An interview with Dr. Zuhdi Jasser

posted at 8:50 am on May 24, 2007 by Bryan

Erick interviews Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a devout Muslim who is taking a stand against Islamists and their radical allies in organizations like CAIR.

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Wow, what a reasonable, intelligent man. Are there more people like him out there? (sorry to be so negative…) Has there been a fatwa ordered against him yet?

4shoes on May 24, 2007 at 9:49 AM

There are a lot of others. Walid Shoebat is one. He travels with heavy security and, of course, much like Michelle at Loyola, he puts up with a lot of dissention. Still he keeps on. I have the greatest admiration for these men and women who risk their own lives in an attempt to put a face to radical Islam.

Glynn on May 24, 2007 at 10:30 AM

He’s sharp. I’ve seen him on Glenn Beck’s TV show a couple times recently. I was impressed.

CP on May 24, 2007 at 10:52 AM

Although I appreciate what Jasser is attempting to do, he has yet to explain how Islam is anything other than antithetical to our Bill of Rights and our Constitution. How can any reasonable, intelligent human being believe in the philosophy of Muhammad? What would Jasser say to Thomas Jefferson, who called himself a Christian in what he considered to be the true sense of the word – in that he believed Christ was the most important philosopher in the history of mankind? If America were to become an Islamic country, would we still be America?

Connie on May 24, 2007 at 11:14 AM

If America were to become an Islamic country, would we still be America?

No, because contrary to belief in some quarters, America is a secular country, and thus cannot be a “Christian country,” “Jewish country,” “Islamic country,” etc., no matter what the demographics of its citizens. In any event, the rate of Muslim immigration and birth is dwarfed by the rate of Christian immigration and birth.

This emphasis on secularism is exactly the sentiment – a separation of religion from governance – that Dr. Jasser is celebrating in the interview above.

Also, FWIW, I’ve met a Muslim (Egyptian who became an American citizen and was working with the Marines) who argued forcefully that components of Islam are just like America’s constitution, in that they compel Muslims to treat all – regardless of religion, race, etc. – fairly when arbitrating conflicts.

Is this interpretation correct? Maybe. Are there verses from the Koran which directly contradict any such passages? Certainly. But it’s interesting that that is how he has chosen to interpret his religion.

As far as, “How can any reasonable, intelligent human being believe in the philosophy of Muhammad,” many reasonable people believe in philosophies spurned by other reasonable, intelligent human beings.

The beauty of America is tolerating varying philosophies and permutations, up until the point they infringe upon the rights of others. Obviously this creates a problem with some Muslims. It’s obviously not a problem with other Muslims, like Dr. Jasser.

BillINDC on May 24, 2007 at 12:34 PM

Is this interpretation correct? Maybe. Are there verses from the Koran which directly contradict any such passages? Certainly. But it’s interesting that that is how he has chosen to interpret his religion.

Zuhdi Jasser has elsewhere said that they needed to reinterpret the Qur’an. I wish him well on this journey. Your friend has apparently done so. The overwhelming majority of Muslims haven’t.

PRCalDude on May 24, 2007 at 12:45 PM

In fact, “the overwhelming majority of Muslims” haven’t interpreted a lot of things, traditionally, violently, or no, because, like the overwhelming majority of self-identified adherents of many religions, they aren’t particularly devout.

Salad bar religion or varying interpretations of religion may seem like disdainful descriptions to those who consider themselves religious, but they are the reality on planet Earth.

Intolerance for infidels may be enshrined in verses of the Koran, but Islamic justification for the anti-semitic virulence of the Middle East is merely one component of a systemic political and cultural racism. This is explained very well in discussions by Walid Shoebat.

BillINDC on May 24, 2007 at 12:54 PM

Not that I’m completely minimizing the role of religion in what’s essentially a religiously-defined conflict, but you’ve got to leave the door open for people of good faith like Dr. Jasser.

Comments like Connie’s above kind of shut that door, no?

“Convert or renounce Islam or your opinion is not valid?”

re: Shoebat: here is my favorite clip.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pa_yj0ZXbaA

Note how the virulent anti-semitism is considered an Arab export that’s gone viral in much of the Muslim world.

BillINDC on May 24, 2007 at 1:05 PM

Before I jump on the Jasser bandwagon, I would want him to explain certain phrases that he has used, such as “the Occupied territories.” That’s how he refers to Israel.
Scroll down to the end of this post:
http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2007/05/atlas_on_the_ai.html

KC on May 24, 2007 at 1:19 PM

“If they (Muslims) don’t fight terrorism and the ideology that leads to it; we’re going to get nowhere”

Profound …

If he can also get them to incorporate Women into society that would be great.

ar_basin on May 24, 2007 at 2:45 PM

But it’s interesting that that is how he has chosen to interpret his religion.

BillINDC on May 24, 2007 at 12:34 PM

“Chosen to interpret”, indeed.

This is a liberal interpretation of the Koran, almost a secular interpretation in many respects. Not much different in context than any number of liberal and/or secular interpretations of the Bible and of Christianity.

Problem is these types of interpretation are rarely substantial enough to garner the support needed to ‘convert’ the fundamentalists who hold to the traditional literal interpretations of their respective religions.

My point is that, while people like Dr. Jasser may be able to limit the support of Islamic-Jihad terrorism, it is foolish to look to him as a means to elminiate said terrorism.

There are only two ways to eliminate a terrorist who has already decided to martyr himself:

One is to let him carry through with his murderous plot.

Two is to find him and kill or imprison him before he carries through with his plot.

Which option do we think will cause the least number of innocent injuries and deaths?

Lawrence on May 24, 2007 at 2:45 PM

Intolerance for infidels may be enshrined in verses of the Koran, but Islamic justification for the anti-semitic virulence of the Middle East is merely one component of a systemic political and cultural racism. This is explained very well in discussions by Walid Shoebat.

BillINDC on May 24, 2007 at 12:54 PM

Key phrase, Bill; “… intolerance for infidels may be is enshrined in verses of the Koran”, which completely explains the basis for the virulent anti-Semitism and cultural racism.

This should come as no surprise to any of us, because the Muslim terrorists clearly articulate this through our own media on a regular if not daily basis. But it is our own media that is striving to articulate these ideas in ways other than what the terrorists themselves are saying. So, do I believe the media spin, or do I believe what the terrorist themselves are actually saying?

In the end, the only way that people like Dr. Jasser could hope to have any measurable effect against Islamofascist terrorism is to rewrite or remove these verses from the Koran. And I just don’t see this happening.

Lawrence on May 24, 2007 at 2:59 PM

Key phrase, Bill; “… intolerance for infidels may be is enshrined in verses of the Koran”, which completely explains the basis for the virulent anti-Semitism and cultural racism.

Your strikethru is a little annoying, as it does not change the meaning of the sentence. “May be” was not used as a possibility, it was used as an de facto acknowledgment. “May be” did not indicate equivocation.

Problem is these types of interpretation are rarely substantial enough to garner the support needed to ‘convert’ the fundamentalists who hold to the traditional literal interpretations of their respective religions.

No disagreement here in the short term. And admittedly, the short term is our desired/needed time frame. But “fundamentalism” shifts over time in proportion to mainstream religious interpretation. I don’t know many Orthodox Jews that raze the homes of and kill unbelievers, for example.

In the end, the only way that people like Dr. Jasser could hope to have any measurable effect against Islamofascist terrorism is to rewrite or remove these verses from the Koran. And I just don’t see this happening.

1. Incorrect in a significant sense: the ability for Islamofascists to operate with impunity relies on tolerance in broader Muslim societies. In addition, intolerance of Muslim societies for Islamofascist rule – a painful lesson learned in Algeria and, lately, Iran – is a key element to moderating the power and prevalence for Islamic extremism. Living under religious nutters loses its appeal. In this sense, outspoken Muslims like Dr. Jasser can have an impact by promoting secularism.

They are losing the ideological battle worldwide, but they exist and deserve our support. this support is undermined by blanket scorn for the religion of the reformers/secularists.

They get threatened by head-chopping maniacs on one side, and told that their book needs a rewrite before their views are useful or legitimate on the other side. Tough spot.

2. In the end, verses of many holy books have been deemphasized as the faiths evolve. This is argued to be much easier in Christianity, due to the faith’s focus on logos. In contrast, the Koran is considered immutable, many argue.

But tabling the degree to which fundamentalists can be swayed by changing interpretations of the Koran (let;s assume “not at all”), ask yourself another question: if Dr. Jasser has limited to no influence on fundamentalists who let’s assume have a naturally disproportionate tendency towards violent interpretation …

… conversely, what impact do non-Muslims maligning Islam entirely have on the others who identify as Muslim, but renounce violent jihad?

This is an important question, revolving around practically defining the scope of your enemy and how to address the problem of Islamic extremism, tabling any pc cultural impulses.

My position is, those who choose Islam yet emphasize secularism and non-violence should be supported enthusiastically.

BillINDC on May 24, 2007 at 3:24 PM

As a shorter comment, look at some of the comments under this post.

A Muslim becomes a naval aviator and serves honorably for 18 years and becomes a squadron commmander, and some still find it occasion to criticize him for his religion.

The question is, should we expend energy telling Muslims like CDR Khan how fundamentally crappy their beliefs are and how such beliefs preclude their being truly American?

Or should we maybe figure out how to get more Muslims to embrace American values like CDR Khan?

BillINDC on May 24, 2007 at 3:45 PM

I too have see this person on Glenn Beck’s program.
It offers hope to a hopeless perception of all Muslims.

Kini on May 24, 2007 at 4:28 PM

Very nice. This man knows what’s up.

Patriot33 on May 24, 2007 at 5:24 PM

He is still a Muslim and the Koran still calls for the conquering and cutting off of infidel’s heads….

One is doctrinally right and one is doctrinally wrong.

Tim Burton on May 24, 2007 at 5:38 PM

Your strikethru is a little annoying. – BillINDC on May 24, 2007 at 3:24 PM

Sorry. I was trying to agree with you on this point. I chose a poor way of doing so.

But “fundamentalism” shifts over time.

Except that fundamentalism is the term we use to describe those who don’t shift. I also disagree with your example regarding Jews. Razing and killing unbelievers is not “enshrined in verses of” Jewish doctrine.

1. Incorrect in a significant sense: the ability for Islamofascists to operate with impunity relies on tolerance in broader Muslim societies.

I agree, but the issue at hand is rewriting their scripture. What you are actually suggesting in promoting moderation and/or secularism is that they abandon their fundamental scripture. I understand, ideologically, how this would solve the problem. Unfortunately, it is just not realistic.

They are losing the ideological battle worldwide, but they exist and deserve our support. this support is undermined by blanket scorn for the religion of the reformers/secularists.

But I scorn apostates and secularists also. It’s just not in my doctrine to kill them for it.

My point is this: It is not realistic to rewrite their Koran. But it is realistic to convert them. Conversion to a different view of Islam and/or Secularism is what you are really advocating.

They get threatened by head-chopping maniacs on one side, and told that their book needs a rewrite before their views are useful or legitimate on the other side. Tough spot.

I’m not the one telling them to rewrite their book. I’m asking them to abandon their broken religion of hate for a peaceful religion of Grace. But neither of us can’t make them change by twisting their arms or shaming them in the media.

2. In the end, verses of many holy books have been deemphasized as the faiths evolve. This is argued to be much easier in Christianity, due to the faith’s focus on logos. In contrast, the Koran is considered immutable, many argue.

Some sects of Christianity do deemphasized parts of the Bible, but on the global stage mainstream Christian beliefs have remained pretty constant over the last 2000 years.

My position is, those who choose Islam yet emphasize secularism and non-violence should be supported enthusiastically.

True. Except that choosing Islam and emphasizing secularism is a very distict contradiction.

Lawrence on May 24, 2007 at 5:47 PM

Sorry, but the WHITE GUY in the bra hat named “Hooper” STIIIILL doesn’t make ANYTHING he has to say behind that CAIR podium anymore legitimate. His white-Euro face just makes it all the more laughable.

seejanemom on May 24, 2007 at 7:27 PM

Great Vent Erick!

How does Jasser reconcile the poltical aspects of Islam with his views? How does he explain the directives in Islam’s texts to conquer others who do not believe as they do? What is his definition of a “moderate” Muslim and how does this “moderate” Muslim differ from the garden variety “conquer all who do not believe in Allah” Muslim?

Bottom line is that Islamic doctrine is clear in it’s directive to convert, conquer, or kill the “unbeliever”, and treatment of others (such as women) in a way that is not consistent with our values or laws. How does he reconcile the difference?

It seems that if a “moderate” Muslim appears with answers to these questions that are compatable with democracy and American values they are no longer Muslims but apostates. I have yet to see a Muslim reconcile the difference between the tenants of their faith and fundamental values inherent in democracy.

omegaram on May 24, 2007 at 7:42 PM

Those who interpret the violent suras of the Koran literally and not historically (or metaphorically) will not be converted or reformed to anything peaceful except compost.

Those who do not interpret the violent suras of the Koran literally are apostates according to devout Muslims.

Who will be killed by the fanatical jihadists… with “divine” sanction.

Islam needs to work out its own homicidal doctrinal mess on its own.

I wish they would all return to Mecca and fight it out.

Because, until there is a clear “Islam” (either pacified of the murderous dogmas or openly terroristic and imperialistic), the rest of the world will have to suffer their birthpangs/death throes.

And, with modern WMD technology, a lot of us infidels are going to get killed in this Great Muslim Wrestling Match for ultimate control of their faith.

Meanwhile, I wonder why anyone would want to follow the plagiarized teachings of a pedophile warlord.

Seems a bizarre choice, considering the other, more serene visions available.

profitsbeard on May 24, 2007 at 10:33 PM

No wonder Dr. Jasser is so sought after. He comes across as a normal human being. He’s articulate, attractive and rational. What a find, Erick. Please bring him back again.

Webutante on May 24, 2007 at 10:48 PM

Don’t forget, this guy is into following sharia….

I’m not sure I’d call him all that smart………

Highrise on May 25, 2007 at 3:10 AM

This is almost enough to make me hope that there are Muslims that actually believe that ALL people should be free to believe and practice whatever they wish, and that the free exercise of ANY religion should not involve inflicting abuse and death on non-believers. Almost.

Fulano_de_Tal on May 25, 2007 at 9:28 AM

I heard a one-hour interview with him with Atlas Shrugs and I was very disappointed in Jasser.

He tries to paint himself as a moderate, and we Americans are eager to embrace him, but…. I believe he is doing it for his own fame and fortune.

Granted, he is critical of CAIR and stands up for the “John Does” and says some things Americans need to hear but… He is very unclear and uncertain in his answers about the treatment of women and what he calls “occupied territories”.

To say that Islamic terrorism will end when muslims embrace Islam and get to the Allah – sounds good, but will probably never ever happen. Muslims needs to consider a complete change away from Islam.

The genuine Muslim moderates will be those who condemn Mohammad and Islam and demand that muslims clean their own house and turn in the terrorists amongst themselves, within their mosques, workplaces, neighborhoods, etc.

flagwaver on May 27, 2007 at 7:42 AM

Step away from the Jasser! I will go so far as to say that Jasser is dangerous to the proper understanding of orthodox Islam. He sounds wonderful, but why does he claim to be a “devout Muslim?” Don’t “devout Muslims” believe that Muhammad was the greatest human being, including all he taught and practiced? If that is true, then we have a man that is speaking out of both sides of his mouth and CANNOT be trusted. Jasser would have to disavow Muhammad and half of the Islamic Trilogy, including the Qur’an, and the teachings of the vast majority of Imams in the world. That will never happen. Nor will the vast majority or even a tiny fraction of Imams and other Muslim leaders or followers ever come to Jasser’s way of thinking. He is being deceptive by claiming he is a “devout Muslim” in one breath and in other virtually disavow what Islam has historically represented. He is adding confusion to our understanding of Islam. Either he is deceived or he is consciously deceiving the rest of us.

gfmucci on June 1, 2013 at 9:20 PM