The Insidious Kumbaya on American College Campuses
On June 7, President Obama appointed Azizah al-Hibri, a Muslim professor and scholar, to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. Obama has already taken al-Hibri's advice to stand up for Muslims against their American critics. According to Daniel Greenfield's article entitled "The Professor Who Sharia'ed Bill Clinton" (FrontPage Mag.com article of June 14), Al-Hibri called on Obama to do so at an ISNA meeting two months before her appointment, and she has spent a good deal of her time promoting Islamic law in the United States advocating that Sharia law is superior to American law.
This April, preceding his appointment of Al-Hibri, President Obama set in motion the Interfaith and Community Service Challenge, an initiative to foster tolerance in religion on college campuses. He designated Eboo Patel, a Rhodes Scholar heading the Interfaith Youth Core, which is an organization that trains "interfaith fellows." Mr. Patel has been known to delegitimize fears of Islam, and he once said that the polarizing opinions held by Franklin Graham and Amjad Choudry were the same -- nothing that a cup of coffee together wouldn't solve (Washington Post, Oct 4, 2010). Patel's Interfaith Youth Core recruits student participants in order to improve inter-religious relations on campus and alleviate potential religious conflict stemming from religious diversity.
Apparently, Mr. Patel, who was named by Islamica Magazine as one of the ten young Muslim visionaries shaping Islam in America, and who served on the president's religion advisory council, has identified religious divides and discovered real solutions to this pervasive American problem. But shaping Islam in America is what the Interfaith Youth Core is really about.
According to a recent New York Times article (June 13) by Laurie Goodstein, entitled "An Effort to Foster Tolerance in Religion," the business of interfaith relations has always been in the hands of "elders and clergy members" of the Christian faith who hosted dialogues and drafted documents "that had little impact at the grass roots." But no worries -- Mr. Patel has a strategic plan, pro bono consultants, templates and spreadsheets, and a budget of millions. As a Muslim, he believes in religious tolerance, and according to Goodstein, he states that "Muslim radicals and extremists of other religions" are recruiting young people, and therefore religious tolerance (such as his own) should "enlist the youth."
Students coming together to do good works in the Interfaith and Community Service Challenge will form interfaith activism to become a "norm" on campus like the women's movement in America, according to Mr. Patel. Does his staff intend to offer a tutorial to explain the acute differences between women's rights in America and women's rights in Islamic countries where his faith is law? I doubt it.
Mr. Patel should also reveal that although his grandmother in Mumbai took in battered women in a generous humanitarian effort characteristic of his Islamic tradition -- an event he credits for the rediscovery of his personal spiritual life -- his tradition has also codified wife-beating, polygamy (multiple wives), female genital mutilation, woman guardianship, honor killings, and female head and face veiling. These practices flourish today within Islamic communities throughout the world.
Although clarification is not a stated goal of Mr. Patel, he could nonetheless achieve a bit of it by instructing his interfaith fellows to emphasize that only one religion subscribes to the concept of jihad (holy war against an infidel enemy), thereby making this one religion, Islam, incompatible with the others (more than three thousand). Mr. Patel's responsibility to this program should include an overview of the so-called tolerance and religious freedom throughout the Middle East in OIC nations, where theocratic leaders have chosen not to sign on to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Since Mr. Patel, according to the Goodstein article, equates imams to saints, he might check in with reality by introducing the results of a four-year study issued recently by the Center for Security Policy ("Sharia and Violence in American Mosques" by Mordechai Kedar and David Yerushalmi, Middle East Quarterly), which has found mosques across America to be repositories and incubators of hate, violence, and jihad funded by foreign sources -- the same sources which influenced the recent shutdown of the anti-Semitic forum (YIISA) at Yale University. Is it any wonder that Mr. Patel finds Hillel, the national Jewish student group, a bit distanced from the MSA (Muslim Student Association) on college campuses?
Although President Obama has already sent two thousand letters to university heads to promote the Interfaith and Community Service Challenge, he needn't bother Georgetown President John De Gioia, who is already running the Wahhabi-oriented Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding. The Center is endowed with a $20-million grant from Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal (see Patrick Poole, Pajamas Media, June 15) -- but apparently never questioning the Saudi record on human rights.
Will Mr. Patel and his enlightened team educate campus youth in Arabic-language concepts in the Muslim religion, such as the word "taqqiya"? While the Christian and Jewish faiths include the commandment "Thou Shalt Not Lie," the doctrine of Islam advocates lying in certain circumstances, and one occasion is to further the cause of Islam. College campus youth interfaith programs would qualify, I'm sure.
Mr. Patel advances the President's program with the cool slogan "Better Together." He wants to pave the way for such things as Muslim "public school holidays, zoning permits for houses of worship, and religious garb in the workplace" because until this moment, "inter-religious friction was sparking regularly" in the grassroots over these matters. Mr. Patel is correct in pointing out inter-religious friction; open thought and free speech very often spark the MSA to employ oppressive tactics to impede opposing views by Christian and Jewish speakers on campus. But that said, it seems that Patel's slogan predominantly refers to America as better off with Islam in its midst -- a debatable issue. By now we have conclusive evidence that the radicalization of Islam in America and across the world is taking place despite the good intentions of moderate Muslims.
The Interfaith and Community Service Challenge allows our impressionable sons and daughters to conform their thinking to the position that Islam deserves a prominent place in American society. In light of Islam's growing extremism, this is very dangerous. American students will form opinions about Islam through these types of agenda-driven efforts on campuses as well as from Islamic studies departments with their distorted and romanticized views of Islam and its history. What will never be revealed is that the Muslim establishment has no intention of embracing Western democracy. Instead, the establishment will make a convincing feint, all the while using the very freedoms they wish to subvert -- beginning with initiatives like the Interfaith and Community Service Challenge.
Ashraf Ramelah, founder and president of Voice of the Copts, is working on a book about the pre-Islamic Jahiliyyah era with particular emphasis on women under Islam.