2003: Islam: peaceful v. militant

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No one can speak for Islam as a whole. What is considered essential to Islam by one Muslim is heresy to another. The convicted terrorist conspirator Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman said: “Jihad and killing is the head of Islam. If you take it out, you cut off the head of Islam.”

Although before his imprisonment Sheikh Omar spoke at New York mosques at the invitation of Imam Siraj Wahaj, who has been a member of CAIR’s advisory board, I would expect that Mr. Ayloush would repudiate his view of Islam.Yet to justify such chilling views extremists make copious use of the Qur’an and Islamic history and tradition. Militant Muslims point to traditions of Muhammad such as this well-attested hadith: “I have been commanded to fight against people, till they testify to the fact that there is no god but Allah, and believe in me (that) I am the messenger (from the Lord) and in all that I have brought. And when they do it, their blood and riches are guaranteed protection . . .”

Are the militants heretics? Maybe, but they represent an Islamic tradition that is just as old and legitimate than peaceful Islam -- if not more so.