Until the West recognizes the need to combat, not just with weapons but also with ideas, the fundamentalist view of Islam that Saudi and Emirate funding is spreading around the world, we, not just the Israelis, will live with the constant threat of terrorist attacks. I believe the West needs to energetically and enthusiastically seek out and support the efforts of Muslim leaders who preach pacifism and the value of hard work, men, for example, like Ahmadu Bamba, the Senegalese Sufi cleric who founded the Mouride Brotherhood, and was called by his followers a “re-newer of Islam” and a “Servant of the Prophet. Rather than a clash of cultures, we need to spark a clash within Islam between the fundamentalists and the revisionists. We need to help initiate an Islamic Reformation, one that will reshape Islam the way the Protestant Reformation reshaped Christianity. It would be naïve to think that one day the world will be rid of all the hard core fundamentalists, but right now they are in the ascendant, and if the world is ever again to be a safer place, their ideas and their core beliefs must be challenged. We need to beat them with ideas if we ever hope to be able to stop fighting them with bombs and bullets.
On Yom Kippur, Jewish rabbis ask their congregations to pray for peace, not just for themselves and Israel, but for all the world. If Israel and the West are ever to know peace it will only come when Muslim imams stop urging their flocks to jihad, which according to the prominent Islamic lecturer, Abdur-Raheem Green, means to fight a holy war to establish “Allah’s rule in the lands of the unbelievers.” To counter the preaching of men like Green, the West needs to find and support courageous Muslims who will rise to the challenge of bringing Islam into the 21st Century through a religious reformation.
Al Kaltman holds a PhD in political science, and is the author of Cigars, Whiskey and Winning: Leadership Lessons from General Ulysses S. Grant. He teaches a leadership studies course at George Washington University.
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