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Islam: What's Next?



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American Society of News Editors , 2003

Panel discussion





CAIR Rep (Ibrahim Hooper) Reacts to Rep Goode's anti-Muslim Statements



Robert Rivard, San Antonio Express-News: It′s my pleasure and honor to introduce my colleague Aissatou Sidime. She has been with the Express-News since 1999 and before that with The Tampa (Fla.) Tribune and The Tennessean in Nashville. I could tell you some nice things about her as a journalist, but instead I will tell you what a wonderful newsroom leader she has been for us over the last three years, helping grow and invigorate our chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists.

She is the first journalist in my 25-year career that asked for and won election as a director to a credit union - actually was interested in following the money internally as well as outside. She covers banking for us, insurance and personal finance. In San Antonio that means covering USAA, the giant insurer for the military, which is literally modeled after the Pentagon, except they like information flow even less than the Pentagon.

Aissatou Sidime-David, San Antonio Express-News: Good morning. In order to really understand what keeps me here in the industry, I think you need to have just a bit about me and my background, so you′ll know where I come from.

I am a would-be entrepreneur. My mother tossed newspapers and sold incense on street corners in Memphis, Tenn., so that she could teach her children to have a desire to be economically self-sufficient. The other thing you need to know is that I, like the National Association of Minority Media Executives award winner last night, Paula Madison, grew up in a public housing complex on welfare. My aunt was always active in tenants′ rights and in trying to keep our community safe from drugs and what have you. So, I grew up with the desire to have my own business and to be in control of my life from those two women.

The third thing you need to know is that I′m a planner, very Type A. As a teen-ager I had my life planned out. I wanted to finish high school as valedictorian, get a scholarship to the university of my choice, get internships, get an MBA, write for newspapers for five years, get married, have my two children and then start my business. Somewhere along the line, however, that got derailed, because I′m in my eighth year as a full-time reporter.

There are four or five things I want to talk to you about that helped change my plan, if you will.

I stay in this business, the first reason, because my company actually says, “Thank you for being you.” They not only say it, but they allow me to be myself culturally by wearing my locks or my braids in the office and professionally by allowing me to cover African-American art, which is a passion for me - I′m a collector. And sometimes they say thank you simply by letting me take off when I′m ill and really can′t be creative for the day.

My company shows its appreciation by giving us reporters a chance at those NBA Spurs tickets or at the symphony tickets or the opera tickets, not just the advertisers or the managers. My company pays me fairly for the job that I do. It trusts me to write stories that are important to our diverse communities. It doesn′t chew me out when I make a mistake. Moreover, I can go in to my editor′s, Bob Rivard′s, office and challenge his coverage of underserved communities, offer 1A story ideas, or maybe just go in and ask for advice on a local activist.

And I know, first, that he′ll give me an answer and usually on the same day, which a lot of editors don′t do. Second, I know that some of my story ideas are actually going to appear in the paper. And, most important, I don′t have to fear that he′s going to retaliate when I challenge his judgment or his authority, and that′s not always the case with some editors.

The second reason I stay in this business is because I had great mentors: Denise Williams, in Virginia; Scott Lebar, at the beginning of my career in Sacramento; Reggie Stuart, in Nashville; and Bobbie Bowman, who is here with you all. They were wonderful. They alternately stroked my back, praising me, but also pushed my limit. Most of them don′t even know that I consider them my mentors. I guess they will after today.

They were mine because they were my cheerleading squad, but weren′t afraid to tell me what I needed to hear when I needed to hear it, particularly about my career and my performance. They also shared their family lives and their concerns about the industry. They were open with me. They became important in one key issue. I′ll give you an example. I was at a different paper where I wanted to change beats, so I decided I′d develop a career plan, if you will, with upper management. My plan was to volunteer, filling in at that beat when it became available because of illness, but with the understanding that the a.m.e. would meet with me at the end of the stint to reassess my work and develop this career plan. I went three months trying to get in to see any of the upper managers after that stint. No one would talk to me about my career goals or my future.

At that point I wasn′t sure what to do. With my mentors I decided to find another paper that would allow me to reach the career goals I wanted. It took changing companies, but it worked. They gave me a calm place from which to assess my skills; they gave me an impartial assessment of them; so, I knew what I could and could not do. And they gave me the editors to call when I decided that it was time for me to change companies. They were there for me in a number of ways.

It′s no wonder that the third reason I′ve stayed is because I′ve become a mentor to young journalists. They come to me with their fears, fears that I′ve lived through: “How do I begin covering education?” “Am I going to be comfortable as the lone minority in the newsroom?” Or, one that touches very close to home, “My husband doesn′t want to relocate, but I really want that job. I′m afraid that if I don′t take it, I′m going to resent him later.” I really get excited about helping excise all of those demons for them. It allows me to repay my mentors. It allows me to share the way my aunt did with me, the way my mother did with me.

Ultimately, young journalists know their weaknesses. They want a company that has integrity and will help them through those weaknesses. They′ll forego higher pay for a paper that has a great editor who will work with them. But don′t claim to be a coaching paper when you′re not. You know it will show. It will disappoint. It will hurt your company′s credibility with reporters. If you don′t have a coaching hour built into your daily editing schedule or into your weekly set of meetings, you′re not giving the consistent and concerted coaching they need and want. Nobody wants to be at a paper where he or she can′t advance or can′t develop skills.

With my friends who have left the industry, it′s been because their papers didn′t show their appreciation, not even with the occasional thank you- they felt forgotten; the pay didn′t cover their rent, student loans and car loans, let alone allow them to save anything in a 401(k); or, the managers didn′t trust them, the reporters on the ground, to go out and find stories that were important to their communities. In the eight years that I′ve been reporting, only 1 in 6 left because she felt that this industry was inherently the wrong field for her, just 1 in 6.

In sum, historically workers and their employers had a covenant that promised lifetime employment and security for those employees, so long as they followed the company dictates. That covenant encouraged workers to delay and sometimes completely defer their gratification or their career goals. But that died in the ′80s, and now young reporters are not willing to sit back and defer their career goals. They no longer expect to work for a single entity throughout their entire career. We expect corporations to give us the tools to reach our journalistic and professional goals today. We′ve raised our expectations for newspapers. And we′re committed to searching until we find those companies, either in the industry or elsewhere, that will give us what we need to meet those goals. Thank you

Islam: What′s Next?



Deborah Howell, Newhouse News Service, introducer: I′d like to introduce our panel and moderator.

Ibrahim Hooper grew up in Minnesota and Wisconsin. He has a bachelor′s degree from the University of Minnesota and a master′s in journalism and mass communications. In the small world department, my husband signed his degree when he was at the University of Minnesota. He worked for CBS and ABC TV affiliates as a news producer and field producer. His undergraduate work was also in history, focused on the Middle East. He has lived in and traveled extensively in the Muslim world. He is the national communications director for the Council on American Islamic Relations.

Professor Akbar Ahmed, a distinguished anthropologist, writer and filmmaker, is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies and professor of International Relations at American University in Washington. He has been actively involved in interfaith dialogue and the study of global Islam and its impact on contemporary society. He is the author of many books on Islam, including “Discovering Islam: Making Sense of Muslim History and Society,” which was the basis of a BBC six-part series called “Living Islam.” He is a Pakistani and has held senior positions in Pakistan, including being their ambassador to the United Kingdom. He is a columnist for Religion News Service.

Dr. Ingrid Mattson is professor of Islamic Studies at the Macdonald Center for Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut. Dr. Mattson earned her Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from the University of Chicago in 1999. Her research is focused on Islamic law and society. Among her articles are studies on slavery, poverty and Islamic legal theory. She was born in Canada and studied philosophy at the University of Waterloo, Ontario. In ′87 and ′88, she lived in Pakistan where she worked with Afghan refugee women. She is the vice president of the Islamic Society of North America.

Daniel Pipes is the director of the Middle East Forum and a columnist for both the New York Post and The Jerusalem Post. He received his doctorate in history from Harvard University. He spent six years studying abroad, including three years in Egypt. He has taught at the University of Chicago, Harvard and the U.S. Naval War College. He frequently discusses current events on television and has published in magazines such as The Atlantic Monthly, Commentary, Foreign Affairs, National Review and The New Republic. He has written 11 books, four of them on Islam, including his newest one, “Militant Islam Reaches America,” to be published by Norton in the fall.

The Rev. Robert Drinan is a Jesuit priest who served five terms in Congress representing the 4th District of Massachusetts. He left Congress when there was a change in canon law forbidding priests and nuns to hold public office. He is a professor of law at Georgetown University. He holds national leadership positions in several organizations, including the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, Common Cause and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. In addition to holding 23 honorary degrees, Father Drinan earned his bachelor′s and master′s degrees from Boston College and his law degree and master′s in law from Georgetown University.

Robert F.Drinan, Georgetown University, moderator: Thank you very much, Deborah. Good morning. I look forward to learning a lot from the distinguished panel here today. The second panel this morning will be focusing more on the Mideast, so we will try to confine our comments to Islam in the United States of the Muslim religion.

Here are some of the suggested topics sent by Deborah Howell. She says, incidentally, that this panel wants to leave editors more informed and that in my role as moderator, perhaps one of my functions is to bring it back to something specific, particularly about the future of Islam in America. That′s the first topic that is suggested. The second is “What sets apart Muslims in America from Muslims in Islamic countries?” Third, “How do Muslims seek to find their place in the great diversity of America′s religions?” And, “How do American Muslims view the war on terrorism?”

The first focus is supposed to be on faith, on religion, on American Muslims. Without any particular order, let us call on the four panelists: Ingrid Mattson, Ibrahim Hooper, Daniel Pipes and Akbar Ahmed.

Dr. Mattson, would you open up and talk about your background and your reflections on the topics that we′ve mentioned?

Ingrid Mattson, Hartford Seminary: Sure, happy to start. It′s a big topic, obviously. You heard a little bit about me in my introduction. I guess you could look at me in some ways as symbolic of development in the American Muslim community over the last 10 years or so. My election as vice president of the Islamic Society of North America this summer is really quite significant for Muslims in the United States, given that, as I was telling Gustav Niebuhr a few weeks ago, 15 years ago when I went to that convention, not only were women not on the stage, but when they wanted to ask a question they wrote it on a piece of paper and sent it up to the front to be read out loud. It was considered perhaps a little immodest to stand up and debate in public. To me, that symbolizes the incredible growth of the Muslim community in America, not only in numbers, but also in orientation, outlook, ideology and the understanding of what it means to be a Muslim. There are many things that these people believed were essentially part of Islam, of Islamic modesty or outlook, even politics and ethics that have changed. And it′s very important for people who are involved in the news to understand the growth of that change. Remember the game, Six Degrees of ... I can′t remember that famous ... ?

Unidentified: Kevin Bacon.

Deborah Howell, Newhouse News Service, introducer: I′d like to introduce our panel and moderator.

Ibrahim Hooper grew up in Minnesota and Wisconsin. He has a bachelor′s degree from the University of Minnesota and a master′s in journalism and mass communications. In the small world department, my husband signed his degree when he was at the University of Minnesota. He worked for CBS and ABC TV affiliates as a news producer and field producer. His undergraduate work was also in history, focused on the Middle East. He has lived in and traveled extensively in the Muslim world. He is the national communications director for the Council on American Islamic Relations.

Professor Akbar Ahmed, a distinguished anthropologist, writer and filmmaker, is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies and professor of International Relations at American University in Washington. He has been actively involved in interfaith dialogue and the study of global Islam and its impact on contemporary society. He is the author of many books on Islam, including “Discovering Islam: Making Sense of Muslim History and Society,” which was the basis of a BBC six-part series called “Living Islam.” He is a Pakistani and has held senior positions in Pakistan, including being their ambassador to the United Kingdom. He is a columnist for Religion News Service.

Dr. Ingrid Mattson is professor of Islamic Studies at the Macdonald Center for Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut. Dr. Mattson earned her Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from the University of Chicago in 1999. Her research is focused on Islamic law and society. Among her articles are studies on slavery, poverty and Islamic legal theory. She was born in Canada and studied philosophy at the University of Waterloo, Ontario. In ′87 and ′88 she lived in Pakistan where she worked with Afghan refugee women. She is the vice president of the Islamic Society of North America.

Daniel Pipes is the director of the Middle East Forum and a columnist for both the New York Post and The Jerusalem Post. He received his doctorate in history from Harvard University. He spent six years studying abroad, including three years in Egypt. He has taught at the University of Chicago, Harvard and the U.S. Naval War College. He frequently discusses current events on television and has published in magazines such as The Atlantic Monthly, Commentary, Foreign Affairs, National Review and The New Republic. He has written 11 books, four of them on Islam, including his newest one, “Militant Islam Reaches America,” to be published by Norton in the fall.

The Rev. Robert Drinan is a Jesuit priest who served five terms in Congress representing the 4th District of Massachusetts. He left Congress when there was a change in canon law forbidding priests and nuns to hold public office. He is a professor of law at Georgetown University. He holds national leadership positions in several organizations, including the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, Common Cause and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. In addition to holding 23 honorary degrees, Father Drinan earned his bachelor′s and master′s degrees from Boston College and his law degree and master′s in law from Georgetown University.

Robert F. Drinan, Georgetown University, moderator: Thank you very much, Deborah. Good morning. I look forward to learning a lot from the distinguished panel here today. The second panel this morning will be focusing more on the Mideast, so we will try to confine our comments to Islam in the United States of the Muslim religion.

Here are some of the suggested topics sent by Deborah Howell. She says, incidentally, that this panel wants to leave editors more informed and that in my role as moderator, perhaps one of my functions is to bring it back to something specific, particularly about the future of Islam in America. That′s the first topic that is suggested. The second is “What sets apart Muslims in America from Muslims in Islamic countries?” Third, “How do Muslims seek to find their place in the great diversity of America′s religions?” And, “How do American Muslims view the war on terrorism?”

The first focus is supposed to be on faith, on religion, on American Muslims. Without any particular order, let us call on the four panelists: Ingrid Mattson, Ibrahim Hooper, Daniel Pipes and Akbar Ahmed.

Dr. Mattson, would you open up and talk about your background and your reflections on the topics that we′ve mentioned?

Ingrid Mattson, Hartford Seminary: Sure, happy to start. It′s a big topic, obviously. You heard a little bit about me in my introduction. I guess you could look at me in some ways as symbolic of development in the American Muslim community over the last 10 years or so. My election as vice president of the Islamic Society of North America this summer is really quite significant for Muslims in the United States, given that, as I was telling Gustav Niebuhr a few weeks ago, 15 years ago when I went to that convention, not only were women not on the stage, but when they wanted to ask a question they wrote it on a piece of paper and sent it up to the front to be read out loud. It was considered perhaps a little immodest to stand up and debate in public.

To me, that symbolizes the incredible growth of the Muslim community in America, not only in numbers, but also in orientation, outlook, ideology and the understanding of what it means to be a Muslim. There are many things that these people believed were essentially part of Islam, of Islamic modesty or outlook, even politics and ethics that have changed. And it′s very important for people who are involved in the news to understand the growth of that change. Remember the game, Six Degrees of � I can′t remember that famous ... ?

Unidentified: Kevin Bacon.

Mattson: Exactly. I think sometimes people look at the Muslim community that way, that you could ultimately link everyone back to some kind of fundamentalist or extremist movement, without understanding the different paths that people have taken away from particular ideologies toward other things. And that′s the most important newsworthy story, to understand that many different paths have been taken from common origins.

Drinan: Thank you very much. We′ll be coming back to you specifically with the question of the role of women in Muslim theology. At Georgetown I teach a course on international human rights, and two or three of the chapters in the case book deal with the role of women and the Shariah in Islamic countries.

Ibrahim Hooper, we′d love to hear from you.

Ibrahim Hooper, Council on American-Islamic Relations: ... In the name of God the compassionate, the merciful. First, I wanted to find out who in my organization sent in this photo of me in the program. Maybe he had a grudge against me when he sent it in.

Drinan: Can you excommunicate him or her?

Hooper: No, no such thing in Islam. Let me give you a little bit about the demographics of Islam in America. Often, as you know, Islam is associated with the Arab world. Actually, Arabs are a minority within the Muslim community worldwide, and they′re not a majority within the American-Muslim community. When we do polls of the community we ask ethnicity, and we don′t find anyone with a majority. The largest segment in the American-Muslim community tends to be from an Indo-Pakistani background - India, Pakistan, Bangladesh - by a slight few percentage points. Then you′ll find people from the Arabic speaking world and their descendants. The third major grouping is from the African-American community. Then you′ll find people like myself, of a European heritage. I know Native American Muslims, there are Hispanic Muslims. It′s a very diverse community.

When people come to us and say they want hard figures, as all of you do, it′s very difficult. The community is so diverse, it′s hard to get a handle on it. And, having been brought up as a Christian, I remember the little envelope you put your donations into each week and you′re a church member. It′s all pretty well regulated. With a mosque, it′s not the same kind of thing. When it comes time to pray on Friday, a communal prayer, you go to the nearest mosque. You don′t necessarily have a membership in it. There are no signed forms or anything like that. It′s hard even for a mosque to determine how many “members” it has.

Some of the major growth in the American-Muslim community came in the ′70s and ′80s. In Minneapolis in the ′70s we had one mosque. That was it. Now there are mosques all over Minneapolis. When I left Minnesota in ′93, you could have counted the number of Somalis on your hand. Now there are thousands of Somalis in Minnesota. Why they went to Minnesota I don′t know. Even I can′t go back to the cold now.

We think there is on the order of 6 million to 7 million American Muslims and on the order of 2,000 mosques and prayer areas. I mean, how do you indicate the prayer in Congress? Is that a mosque? Or the prayer at the World Bank? Or at various university campuses around the country? Even if you don′t have a freestanding mosque, you have Friday congregations in a variety of areas.

The growth trends for the Muslim community are basically on three things: immigration, conversion and what we would consider a normal birthrate, but what is probably higher than the average birthrate in the country. These are just some ideas about how the Muslim community is growing and how it′s made up in the United States.

Drinan: Thank you. That′s very, very informative.

All of us know the books and the works of Dr. Daniel Pipes. We welcome you to this conversation.

Daniel Pipes, Middle East Forum: Thank you, Father Drinan. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I′ve been studying Islam since about 1970. When I started the study, it was seen as an eccentric topic because Islam was a declining force in world affairs. Clearly, the perception has changed. I′d like to quickly mention three of the arguments that I find particularly important and have been making since September.

First, despite the official name of the current war on terror, I believe it is actually not a war on a tactic, which is what terror is. It is, rather, a war on an ideology. Just as World War II was a war, ultimately, on fascism, with its German, Italian and Japanese manifestations, and the Cold War was a war on Marxism, with its Soviet, Chinese, Cuban and other manifestations, so the War on Terror is actually a war on militant Islam, with its Sudanese, Iranian and Afghan manifestations.

Second point would be that this is perhaps the worst moment in the history of Islam. In 14 centuries of Islam there has never been a moment with such radicalization and such frustration as we see today. The reason we′re talking about the subject this morning is a result of that crisis. That is the bad news. The good news is that the chances are things will get better. Chances are we′re at, or near, the bottom.

Third point would be that what we see is not a clash of civilizations. It is not the West versus the Muslim world. It is rather an intra-Muslim clash over the future of the soul of Islam. Will it be the kind of radicalized version of Islam that is now so prevalent and took its extremist form in Afghanistan, or will it be a moderate form of Islam that can coexist well with other peoples and other religions?

I′d like to conclude by noting that there are different understandings of the American-Muslim population. Some would say that Islam is the fastest growing religion in America. Others would say that is a distinction deserved by the Mormon religion, and I would say the Mormon religion is the fastest. Some would say that the Muslim population in the United States is 6 million, 7 million. All the serious demographic studies show it to be on the order of 3 million. I would urge you to be cautious in your description of the American-Muslim population. These are, everyone will acknowledge, fuzzy figures, but it′s not useful to take the numbers that are promoted by boosters of the population. It′s best to take the best scientific demographic studies that are available. Thank you.

Drinan: Thank you Dr. Pipes. Akbar Ahmed is the chairman of Islamic Studies at American University. We welcome you.

Akbar Ahmed, American University, Washington: Thank you, Father. I spent the last two or three decades trying to combine two distinct but overlapping careers - one as an academic and two as an administrator in the Muslim world, administering large numbers of rural people, tribal people, in parts of the world that are very much in the news now. I′ve been interested in three or four questions, which today are questions that interest you.

The first is why is Islam important. Why do we need to study Islam?

Because of the population, 1.2 billion or 1.3 billion and growing.

Because of the 55 states that came to be Muslim.

Because at least one of them is nuclear, for the time being.


For these reasons and, of course, you have a large Muslim presence in America.

The second question that has interested me over the last decade is who speaks for Islam. Is it Osama bin Laden, or the moderate leaders? If the moderate leaders, where are the moderate leaders?

The third question is how can we inform you, non-Muslims, of Islam. For instance, you use the word taliban in the plural, which means scholars, students of Islam, yet you call Johnny Jihad the Taliban. That is an incorrect use of the word taliban. Johnny Jihad is talib, singular. These mistakes creep into our lexicon as part of our culture. It is my job as a teacher to point this out and to hope to clarify and throw some light.

Fourth is the nature of Islam itself. To me, and my family has been Muslim for generations, Islam means compassion and peace. To me, the two greatest attributes of the God of Islam are Rahman and Rahim, which mean literally compassion and mercy and beneficence. How does this convert into the violence, into the murder and mayhem that we see caused in the name of Islam by Muslims? Then the retribution that is inflicted on them causing more murder and more mayhem.

These are questions that are not only academic, not only scholarly, but have an impact on our world as we are living it, particularly after Sept. 11. And these are the questions that will be concerning me in the work that I′m doing in the future. Thank you.

Drinan: Thank you very much, sir. Let me say, parenthetically, that Georgetown University is the first university in America to have a full-time imam. He said that the other day when he made a beautiful prayer at a convocation. It should also be noted that at Georgetown we have the Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, headed by Dr. John Esposito. He spoke to the law school faculty recently, and I must say I was chagrined that I apparently know so little about Islamic culture. We also, at Georgetown, edit the Encyclopedia of Islam. The dean of the college is one of the people who do that. And to repeat, I feel so ignorant about all of this. In the seminary we studied various things related to other religions. But in the last two or three years I′ve thought to myself, how could I - and I assume all of us - have neglected all of these things.

In the second round, let′s focus on the questions that I enunciated at the beginning. What sets apart Muslims in America from Muslims in Islamic countries? And, how do Muslims seek to find their own way in the diversity of religions in America? Dr. Mattson?

Mattson: Sure, picking up on the last one, and let me say that your imam at Georgetown University is a graduate of my institution, Hartford Seminaries, where we also have -

Drinan: Why didn′t we hire you?

Mattson: Well, I like D.C. ... but I like my current position, too. We actually have a program for Muslim chaplains, the first accredited program, and we′re finding a lot of interest from Muslims who want to do chaplaincy in many different public institutional contexts, including campuses, hospitals, as well as the military and prisons. That′s really important to me for two reasons. One, it highlights the importance of an ethical outlook from Muslims to participate in public policy and social justice issues. And, I find there′s a great desire in young Muslims in the United States to really put their beliefs into action. They′ve been raised on a very strong ideology of justice and fairness in Islam, of equality, of working for the poor. I find that there is a great desire of Muslims to participate in public institutions and contribute in that way. In particular, this has opened an avenue for leadership among Muslim women. Many people look to the mosque as the center of public life or leadership in the Muslim community, and given that there is no ordination in Islam, it′s not necessarily the best place to look.

We find Muslim leaders in other institutions, in professional organizations like Karamah: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights, for example, exercising very strong leadership positions, not only in the United States but throughout the world. One of the founders of Karamah studied laws reintroduced under Zia ul-Haq in Pakistan. From an Islamic legal perspective she was able to show that those laws were an incorrect interpretation of the Shariah, and that′s why they resulted in injustice. It was a great example of the role that American Muslims can play in the Muslim world. American educational institutions are the best in the world, and we find that young Muslim academics are drawing on the resources of these institutions here to re-examine traditional, classical positions, whether in Islamic law, which is my area, or political theory, for example. And that′s a very important area.

The other thing I wanted to say is that the Muslim community here is obviously in growth, and it can′t be characterized according to a particular theological orientation. People are always asking, “What are the major characteristics or divisions among Muslims?” Sometimes they try to look at mosques, as Ibrahim said, in the Christian model, where members subscribe to a church or believe in a certain theological orientation. That′s not the case in Islam. If you survey any 10 Muslims, you′ll find a different combination of theological approach, political ideology, views about law and Islamic law.

I′ve gained a lot of respect for journalists since September. I didn′t have the kind of contact with journalists that I′ve had now for the last number of months, and I′ve just been amazed at their ability to learn. But one of the problems they have is that their editors are sending them on stories they have no background for, and they need categories. They use a category like moderate without looking at what that means. Is it political moderation? Are you a moderate Muslim if you take a drink every once in a while, even though you know alcohol is forbidden in Islam? Can you be a practicing Muslim, rigorous, following the ritual worships, but very liberal politically? You can be. It′s important to examine the categories that are being applied to Muslims. Often they confuse rather than enlighten.

Drinan: Thank you very much. Let me acknowledge the tribute to you newspaper people here. And let me say, parenthetically, that I lament the loss of Tom Winship, the distinguished editor for many years of The Boston Globe and a good friend, who died very recently. Let me say one further thing, a bit personal, that my next book is going to be “Religious Freedom and World Law.” As you may know, there′s a covenant on political rights, economic rights. There is no covenant on religious freedom, merely a declaration, and I have the hope of suggesting that it′s time now for the U.N. and for customary international law to give world protection to religious freedom. Could world law say to Islamic countries that you can′t put the Shariah ahead of international human rights about women and children? You had a comment. You′re next, sir.

Hooper: I often get the question, “How is American Islam different from Islam in the rest of the world?” The answer I usually give is, “Well, we have potluck dinners.” Nobody does that in the rest of the Muslim world. One advantage we have here, as Americans, is to get rid of some of the cultural baggage that many Muslims come with. I′ll give you an example. When I travel in Egypt, at prayer time I want to go to the mosque with my wife, and often the ladies′ area isn′t very good, maybe not existing at all. And, correct me if I′m wrong, but in Pakistan the sisters don′t go to the mosques at all. I mean, this clearly has nothing to do with Islam. At the time of the prophet women were in the mosques. When you come here you can get rid of some of that cultural baggage. You can get rid of some of that ethnocentricity. We have an advantage that way.

I got an interesting call the other day. I won′t say from which newspaper, but they were asking me about Imam W.D. Mohammed, who is one of the main leaders of Muslims in America. All they wanted to know was how many Sunni Muslims there are in America, because he is a leader of Sunni Muslims and that′s how they were going to describe him. I said that we don′t really think that way. When I go to a mosque I don′t think, “Oh, this person next to me is Sunni and this person is Shiite and this person that.” We just don′t think that way, at least here we don′t. And that′s another advantage we have here. We can get rid of some of those geographic phobias that plague much of the Muslim world.

Islam has developed in different regions, whether as a minority or majority population. Each has a different flavor. The sisters dress differently in Nigeria than they do in Iran or Syria, but the same basic principles are there. I could go into a mosque in China. I have gone into mosques in many different countries where I don′t speak the language, and I feel right at home. People are doing the same things that I do here. The ethos is the same. The feeling of brotherhood is the same, and you know, that′s why Islam is viewed as a universal religion. It really does have that appeal, and that′s why we′re seeing people accept Islam.

Drinan: Thank you for that. I hope that somebody on the panel will bring up Muslims who are in jail in America. They have made petitions for certain exceptions, and they have not been treated kindly or justly in all circumstances. It′s a serious problem with American Muslims. Daniel Pipes.

Pipes: I think there are two interesting ways in which Muslims in the United States are distinct. One is that they′re living in a completely secular society. This has many implications. Let me give you one example. In the traditionally Muslim countries, a mosque is sponsored by the state or by some patron, but mostly by the state. Here, obviously, the state doesn′t do that. If you want to build a mosque or any other institution, you′ve got to engage in potluck dinners and benefits and fund raising, and that has further implications. It means that the imam you hire is not a remote scholar who is unconnected to the people who come to his mosque, but someone who is engaged, American style, in pastoral duties, marriage counseling, overseeing the Sunday school and so forth. It′s a very different spirit that results from the secular nature of the society. Islam is, in the views of some, returning to its origins because it is independent of the state in a way that it has not been for all these centuries in the traditionally Muslim countries.

Second, and related in effect, is the freedom of speech. There is really no country - in the majority Muslim countries - where there is freedom of speech, not on a political level and certainly not on a religious one. In the West, and the United States especially, we have our full freedom of speech. I dare say that someone like Professor Ahmed is in the West, correct me if I′m wrong, in good part because he could not say the things he′s saying in his native country. There is an evolution in thinking that is taking place in the West as a result of the freedom that we enjoy here. I see as a result of this distinction two trends, one positive and one negative.

The positive one follows from what I just said. It is the potential revitalization of the religion, the modernizing of it, taking place in the West as opposed to the majority Muslim countries. The great questions of Islam have not been satisfactorily answered in places like Egypt and Pakistan. They have a better chance of being answered in North America and Europe precisely because of the free interplay of ideas. So, long term, I′m optimistic. I think very important things are going to be happening here that will have implications for the entire Muslim world, although the community here is rather small.

The second trend is more worrisome shorter term, because of the open nature of the United States. It′s been possible for foreign countries, particularly the Saudis, to sponsor organizations. What one finds is that the dominant institutions of American Muslim life are extremists. They are more sympathetic to the other side in the war on terror than to ourselves. They apologize for them, support them, and in some cases raise money for them. There is a crisis in the making because the majority of the Muslim population is not having its views reflected. What one sees are the views reflected of the governments of Saudi Arabia, Libya, Iran and so forth.

Hooper: Could Professor Pipes offer some evidence of this? He′s said on many occasions that 80 percent of mosques in America are extremists and that 10 to 15 percent of Muslims are potential killers in that they′re Islamists. I′d like him to take the example of Sister Ingrid and tell us whether she is an Islamist, a radical - he′s called the organization she represents Islamist - and therefore a potential killer. Could he give us the criteria by which he defines someone as an Islamist, a militant, an extremist? He has said recently that the enfranchisement of Muslims in America is a threat to the Jewish community in America. It′s easy to make these broad sweeping statements, but take an actual person. Tell us, is she Islamist? Is she a radical? Is she a potential killer?

Ahmed: Father, before this becomes a Hooper-Pipes match, can I give my answer to the question?

Hooper: That was inevitable, anyway. ...

Drinan: Yes, you′re the last. You speak, and then we′ll come back to Dr. Pipes.

Ahmed: The point Dr. Pipes has raised about freedom, he′s right in the sense that American Muslims have lived in this country aware that this is probably the best “Muslim society in the world today.” In fact, a distinguished colleague of mine coined the term “new Andalusia” for Muslims living in America. A thousand years ago Jews, Christians and Muslims lived together in Spain, in Andalusia, and produced this wonderful culture, a terrific synthesis, libraries, parks, open debate and interchange of ideas. And this is the new Andalusia.

After September, however, things changed. I don′t think we need to duck the issue that a substantial change has occurred and has cast a shadow on the Muslim community. This offers all kinds of opportunities, all kinds of challenges. I see the Muslim community facing some very serious problems within itself, and as an anthropologist I see the nuances. I see that there is a crisis of leadership in the Muslim community. Who speaks for the Muslim community? I see that the nuances in ethnicities still exist in the Muslim community. The Muslim community is divided into three broad mainstreams, overlapping but nonetheless distinct in an anthropological sense, in terms of customs, in terms of culture, in terms of language. The mosques are, by and large, dominated by one or the other group. The Afro-American is the oldest Muslim community in America, and it′s easy to forget that Islam came here not by the Arabs, not by the Pakistanis, not by the recent convert, but centuries ago through the Africans who were brought here as slaves and who still hold on to that identity. Then, of course, you have the Middle East identity and, third, the Indo-Pakistan, the South Asian identity.

You do have these problems, and I believe the first step is for us, as commentators, to point out the differences, then point to what is the route ahead, so that we can continue to exist in a state of harmony, to continue to prove that this indeed is a new Andalusia. Whatever the exact figure of Muslims in America is - and again I would like to defer the Hooper-Pipes debate before it becomes too static and too heated - but even if it is a small percentage, it is very significant, because what America does here plays abroad, particularly in the Muslim world. You′re all journalists. You are aware of the television news, the images from Morocco to Indonesia of mobs of 200,000 to 300,000 on the rampage.

As someone living in America, I would very much want to contribute to the harmony between our civilizations. I think that is the big question we need to be asking ourselves, and to be moving in that direction.

Drinan: Thank you very much.

Hooper: Could I get Daniel Pipes to answer this question?

Drinan: A short commentary if you will.

Pipes: Well, I don′t know Dr. Mattson′s work, so I can′t address it. Sorry. If I knew it better I would give my response, but I don′t.

Hooper: She represents ISNA.

Pipes: I don′t know her work.

Drinan: Just say what you want to say.

Pipes: Two points I′ll reply to. One is the 10 percent to 15 percent figure, and the other is the foreign influence. I have come to the conclusion that some 10 percent to 15 percent of the Muslim population, in most cases, supports militant Islam. It′s a substantial volume of people if one takes the total Muslim population worldwide, which is something like a billion. We′re talking 100 million, 150 million people. On the other hand, it is a relatively small minority of the Muslim population in any given place. It is an activist, ideologically driven group of people who have an outside influence, but much as we′ve seen through the 20th century in other radically utopian movements, in which, whether fascist or communist, the activists have a much larger presence and influence than their numbers would suggest.

On the question of foreign influence, I think it′s quite clear that in the 1970s and in the period of great oil wealth, the Saudis in particular established a string of institutions internationally, including in this country. So that the Wahhabi influence, the influence of Saudi Arabia, is very marked on American-Muslim institutions, including, I might note, Mr. Hooper′s institution, which, if you go to the Embassy of Saudi Arabia′s Web site, you will note has received $250,000 recently for the building of its Washington headquarters.

Hooper: Not from the Saudi government.

Pipes: This is the kind of influence that the Saudi government exercises over American-Muslim institutions. It is, I believe, an unfortunate influence, since we don′t want in this country, I believe you′d agree with me, the kind of Islam that is coming out of Saudi Arabia.

Drinan: All right, thank you.

Questions from the floor

Howell: I′m going to start out by recognizing myself to ask the first question. I think people in the audience would love to know, briefly, the story of Dr. Mattson and Ibrahim′s conversion to Islam.

Mattson: I converted from existentialism to Islam. I was a philosopher and became a Muslim when I was studying philosophy and by reading the Quran. That′s what opened my heart. It was a conversion of faith. And that has been my hallmark since I′ve been a Muslim, to measure everything with respect to that high ideal. Certainly, you don′t see everyone living up to the ideal. I don′t. But that is my hallmark, that book of facing God, to do good to your neighbor, and to try to do the best in the world.

Hooper: Muslims always ask you this, and I don′t have a very exciting story to tell. It′s just reading, studying and traveling in the Muslim world. Sometimes we joke because I come from Minnesota where there wasn′t a lot of Muslims at the time. But it was a gradual thing. I was very attracted to the Islamic universal brotherhood, the actively antiracist stance of Islam. More than 1,400 years ago the prophet was talking about how you shouldn′t discriminate against people because they′re black or this or that or even crippled. In that sense - earlier I was talking about going into a mosque in China and feeling right at home - there is a universal brotherhood and sisterhood to Islam that is very appealing.

Plus, I′m a very skeptical person. I was reading about Islam, and I would say, “I′m sure I′m going to find something I don′t like here eventually. Everybody tells me how bad it is.” So I kept reading and reading and studying and got to the bottom of the barrel. I liked everything. It made sense, so I had to become a Muslim.

Edward L. Seaton, The Manhattan (Kan.) Mercury: I would like to ask a question that I think the answer to which might help guide U.S. diplomacy, particularly the public diplomacy in the Islamic world. That is the question of the potential for democracy in Islamic countries that are guided by Islamic law. In particular, what are the prospects for regular elections; accepting of dissent and opposition parties; division of powers between the branches of government; and, most important from our point of view, a free and independent press that operates with Western-style, objective journalism standards?

Ahmed: I come from a country called Pakistan, which was created in 1947 through a movement called the Pakistan Movement, led by Mr. Muhammad Ali Jinnah. A lot of you may have heard his name. A lot of you may not have. But Jinnah, for Pakistan, is a combination of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, the founding father. If there was so no Jinnah, there would be no Pakistan.

The reason I mention him and introduce him into this discussion is that Jinnah stood for pure democracy - women′s rights, minority rights, human rights - and this was the 1940s. So, when Muslims tell me that democracy is a Western import, democracy is being imposed on us by the Western world, I don′t agree. Now it is failing. Pakistan, which began as a democracy, has been ruled by military dictators for half its history.

Let′s just push this a little bit. Who is supporting these dictators? I′m afraid the answer comes back here to our own country, the United States of America. It suits America at times to prop up a military dictator, “He′s a son of a bitch, but he′s our son of a bitch.” The result is that the man in the street - whom Ibrahim has meals with or meets in the mosque - is frustrated. To them, as Ingrid pointed out, Islam is compassion. It is learning. It is justice. And they′re not seeing much justice, much compassion or much acquisition of knowledge. That tension within Muslim society I believe - I may be wrong - drives Muslims into acts of outrage and to hatred and to violence.

The cycle has to be broken. I′ve conducted democratic elections in Pakistan at least three times, and every time the ordinary person in Pakistan wants democracy when given a choice. I′ll give you a figure that will startle you. Pakistan is depicted as a land of extremists and a land of violent Muslims. Yet every time there are open elections, not more than four or five seats in Parliament go to the religious parties. If Pakistanis wanted to be ruled by the religious cleric, why don′t they vote for them? Your question is absolutely relevant. Democracy, however imperfectly translated into the Muslim world, must be the model for the future. And if it isn′t, you will have military dictators, you will have corrupt dictatorships forming, and the problems will remain. They will not go away with a couple of bombing missions. They will remain, and Osama bin Laden will be replicated in the Muslim world.

For the sake of harmony between the civilizations, for the sake of Islam within the Muslim countries, I believe democracy is the only answer, however imperfectly translated. If a Muslim tells you we don′t have local models, please quote Mr. Jinnah, and read a little about him. You′ll be very pleased to hear about him. He′s the man who looked up to Abraham Lincoln as his great model. I don′t think that is an invalid Muslim model. Some Muslims will say Mr. Jinnah drank, he wore a suit, but Mr. Jinnah created the largest Muslim nation on earth today, and that was Pakistan in 1947.

Mattson: Dr. Ahmed raised a really important distinction when he talked about voting for religious clerics. That′s something a lot of people don′t understand. The issue is not the legal system, because every country has a legal system. It′s who is going to interpret the law. Who is going to say what is and what isn′t Islamic law? There are some Muslims who will say that Islamic law for all times is the same law that was applied 1,000 years ago in Baghdad. As a scholar, as a historian of Islamic law, as someone who is helping Muslims practice Islamic law in this country to the extent of making marriage contracts, divorce arrangements, things like that, that′s absolutely absurd to me. It is not an ancient, codified law. ... It′s a methodology. It′s a desire to go back to certain sources, but in a different way.

The real issue is who has the authority. Who can authoritatively interpret the law? We see that struggle in Iran now. Many, who at the beginning of the Iranian revolution were convinced that as Muslim scholars they were the best positioned to know how society should be governed, have become reformers and have realized that they can′t do it alone, that they need the society as a whole to implement law, to understand what Islam is saying for them in their times. Islamic law is constantly being negotiated. What′s needed is for the people in that country to understand what that means, and what it means for non-Muslims in the society as well.

You mentioned, for example, the rights of minorities. I can refer you to many academic studies where Muslims are looking at a different basis for the state that includes equal citizenship rights for non-Muslims, saying that this can be part of Islam because it goes back to the founding of the city of Medina. Under the Prophet Muhammad, non-Muslims were integrated into the first so-called Islamic state as citizens of the state.

Hooper: Just a real quick note. The Muslim world has its corrupt leaders. It has lousy political systems. But it gets a bum rap in many ways. There are many good things in the Muslim world. You have tremendously strong families in the Muslim world. When I lived in the Muslim world, people would want to go to America. I said, “Great, go to America, but for everything you gain in America you′re going to give up something. You′re going to get a nice house, but maybe your child won′t respect you as much. You′re going to get a nice car, but maybe your son might take drugs.” These things aren′t as prevalent in the Muslim world. There are some good things in the Muslim world.

Ahmed: Ibrahim is right. It′s important to point out that Muslim society values family life, values respect for neighbors, values compassion, and it is this tension for these values that causes the anguish and the anger at that level of society.

Wendy Zomparelli, The Roanoke (Va.) Times: As journalists, we in this room have been charged with trying to explain Islam in the light of what happened on Sept. 11 to our readers. Many of us are from communities where there is not much of an Islamic presence, and it′s been a challenge for us. My question to you is what has irritated you the most in terms of our lack of understanding, perhaps, of Islam and Islamic culture? Second, if you could assign one book to the editors in this room to read so that we would have a better understanding of Islam, what would you assign? Let′s set aside the Quran from that answer.

Drinan: I′m always opposed to the one-book approach. If somebody asks what′s the one book about Catholicism ... it′s a whole culture. I would recommend Dr. John Esposito′s book on Islam. I found it very informative. As I mentioned, he′s head of the Islamic Center at Georgetown.

Pipes: On the question of reporting since September, I′ve been by and large impressed. It′s been well done. The energy and the level of sophistication have been impressive. What has been missing in the government′s analysis that I suggested before, and also in the journalistic coverage, is to understand what the role of Islam here is and to distinguish between Islam, personal faith, and militant Islam, the political ideology. It is not Islam. It is not terrorism. It is a terroristic version of Islam. That has been missing, and I blame first the U.S. government for assiduously avoiding the subject and therefore in some sense leading you astray. I would urge you to note this distinction.

Muslims are the first victims of militant Islam: for example, the 100,000 or 150,000 dead in Algeria as a result of the insurrection; for example, on a visible level, someone like Salman Rushdie. Militant Islam is a totalitarian movement that seeks world domination no less than prior 20th century ideologies. It is the problem. I urge you to focus on this. If asked for one book, I would give Bernard Lewis′ “What Went Wrong,” currently on the best-seller list. It is a profound interpretation by the leading scholar of Islam alive today.

Hooper: Much as I hate to agree with Dr. Pipes, the day-to-day working journalist does a very good job. I′ve been doing this for almost 25 years, and I′ve seen tremendous improvement in the sensitivity, the sophistication and the subtlety of reporting on Islam. I talk to 20 journalists a day probably, and they′re not the problem. The problem is the commentators, the ones who now believe they have license to attack the faith of Islam itself. Many commentators who prior to Sept. 11 were saying, “I′m not against Islam. I′m just against militant Islam,” now are feeling free to go, “I really am against Islam, because in this version of the Quran it says this and that.” These people have come out of the woodwork. They′re the ones who are the real problem. Everybody talks about incitement in the Muslim world. There′s a tremendous amount of incitement here. The editor of the infamous worldnetdaily.com recommended that the way to bring peace is that for every Israeli killed, 1,000 Palestinians should be killed. It′s that kind of raw bigotry that we see from commentators. Day-to-day journalists I don′t have a problem with.

Ahmed: I agree with Ibrahim′s point that we need to be very careful in not confusing the war on terrorism with a war on Islam. Your point is relevant because I′m seeing a tremendous interest in really understanding Islam. I have great faith that American journalists and American commentators will eventually get there, get to the truth. In terms of books recommended, I noticed that Father has been so parochial and constantly referring to his university. I have a book, “Islam Today: A Short Introduction to the Muslim World,” which you may also find relevant. But the important point is to get to the sources. Find out for yourself if is this Islam or is this not Islam. That question itself makes this exchange we′re having today all worthwhile.

Hooper: I forgot. I′d recommend “Islam and the Destiny of Man” by Charles Le Gai Eaton.

Mattson: I′d like to start by saying I wouldn′t recommend Bernard Lewis′ book, and I don′t consider him the great scholar of Islam. When I was at the University of Chicago, in fact, the department was very disappointed by the trajectory he took. He was a very great scholar of Ottoman history, who then found a lot of popularity writing grand scenarios about the conflicts between Islam and the West and building up artificial barriers that from a historical point of view simply don′t exist and never have. That doesn′t mean that there aren′t extremist groups, that there aren′t people with a certain ideology, but I would vigorously disagree with Mr. Pipes that they have anything near the kind of effect or numbers that he claims them to have.

With respect to the thing that irritates me the most, obviously because of what happened we need to understand what kind of Muslim could justify what they did. That is absolutely essential. It′s essential to me first as a Muslim. But when we′re trying to look at that tendency, I′m afraid we′re not getting the whole picture, when we always particularize Islam. In this country there is a very large Christian fundamentalist group that is engrossed in an apocalyptic vision of the world. They are waiting for the end of the world. I′m sure many of your newspapers have published advertisements by some of these Christian fundamentalists who are predicting that with this conflict in Israel the second coming is almost here. There′s an apocalyptic vision among fundamentalist Christians in this country, the most powerful country in the world, and these people have a lot of political power. There′s an apocalyptic vision among extremist Muslims, and there′s an apocalyptic vision among fundamentalist Jews in Israel that is a story I′m not seeing reported. We live in a time, whether God brings it on or not, that humans have the ability to bring it on, and there′s a lot of people who seem very excited about the conflict. They′re looking at this conflict as an opportunity, and that′s something that concerns me a lot.

What I want to say is that although it′s important to understand the particular manifestations of Islamic extremism, or when Muslims are extreme, it′s also important to put it in a comparative context of the reaction and counter-reaction that′s happening. Some people have said that maybe this is what the terrorists originally wanted, to start this kind of chain reaction. I′m afraid we′re starting to see it play out, so I′d really like to get some more analysis on that.

Ahmed: Very good point. In fact, it′s worse than what Ingrid pointed out because it′s not only the monotheistic religions who are seeing this in apocalyptic terms. Hinduism is also going through a period called the Kali yuga, which means the dark period, and in that dark period there will be a once and for all, all-out war between the forces of evil and the forces of good. And that sounds very familiar and therefore the importance of understanding and trying to bring harmony to different positions.

Drinan: If I may interject before the next question. When the Second Vatican Council met in Rome from ′62 to ′65, I think they had a complete re-examination of the Muslim religion and said very favorable things. Judaism, Christianity and the Muslim religion belonged to Abraham. And the Muslim religion recognizes Jesus as a great prophet. I think more than ever before, Catholics and indeed all Christians have a deeper feeling of affiliation with the Muslim religion. Ahmed: Thank you, Robert.

Frederick D. Seaton, Winfield (Kan.) Daily Courier: For better or worse, I′ve just finished one of Bernard Lewis′ earlier books in which he says that Muslims believe all law comes from God. I′m wondering how Muslims in America approach the secular society in which we live and our principle of separation of church and state. Is it a problem? Do you have any latent misgivings about this way of life? What is the thinking that pulls together what seems to me to be two rather incompatible concepts?

Mattson: Let me say, because I do work in the legal field interpreting Islamic law for Muslims, that there is a very small group of Muslims who say they have a vision of an Islamic state ruled by God′s law. Ask them who is interpreting God′s law. It′s human beings, but they always try to push it back on God and somehow make the human element disappear. To say that the ultimate law comes from God means very different things for different Muslims. For example, there′s an ancient and long tradition in Islamic theology and law that says God gave an innate sense of right and wrong by giving humans reason, that through their reason human beings can come, even if they aren′t given revelations, to a sense of the basic moral principles. And that′s an underlying principle for much of the traditional Islamic law.

In the modern period we see a longing for some kind of perfect leadership and people. It′s an old idea, but it was always marginalized in Islamic societies. With the frustration of many Muslims with their countries′ leadership, they have been longing for a charismatic leader who would embody God′s law. But people have seen that you′re not going to get it. It′s not that easy. It′s a struggle.

Most Muslims in the United States feel very comfortable with this legal system. I can refer you to articles that have been written by Muslim scholars saying, “The foundation of American law, the American Constitution, is in perfect harmony with Islamic principles.”

Most Muslims, by the way, don′t view this as a secular society. They view American society as very religious. Americans are very religious people. It′s secular in the sense that there′s a separation between church and state, but not secular in the same sense as, for example, Turkey is, where a secular way of life is enforced. You′re free to practice your religion, and many Muslims are starting to say, “You know what? We can practice our religion the best in America, which means that maybe this system of government is the best for us wherever we are.”

Often you particularize the American experience, but I know Muslim scholars all over the world from Bahrain to Egypt, Syria, Iran and Malaysia, who are in their own context arguing for the same thing, for this kind of political system that will allow them to achieve their God-given right to choose right and wrong and to choose the right thing.

Hooper: I′ve told many reporters that I′m freer to be a practicing Muslim here than in many so-called Muslim countries. If I lived in Turkey, for instance, my wife couldn′t go to university because she wears a head scarf, same with Tunisia, same with Algeria. I don′t think my organization, CAIR, would be able to do what we do in other parts of the Muslim world. I love the Constitution, particularly the First Amendment, which, much to Mr. Pipes′ chagrin, I try to use every day. We′re quite happy here, and I don′t wake up every morning asking how I′m going to change it into an Islamic state.

Pipes: I′m certainly delighted that Mr. Hooper exercises his First Amendment rights. I′m less delighted with you reporters or you editors who call CAIR an extremist organization for the interpretation of American Islam. I think there′s a tension that the question referred to. You′ve heard one side, but there is another side. There is an undercurrent of thinking that this country needs fundamental changes. Jamil Al-Amin, the cop killer who has just been sentenced to life in jail, wrote in a book a few years ago that the Quran and the Constitution are fundamentally incompatible. This is a man who is not just a cop killer, but a man who was one of the leading lights of the American Islamic community, a man who sits on many boards and is of high prestige.

The kind of thinking that he represents is widely found in the Muslim community and must not be overlooked. There is a real tension between those who say, “This is a secular country. We accept its form and will work within it,” and those who say “This is a country that needs fundamental changes. We have an alternative for the United States.” I would urge you to keep an eye on the second as well as the first.

Ahmed: In relation to this point I want to bring to the notice of the very distinguished audience that for me it goes back to democracy. For me it goes back to how we are able to implant the idea of democracy in Muslim societies. Right now I′m working on a paper called “Jefferson and Jinnah: Humanist Ideas and the Methodology of Nation Building.” I am finding - and I′m sorry if these scholars disagree - remarkable similarities between the two founding fathers. The ideas of liberty, of religious freedom, of high moral order, the emphasis on education and on the respect of the individual is all Jefferson. It is also Mr. Jinnah. If somehow we can strengthen and reinforce that there is so much in common, rather than that there is so much for conflict, I believe that we will be able to hang on to the idea of a genuinely plural society that is America, which respects diversity.

Howell: I want to thank the panel. I′ve learned a lot today.

Hooper: Can I make one plug before you quit? We have a journalists′ list, Islam infonet. Anyone who wants to get on it, just give me their business card.

Pipes: Let me make a similar plug. We have a similar kind of list serve, and I also I have a weekly column. If you′re interested in a weekly column, I′d be most delighted to send it to you.

Howell: Thank you very much. You′ve been very enlightening. Stay in your seats, our next panel is coming on shortly.

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