Everyone loves moderate Muslims, but no one is quite sure how to identify them. Unfortunately, some of those who claim to be moderates have turned out not to be: as one police official in Southern California said a few years back, “We’ll come back from a Kumbayah meeting with a local mosque and realize that these guys who just agreed to help us are in our terror files!” And Fawaz Damra, the former imam of the largest mosque in Cleveland, Ohio, signed the Fiqh Council of North America’s condemnation of terrorism — not long before he was ordered deported for his ties to terror groups. These days many politicians seem to be having trouble identifying moderates, for recently two Muslim leaders have been showcased who appear to be anything but moderate — underscoring the need in these days of the global resurgence of Islamic terrorism for our public officials to have a much more comprehensive understanding of Islam than most have today.
First was Imam Husham Al-Husainy, who prayed against “oppression and occupation” at a Democratic National Committee winter meeting. And now Imam Yusuf Kavakci of the Dallas Central Mosque has offered a prayer very similar to Al-Husainy’s in the Texas State Senate. Kavakci was there at the invitation of Republican State Senator Florence Shapiro, the senior Jewish member of the state Senate. Kavakci recited the Fatiha, the Qur’an’s first chapter and the most common prayer in Islam: “In the name of god, Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. All praise is for Allah, our lord, the lord of the worlds, the compassionate, the merciful, master of the day of judgments. Oh, god, Allah, you alone we worship, and you alone we call on for help. Oh, Allah, guide us to the straight path, the path of those whom you have favored, not of those who have earned your wrath or of those who have lost the way.”
The traditional Islamic understanding of this is that the “straight path” is Islam, and the path of those who have earned Allah’s anger are the Jews, while those who have gone astray are the Christians. This is the view of most mainstream Muslim authorities, including the classic Qur’anic commentator Ibn Kathir, Tabari, Zamakhshari, the Tafsir al-Jalalayn, the Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn Abbas, and Ibn Arabi.
Thus it is likely that Imam Yusuf Kavakci was leading the Texas State Senate in a prayer that they become Muslims, and not remain Christians or Jews. Moreover, in December 2004, Kavakci belied his reputation as a moderate by speaking at a conference in Dallas, “A Tribute to the Great Islamic Visionary” — the Ayatollah Khomeini. Did State Senator Florence Shapiro or any of the other Senators know this? If not, why did they think it unimportant to check into his background? If so, do they not realize the implications of allowing someone who believes Khomeini to be a “great Islamic visionary” to address them? Did anyone ask Kavakci what he thought of Khomeini’s famous statement that “Islam makes it incumbent on all adult males, provided they are not disabled or incapacitated, to prepare themselves for the conquest of countries so that the writ of Islam is obeyed in every country in the world….But those who study Islamic Holy War will understand why Islam wants to conquer the whole world”? Did they even know or care that Khomeini ever made such a statement?
Does Kavakci think that in that statement Khomeini was “visionary”? Does he approve of the state of war that the Islamic Republic of Iran has maintained against the United States since the earliest days of the Khomeini regime?
Instead of finding answers to such questions, Shapiro and other State Senators listened to Kavakci’s prayer that they abandon their ancestral faiths and congratulated themselves on their tolerance. Why didn’t they exercise some diligence in checking the background of those whom they’re dealing with, instead of taking claims of “moderation” at face value? They’re whistling “Kumbaya” past the graveyard. Would the Texas State Senate have asked a Nazi chaplain to give an invocation for them in 1942?