. Jasser has attended mosque and sat under the teaching of some of the flying imams, but he says some of them routinely question the authenticity of his faith and accuse him of harboring personal political ambitions.

He bristles at such charges: "My goal is to disassemble political Islam and make my spiritual path with God more private. They feel that my desire and work to separate politics from our spiritual faith in the God of Abraham is somehow a foreign intervention into the faith." But Jasser's faith is more liberal than that of the imams. He says, "There are many different pathways to God. If you believe others are going to hell for not following your path, it becomes problematic to society."

In Jasser's view, the controversies in the Twin Cities stem not from Islam per se but from a religious exclusivism that he sees as incompatible with American democracy: "Government is based on the values of natural law and humanism and not on one pathway to God. I believe the Quran is my book at home that I believe is the word of God, but it should literally have no role in government."

Such compartmentalized faith, a concept most Bible-believing Christians resist, may prove the best antidote to political Islam and the establishment of Shariah in America. Not all exclusive truth claims are equal: Bible-based Christianity birthed American democracy; Quran-based Islam now threatens it.

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