Sugar to Shiraz

in imperial watch

Not that I am interested in bashing David Adesnik, but the man writes some serious inanities. In his latest post – sticking up for Irshad Manji – he concludes: “Wouldn’t it be curious if American Muslims became the driving force behind the anti-terrorist movement in the Islamic world? These days, Americans talk more and more about exporting democracy to the Middle East. But who ever thought that Americans would also be exporting a new and more enlightened brand of Islam to the Muslim world?”. What hubris!

Are the Muslim Americans part of some “other”, so much “better” Muslim world? Are these “American” Muslims so distinct from the “world” Muslims? Did they not _come_ from that other Muslim world? And what exactly are they “exporting”? Imams? Self-flagellating Mujahids? Care Packages [ahem]? Are the many, many condemnations of jihadists [also this, via J. Cole] by “those” Muslims in that there Muslim world awaiting American Muslim legitimization? Or just David Adesnik legitimization?

What is this fetishization of quotes and press releases condemning terrorism by those Muslims? Why is it so important to segment the faith and those who practice it or look like they might practice it or seem like they should practice it? What rhetorical and argumentative role is being played when the media eggheads ask, nay demand, that every Muslim be asked and tell how severely they condemn terrorism, how sorry they are that Islam led them to this place?

Is it because the scribbled-in-Arabic-and-fossilized-in-seventh-century Islam allows the media the incomprehensible other they can safely point to over there? Orientalism redux? Yes, AlQaeda uses Qur’anic quotes to solicit and justify heinous acts. So, let’s say we take ALL offending quotes out of the Qur’an. What then? AlQaeda recruitment ends? No one will strap a bomb on because SUDDENLY they will figure out that they will get 70 white raisins and not seventy virgins? Are you kidding me?

Is all this really that hard to understand? Most recent terrorists are Muslim. Most recent terrorist belong to a certain social class that allows them freedom of movement and travel. Most recent terrorists are male. Most recent terrorists are members of organization involved, pretty vocally, in anti-Zionist or anti-imperialist actions. Most recent terrorists like blue jeans. Is it possible that we can look at the whole matrix of commonalities – perhaps some that cut across race and religion? Is it possible that there is more to this story than Islam – a faith of BILLIONS – ALL of whom do not appear to be in armed revolt against America or hedonism?

I will say it again. Islam is not a religion of peace. Islam is not a religion of war. Islam is not this or that and here or there. Islam is a living tradition with a complex history of fourteen centuries. Islam did not stop evolving in the 7th century. It actually has a history of transformations – grave transformations. It has a history of secessions and renewals and new modalities. Start here and work back. I condemn terrorism with all of my rational, moral and ethical being. I do not need to be a Muslim to do it. I just need to be a human. The jihadists are waging a political war. They do not need to be Muslims to do it. They just need to believe in their own twisted cause.

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