Marlowe's Shade

Monday, November 08, 2004

And Now a Message from Our Local Iman

This interview with Hafiz Hamid Mahmood, the Iman of the Greater Worcester Islamic Society appeared in our "alternative weekly", Worcester Magazine. Lots of softball questions and pat answers. Here's a couple of examples:

What is difference between what you preach and what we call radical or fundamentalist Islam?
Actually, we cannot determine what is meant by fundamentalist or radical. I am strongly opposed to this term being used, because the fundamentalism, to my knowledge, has been something that is part of the Christian history. In Islam there is nothing like fundamentalism. But in interpretation some people are extreme, so I would accept the term extremism. There are people who are not satisfied with anyone, and their extremism has a lot of ways and forms, and I think this is a universal phenomenon — a psychological phenomenon, actually. Not only one religion has extremism.

In my experience, Islam teaches peace, peace, peace. Where does the message of violence come from?
The main message of the Koran is just about having peace, starting with God. Have peace first of all with God. Then have peace with your own self, your own soul. And then have peace with your society, and bring it harmony.
The state has its own situation. This is a different form of peace — the peace a state would have with another state. There are beautiful instructions in the Koran for the state, and some individuals misinterpret this as being for the individual, not the state. They really want to take the law in their own hands. Most of the time they are crazy, and they even hate the people of knowledge. That is our biggest problem with them — that they don’t listen to real experts on the Koran. The Koran is not for everyone to interpret. People from the western media, a lot of time, twist the verses of the Koran regarding fighting, [promoting the] idea of Islam as a religion that only deals with fighting and destroying.

I applaud these statements distancing himself and his masjid from jihadi
terrorists and their violent interpretation of the Koran. However he
may want to address the fact that a Google search on "Islamic Society of Greater Worcester" doesn't bring up the Islamic Center's current website, but the first hit turned up is an older website hosted on AOL that appears to have been updated as recently as 2001. The site includes a link to the website of Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an extremely controversial Egyptian cleric, among whose many incendiary statements was a recent one reported by Reuters in which he declared that it was a religious duty for Muslims to kill Americans, including civilians, in Iraq.
There was also a link to the now defunct which according to Aaron at Internet Haganah, was the website of an al Qaida affiliated group that supports the rebels in Chechnya

The Iman began his tenure in 1999. Let's hope that the new website reflects a break with past connections to those who preach violence.
papijoe 6:36 AM