Here's something you won't read often on this website. Imam Johari Abdul Malik is right! Abdul Malik is the outreach director at the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in Falls Church, Va.
Law enforcement officials say that mosque has operated "as a front for Hamas operatives in U.S." and that it "has been linked to numerous individuals linked to terrorism financing."
But, in a statement on his own web blog Tuesday, Abdul-Malik met the challenge we pose to radical Islamists. He unequivocally condemned violence. "Non-Violence," he wrote, "is the only effective method to establish positive social change."
He went even further – acknowledging that a ubiquitous chant at anti-Israel rallies that often is invoked by terrorist groups is a form of hate speech.
His column was about the recent flotilla to Gaza that ended with the death of nine passengers. Israeli commandos were attacked with pipes, knives and slingshots as they boarded the Mavi Marmara to enforce a blockade on the Hamas government in Gaza. Abdul-Malik was critical of the Israeli action, but used the moment to challenge people to find a new way to peace:
"Yet, while I say this, it is also time for the Palestinian people (Muslim, Christian and other) to pressure Hamas and [Fatah] to call for a pledge of non-violence, non-violence between themselves and the Israeli people. The hate, hate-speech of death to Israeli, Khaibar! Khaibar! Ya Yahud and the like must end."
"Khaibar! Khaibar! Ya Yahud" is a taunt invoking a 7th Century slaughter by Mohammad's army of Jews in Khaibar. Such references to killing and any rationalization of terrorism aren't working, he wrote:
"Neither violence toward the Israeli public nor between the rival factions of Palestinians can be accepted. I recommended what one activist calls the 'White Intifada' – a non-violence resistance. This will require training, discipline and the voice of strong moral leadership. Perhaps the mothers of the dead may be the best voices. Mothers who have lost their sons and daughters to violence. The era of suicide bombing must end and must end now. Those who would take the lives of innocent people must be dissuaded or stopped."
Abdul Malik and the Investigative Project will never see eye-to-eye. In the same essay, he described the flotilla as non-violent, despite clear evidence to the contrary. But his call to refrain from violence is exactly what is needed to help tamp down growing radicalism among young Muslims. It would be all the more powerful if leaders of other Islamist organizations join him.