There is no doubt that Rauf has made some questionable and incendiary comments regarding America and her role in the Muslim world. Perhaps these statements fit the imam's overall rhetoric involving U.S. complicity in the attacks of 9/11. As does the following statement to the FBI, which is conveniently omitted from media reports defending Rauf.
Bridge-building imam Feisal Abdul Rauf was giving a crash course in Islam for FBI agents in March of 2003. When asked to clarify such terminology as ‘jihad' and ‘fatwa', Rauf stated (emphasis mine throughout):
"Jihad can mean holy war to extremists, but it means struggle to the average Muslim. Fatwah has been interpreted to mean a religious mandate approving violence, but is merely a recommendation by a religious leader. Rauf noted that the U.S. response to the Sept. 11 attacks could be considered a jihad, and pointed out that a renowned Islamic scholar had issued a fatwah advising Muslims in the U.S. military it was okay to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan."
Well, wait a minute.
Which version of the word jihad is he referring to when he speaks of the U.S. response itself? Is it the struggle he speaks of for the average Muslim, or is it the holy war?
Getting very little run in the media is an analysis of Rauf's FBI days in the New York Post. Contained within Paul Sperry's column is a question of whether Rauf actually knows the definition of jihad, or if he simply presents things ambiguously to make things more difficult on the agents he is trying to teach. While Rauf passes jihad off as nothing more than a struggle, Koranic scholar Abdullah Yusuf Ali disagrees, insisting that jihad ‘means advancing Islam, including by physically fighting Islam's enemies.'
Sperry then questions, ‘If he (Rauf) believes jihad is really just an internal struggle, then why does he refuse to condemn Hamas? (Why, for that matter, did he in late 2001 suggest that "US policies were an accessory to the crime" of 9/11?).'
And speaking of the fatwa advising Muslims in the U.S. military that it was okay to fight the Taliban ...
The renowned Islamic scholar that Rauf is referring to is Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi. In a New York Times article one month after 9/11, Rauf was quoted as saying:
"This fatwa is very significant. Yusuf Qaradawi is probably the most well-known legal authority in the whole Muslim world today."
"A Muslim is forbidden from entering into an alliance with a non-Muslim against another Muslim." He called on Muslims to "fight the American military if we can, and if we cannot, we should fight the U.S. economically and politically."
Qaradawi elaborated on that non-fatwa fatwa in 2004 when he said of American troops:
"...all of the Americans in Iraq are combatants, there is no difference between civilians and soldiers, and one should fight them, since the American civilians came to Iraq in order to serve the occupation. The abduction and killing of Americans in Iraq is a [religious] obligation so as to cause them to leave Iraq immediately. The mutilation of corpses [however] is forbidden in Islam."
Abduction and killing is an obligation, but he draws the line at corpse mutilation. Very classy.
Perhaps the media should not be relying so heavily on the imam's efforts within the FBI anyway. Lest we forget, the FBI doesn't exactly have a great track record in spotting red flags being raised by a radical imam. Families of the victims at Fort Hood can attest to that. In their defense, the FBI was constantly compromised by over-sensitivity training when it came to Muslims. But when Nidal Hasan was chatting it up with Anwar al-Awlaki, they suspected it was nothing more than a simple case of psychiatric research.
Is all this nothing more than parsing the double talk of a 'moderate' imam, or is it something more alarming?
Rusty can be contacted through his website: The Mental Recession.