Islamidades [Brazil-México] August 18, 2014
The blog Islamidades begins a series of interviews with various representatives of the Muslim world and also with scholars of Islam.
Stephen Suleyman Schwartz is an American journalist, columnist and author with articles published in several newspapers: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Toronto Globe and Mail, etc. He describes himself as “a student of Sufism since the late 1960s and an adherent of the Hanafi school of Islam since 1997.”
As executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, he is one of the sharpest critics of Wahhabi fundamentalism. His book The Two Faces of Islam is a renowned publication about Muslim radicalism.
Islamidades: In your book The Two Faces of Islam you expose the historical genesis of Islamic fundamentalism. More than a praxis of terror, the essence of current fundamentalism is a radical reform of the Muslim perspective. Wahhabism converts anachronism into orthodoxy and leaves as a trail the destruction of the whole legacy of Islamic civilization. Union with the House of Saud gave force to the thinking of Muhammad Ibn Al-Wahhab. Analyzing this historical scenario and its contemporary consequences, is it possible to “cure” Islam of this “syphilis,” using the term you put forward?
Continue reading Curing Wahhabism, The “Syphilis of Islam” Interview by Pedro Ravazzano by Stephen Suleyman Schwartz
Koha Ditore [Prishtina, Kosova] August 3, 2014
Introductory note by Koha Ditore: The Palestinian war resembles that of the Kosovar Albanians – it has nothing to do with religion, but with the state. Hamas, as a branch of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, “dresses itself in Islamic costume and employs Islamic vocabulary to present the war as a conflict between differing believers, but it has never been that,” said Stephen Sylejman Schwartz, a scholar of Islam and executive director of the Center for Islamic Pluralism, based in Washington, DC, USA.
Schwartz, in an exclusive e-mail interview given to Koha Ditore, discussed the context of the recent fighting between Israel and Hamas, and the consequences of its influence in the region and in the world – including debates in Kosovar society.
Efforts to present the war as directed against Muslims, according to Schwartz, reflect the penetration of the Muslim Brotherhood in Kosova. He spoke about Prishtina’s position on this issue and the Kosovar approach to a Palestinian state.
Schwartz, a well-known American journalist (who in 1997 became a Hanafi Muslim), is the author of many books, among them several about Kosovar Albanians. His book The Other Islam [Islami Tjetër] was issued recently in Albanian by the Koha publishing house.
Continue reading Schwartz: The Palestinian War is About Politics, not Religion by Brikenda Rexhepi
The Weekly Standard Blog October 9, 2013
On October 2, Arab media reported that a Kuwaiti radical Muslim television preacher, Tareq Suwaidan, was prohibited from visiting Saudi Arabia. Suwaidan had sought to go to Mecca to perform “umrah,” a shorter version of the annual hajj pilgrimage.
The hajj, which takes up five days of rituals, will begin on October 13-14. Its timing depends on sighting of a new moon, marking commencement of the hajj month, or Dhu l-Hijjah, which is the last month in the Islamic lunar calendar. Umrah, involving only a part of the full hajj ceremonies, may be performed at any time, and is popular with Muslim believers who can afford the journey.
Suwaidan, one of an array of prominent Muslims considered imitators of Western tele-evangelists, is a man of parts. Supplementing his televised sermons, he is a motivational speaker and management consultant. He is ambiguous about certain topics, but admits to membership in the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). He has appealed for dialogue between Muslims and the West, and praised American schooling—perhaps unsurprisingly since he was educated at Penn State and the University of Tulsa, earning a doctorate in petroleum engineering at the latter institution.
Continue reading Saudi Arabia Moves Against Muslim Brotherhood Amid Increased Pressure for Reform by Irfan Al-Alawi and Stephen Schwartz
Folksmagazine [India] March 1, 2012
UPDATE: On Tuesday, February 28, 16 Shia Muslims were murdered by uniformed members of the terrorist Jundullah, or so-called “Army of God,” after being removed from a bus proceeding from Rawalpindi to Gilgit in Pakistan. This crime follows on those described below.
Pakistan continues its slide downward to definitive failure as a state. At the heart of its crisis, the Pakistani Taliban and their fanatical allies, claiming the mantle of Sunni Islam, maintain a homicidal offensive against conventional Sunnis, spiritual Sufis, and Shia Muslims, as well as Hindus and Christians. The various entities that carry on this atrocious campaign enjoy, as every honest commentator on South Asia knows, protection from the Pakistani armed forces and its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) apparatus. Similar patronage is extended by Islamabad to the Afghan Taliban.
Since the May 2011 liquidation of Osama Bin Laden, as the terrorist chief benefited from shelter by the Pakistani authorities, relations between Pakistan and the U.S. have been stalemated. Islamabad chose to interpret the U.S. military raid that eliminated Bin Laden as a violation of its sovereignty. As these words are written, the former Bin Laden compound in Abbottabad, the city where Pakistan’s elite Military Academy is located, has been demolished. Pakistan still refuses to break with its posture of laxity toward the Taliban and other jihadists.
The U.S. presidential administration of Barack Obama professes to believe that it can abate the Taliban problem in Afghanistan by diplomacy. Put plainly, the U.S. government seems intent on handing over Afghanistan, or a large share of its territory, to the Taliban, on the pretext of peace. An “agreement” with the Afghan fundamentalists would allow the U.S. to withdraw 22,000 troops, out of a current total of 90,000, from the mountainous redoubt by the end of this year, in line with the goal of general disengagement by the end of 2014. But, we are told, some NATO troops will stay in Afghanistan after 2014. Political overtures include the almost-unbelievable effort by Washington and Islamabad to help the Afghan Taliban establish a political office in Qatar. Pakistan appears committed to the Qatar scheme notwithstanding the irritation of Afghan president Hamid Karzai, who resents visibly being bypassed by the U.S. and Pakistan in their dealings with the Taliban.
Continue reading Shia Muslims Massacred in Pakistan by Stephen Schwartz
American Thinker February 17, 2012
Professor John Louis Esposito of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. is one of the most outspoken and prolific defenders of radical Islamist ideology in Western academia. But in addition to his tenured employment in Middle East Studies, Esposito has found a second calling — as a court expert in the trials of accused Muslim radicals.
According to the Washington-based website Politico, Esposito has been tapped as a defense witness in the case of Khalid Ali Aldawsari, a twenty-one-year-old Saudi Arabian subject arrested in February 2011 in Lubbock, Texas.
Aldawsari is charged with one count of attempting to fabricate a weapon of mass destruction — i.e., a bomb. If he is found guilty, he may be sentenced to life imprisonment. A mental competency hearing, according to Politico, is scheduled to begin in the third week of February, with a trial set for April 30.
In a statement by the U.S. Department of Justice regarding his detention, reported soon after he was arrested, Aldawsari’s conspiratorial efforts were detailed as they appeared in a federal criminal complaint and accompanying affidavit. The DOJ stated that Aldawsari entered the U.S. legally and was enrolled at South Plains College near Lubbock. Aldawsari had “purchase[d] chemicals and equipment necessary to make an improvised explosive device (IED)” and had “research[ed] potential U.S. targets.” Aldawsari expressed his commitment to armed jihad and to “martyrdom” in a blog, titled “From Far Away,” and a personal journal.
Continue reading John Louis Esposito for the Defense (of an Alleged Would-be Terrorist) by Stephen Schwartz
Folksmagazine [India] January 15, 2012
The Selimiye mosque, 16th c. CE, Edirne, Turkey – Photograph 2006 Via Wikimedia Commons.
Turkey’s so-called Justice and Development Party (known by its Turkish initials as AKP) first won a national election in 2002 – a victory repeated in 2007 and 2011. Since its second triumph at the polls, it and its principal figure, current prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, have undertaken a campaign of persecution against leaders of the country’s army, political institutions, judiciary, media, and academia.
The motive of the AKP offensive is obvious. Erdoğan’s party supports an allegedly “soft” form of Islamist ideology, and its targets mainly represent Turkey’s secularist political tradition.
AKP is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, and Turkish involvement was prominent in the Tunisian turmoil last year, when Ennahda (Renaissance), the local Brotherhood party, rose to power. In the October 2011 Tunisian elections, Ennahda gained nearly 40 percent of votes, allowing it to name Hamadi Jebali as the country’s prime minister. Ennahda’s behind-the-scenes political leader, Rashid Ghannoushi, has published books in Turkey and proclaimed that AKP provides Ennahda with its model for Tunisia’s future.
The alleged moderation of AKP and Ennahda has persuaded a considerable number of gullible foreigners that the Turkish variety of Islamist politics is unthreatening to democracy, and may serve as a foundation for the attainment of full civil rights in the countries swept by the “Arab Spring.” But AKP has supported Hamas in Gaza no less than Ennahda in Tunisia. Erdoğan and AKP have projected a “neo-Ottoman” foreign policy intended to reestablish Turkey as the dominant regional power in the Middle East, the Balkans, and Central Asia.
Continue reading Turkey Leaps Toward Islamist Dictatorship by Stephen Schwartz
American Thinker September 18, 2011
Jannat ul-Baqi, the cemetery in Medina of the Family, Companions, and Successors to the Prophet Muhammad sallallahualeyhisalaam, before its demolition by Saudi Wahhabis in 1925.
Three things are immediately obvious when one examines the biography of John Louis Esposito, American academic expert on Islam. The first is that — as noted by his official biographical listing of more than forty-five books and monographs, along with his standing as editor of several reference series — he seems indefatigably prolific, though the bulk of his writings present interpretations of contemporary phenomena rather than original research. The second is that he luxuriates in honors, including those bestowed by the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other parties in whose objectivity about Islamic affairs few can believe. Finally, his work has provided an unremitting “explanation” that amounts to a committed defense of radical, rather than traditional, Islam. Esposito aspires to become the chief interlocutor between the U.S., if not the West as a whole, and the Muslim lands — especially the extremist elements in Islamic societies.
In his career as an academic and public intellectual, Esposito has emphasized his conviction that Islamist ideology is a path to liberation of Muslim societies from oppression, and, like many other Middle East studies experts, he is quick to accuse critics of Muslim radicalism of Islamophobia. He has accumulated a further sheaf of statements that should be embarrassing to him, but apparently is not. Most offensively, he stood up for Sami Al-Arian, who pled guilty in 2006 to a charge of providing services to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a Specially Designated Terrorist Organization according to the U.S. government. At an August 18, 2007 fundraising event in Dallas for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a leading American Islamist group, Esposito declared, “Sami Al-Arian’s a very good friend of mine.”
Continue reading John L. Esposito: Apologist for Wahhabi Islam by Stephen Schwartz
Folksmagazine [India] August 28, 2011
Flag of Free Libya
The dictatorship of Mu’ammar Al-Gadhdhafi appears to have collapsed; its capital, Tripoli, has been overrun by rebel forces. In the chain of upheavals designated the “Arab Spring,” a phase has ended. Conclusion of the brutal civil war in Libya, which broke out abruptly after the peaceful, “social-networking” revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, would demonstrate that atrocious, repressive action by tyrants may be overcome. Commentators inside and outside the Muslim world now ask what effect the Libyan overturn, even with Al-Gadhdhafi still eluding capture, may have on the other countries marked, after the North African trio, by significant political and social confrontations: that is, in Bahrain, Yemen, and Syria.
The island kingdom of Bahrain is, at least superficially, undergoing a “normalization.” Saudi Arabian and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) soldiers continue to occupy the country. The ruling Sunni dynasty in Bahrain may well have neutralized the Shia opposition. Bahraini Shia leaders, unfortunately, although representing the majority of citizens and proposing moderate changes, also serve the propaganda interests of the Iranian dictatorship in countering Saudi influence. Shia and other candidates have threatened to boycott Bahrain’s parliamentary elections, set for next month. A renewal of public protests cannot be excluded. But the political contest in Bahrain, throughout the so-called “Arab Spring” – really, as I have repeatedly written, a “Muslim Spring,” since the future of the Islamic Middle East will be settled in Iran – at no point achieved the enduring level of mass mobilization seen in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Syria.
Continue reading Is the Taking of Tripoli the Turning Point? by Stephen Schwartz