With violence erupting throughout the Arab world, it was a fitting time for Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser to stop by The Heritage Foundation to discuss his book A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot’s Fight to Save His Faith.
As a Muslim who is also a first-generation American and an 11-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, Jasser’s aim is to spark a debate in the Muslim community about key questions, such as living out one’s faith in a pluralistic society. In his remarks, Jasser highlighted the absence of a separation between “mosque and state” in the Arab world and argued that this absence helps explain why Islamists fail to reconcile their religious faith with concepts of individual freedom—like the freedom of speech.
This bond between the mosque and the state is crucial to understanding the Islamist threat, Jasser warns. It is the politicization of Islam, he says, that creates secular forms of Islam and radicalizes many of the religion’s followers. Reflecting on the recent events in Libya and Egypt, Jasser recalls that Egyptian talk shows were awash in political discussions about “Islamophobia” just one day before violent mobs began their assault on U.S. embassies.
Just how the Muslim community can resolve this politicization is a discussion that Jasser hopes Muslims will soon have. But at the same time Jasser is calling for constructive debate, he is being attacked for his views at home. Abroad, others, like the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), are seeking to establish the mosque-state connection as a matter of international law; since 1999, the OIC has been pushing the United Nations to pass “anti-blasphemy” resolutions, effectively stifling the freedom of expression.
While at The Heritage Foundation, Jasser also appeared twice on the Istook Live! radio show, a product of Heritage Action for America.
Watch Jasser’s talk here.
Bronson Stocking is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm