Hearing on Muslim Radicalization
I think that it is important to put the subject into context. The Chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Peter King, R-NY, wants to discuss the radicalization of Muslims with focus on the American Muslim community.
The committee could talk about the radicalization of religion in America based on attacks by some religious groups upon abortion clinics that have resulted in the assassination of medical professionals and wounding of innocent people. Though, there is no evidence that specific Christian groups have organized to overthrow the government or to expand their illegal activity beyond abortion clinics.
The circumstance with Muslims is different because there is apparent conflict and contradiction between allegiance to the nation and to the Constitution versus loyalty to religion that embodies a certain religious law, and the idea among some Muslims in the world that religious law should become public law.
Obvious in world events is that Muslim people seek change in the form of governance in Middle Eastern nations. Obvious is the disparity in wealth between leaders and poor people. Obvious is that radicals have sought to exploit religion to gain support from people for attacking America 1) for being aligned with corrupt and tyrannical leaders, 2) for imposing a large footprint in the Middle East to exploit interest in oil, 3) for introducing liberal values that are outside the norms for Muslim beliefs.
There is a growing population of Muslims in America that is a result of our immigration policies and culture for accommodating diversity. Questions remain about the extent to which Muslims can accommodate American values and commit loyalty to the nation versus what some believe is religious inflexibility and contradiction.
No single hearing will answer these questions, though a hearing can begin to frame the issues and concerns.
“Sharia (Arabic: شريعة šarīʿah, IPA: [ʃaˈriːʕa], "way" or "path") is the sacred law of Islam. Most Muslims believe Sharia is derived from two primary sources of Islamic law: the divine revelations set forth in the Qur'an, and the example set by the Islamic Prophet Muhammad in the Sunnah. Fiqh jurisprudence interprets and extends the application of Sharia to questions not directly addressed in the primary sources by including secondary sources. These secondary sources usually include the consensus of the religious scholars embodied in ijma, and analogy from the Qur'an and Sunnah through qiyas. Shia jurists prefer to apply reasoning ('aql) rather than analogy in order to address difficult questions.
Muslims believe Sharia is God's law, but they differ as to what exactly it entails. Modernists, traditionalists and fundamentalists all hold different views of Sharia, as do adherents to different schools of Islamic thought and scholarship. Different countries and cultures have varying interpretations of Sharia as well.
Sharia deals with many topics addressed by secular law, including crime, politics and economics, as well as personal matters such as sexuality, hygiene, diet, prayer, and fasting. Where it enjoys official status, Sharia is applied by Islamic judges, or qadis. The imam has varying responsibilities depending on the interpretation of Sharia; while the term is commonly used to refer to the leader of communal prayers, the imam may also be a scholar, religious leader, or political leader.
The reintroduction of Sharia is a longstanding goal for Islamist movements in Muslim countries. Some Muslim minorities in Asia (e.g. in India) have maintained institutional recognition of Sharia to adjudicate their personal and community affairs. In western countries, where Muslim immigration is more recent, Muslim minorities have introduced Sharia family law, for use in their own disputes, with varying degrees of success (e.g. Britain's Muslim Arbitration Tribunal). Attempts to impose Sharia have been accompanied by controversy, violence, and even warfare (cf. Second Sudanese Civil War).”
“Anxiety on all sides of upcoming House hearing on radicalization of U.S. Muslims
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 27, 2011; 10:55 PM
In some ways, Zuhdi Jasser doesn't match the profile of the typical Muslim American. He's an active Republican who has supported the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, is an advocate for Israel and says his faith harbors "an insidious supremacism."
Yet the Scottsdale, Ariz., doctor will be the face of American Islam for a Capitol Hill moment. Other than members of Congress, Jasser is the only witness that Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.) has identified so far for his upcoming hearings on radicalization of American Muslims.
King, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, has called the hearings to start March 9.
Although he initially spoke out to promote them, his decision in recent weeks to lie low (he declined to comment for this article) and to keep the witness list and precise questions quiet reflects the complexities of debating the problem, experts say.
Should the hearings focus strictly on hard data about American Muslim cooperation with law enforcement? Should they explore whether U.S. foreign policy helps breed radicalism? Can a congressional hearing in a secular nation explore whether Islam needs a reformation?
That final point is the core tenet for Jasser, a father of three, Navy veteran and former doctor to Congress.
Through his nonprofit group, the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, he debates other Muslims and appears on mostly conservative media to press Muslim leaders to aggressively oppose a "culture of separatism." He wants clerics to disavow scripture that belittles non-Muslims and women and to renounce a role for Islam in government.
As the only non-legislator King has announced he will call, Jasser is drawing a lopsided amount of attention.
King will have a separate panel of congressional witnesses, and he has said he will call Muslim Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.). The Democrats on the committee will call Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, who has disputed King's contention that Muslims do not cooperate with law enforcement.
With a mostly top-secret list and the first hearing in a few days, anxiety is building among Muslim Americans and national security experts alike. Although some hope that it will improve dialogue, others fear it could set off more prejudice.
National security experts "are holding their breath that it doesn't explode. I've heard that from people on all sides," said Juan C. Zarate, a senior adviser to the Center for Strategic and International Studies who was security adviser to President George W. Bush.
Muslim leaders initially lobbied for King to halt hearings but are now debating whether to try to get on the witness list. Long-standing critics of Muslim American organizations have blasted King for including "apologists" such as Ellison, one of two Muslims elected to Congress.”