PR interviews Al Aqsa's Sheikh Khalil Al Alami
FOR THE RECORD
Published at http://www.jmcc.org/media/reportonline
on October 3, 2001
This week Palestine Report Online interviews Sheikh Khalil Al Alami,
Islamic official at Al Aqsa Mosque, on Islam and the recent attacks on
the United States.
PR: What is the Islamic position on the September 11 attacks on
Washington and New York?
Alami: There is an important point that should be made in answering
this question. Anyone who ever read about Islam would know of the
forgiveness preached in Islam and the greatness of the religion. It is a
religion that preaches tolerance and humanity.
When talking about what happened in the United States, one question
that poses itself is: what pushed these people to do what they did? What
were their motives? Why did they feel they had to do this? No matter
who did it - even if the fingers are pointed at Al Qaida and Osama bin
Laden - there is one thing that is important here. Islam has a
comprehensive view of things. Its outlook is not limited to an
organization, a party or group. Islam is greater than that and is not seen
from one narrow perspective. Muslims always try to look farther than
that because our religion is much larger than any group or person.
What is important to say here is that, as Muslims, we are not against the
American people as a people or nation. But we oppose their policies of
arrogance, of dominance and of double standards. Why is our Orient
always being pulled into these things? America has a targeted enemy so
it can oppress the peoples of this "enemy" and sap their resources. It is
as if it is part of some strategy to always have an enemy that must be
fought, and through this, achieve goals.
The dangerous thing now is that our Islamic Orient is the goal of these
campaigns. As proof, let me say this. When the president of the most
powerful country in the world says that this is a "crusade," this is no
mistake. He did not just say it by mistake and then retreat from it. They
want to establish a clash of civilizations. This is their obvious way of
continuing to practice oppression, injustice and subjugation.
Now, as Muslims, we are to act according to what Islam dictates to us -
that is, you may assault whoever assaults you. But for them to come to
the Orient of Islam, oppress and subjugate us, while we are to sit doing
nothing? We cannot just stand there and watch. These [American
actions] are not only a response to what happened on September 11;
there were plans to this effect before and after.
As for the people who carried out the attacks - they were not madmen.
We read about their lives in the press. Most were from the Gulf and
were well-off. They didn't have any social or personal complexes that
one might say they were reacting to. On the contrary, now we can say
that there is a new generation that is willing to fight America and this
something that America cannot stop.
PR: Following the September 11 attacks, strong anti-Muslim and anti-
Arab sentiments have developed in the West. How can Muslims counter
Alami: What is required from our Muslim and Arab world - and I do not
differentiate between the two - is to clarify what Islam's true
approaches are, what are its teachings. What we need to get across to
the world is that as Muslims, we have a unique way of thinking, we have
innovation and individualism. Islam has left its mark.
But the Islamic world directs its media efforts at its own people, as if
needs to convince them. The media mechanism in the Arab and Muslim
world has been useless in getting the message to the West that this
religion is one of enlightenment, innovation, uniqueness and all other
qualities that make it great. This has not been received by the Western
world in any way.
The second step is that the scholars of the umma [Islam's followers]
must meet. They must elevate the status of Islam through a consensus
between them. This needs to be done. I hope to God this will happen.
Because - let me say this as a Muslim - nowadays, we need to defend
ourselves against being called terrorists and only then can one speak of
Islam. These scholars must convey to the Western mind the entire and
overall principles of Islam.
But the world will never return to what it was before September 11. A
new world order is in formation. Now Europe and the so-called
coalition against terrorism is working towards getting America focused
on one enemy - not necessarily the Afghans - and becoming a hostile
force against Islam.
How can the umma work together as one and speak in one voice in this
regard? America always speaks as if from a pedestal so the Muslims'
voice must be strong and united to get the message across that we are a
religion of tolerance. The best example of this is the Palestinians. Here
in Jerusalem exist the largest group of churches in the world. And they
have existed here for hundreds of years in peace.
PR: In light of the current threats to strike the Muslims of Afghanistan,
is it permissible for other Muslim countries to take part in this
Alami: No, not in any case. America claims that it was attacked by a
group of Muslims, so America can decide how to respond to this.
However according to Islamic law, Al Shariya, no Muslim can be part of
or support this because in Islam, Muslim brothers must bond together.
If America wants to respond, it can respond on its own.
PR: If the United States' claims that Osama bin Laden and the Qaida
network are responsible for the attacks on New York and Washington
proves true, would you say that bin Laden diverted from true Islam to
serve his purposes?
Alami: I always say that I do not view Islam through Osama bin Laden or
anyone else. I do not want to portray him as some kind of hero. Islam is
bigger than Osama bin Laden and any organization. I do not believe in
deifying anyone. So I will not portray bin Laden as a hero, nor will I
interpret Islam through him. -Published 3/10/01 (c)Palestine Report
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