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This interview appeared in the Asbury Park Press with James Sues, Executive Director of CAIR-NJ, February 24, 2016
Absolutely not. Muslims have lived in peaceful coexistence with people of diverse faiths for centuries. At issue here is the definition of “Muslim fundamentalist”. I interpret that as a follower of the fundamental teachings of the Quran and the life of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), without any of the cultural baggage that has been heaped on the religion over the centuries. To the follower of these fundamental teachings, the killing of innocents is a sin, suicide is a sin, and other faiths must be respected. A follower of the fundamental teachings is not a threat to anyone who is fair and just and does good to other people.
2. What are some of the most common misconceptions about Islam?
a. That jihad is an armed conflict and must be waged on all unbelievers. Jihad merely means struggle. Armed conflict is permissible when defending your property and your ability to practice your faith. The Quran says “…be not the aggressors. Allah does not love the Aggressors”. (2:190) Permissible armed struggle is defensive, not offensive.
b. That Muslims must force you to convert to Islam. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Quran plainly says “ There shall be no compulsion in religion” (2:256) The Quran also states in many ways that a Muslim is one who sincerely believes as the result of proper guidance, and that guidance can only come from Allah.
3. The Muslim-American community has often been criticized for not speaking out strongly enough against terrorist acts committed in the name of Islam. Do you believe that criticism is justified?
Not at all. Every major American Muslim organization, including CAIR, as well as numerous scholars and Imams have come out and strongly condemned the acts of terror that have been committed. This has been expressed in press conferences, press releases, interviews and in published articles. Unfortunately a press release condemning a heinous act doesn’t get the same news coverage as that heinous act.
4. What is Sharia Law and from where it is derived? What are some of its most important precepts?
Sharia law embodies a path to paradise for Muslims. Sharia Law is a code of conduct for every Muslim that is derived from the Quran and from the sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad, (PBUH). The most important precepts are that a Muslim must believe in God, fear God be obedient to God and treat others with justice and fairness.
“People for the American way” have identified a set of strategies that the million-dollar Islamophobia industry employs to inflame “anti-muslim rhetoric.” These strategies are:
1 - Frame Muslim Americans as dangerous to America.
2 - Twist statistics and use fake research to “prove” the Muslim threat.
3 - Invent the danger of creeping Sharia.
4 - “Defending Liberty” by taking freedoms away from Muslims.
5 - Claim that Islam is not a religion.
6 - Maintain that Muslims have no First Amendment rights under the Constitution.