[Editor’s note: On February 18th, Frontpage ran an article by Nonie Darwish, “Islamic Indoctrination vs. Education,” which criticized U.S. schools for allowing Islamist indoctrination. Below is a response written by Hassan Shibly, one of the Muslim speakers who addressed U.S. classes and was a target of Ms. Darwish’s criticism. Nonie Darwish’s rejoinder follows.]
Islam Has Nothing To Do With Terrorism
By Hassan Shibly
Nonie Darwish’s article (“Islamic Indoctrination vs. Education,” Frontpagemag.com, Feb. 18) made some grave accusations against me and my father. I was very surprised and disturbed to read the article, it was as though I was reading about someone I never knew.
What disappointed me the most is that although Ms. Darwish cites an anonymous letter which falsely claims I said certain statements, she did not conduct the first basic element of investigative journalism. Although she has my contact info, she did not call or email me asking if I ever made those statements. Nor does it appear she interviewed any of the dozens of students and staff who attended my presentations. Had I made any of the alleged statements, the students and staff of the over 40 classes I have spoken at certainly would have been alarmed and would have never invited me to speak. Furthermore, the letter Ms. Darwish quotes is the first and only complaint I have ever heard. Not one of the teachers or other students who attended the presentation were concerned with anything I said. Rather, they loved the presentation.
I simply wish that the author and publisher had contacted me before publishing the article and asked about my presentation or what I said during it or at least asked the many students and teachers who attended it, so that they could present a more fair and accurate report for the readership.
I stopped working with Bridges TV shortly after the interview we did because I did not feel Muzzamil Hassan truly reflected the teachings and beauty of Islam. And truly the terrible crime he allegedly committed is inexcusable and just a reflection that its perpetrator could not be a true practicing Muslim representative of my dear faith. I left Bridges long before the terrible crime occurred there. After leaving Bridges, none of the shows I hosted were aired. I did send several requests for them to send Ms. Darwish a copy and my understanding was that they did. The very fact that I invited Ms. Darwish on the show was simply an expression of my good will to engage in a healthy dialog and conversation.
Darwish claims that my father and I both spoke at the high school. My father (Othman) never spoke at the high school nor has he participated in any of the school presentations I have conducted.
I will end this letter by simply addressing the statements attributed to me and explain how they are distortions or outright fabrications:
During the presentation I did explain that there is no room for terrorism or the killing of civilians in Islam. I also explained that those who commit terrorism are not true Muslims. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him said, “A Believer is one from whom peoples blood and wealth are safe.” The Quran says “Whoever kills a person it is as though he has killed all humanity.” I went on to explain that according to the Scholar Joseph Schwartz, those who commit acts of terrorism do not do so because of Islam nor do they justify their actions with religion. (Published by Oxford, April 2004, Journal of Metphilosophy).Rather, they justify their abhorrent actions with political and not religious reasons.
I did not claim that the men who carried out the attacks were atheists. However, as I said, Islam does not permit the killing of civilians so a person who kills innocents is not a true believer. Furthermore, I cited a study done by University of Chicago Professor Robert Pape. He conducted a study sponsored by the State Department under the Bush administration which concluded that statistically, the largest users of suicide terrorism are radical atheist communist groups in Sri Lanka.
I did state that a person who reacts violently to an insult does so because they are not controlling their emotions and are not using their God given intellect. I said that if someone gets upset because you insult their faith it is because they are reacting emotionally, in the same way a person whose mother is insulted may react irrationally and inappropriately. I used that as an example of why people need to use their intellect and control their emotions, not the other way around. I was explaining that violent reactions are not due to Islam, but due to a person’s own lack of self-control. I never said a Muslim can do anything to someone who insults God. Rather Islam teaches simply ignoring and saying “peace” to those who speak evil.
I did not say the media lies. But I did say it can often mislead people. I did say that when a Muslim commits a wrong act his faith is blamed and that is not the case for people of other faiths. Just recently, an American who was clearly not Muslim crashed his plane into an IRS building. No mention of his religion was made.
It is very clear from anyone who attended the presentation, that I did nothing but condemn any and all acts of violence and terrorism. I also stated that Islam is against terrorism and those who do acts of terror do not represent my faith. Is it a crime or wrong for me to say that? Are we afraid of Muslims who reject terrorism and condemn it instead of making Islam look bad by supporting it? People like you should support people like me, who are working hard to condemn terrorism and violence.
I will continue to work hard to promote an accurate understanding of Islam. My faith has nothing to do with terrorism and those who commit terrorism in the name of Islam are simply distorting the teaching which I love and hold dear, just as my words have been distorted. My track record of speaking against violence speaks for itself. It would be a great service to your readership if facts were verified and all relevant parties contacted before publication. I thank you for giving me this opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings.
Hassan Shibly, Co-founder of the Center for American Muslim Understanding, is pursuing a Juris Doctor at that University at Buffalo Law School, where he serves on the Human Rights Advisory Committee and is a Public Interest Law Fellow.
Nonie Darwish Answers:
Mr. Hassan Shibly states that he was disturbed by my article and by the anonymous letter and alleged false claims by the concerned mother. My response is: The mother is well known to the school and perhaps to Mr. Shibly himself through the school. The mother, with whom I am still in contact, stands by everything she said and what her son reported.
Mr. Shibly advises me to do proper research. Well, that’s exactly what I did to write my article. I took a look at the myspace internet profile of Hassan Shibly and I could not see any indication of a moderate Muslim who is interested in reaching out to others. I do not see a non-confrontational peace loving Muslim but much blame and finger-pointing. Mr. Shibly has an Islamic Logo on the top left corner that says “Allahu Akbar” with mosque minarets in the shape of missiles pointing in all direction. He posted songs with a morbid message obsessed with death, burial, hoping for paradise and fear of hell. The songs are part of culture of death and ‘torture of the grave’ taught to kids in Saudi Arabia. Some of the songs say:
“Remember.. in the end.. the dust is our bed”, “What do you need now, education, career money… breathing.. my soul must fly. Heaven, hell…times up… we shall rejoice while others burn (apparently in Hell).”
He also has a post on the anti-Semite and anti-Israel George Galloway who also supports Hezbollah and Hamas. There is not one thing mentioned in favor of extending understanding and tolerance to Jews, Christians or any other minority persecuted by Muslims. You would think a person involved in interfaith dialogue would be doing soul searching as to what Muslims can do to bring peace and harmony — or at least admit that Muslims are persecuting Christian Copts in Egypt. Not once does he criticize Muslims; all the blame is on Jews and Westerners.
The Shiblys refuse to denounce Hezbollah and Hamas as terror groups. Hassan Shibley wrote:
“Hezbollah is basically a resistance movement supported by people in Lebanon, both Muslims and Christians. It is not merely a military institution; it provides a lot of social services for people of all different faiths. They’re absolutely not a terrorist organization; their targets have always been military targets. They wear uniforms and operate overtly. Under American just war theory, since they have a political base and popular support from the people, any war against them is illegitimate.”
In an April 17th speech, Mr. Shibley said:
“The twentieth century has ended and America has emerged as the dominant World Superpower. Since World War two it has perused an aggressive imperialistic foreign policy consisting of both covert and overt interventions abroad to maintain world supremacy. The US has supported unpopular regimes and governments within the Middle East: The Shah, in Iran; The Saudi Royal Family; and the Israeli state to name but a few agents the US has supported to ensure their oil interests. Over the past thirty years, a pattern of American Imperial Intervention in the Middle East has become apparent.”
I think such negative views of America are very similar to the excuses Islamists use to explain away jihadist aspirations in the West. Both Shiblys have admiration for Syrian sheikhs Ahmad Kuftaro and Rajab Deeb. Sheikh Kuftaro, who was recently deceased, promoted interfaith spirituality but only on his English language website. However, like many Muslim leaders, in his Arabic language website, he promoted intense Jew-hatred, such as Jews are “the killers of prophets;” “Israel is a dagger in the heart of the Muslim nation;” “All Muslims are obligated to do jihad upon the Zionists.” Sheikh Deeb stated that “Jerusalem is ours.”
Hassan Shibly have also attended an Islamic conference in Toronto, about which the Department of Homeland Security said:
“… we had credible intelligence that conferences similar to the one from which these individuals were leaving were being used by terrorist organizations to fundraise and to hide the travel of terrorists themselves.”
With all of the above, I do not understand why the Shiblys are surprised that American parents do not want them near any classroom teaching American kids. Americans cannot afford ignoring reality and living with a false sense of security promoted by the Shiblys and other Muslim front groups in America.
American public school kids have become the victims of Islamic propaganda and misinformation that paints Islam in sharp contrast to how Islam is actually being taught today in 54 Muslim countries. While Muslim kids in the Islamic world are being taught to value martyrdom, violent jihad, killing Jews, despising non-Muslims and bringing the world under the control of Sharia, we in the West are spoon-feeding American kids a politically correct unrealistic image of Islamic teachings.
Only in the West is Islam being taught as a religion of peace, harmony, equality, tolerance and equal rights. I lived in the Muslim world for 30 years but never heard that as the main purpose of Islam.
To learn the truth about what Islam advocates, just listen to Imams in Muslim countries. Read Sharia, hadith and the Quran. Approximately 61% of the Quran talks about non-Muslims, “the kafir,” and only 37% is dedicated to preaching to Muslims. An overwhelming portion of the Quran is dedicated to cursing non-Muslims and condemning them to all kinds of murder, torture, doom, humiliation, calling them unclean, partners of Satan, enemies of Allah, apes and pigs and encouraging Muslims to never take them as friends or allies.
The school districts are the ones responsible for forcing our kids to listen to such nonsense from Muslim apologists who cannot even condemn Hezbollah and Hamas as terrorist organizations. The school districts must clean up their act, end this farce and stick to basic education. As to the Shiblys, they can promote their religion of peace in their mosque, but please leave our public school kids alone and away from Islamic propaganda.