Hatemonger Al-Marayati Denounces CIP
Veteran radical Islamist and hatemonger Salam Al-Marayati, of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, has used a television encounter with U.S. Congressmember Brad Sherman (D-Ca) as an opportunity to denounce the Center for Islamic Pluralism and other moderate Muslim groups with whom Congr. Sherman has consulted, as "not mainstream." That is, Al-Marayati has called for the exclusion of CIP and others from participation in the American public discourse. CIP above reproduces and attaches a press release issued by Congr. Sherman , and a television transcript of the encounter.
CIP notes first that this is, of course, the same Salam Al-Marayati who informed the Los Angeles public on a radio talk show in the afternoon of September 11, 2001 that Israel could be responsible for that day's horrors, because, according to him, "this diverts attention from what's happening in the Palestinian territories, so that [Israelis] can go on with their aggression and occupation and apartheid policies." Such charges, in the mouth of Al-Marayati, represent "mainstream" Muslim ignorance and conspiratorialism.
In reality, MPAC, not CIP, is outside the mainstream of American society. Attacks on CIP would not otherwise be forthcoming, whether by demagogues like Al-Marayati, or by James Zogby of the Arab American Institute, who recently assailed CIP Executive Director Stephen Suleyman Schwartz in a periodical issued in Amman, Jordan [see www.jordantimes.com/?news=9966] or by Muslim Brotherhood acolytes [see www.ikhwanweb.com/Article.asp?ID=15647&LevelID=1&SectionID=98].
CIP further points out that Al-Marayati compulsively engages in two habits that are inappropriate in American interfaith discourse. First, neither Al-Marayati nor MPAC nor any other of the radical Islamist groups that dominate American Sunni public life has the right to dictate to American elected officials with whom they should meet or consult. We have never heard of Christian or Jewish groups demanding that one or a group of them should have sole responsibility for dialogue with public officials, and denouncing others as "not mainstream."
Al-Marayati and his cohort understand nothing whatever about the American compact for interfaith relations. In American religious life, numbers seldom outweigh intellect: CIP would be pleased to succeed to the role of such minoritarian groups as the Moravian Brethren, the early Unitarians, or the Seventh Day Adventists. One Albanian Orthodox leader who came to America, Theofan Stilian Noli, changed the whole history of his people; two generations later the blessed Baba Rexheb Beqiri introduced Bektashi Sufism to the U.S. and preserved its traditions in the face of Communist terrorism. America has always allowed small religious groups to flourish, often with impact far beyond their narrow ranks. Similarly, the Jewish maskilim were once a handful, but profoundly reoriented Jewish thought. Outside the monotheistic faiths, the same has been true of once-obscure Buddhist trends.
Even Al-Marayati and his cadre represent a small group taking advantage of the broad American platform. Others like him also abuse the term "mainstream" in the Muslim context. We do not consider MPAC "mainstream." MPAC does not reflect the religious traditions of Ahl as-Sunna wa'al Jama'at (the consensus of Sunnis) or Ahl ul-Beyt (Shias). Rather, it is a political pressure group that promotes hateful smears. For Al-Marayati and MPAC, it is clear that "mainstream" means only those American Muslims who have gained the support of Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iran, Hezbollah and other radical regimes and movements, and have imposed themselves as an ideological caste directing American Muslims.
CIP was founded by American Muslims prominent in active defense of the Balkan Muslims from aggression, in support for stable Turkish Islam, and in clear adherence to the precepts of the Sunni consensus and the moderate Shia marjae. It has been joined and assisted by distinguished shaykhs, outstanding journalists and scholars, and community activists. CIP's intellectual output is professional and authoritative. CIP cooperates with established civil and religious institutions in the U.S. and other countries. CIP also promotes respect and cooperation with Christian and Jewish leaders. CIP calls for adherence and obedience to the laws of Western countries in which Muslims live. These are the characteristics that define "mainstream" thought in Islam, not approval by extremist ideologues.
CIP points out that CIP and other moderate organizations are bringing new faces to the forefront of discussion while Al-Marayati and his crew continue to promote a long-usurping cadre of Islamist bigots. MPAC does not change. CIP is constantly improving, expanding, and providing a platform for new personalities.
May Allah subhana'watala protect all believers from the intrigues of such hypocrites, speculators, slanderers, and those who divert Muslims, in particular, from the path of religion to that of ideology. This we ask in the week approaching the Holy Month of Ramadan, alhamdulillah.
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