Moderate Muslims Speak Out

Moderate Muslims Speak Out

© David Burton 2021

Moderate Muslims Speak Out

     All too often, when we speak of Islam or Muslims, we immediately conjure up images of radical Islam. The headlines we see and hear are of Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, the Iranian Ayatollahs with their anti-American and anti-Israel messages of hate and intolerance. The thoughts that immediately come to mind are of the Twin Towers in New York coming down with some 3,000 Americans being killed, or of American reporter, Daniel Pearl, being brutally beheaded by Islamic extremists. We are all too familiar with the record of murder, rape, destruction, brutality, intolerance and inhumanity perpetrate in the name of Islam by Muslim extremists.

     “Muslim extremism today remains a violent scourge that plagues Africa, the Middle-East and the rest of the world. As practiced by its radical adherents, it is the one religion where all the atrocities and obscenities alluded to above are not only tolerated but encouraged. Muslim extremists carry out their vicious acts not only against non-adherents to their religion but even against their co-religionists, e.g. Sunni vs. Shia vs. Alawite, etc.
     “Islam is often called the religion of peace and tolerance. Unfortunately, many adherents of the religion behave in a fashion that is inimical to this concept. Also unfortunate is the failure of more moderate and liberal Muslims to come forward to rescue their religion from the fanatics that have co-opted their religion and given Islam such a bad name in the non-Muslim world. Until more moderate and liberal Muslims come forward to gain control of their religion, we in the non-Muslim world cannot trust Islam or put any faith in their claims that Islam is the religion of peace and tolerance – especially when these disingenuous words come from the lips of the extreme elements in Islam.” (Ref. 1)

     Examining the so-called myths of Islam exposes the extremist views of the radical and fundamentalist Muslim zealots who are mired in their concepts of the Islamic religion as they believe it was when it originated in 610 AD. Hopefully, these are not the views of the great majority of modern Muslims. The Muslim extremists see themselves as God’s holy messengers; they, and only they, know and understand God’s message; it is their divine mission to impose their view of God’s laws on every other human being on this planet; these laws were delivered at the inception of their religion to their prophet. These extremists are rigid, unchangeable, and they are intolerant of any interpretation of Mohamed and the Koran other than their own understanding; the only choices available to the “non-believer” are “submission or death!”
     The moderate or modern members of the Islamic faith have progressed, as have the more moderate and liberal members of nearly all other faiths, to embrace a more humanistic and tolerant interpretation of the underpinnings and objectives of their religion. The internal struggle within the Muslim faith is to liberalize and modernize the religion and bring it into agreement with the norms of the modern-day world without abandoning the basic tenets of the religion.[1]

     Truth be told, all Muslims are not extremists and terrorists. In what follows, we hear from a few of the moderates in the Islamic faith. More and more, the moderates are finding their voices and refusing to be cowed by the violent Islamic extremists. It is no longer fashionable in the more moderate Arab and Muslim world to refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist. The Arab nations no long blindly march in lock step with unrealistic demands and fantasies of the disingenuous “Palestinians”. Moderate Islam may be emerging from the darkness of the 1st century into the light of the modern 21st century. Let us all hope and pray that this is so.

     Joel C. Rosenberg is a political thriller author who has written bestselling books like The Last Jihad, The Last Days, The Ezekiel Option, The Auschwitz Escape, and many others. He also writes faith-based fiction books, and many of his thrillers have a biblical slant to them. In addition, he also wrote two non-fiction books focusing on his vision of the biblical prophecies combined with current events. In September of 2020, he recounted the events of 11 September 2001 and conducted an interview with “one of the world’s most influential Muslim leaders” about how the 9/11 attacks gave him a life mission — to combat violent extremists, to “build bridges” with Jews and Christians and to promote peace. Below is a summary of all this.

     On the fateful morning of Sept. 11, 2001, Rosenberg was living with his wife and sons just outside of Washington, D.C., just a few chapters away from completing his first novel. It was a political thriller about a group of radical Islamist terrorists hijacking a plane, flying it into an American city and setting into motion a global war against such terrorist groups in the Middle East and North Africa.
     It was supposed to be fiction, a worst-case-scenario “What If?” plot that he thought might make an interesting book and eventual movie. But that morning, fiction tragically became fact and the world has been dealing with the consequences of Osama bin Laden’s real-life plot ever since.
     Years later, Rosenberg forged an unlikely friendship with a devout Saudi Muslim, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulkarim al-Issa, the secretary-general of the Muslim World League, the largest non-government Muslim organization in the world. Sheikh Mohammed made it his life mission to combat such radical and violent extremists and advance moderate Islam, as well as to teach hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world to reject violence and embrace Jews and Christians as both neighbors and friends.
     Rosenberg, a born-again Christian who now identifies as a “Jewish believer in Jesus” first met the Sheikh in Riyadh when Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (a.k.a., “MBS”) invited him to bring an Evangelical delegation to meet with him and other senior Saudi leaders in November 2018. It was the first time the Saudi royal family had ever invited Christian leaders to visit the palace and engage in talks in the more than 300 years since the al-Saud family has ruled on the Arabian Peninsula.
     Along with moderate Palestinian and Lebanese Arab colleagues, Rosenberg and Sheikh Mohammed have worked on building a news and commentary site to provide fair, honest, truthful and balanced coverage of events in the Middle East and North Africa, and give a platform for a wide range of peaceful voices, be they Muslim, Christian, Jewish or other.
     In an exclusive interview on the first day of operations of ALL ARAB NEWS, Rosenberg asked the Sheikh to share his memories of 9/11 and how it shaped his life mission.
     al-Issa was at home when the news broke of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. It left him, like the whole world, in a state of bewilderment. The attack was ghastly and shocking, and he remembered that those around him were astonished and could not believe what they saw or heard.
     The one specific reaction that he recalled was a tremendous pain for the innocent lives lost. “Every year, we all relive this painful tragedy, and I think back to that day. It is a terrorist crime like no other in human history.”
     “As a human being, I felt an indescribable sense of pain and sadness for those innocent people who lost their lives on that horrible day. And as a Muslim leader, I was angered by those terrorists that purported to commit such an abominable crime in the name of Allah. True Islam does not promote hatred and violence. It does not teach intolerance and injustice. In fact, it teaches us the exact opposite. Islam instructs us to advance peace and coexistence, as well as embrace people of other faiths and beliefs.
     From that day forth, al-issa vowed to speak out against those who seek to highjack Islam to commit violence and advance hate. His objective has been to advance the “true, moderate values of Islam, build coexistence among all faiths and peoples, and confront the extremist rhetoric and expose its flaws, particularly as they pertain to the misinterpretation of religious ideas.”
     “The extremists avoid engaging with us knowing too well the truth is on our side, yet they continue to deceive and spread their lies. We will not rest until we uproot their ideology.
     Asked about the Muslim Brotherhood, the Sheikh said that, “There is no room for the Muslim Brotherhood – or any of form of political Islam – in our religion. It does not abide by the true, moderate values of Islam.
     “The ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood has no respect for the constitution or laws of any country and it actually alienates Muslims from the nations and societies they live in. And in doing so, it succeeds in sowing division and promulgating hatred. We have seen repeatedly how such a process leads to hatred, extremism, violence and terrorism. We must do all in our power to prevent the spread of this warped ideology.”[2]

     Only a short while ago a visit by an Gulf Arab state leader to Israel would have seemed unimaginable to most people, even to many world leaders and Middle East analysts. But the unimaginable has been happening with increased regularity as the year 2020 drew to a close. In late 2020, the United Arab Emirate (UAE) became the third Arab state to establish ties with Israel, followed shortly by Bahrain. Later, Sudan joined the list of Arab/Muslim countries ending their decades of hostility to the jewish nation. Both Jordan and Egypt have had peace agreements with Israel for several years.

     “In an historic first visit by a Gulf Arab nation, a United Arab Emirates delegation arrived in Israel in mid-October 2020 to cement the normalization deal signed the previous month.
     “They were given a red carpet welcome by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and Finance Minister Israel Katz.
     " ‘We are making history in a way that will stand for generations,’ Netanyahu said.
      - - -
     “The UAE and fellow Gulf state Bahrain in September became the first Arab states in a quarter of a century to sign deals to establish formal ties with Israel. (Ref. 3)

     As further proof of the moderating of tensions between Arabs and Jews, “An informal Arab delegation reportedly visited the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound under the protection of Israeli police in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem {early in October 2020}, according to news outlet Arabi21.
     “It was reportedly the first such visit to the historic site since Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates signed a controversial US-sponsored normalization deal with Israel on 15 September in Washington DC.
     “The delegation performed a prayer inside the 7th century Dome of the Rock Mosque, according to Palestinian sources who spoke to Arabi21.” (Ref. 4)

     Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan (widely known by his initials, MBZ) is the crown prince of Abu Dhabi and the de facto ruler of the island kingdom. This UAE official - in an on-the-record interview - made it clear that he regarded a visit to Jerusalem as entirely consistent with the true and full normalization of relations between the two countries.
     News of the crown prince’s intention to visit Jerusalem emerged in an exclusive interview conducted with Dr. Ali Rashid Al Nuaimi via Zoom by Joel C. Rosenberg – an Evangelical Christian, an American and an Israeli citizen.
     Dr. Al Nuaimi is the chairman of the Defense, Interior and Foreign Affairs Committee at the UAE’s Federal National Council. A businessman and media entrepreneur by background, he is also chairman of Hedayah, the International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism.
     Rosenberg first met Dr. Al Nuaimi in October 2018 when he led the first-ever delegation of Evangelical leaders to officially come to the UAE and to meet with senior government officials there, as well as Muslim and Christian leaders. Dr. Al Nuaimi sat next to the crown prince during a two-hour meeting in the palace where Dr. Al Nuaimi explained the work the UAE was doing to identify and counter hate speech and violent extremism speech and planning in the media and especially on social media.
     Dr. Al Nuaimi was the second Arab leader to join the Advisory Board of All Arab News after Saudi Sheikh Mohammed al-Issa, the head of the Muslim World League.[5]

     The following contains edited excerpts of Rosenberg’s interview with Dr. Al Nuaimi.

     Dr. Al Nuaimi reported that he considered the UAE crown prince to be a visionary person with the courage to make the hard decision. The crown prince believed that the UAE should carry out the mission of counter-extremism in the region and in the world. In order to achieve that, the UAE had to promote peace, and look for a partner who believed in peace. And, if you wanted to have peace in the region, you had to create peace with Israel. This was the first step. This was to be the strong message. And this is why he was willing to make the hard decision. He had the courage to do that. When the crown prince saw the opportunity, he didn’t miss it, and he made that decision.
     When you talk about peace, you are talking about a comprehensive peace. The UAE’s action is breaking all those walls and boundaries that have so long separated Israel and the Arab nations, as well as Jews and Muslims. For the relations between Israel and the UAE, the sky is the limit. Still needed is the hard work to counter the hate narrative in the region and worldwide. It is a shared responsibility. It is the real challenge since the announcement of the UAE-Israeli peace treaty.[5]

     It is becoming clear that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan wants a much warmer, much fuller, much more comprehensive peace agreement with Israel than Egypt wanted in 1979, or that Jordan wanted in 1994, or since. In addition. Emirati leaders are taking concrete steps to make Jews and Christians feel welcome. Some 700 Christian churches operate freely in the UAE, whereas no churches are legally permitted in Saudi Arabia. In 2019, the UAE invited Pope Francis to visit, meet with the crown prince and other senior officials, and even to hold a public mass for more than 100,000 people. Currently, the UAE is building an interfaith worship center that will have a mosque, a church and a synagogue.
     The good thing that we are seeing today is that most of the Arabs are supporting the UAE-Israeli peace treaty. Except who? Those who are part of or supporters of terrorist organizations – Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Iranian regime, and Turkish President Recep Erdogan, who is supporting these terrorist groups – and unfortunately, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.[6]

     America is the land of opportunity and freedom and Muslims "have more opportunity in America to practice Islam than anywhere else in the world," (Ref. 7) said Muqtedar Khan, director of International Studies at Adrian College in Michigan.

     “Some community leaders say Muslim-Americans need to take advantage of that freedom to send a moderate message about terrorism, Israel and other issues to their co-religionists in the United States and abroad. Spurred to speak out since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, these leaders are emphasizing moderation, in both ideas and public representatives.
     " ‘The most important message is that we condemn all kinds of hate speech including anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism and that we come out as boldly as possible against violence committed by Muslims in Iraq, in Israel, in Muslim countries like Turkey and Indonesia, and that we do all that we can in this war against terrorism,’ said Ahmed al-Rahim, a founding member and former chairman of the American Islamic Congress (AIC).
     “AIC was established after Sept. 11 because of a feeling that moderates had been silent for too long in the face of Muslim extremism. [Emphasis mine]
     " ‘The mainstream, official voice of Islam in America wasn’t forceful enough in condemning the violence and the acts of terror on 9/11. There was some hesitancy, and there was more concern with hate crimes against Muslims . . . " al-Rahim said.
     “Khan said moderate views are more widely accepted since Sept. 11. In the past, only ‘conservative or narrow-minded’ speakers would be allowed to speak at mosques and community centers. But after the terror attacks, moderates felt it was worth fighting to have more moderate views aired . . .
     " ‘You can see that the agendas are changing.’
     “Mateen Saddiqui, vice president Islamic Supreme Council of America (ISCA), said some extremist groups - those he described as organizations dominated by the Wahhabi strain of the faith - have ‘hijacked the mic. They are the ones who are trying to put out a negative message, to politicize the religion and use it for their political focus, which is often not related to the United States, but to a political cause overseas.’
     “. . . the ISCA Web site zeroes in on the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Benevolence International Foundation (BIF) and the American Muslim Council (AMC) {as extremist groups}.
     “CAIR has frequently been cited by moderates as an organization that should not speak for the American-Muslim community, and the group has long been accused of being funded by Saudi Arabia and having ties to Palestinian terror group Hamas. . .
      - - -
     “Moderates say it is up to them to make sure their message is not drowned out by extreme groups.
     " ‘We have to get our voices heard because our voices are being drowned out by the extremists,’ said Asma Afsaruddin, a professor in the classics department at Notre Dame. 'Extremism, militancy and violence all in the name of Islam are gross betrayals of the Islamic tradition.’
     “An Islamic studies expert, Afsaruddin added that scholars must explain the religion so that extremists do not have a monopoly." (Ref. 7)

     “HOW MANY TIMES SINCE 9/11 – when nearly 3,000 Americans were killed by radical Muslims – have we asked each other where the moderate Muslims are? Where are the imams denouncing the violence committed in the name of Islam? We asked the same after the attacks on the Little Rock recruiting office, after Fort Hood, after the Islamic State group beheadings of Americans overseas. After the Boston Marathon bombing and Mumbai and Madrid and London and Paris. After San Bernardino.
     “You'd never know it from the media, but Muslim leaders have denounced terrorism committed in the name of Islam over and over again. Apparently covering terrorist attacks drives more ratings than reporting on press conferences afterward – so the media doesn't bother. It's not surprising that many Americans have come to believe that perhaps there just are no moderate Muslims.
     “Case in point: . . . a small group of Muslim men and women launched the Muslim Reform Movement . . . in Washington. Led by Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, who is a medical doctor and a former U.S. naval officer, the group held a press conference at the National Press Club, issued a statement of their principles, and – in a move reminiscent of the famous ‘95 Theses’ that Martin Luther posted on a church door in 1517, sparking the Protestant Reformation – affixed their precepts to the door of the Islamic Center in the heart of D.C.'s Embassy Row.
     {Here is} the executive summary:
  • "We reject interpretations of Islam that call for any violence, social injustice and politicized Islam. We invite our fellow Muslims and neighbors to join us.
  • "We reject bigotry, oppression and violence against all people based on any prejudice, including ethnicity, gender, language, belief, religion, sexual orientation and gender expression.
  • "We are for secular governance, democracy and liberty.
  • "Every individual has the right to publicly express criticism of Islam. Ideas do not have rights. Human beings have rights.
  • "We stand for peace, human rights and secular governance. Please stand with us!"
      - - -
     “No religion's followers are completely homogenous. Think of all the varieties of Christians there are, for example; the four different denominations of Hinduism; the various strains of Judaism ranging from Hasidic to Reform. Even the Catholic Church is surprisingly all over the map, from 'cafeteria Catholics' to the diversity of opinion within the College of Cardinals. Like every other world religion, Muslims do not speak with one voice. The fact is that there are Sunnis and Shias, and there are also radical Muslims who kill others in the name of Allah.
     “Muslims are not indistinguishable from each another. We owe it to them to differentiate between the radicals and everyone else.
     “That's where the Muslim Reform Movement (MRM)comes in. These men and women are putting their lives at risk as moderate Muslims who are willing to speak out. {In a televised debate, a moderate spokesperson stated:} ‘We are opposing a very real interpretation of Islam that espouses violence, social injustice and political Islam . . . ‘We have to take back the faith. And we have to take it back with the principles of peace, social justice, and human rights, women's rights, and secularize governance.’ [Emphasis mine] “ (Ref. 8)

     “To many Americans and many Jews, Islam by its very nature demands violence against infidels. According to this view, Islam can never come to terms with Israel: Once brought into the Islamic world by conquest in 637 CE, Palestine can never revert to Dar al-Harb, the House of War.
     “These views of Islamic doctrine have been swimming in the collective political unconscious of the Western world for centuries. They draw on selected Islamic texts and examples that suggest a militant Islam bent on conquering the world for Allah. This is a false narrative, one that misses the variegated mixture of ideas, doctrines and historical experiences that exist in Islam - as in every major religion. In particular, it ignores the innumerable positive developments large and small, grassroots and doctrinal, that in our time are leading to a more tolerant Islam.
     “Some say that Islam is essentially intolerant. . . {This} suggests that all 1.5 billion Muslims today - Sunnis, Shiites, Sufis - and all those throughout the rich history of Islam have the same specific, unwavering characteristics.
     “This view of Islam . . . owes something to the historic nightmare of the ‘infidel Turk’ and something . . . found in many canonical Western texts – {that} all Muslims seek to conquer the world for Allah.
     “It’s true that in this century, while militant . . . strains of Christianity have faded, strains of militant Islam - such as ISIS and Al Qaeda - have flourished. And this rightly concerns most Americans. Thus, it was refreshing to see the growth of a Muslim-generated approach to moderate Islam at a recent meeting . . . in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. The occasion was the unveiling of the Charter of the Alliance of Virtue . . . {The} Charter reflects {a} decades-long effort to anchor the place of tolerance in traditional Islam. . . Muslim religious leaders from around the world - including the Mufti of Egypt, the president of Cairo’s Al-Azhar University and the president of the famed Zaitouna University in Tunisia - signed the Charter, which calls for the ‘elevation’ of virtues including ‘tolerance and mutual understanding’ as understood by the Abrahamic faiths - Judaism, Islam and Christianity.
     “The Charter states that ‘All ethnic, religious, and linguistic minorities have the right to live without any persecution of any kind. Further, they have the right to live as full and equal citizens in their respective societies, drawing upon their most fundamental beliefs about virtue and morality to engage in the public life of those societies.’ [Emphasis mine]
     “In addition, the Charter calls for ‘protecting the sacred symbols and religious sensibilities of other faith traditions’; it notes that ‘respect for other religions does not preclude honest dialogue about what is perceived to be true or false in religions, including one’s own’; and it calls for ‘principled cooperation around shared values.’
     “It’s significant that the Charter was the work of traditional Islamic scholars, not modernists, revisionists, reformers or secularists. It is not a program proposed by Western governments or former believers. It should be obvious (but it seems to escape the attention of critics) that only Muslim scholars who draw on Muslim sources can provide a theological basis for a contemporary moderate Islam. The Charter’s sponsors are now beginning the arduous process of securing buy-in from religious leaders worldwide. More than 10 religion and education ministers from different nations attended the conference, so they have made a start.
      - - -
     “Other movement is visible in the Muslim world as well. The Muslim World League based in Riyadh, long a bastion of Islamic exclusivity, has begun to change course. Most recently, it came out against Holocaust denial and sponsored (with the American Jewish Committee) a ‘pilgrimage’ to Auschwitz on the 75th anniversary of its liberation. And it has broached the possibility of reviewing the school textbooks they send around the world to excise religious intolerance and training the imams they support.
     “There is little point in pursuing the stale debate about the ‘essence’ of Islam or any other religion. What is important is that eminent scholars in Islam are acting out their own ‘reformation’ by uncovering and highlighting the Islamic tradition of tolerance within Islamic law. It is a long journey and how it works out remains to be seen. But it is a message that we should all take to heart.” (Ref. 9)

     Hopefully, what’s been reported here is a sign that the times, they are a-changing and that, more and more, moderate Muslims are being heard and are achieving real influence in the modern Islamic world. The growing number of friendly ties between Israel and several Arab countries is proof positive that the voices of the moderate Muslims are increasingly being listened to in the Islamic world.

  1. Islam – The Religion of Peace and Tolerance ???, David Burton, Son of Eliyahu; Article 442, 16 October 2020.
  2. One of the world’s most influential Muslim leaders tells ALL ARAB NEWS how the 9/11 attacks gave him a life mission — to combat violent extremists, “build bridges” with Jews and Christians and promote peace, Joel C. Rosenberg, All Arab News, 1 September 2020.
  3. Israel lauds UAE delegation visit as 'making history', Palestinians deem it 'shameful’, FRANCE24,
    20 October 2020.
  4. Informal Arab delegation visits Al-Aqsa with Israeli protection, MIDDLE EAST EYE, 16 October 2020.
  5. UAE Crown Prince wants to visit Jerusalem because he seeks a ‘comprehensive peace,’ senior UAE official tells ALL ARAB NEWS, Joel C. Rosenberg, All Arab News, 1 September 2020.
  6. In stunning statement, rarely uttered by Arab leaders, senior UAE official tells ALL ARAB NEWS: ‘Jews and Christians belong here’ in the Mideast, adding their ‘roots are in this region’, Joel C. Rosenberg, All Arab News,
    2 September 2020.
  7. Moderate Muslims Speak Out, Fox News, 14 January 2015.
  8. Pressing a Muslim Reformation, Mary Kate Cary, U.S.News, 18 December 2015.
  9. A New Age of Moderate Islam, Marshall Breger, moment, Spring 2020.

  14 January 2021 {Article 455; Islam_42}    
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