Among post-modern multiculturalists, it's commonplace to suppose that all cultures are of equal moral worth. Salim Mansur, professor of political science at the University of Western Ontario, emphatically disagrees. In an illuminating collection of essays entitled Islam's Predicament: Perspectives of a Dissident Muslim, he maintains that Islam is afflicted with "a terrible malady" which "reflects the irreparable breakdown of the civilization's centre … which at one time in history was co-equal, if not briefly superior, to Christendom."
Paraphrasing William Butler Yeats, Mansur contends that Islam is in the grips of a "rough beast" that has let loose anarchy upon the world. He traces the problem back to the earliest days of Islam, when perverse Muslim rulers renounced the peaceful teachings of the Quran, by slaughtering each other in a bloody struggle for political power following the death of the Prophet in 632.
"The Prophet's immediate family members were the most conspicuous massacre victims," writes Mansur. "Ever since those early blood-lettings, Muslims have been the primary victims of Muslim violence."
That's still all too evident in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. Within the past week, Islamist suicide bombers have killed more than 240 Muslims in three massive blasts – the first two in Baghdad and the third in Peshawar.
Mansur charges that while Osama bin Laden and the Al-Qaeda network are "the modern faces of the beast" set loose in Islam, "Muslim intellectuals and religious leaders such as Tariq Ramadan and Sheikh al-Qaradawi serve the beast as apologists and propagandists." That's disturbing.
Qaradawi is no minor figure. Mansur explains that for Sunni Muslims, he is "the face of institutionalized Islam. He is the closest to what might pass for a titular head of Muslims akin to the Pope. Qaradawi's words, now broadcast by television network al-Jazeerah, are taken as authoritative pronouncements of Islam."
In a sermon broadcast earlier this year on the Arabic network of Al-Jazeerah, Qaradawi declaimed: "Oh Allah, take the Jews, the murderous aggressors. Oh Allah, take this profligate, cunning, arrogant band of people…. Oh Allah, do not spare one of them. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them, down to the very last one."
Ramadan is hardly less prominent than Qaradawi. A Swiss-born Arab Muslim academic, he has taught at the University of Fribourg, Oxford University and Erasmus University in Rotterdam. In 2004, he was offered a tenured position at Notre Dame University, but could not take up the post because he was barred entry to the United States.
On August 18, Ramadan was fired from his posts as a professor at Erasmus and an "integration advisor" for the city of Rotterdam, because he continued to host a show Islam and Life on Iran's Press TV despite the shooting down of protestors in the streets of Tehran in June. In a joint statement, the city and university said Ramadan had "failed to sufficiently realize the feelings that participation in this television program, which is supported by the Iranian government, might provoke in Rotterdam and beyond."
In the face of Islamist terrorism, Mansur deplores the "appeasement mentality" of liberal-left multiculturalists in the West as well as the "deafening silence of Muslims, except for lonely voices of feeble opposition." He likewise denounces the "double-speak" of Muslim intellectuals and religious leaders in mosques who say "contrary things in English or French and then in Arabic, or Farsi or Urdu."
Mansur, of course, is a courageous exception: No Muslim has been more outspoken than he in unequivocally denouncing the Islamist terrorists who defame Islam.
As a Muslim, Mansur laments: "We keep assuring ourselves and others that Muslims who violate Islam are a minuscule minority, yet we fail to hold this minority accountable in public. We regularly quote from the Quran, but do not make repentance for our failings as the Quran instructs, by seeking forgiveness of those whom we have harmed."
Mansur starkly concludes: "We Muslims are the source of our own misery, and we are not misunderstood by others who see in our conduct a threat to their peace."