By Jamiese Price
How do we stop future attacks by Islamic extremists?
A Muslim doctor visiting Birmingham, Ala. earlier this month said fellow Muslim Americans need to do more to shut down radical Islam.
Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, the president of American Islamic Forum for Democracy, spoke in Birmingham Wednesday. He said until theocratic Islam is addressed, we will continue to witness Islamic extremism, as the country did in Orlando.
“No, it's not all Islam that's the problem, but there's a problem in the house of Islam that needs to be addressed," Jasser said.
Jasser said it starts with reform.
“We start getting the message out that we recognize have a problem and help us counter and reform the 13th century ideas that are still stuck and haven't been addressed and then we can start to treat the disease at its core,” Jasser explained.
It's a disease Jasser said was present in the Orlando shooter.
"Bottom line is the virus that hijacked his personality was radical Islamism and theocratic Islam and until we Muslim counter that global virus is will continue to happen over and over,” Jasser said. “Until we deal with the core issues we will continue to have these radicals get through as they have in Orlando, Chattanooga, San Bernardino, and Fort Hood."
Muslim Americans have spoken out against the actions of the Orlando shooter and other Islamic extremists who have committed deadly acts in this country, but Jasser said that's not enough.
"America needs to see us leading, declaring war on jihad that we want to jihad against jihad. There are Muslims being radicalized, lining up to fight for ISIS. Where are the lines of Muslims, not just to fire up press releases in to email and faxes? Where are the Muslims," Jasser asked.
The Birmingham Islamic Society and CAIR Alabama are very familiar with Jasser's beliefs.
They said he's a part of the problem and is only spreading Islamophobia.
Ashfaq Taufique, President of the Birmingham Islamic Society, shared this statement with us in response to Jasser's beliefs:
From available reports the Orlando perpetrator was a nominal Muslim who would frequent gay bars. His ex-wife described him as mentally unstable and bipolar who would take steroids. This mass murderer does not seem to be someone who understood the basics of Islam or sincerely followed its tenets. Certainly this is the kind of person who would fall prey to online radicalization by terrorists.
By saying that the house of Islam is creating radical extremists, we are conveniently ignoring the massive ongoing efforts of American and International Islamic scholarship leading the charge against intellectually deconstructing the extremist ideologies being propagated in the guise of Islam. The Forum for promoting peace in Muslim societies is just one such effort.
Using Islamic scripture and sources, Muslim scholars worldwide have thoroughly refuted the ideologies of terrorists that claim to carry out their barbaric acts in the name of Islam. "The Letter to Baghdadi" and "Refuting ISIS" are just 2 of several such examples where the scholars have shown that terrorism and extremism have no basis in Islam.
By claiming that Islam needs reform, what Dr. Jasser is effectively doing is conflating the fringe ideologies of radical groups that claim to be Muslim, with the normative Islam practiced by 1.5 billion peaceful Muslims throughout the world. If anything, Islam needs to be properly explained to the youth and uninformed Muslims who are the targets for recruitment by terrorists, so that they know that Islam does not condone terrorism.
Majority of the mosques in the United States follow the Islam of late boxing champion Muhammad Ali, who was a clear example of what American Islam looks like. There was no influence of Saudi Arabia or Iran there. To see how American Muslims practice their faith, a suggestion would be to please visit your local mosque and meet.