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Finally! A leading Muslim cleric denounces Wahhabism
Yuba-Sutter (CA) Appeal-Democrat ^ | 01-12-03 | Scott Bransford

Posted on 01/12/2003 5:07:36 PM PST by Texas Eagle

http://www.appeal-democrat.com/011203/011203sbkabbani.shtml

www.appeal-democrat.com

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Sunday, January 12, 2003

Muslims urged to shun extremism
Islamic scholar says fundamentalism must be rejected

Max Whittaker/Appeal-Democrat
Shaikh Hisham Kabbani, chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council of America, talks with local Muslims after speaking at The Islamic Center of Yuba City on Saturday afternoon. Kabbani spoke of the threatening influence of radical Islamic groups on American Muslims.

Scott Bransford
Appeal-Democrat

Islamic leaders throughout the nation - including those in the Mid-Valley - must be strident in their efforts to protect mosques from the influences of radical religious groups, a prominent scholar said Saturday.

Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council of America, made the remarks during a service at the Islamic Center of Yuba City. The service, which was open to the public, attracted about 400 people, including some from as far away as Fresno.

Kabbani, also the founder of the As-Siddiq Institute and Mosque in Michigan, has long been a prominent opponent of Islamic fundamentalism and worked closely with government officials.

In 1999, for example, Kabbani warned the Department of State that fundamentalist sects were infiltrating American mosques and discouraging religious tolerance. The sects, such as Wahabi, practice what Kabbani called a distorted version of Islam.

Kabbani reiterated his message on Saturday, calling on his listeners to protect local mosques from fundamentalist influences.

"They have conspired to take our mosques in America in order to create an ideology," Kabbani said. "Don't let this mosque be like other mosques."

Kabbani emphasized that true Islam is a religion that values love, non-violence and respect for authority. A "silent majority" of American Muslims despise terrorism, a phenomenon that is a relatively new development in the history of Islam, he said.

Wahabi and terrorist groups such as al-Qaida are not led by true followers of Islam, Kabbani argued, but rather by opportunists bent on using religion for self-promotion.

"Those who are really believers and not really after fame, they are accepting and content with what Allah gave them," Kabbani said. "Confusion in the Muslim community is caused by people seeking fame."

Max Whittaker/Appeal-Democrat
Shaikh Hisham Kabbani spoke of the threatening influence of radical Islamic groups on American Muslims during a speech Saturday afternoon at The Islamic Center of Yuba City.

Kabbani warned that extremist sects are detrimental to the image of Islam, since they break down relationships between Islamic leaders and members of other faiths.

In some cases, they also funnel charitable donations into the coffers of extremist groups, causing mosques or relief organizations to be looked upon with suspicion, he said.

"These wild animals want to come in and destroy humanity as a whole, and not only that, but discredit Islam," Kabbani said. "If you really love Allah, don't allow them to interfere with your mosque or else you will be lost."

The Islamic Center of Yuba City has taken measures to protect itself from the influences of outside groups, said Abdul Kabir Krambo, a member of the center's board of directors.

For example, signs posted outside the center state that it forbids anyone from handing out religious literature unless it is approved by the board of directors. Speakers also must be approved by the board before they take to the podium, Krambo said.

Since it opened, the center has refused donations from outside the organization to prevent influence peddling, Krambo said.

Outside groups seeking to influence the Islamic Center have been turned away, Krambo said.

"These guys and their ideology don't reflect what people believe here," Krambo said.

Some worshippers at the center on Saturday said they are committed to following Kabbani's message.

Mirwaiz Farooqui, a native of Afghanistan now living in Yuba City, said Wahabi groups espouse beliefs that are incompatible with Islam and contemporary values.

"They're trying to tear us apart and we don't want that," said Farooqui, who fled war-torn Afghanistan as a child more than 20 years ago. "We want to stay together like brothers."

Non-Muslims who turned out for the speech also said they found solace in Kabbani's speech.

Yuba City resident Keith Hutcheson, 42, a retired airman, said more people need to look beyond negative images about Islam.

Hutcheson, who was stationed for a time in Egypt, said he once looked upon Islam with "a little bitterness." Learning more about the religion has made him look at it in a positive light, he said.

"There are just a small group of haters that need to be avoided at all costs," Hutcheson said.

Robert Wachman, a Yuba College professor who is Jewish, also was impressed by Kabbani's speech.

"I think it's important that the true message be heard that Islam is not out to get Jews or any other religion," Wachman said.


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TOPICS: Activism/Chapters; Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Government; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: islam; muslim; salamalmarayati; wahhabism
I don't know why he would come to such a small town to make these statements but they are welcome nonetheless
1 posted on 01/12/2003 5:07:36 PM PST by Texas Eagle
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2 posted on 01/12/2003 5:08:55 PM PST by Anti-Bubba182
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To: Anti-Bubba182
Wow...you really ARE on it!
3 posted on 01/12/2003 5:16:59 PM PST by cake_crumb (Donate to Free Republic, the World's #1 Web Forum!!)
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To: Texas Eagle
Look for a FATWA against the immam coming from out of the Middle East as soon as this is published overseas.
4 posted on 01/12/2003 5:17:42 PM PST by PokeyJoe (We will have peace when Krispy Kreme donuts are available in Halfgonistan.)
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To: Texas Eagle
"I don't know why he would come to such a small town to make these statements but they are welcome nonetheless"

Because he has to start somewhere. Wasn't Shaykh Kabbani the one who held a candlelight memorial service on the anniversary of 9/11 to honor the victims? Hardly anyone showed up. He was heartbroken, and I was heartbroken for him...FINALLY a man comes out and takes the first steps, and is rejected by his own for whatever reason...fear...scorn...both...

He needs all the support we can give him.

5 posted on 01/12/2003 5:22:17 PM PST by cake_crumb (Donate to Free Republic, the World's #1 Web Forum!!)
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To: Texas Eagle
To bad there are not more like this.Yuba/Sutter is a rural area outside of Sacramento.It has an intresting ethnic mix and is center for Sikh religion as well as Moslems.But if more Muslim leaders spoke up about the dangers of Wahabbism and realized that its goal is the destruction of the west perhaps things would go better in the world.
6 posted on 01/12/2003 5:22:28 PM PST by lexington minuteman 1775
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To: PokeyJoe
Dispute Between Kabbani Followers and Hosts Disrupts Forum at Islamic Center of Southern California

By Pat McDonnell Twair

July/August 1999,

A landmark meeting at the Islamic Center of Southern California that featured a State Department ambassador-at-large speaking on international religious freedom ended on a sour note June 8 when members of the Islamic Supreme Council of America disrupted closing comments of Dr. Maher Hathout, the center’s spokesman.

More than 200 Muslims and representatives of the Christian and Jewish communities stared in disbelief as the ISCA dissenters shouted “dictator” at Dr. Hathout. They noisily refused to leave but did sit down when security officers asked them to.

“In the 15 years that we have been presenting ecumenical conferences, town halls and press conferences, the conduct—even among adversaries—was civil,” stated Salam al-Marayati, director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. “Yesterday was a dark day in the history of our community.”

The well-publicized program at the Islamic Center featured Robert Seiple, U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, and Dr. Laila al-Marayati, White House appointee to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. The theme of the forum was “International Religious Freedom: Relations between the U.S. and the Muslim World.”

Dr. Marayati opened the program by describing her role on the commission as one of giving a sense of fairness to the perspective of Muslim religious freedom abroad. “Even in countries where Muslims are the majority, secular regimes may persecute citizens for religious beliefs,” she said, citing conditions in Uzbekistan, where young women who wear hijab are labeled “Wahhabi extremists,” and in Turkey, where a scarved member of parliament was denied her seat in the political body.

“This also enables Muslims who are persecuted in the western provinces of China, in Israel, Burma, the Philippines and former Yugoslavia to bring their grievances to our attention,” she concluded.

In taking the podium, Ambassador Seiple said that dispatches cross his desk every day about Muslim-Hindu clashes in India, dire conditions of Coptic Christians in Egypt, Christian slaves in Sudan and a Catholic bishop who has been imprisoned for 27 years in China.

The former director of World Vision attributed the causes of religious persecution to the “inability to live with that which makes us different,” the need for power, greed to possess the resources and land of others, and hatred.

Another cause of persecution, he pointed out, is when religion is superficially understood and improperly applied. A case in point, he said, was the sailor who wrote “Happy Ramadan” on a missile aimed toward Iraq during the Gulf war.

“When American Muslims saw a photograph of the sailor’s graffiti on the missile, they were rightfully upset,” he continued. What is the solution? “To impart education, sensitivity and respect for other religions. This is what my office concentrates on.”

The former university administrator stressed that all major faiths believe in human dignity and reconciliation. Calling for a new reconciled relationship among all people, he said: “I hope the 21st century will be anchored in reconciliation, but it will not be easy to accomplish.” Turning to situations within the United States, Ambassador Seiple touched upon a topic his Los Angeles hosts had advised him not to broach, inasmuch as it didn’t deal with religious freedom.

“Some of you Muslims in this country don’t like each other. I am saddened by the de facto boycott of the Islamic Supreme Council of America,” Ambassador Seiple said. “There ought to be a better way [of solving your differences].”

While non-Muslims in the audience were for the most part in the dark as to what Ambassador Seiple was referring to in his remarks, they stunned many Muslims in the room.

The controversy centers around Sheikh Hisham Kabbani, a Lebanon-born religious leader who has been in the U.S. for the past nine years championing his international Naqshbandi order of Sufism. The Los Angeles Times published a lengthy profile on Kabbani on April 15 stating he has converted hundreds of inner city African Americans to his fold. Other reported supporters include his uncle, the grand mufti of Lebanon, the president of Chechnya, the Sultan of Brunei (one of the wealthiest men in the world), and O.J. Simpson.

To all appearances, the 54-year-old Sheikh Kabbani sees himself as the catalyst for making his brand of Islam the dominant Muslim force in the U.S. However, most American Muslim organizations see dangerous divisiveness in his message. Kabbani gained the enmity of nearly every Muslim group in the U.S. on Jan. 7 when he delivered a speech to a State Department open forum.

In essence, the white-bearded Sufi charged that the “ideology of extremism has been spread to 80 percent of the [American] Muslim population.” He claimed the foremost Muslim student organization was directed by extremists and hinted that alleged terrorist Osama bin Laden was buying nuclear devices from the Russian mafia which could then fall into the hands of radical Muslim students in the U.S.

As soon as the Kabbani speech reached the media, Muslim groups reacted angrily, stating the Kabbani opinions voiced to the U.S. government’s foreign policymaking agency placed American Muslims under suspicion as a danger to the greater society.

Eight major U.S. Muslim organizations issued a joint letter to Sheikh Kabbani demanding that he retract his accusations or prove them. Since then, an additional 110 Muslim groups and individuals have endorsed the condemnation of the religious leader and called upon him to disclose publicly financial details of his tax-exempt organizations.

Ambassador Seiple closed his remarks with the admonition that he himself is the product of a split church. “I still feel bad about it,” he noted. “We stopped talking to each other and then split. This then inoculated the unconverted from our faith.”

The Kabbani controversy was not brought up during the question-and-answer session which did, however, open another touchy subject: Zionist Organization of America director Morton Klein’s objection to Dr. Marayati sitting on the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom.

“I am a fan of Laila,” Ambassador Seiple responded. “I’ll make this point clear, it [Klein’s accusation] is profoundly stupid.”

When asked if he will take a stand on Israel’s refusal to allow Palestinian Christians and Muslims to enter Jerusalem, he said: “We brought this up when we went to Israel. We have pushed Israel on this; its rationale is that it withholds Palestinian access to the holy sites for security reasons. We must get the peace process going so that Jerusalem doesn’t have to be shut down.”

In response to a suggestion that the phrase Judeo-Christian tradition be replaced by “Abrahamic faiths,” he enthused: “What a great idea. I will suggest it.”

Another questioner asked if his office will be the religious policeman of the world.

“We promote religious freedom and reconciliation and we will try to weave these two aspects into our foreign policy,” Ambassador Seiple said. “We are talking about human rights here that transcend boundaries. We have covenants with other nations and the U.S. goes into countries for various reasons. It would be the height of ironies if we didn’t care about human rights. The issue of human rights over sovereignty started with Somalia. It is the rationale for Kosovo.” He concluded with the comment that after 223 years, the State Department has created an office on religious freedom. Since then, Australia, Britain and Germany have made inquiries about establishing a similar body.

As Dr. Hathout began his closing comments, a group of six or seven supporters of Sheikh Kabbani demanded to speak. When Dr. Hathout told them the forum was no place to debate their differences, they called him a dictator. Hedieh Mirahmadi, an attorney who is general secretary of ISCA, shouted that her group had submitted at least 10 questions in writing that were not addressed.

The questions, Mirahmadi later stated, were directed at Dr. Marayati and asked her how, as a protector of religious freedom, she could condone the boycott of a leader of another Muslim organization.

Other Kabbani supporters shouted that they had received death threats. The master of ceremonies retorted that the Islamic Center also has received threats. This was in reference to threats that were phoned to Aslam Abdullah, editor of Minaret magazine. The calls came after Mr. Abdullah wrote editorials that accused Sheikh Kabbani of twisting Islam into a cult of personality.

Once order was restored, Ambassador Seiple apologized to the audience and voiced his regret over mentioning the split between mainstream Muslims and the ISCA. Looking at Dr. Hathout and the Kabbani disciples, he suggested they meet at a future date in his Washington office.

Will this happen?

Subsequently Muslim Public Affairs Council director Salam al-Marayati (husband of Dr. Laila al-Marayati) told the Washington Report: “We’re willing to meet anyone anytime, but not if it is part of the State Department’s agenda to intensify bad feelings. If the Kabbani people feel a need to come back, this is not the way to do it.”

He added that he considered Ambassador Seiple’s analogy of his own church’s split to the objections of mainstream Muslim groups to Kabbani as erroneous. “The issue is not over religious differences, but about the security and identity of Muslims in the U.S. which were threatened by Mr. Kabbani’s speech to the State Department,” Salam al-Marayati said.

Inasmuch as ISCA’s Mirahmadi had traveled from Washington, DC to attend the meeting, the Washington Report asked Marayati if he had received advance notice that the Kabbani followers would be at the forum.

“No,” he replied. “I just saw them enter the center’s lobby and I took time to shake their hands and say I was glad that, despite our differences, they were joining us.”

In a June 10 phone conversation with Mirahmadi, who is general counsel for ISCA, she told the Washington Report she was a board member of MPAC in 1993 or 1994.

When we asked how she feels about the breach with Salam and Laila Marayati, she replied: “Terrible. I hugged Laila when I saw her before the [June 8] program.

Then why the protest at the Islamic Center?

“For nine years, Sheikh Kabbani has tried to extend his hand to American Islamic groups,” Mirahmadi said. “They have refused. The final straw was when they boycotted us.”

When we asked Mirahmadi, who holds a law degree from the University of Southern California and specializes in corporate and non-profit areas, what drew her to Kabbani’s school of Islam, she said it was the “spiritual aspects of Islam, the purification of the soul, the celebration of the Prophet’s birthday and concept of intercession which are unacceptable to Sunni Muslims.”

One thing is certain. Mohammed Hisham Kabbani has united other American Muslims as they have never been united before.

Pat McDonnell Twair is a free-lance writer based in Los Angeles.
7 posted on 01/12/2003 5:32:35 PM PST by Valin (Good Luck)
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To: Texas Eagle
Wahhabism..Would you spell that please.....
8 posted on 01/12/2003 5:43:43 PM PST by exmoor
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To: Texas Eagle
Kabbani has been speaking out against the terrorists from the very first day. The media won't give him any coverage so it looks like he's going to spread his message one mosque at a time. This man is a very brave soul and deserves our support.
9 posted on 01/12/2003 5:46:26 PM PST by McGavin999
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To: Valin
That's a heckuva hit piece. And WAY too long...it reads like a typical Democrat hit piece...pseudo intellectual and extremely wordy, implying, but not proving, that Shayke Kabbani is lying.

I'm even MORE inclined to believe Mr. Kabbani now than I was before...Muslims being persecuted in MUSLIM countries, or MUSLIM regions...for "acting" like Muslims....BULL. Total propaganda. I don't care WHAT Islamic sect he's peddling...if it's TRULY peaceful and preaches the dangers of Wahhabism...I'm with Mr. Kabbani, 10000%

Wahhabism is lethal to world peace, to freedom of any type including freedom of thought. Wahhabism is lethal...PERIOD.

10 posted on 01/12/2003 6:03:22 PM PST by cake_crumb (Donate to Free Republic, the World's #1 Web Forum!!)
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To: Texas Eagle
"There are just a small group of haters that need to be avoided at all costs," Hutcheson said.

Here's a happy thought from Middle East expert Daniel Pipes:

Islamists constitute a small but significant minority of Muslims, perhaps 10 to 15 per cent of the population. Many of them are peaceable in apearance, but they all must be considered potential killers.

How does 400,000 to 800,000 -- in our country -- potential killers sound?

Pipes article here...

Muslim population in America

Meet an Islamist -- peaceable in appearance, killer

America's Fifth Column ... watch Steve Emerson/PBS documentary JIHAD! In America
New Link: Download 8 Mb zip file here (60 minute video)

Who is Steve Emerson?

11 posted on 01/12/2003 6:10:49 PM PST by JCG
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To: Texas Eagle
These statements are welcome but your headline is misleading. Plenty of Muslims have denounced relgious extremism. In fact, every time they do, they are usually trashed on FR as exceptions to the rule!
12 posted on 01/12/2003 6:13:56 PM PST by Austin Willard Wright
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To: Texas Eagle
Bump
13 posted on 01/12/2003 6:19:05 PM PST by Fiddlstix (Wanted: Used "Tag Lines" in good condition. Top prices paid for Quality. Inquire Within.)
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To: Austin Willard Wright
"Plenty of Muslims have denounced relgious extremism. In fact, every time they do, they are usually trashed on FR as exceptions to the rule!"

Yeah...we can see how much "trashing" Mr. Kabbani has gotten on this thread. </sarcasm>

14 posted on 01/12/2003 6:59:38 PM PST by cake_crumb (Donate to Free Republic, the World's #1 Web Forum!!)
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To: McGavin999
"The media won't give him any coverage ..."

Which media?
Our very own mainstream media?
That can't be true, I haven't heard anything about......

15 posted on 01/12/2003 7:08:56 PM PST by dogbrain (don't hold your breath; it'll only smell worse when you decide to breath again....)
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To: cake_crumb
He needs all the support we can give him.

Our support is not what is critical. He needs all the support that his own MUSLIM community can give him.

16 posted on 01/12/2003 7:22:33 PM PST by happygrl
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To: Texas Eagle
read later
17 posted on 01/12/2003 7:29:15 PM PST by LiteKeeper
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To: happygrl
"Our support is not what is critical. He needs all the support that his own MUSLIM community can give him."

True, he needs their support more than ours...but oours can't hurt either. He could probably stand some protection, too.

18 posted on 01/12/2003 7:32:55 PM PST by cake_crumb (Donate to Free Republic, the World's #1 Web Forum!!)
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To: Austin Willard Wright
These statements are welcome but your headline is misleading. Plenty of Muslims have denounced relgious extremism. In fact, every time they do, they are usually trashed on FR as exceptions to the rule!

If so, I've yet to see it. There have been very few articles in the press about Muslims denouncing jihad that don't also include some whining about "the Jews" or "degenerate American culture," or some other backhanded nonsense. I've been following Kabbani articles in the press since 9/11, and if you have links I would be most appreciative to read them.

19 posted on 01/12/2003 8:15:54 PM PST by valkyrieanne
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To: Austin Willard Wright
These statements are welcome but your headline is misleading. Plenty of Muslims have denounced relgious extremism.

Perhaps so. But this guy is a leader among Muslims. And he has the nads to be single out a particularly dangerous sect, Wahabi.

20 posted on 01/12/2003 9:11:26 PM PST by Texas Eagle
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To: Texas Eagle
Good point. Thanks for posting this important article.
21 posted on 01/13/2003 6:16:47 AM PST by Austin Willard Wright
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