Byline: M. Zuhdi Jasser, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Part three in a three-part series.
Islamists fear any real ideological battle within Islam against Islamism and its clerics. To that end, they seek the removal of American and Western involvement from Muslim majority countries. Americanism is founded upon an anti-theocratic ideology that is a global ideological threat to Islamism. "Jeffersonian" Muslims who depart from Islamism are similarly the greatest threat to the influence of Islamists within the Muslim community.
Disengage Islamism from Muslims and Americanism will flourish among Muslims. With the deconstruction of Islamism (the ends), Islamist terror (the means) has no cause.
Muslim activists should find it commonplace to address the central ideological issue of this war Islamism vs. Islam vs. anti-Islamism. Islamist moderation, vis-a-vis anti-terrorism and anti-autocracy, should not dismiss the remaining overriding Islamist philosophy. This philosophy is what needs to be understood.
The issue is not one of patriotism. Islamists can be intensely patriotic while having a differing vision for America. It is the ideology of political Islam that needs to be engaged. The following questions may begin to help opinion leaders discern an Islamist from an anti-Islamist: Do you believe in the strict separation of religion and politics? Do you support the development of religious (Islamic) political parties and movements? Should the imam's "mimbar" (pulpit) be the place for the advocacy of domestic and foreign policy opinions? Should clerics be politicians or legislators?
Also: Would you prefer (if Muslims were a majority) to see legislatures argue interpretation of scripture and religious law over secular non-theological argumentation? Do you believe in a movement at any time to return a global Caliphate into existence? Where do you stand in regards to the stated global goals of the Muslim Brotherhood or the Wahhabi Movement? Is the American system of government and the Constitution inferior to the basis used for an "Islamic" state? What is the role in local and global society of the Muslim "ummah" (community)? Of the mosque? Do you believe individuals who leave Islam should be a legal concern of society? In the hereafter, by your theology, do you believe that God will only judge individuals or will He collectively judge entire communities overriding the individual?
Moderate Islamists are not an ideological threat to the radicals of al Qaeda, Hamas or Hezbollah because they generally seek similar "Islamic" governance, albeit a more moderated, non-violent, even democratic playing field in the end. Moderate Islamists will usually also avoid identifying radical Islamists by name as the enemy.
We are five years behind and only just beginning to delve into the intellectual debate we should already be having with the Muslim world domestically and abroad. …