Is a movement to reform Islam from within already here - something that has been devoutly hoped for - and some of us don't even know it?
On October 27, 2009, the well-known Muslim peace activist from Bangladesh , Shoaib Choudhury, arrived in New York City to give talks on the problem of jihad at several prestigious institutions in the area.
Shoaib, as he likes to be called, has gained the respect of much of the world, especially among Jews, for his heroic efforts to stop the Muslim persecution of Jews and other religious minorities in Muslim countries.
For this, his life has been threatened several times after he was accused of sedition, imprisoned and tortured. He still is at risk of being hanged by the state for his supposed crimes.
Relaxing on a rainy evening after a long flight from his native Bangladesh , he met with several counter-jihad activists in midtown Manhattan . The plan was to see how mutual support and alliances could be developed.
However, that plan was aborted by the truculent attitude of some of the activists.
They tore into Mr. Choudhury as a supporter of Islamic intolerance regarding other religions, as a wife abuser who forces his spouse to veil herself, and even as a liar. None of this had any relationship to reality, but Shoaib was deemed untrustworthy by them. Why? Because he would not join the "activists" in publicly bashing Mohammed and the text of the Qu'ran.
No, he has chosen not to do that. Instead, he spends his time and uses his journalistic skills to dig out buried information about al Qaeda's infiltration of the government and schools of his country, and to publish his findings in his online journal and in his publishing house.
One new piece of information, for example, is that there is wide-spread sexual abuse of children in the madrassas, resulting in an epidemic of venereal diseases among these unfortunate children.
Shoaib's goal is to expose evil to the light of day so that public outcries can bring about needed reforms. He attacks the broad central branches of self-serving and sadistic Islamic practices rather than taking an axe to what the American counter-jihadists consider to be the main problem: the trunk of the tree - that is, Islam itself.
Why does he do this? Shoaib reasons that if he were to criticize Islam per se, he would lose all credibility in the Muslim world. He would be seen as an outsider, an apostate, somebody to be automatically despised - and his voice would be lost. Since he is a native to his own country and has taken life threatening risks in it, why should he change his strategy to reflect the approach of his armchair counter-jihadist critics?
Moreover, Shoaib is not the only one disdained in this way. There are other Muslim reformers working more or less under cover to bring Islam out of its convulsive cruelty and into a calmer, more peace loving practice. In addition, there are some Muslim sects, like Sufis, Dervishes and the Ahmadiyya movement that make a point of turning their backs on all violence.
The handful of critics noted here are part of a larger problem. Many American counter-jihadists become rigid, even fundamentalist, in their thinking.
They demand a kind of theological purity from those they are willing to describe as "not enemies." In a way, this is understandable, since fellow Americans not in the counter-jihad movement have proved so dense about the core issues of jihad that frustration is bound to grow. Having the deceiving phrase, "Islam is a religion of peace" bandaged over the national consciousness by presidents adds rage to the frustration.