Though many Muslims value unity within the Muslim community above all other values, there are brave voices speaking out against the barbarism being carried out in their name. The 'unity' in Islam is often superficial. The Sunni, Shiite, Sufi, Salafi (Wahhabi), and Takfir views on Islam vary a great deal. There are sects within sects. In Iraq, some Sunni are hunting Shiites south of Baghdad. "They act according to their own religious edict: If you kill a Shiite, you go to paradise."
From "speaking out":
Earlier this month, a group of about 3,000 Arab and Muslim intellectuals signed a petition demanding that prominent Muslim clerics known for inflammatory views face an international court on charges of encouraging terrorism. Among those they singled out was Egyptian Sheikh Youssef al- Qaradawi, based in Qatar, who has condoned attacks on American civilians in Iraq and sanctioned kidnapping in wartime.
These critics risk religious rulings calling for their deaths. There are very real and dangerous consequences when Muslims don't follow the radicals, and when they do.
Firstly, I was expelled from my school. “Being a good mother doesn’t require education”, Imam said. Secondly, I was forced to wear hijab all the time. Even that I had some problems with breathing, it didn’t matter. I was told to pray to Allah to save my life. Thirdly, I couldn’t use buses, trains and so on. I could only go out with my father. And finally, my mother wasn’t allowed to work. And we plunged into poverty.
Try to understand me, it wasn’t the secular law. We could bring legal proceeding against these criminals. But we could also be killed by our own neighbors for not obeying. And I WANTED TO LIVE, no matter how awful my life was.
At home we always discussed Islam. We read Koran and then compared it with reality. We were stunned. But not by reality. We were stunned because this awful life was required by Koran and Mohammed. It wasn’t terrorism. It was real Islam.
We made up our minds to escape as soon as possible. We saved all our money for a one-way ticket. And while doing it, I went to mosque; was beaten by Muslim boys because my name wasn’t Arab. I was beaten by Imams because I asked too many questions. I was beaten all the time.
After a few years, an awful event happened. My grandfather converted to Christianity openly and was killed near church. I didn’t know why he converted so openly; after all he understood that he would certainly be killed. But when he was at home writhing in pain, he confessed that he had cancer and knew that his death was somewhere nearby. He said he didn’t want to die a Muslim. It would be too shameful for him. I hope now he’s in Heaven or if Heaven doesn’t exist then I hope he’s now safe and happy.
From the "radicals" link:
The Takfir movement's limitless suspicion of outsiders and elusive tactics create huge complications for monitoring and infiltrating. Among Takfir precepts is "taqiyya," or use of deceptions that include blending into non-Muslim societies. This led some U.S. investigators to suspect Takfir links to some of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers, though no clear evidence emerged.
There's also worry about a trend toward smaller, independent Takfir cells that follow their own random agendas.
"Now we have a new generation of fundamentalists," said Mohamed Salah, an expert on Islamic radicals and the Cairo bureau chief of the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat. "The atmosphere in the world now makes it easy for someone to get two or three people together and form a group."
Takfir has cropped up on the fringes of recent terrorist probes.
In Jordan, one of 13 suspects accused of plotting to bomb American targets earlier this year is an alleged Takfir adherent. Moroccan officials have targeted Takfir followers in raids. Last year, French anti-terrorist agents detained more than a dozen suspected Takfir members.
Also last year, Lebanese forces arrested dozens of suspects accused of planning to assassinate the U.S. ambassador and other plots. Some suspects were reportedly Takfir followers.
Belgian investigators, meanwhile, are looking for possible ties between the Van Gogh slaying and threats against political figures including the justice minister and a lawmaker with Moroccan parents, Mimount Bousakla, who has challenged conservative Muslim social codes. Bousakla went into hiding after receiving anonymous calls that included a threat "to ritually slaughter her," Belgian officials said Wednesday.
Van Gogh was shot and then his throat was slashed. He had recently collaborated with Somali-born Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a parliament member, on a film criticizing Islam's treatment of women. She also has moved to a secret location.
"You can't dismiss the influence of Takfir on contemporary terrorism at some level," said Omid Safi, a religion professor at Colgate University. "It brands everyone it opposes as an infidel - including Muslims - and that makes it that much easier to inflict violence on them."
What actions can be taken to create a more moderate, less violent, Islam? This Stephen Schwartz article from Tech Central Station suggests a practical approach. Schwartz assumes the Koran, Hadiths, and Sira will never be changed, and he's probably right.
Some also insist that it is simplistic to blame Wahhabism alone for the present offensive by radical Islam. That is because they do not grasp the nature of Wahhabism or the solution to it. Wahhabism abolishes the tradition of pluralistic interpretation of Qur'an, the hadith, and Islamic law for which the religion was always previously known. To discuss the issues that have been forced on Islam by the terrorists, such as jihad, Muslims must first reclaim the right to discuss the religion on its own terms. That means ending the Wahhabi monopoly on discourse. When I published an exposé of the "Wahhabi Qur'an," in which statements that might be applied negatively to Jews and Christians were printed as if they unquestionably assailed those faiths, I was accused of diverting attention from the original malice allegedly present in the text. But Islamic pluralism, and Islamic moderation, embody the unchallengeable presumption that Qur'an, the hadith, and Islamic law are and always were open to differing interpretations. (Debate over textual interpretation is not the same as ijtihad, or originality in legal judgments, but that should be taken up elsewhere.) Wahhabism, which dominates mosques in the United States no less than in the Saudi kingdom, wipes out such a diversity of views, and replaces them with a single totalitarian dispensation.
The enforced uniformity of Wahhabism must be overthrown; then, with the restoration of Islamic pluralism, every verse in Qur'an, every hadith, and every precedent in Islamic law can be analyzed anew. I believe much can and will be reaffirmed as a foundation for moderation. But it is doubtful that Muslim tradition will be reordered according to the dictates of simplistic and bigoted non-Muslim demagogues. It is peculiar to me, in this context, that the long-standing recognition that Islam is divided between a fundamentalist minority and a nonfundamentalist majority seems to have disappeared from the minds of many Westerners; to them, as to the Muslim radicals, there is only one Islam. Some Western propagandists work overtime to convince the world that fundamentalist Islam is the only expression the faith ever produced, or that because Qur'an has not been expurgated, Muslims will always turn in that direction. Such analysts of the past think little of the future; removing controversial parts of Qur'an or any other part of Islamic tradition would only make them forbidden fruit, and even more attractive as weapons of radicalization.
When these brave pioneers in Islamic thought attempt to bring new, or old, insight into Islamic scripture, I suggest they do so with their heads down and powder dry. The Takfirs and Wahhabis would like nothing more than to kill the "infidels".