Stateside

A Dylan-quoting sheikh denounces Islamic leaders’ hatred

From a speech by Sheikh Hamza Yusuf to a convention of the Islamic Society of North America:

Our religious leadership is in crisis because our religious leaders have failed to bring people back to the metaphysics of our religion. They use anger, they use revenge and they use hatred, and we have to drive that discourse out of our mosques… It is time that we stopped demonizing the Jews…

Now I’m sure I could find plenty on which to disagree with Hamza Yusuf. But I think it’s remarkable and encouraging that he could stand in front of an audience of American Muslims, criticize their spiritual leaders in the strongest terms– maybe enough to get one labeled Islamophobic in some circles— and win applause for it.

In an interview, Yusuf– an American convert– quoted the line, “Don’t follow leaders, watch the parking meters” from the man he affectionately called “Imam Bob.”

Another convert, Ingrid Mattson, has been elected president of the Islamic Society of North America. Among other things, she provides training for Islamic chaplains who serve in the US military.

Unlike certain other converts I could name, both Yusuf and Mattson seem to have kept their heads on fairly straight.

Meanwhile, reporting for NPR on Muslim converts in the UK, Rob Gifford managed to portray Yvonne Ridley as an example of a reasonable, extremist-rejecting convert. This would be the Rob Gifford who also whitewashed Taji Mustafa of Hizb’ut Tahrir.

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