False Moral Equivalence by Imam Jawad Khaki – by Ali Abbas Taj
When interfaith unity devolves into compromises and the perpetuation of False Moral Equivalencies, it must be questioned. This is unfortunately the case with Imam Jawad Khaki proposed statement at an interfaith event, as reported by the Seattle Times.
One should concur with the respected Imam Khaki in that the increasingly anachronistic and silly rhetoric that takes occurs in the main Tehran mosque has no place in today’s world. Indeed Iranians should articulate their message better. However, one must also disagree with the inadvertent false moral equivalence that is being created by holding Saudi Arabia and Iran as Equally responsible for San Bernardino and hence equally condemnable . By perpetuating a Saudi = Iran binary, the respected Imam is not only confusing the established correlation between Saudi-funded radicalism and the San Bernardino tragedy, he is also taking us further away from practical solutions to prevent such future atrocities on our homeland.
The recent tragic massacre in San Bernardino has everything to do with a Deobandi radical couple and their gradual descent into a Takfiri mindset that was initially cultivated in Saudi Arabia and then further stoked in Wahhabi institutions like the transglobal Al-Huda Institute and the notorious Deobandi Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) of Pakistan. This is the route that was taken by Tashfeen Malik and Rizwan Farook and went curiously unnoticed by the Deobandi Darul Uloom mosque that they attended in California. The mosque has also hosted problematic Salafi clerics like Yasir Qadhi who has engaged in Takfir (Apostatisation/”othering) against Shia Muslims.
In short, it is not just the San Bernardino tragedy but other attacks on our homeland in the last quarter of a century that have been linked to the Saudi-funded radical ideology of Wahhabism (Salafism) and its South Asian variant, Deobandism. The 9/11 attacks even included 15 Saudi nationals who rained death and destruction on our homeland.
We have already enforced decades of sanctions against Iran since 1979 with the support of a global coalition and have only just negotiated an ease on these sanctions with strict pre-conditions.
Have we held the Saudis to a similar standard?
Rather than addressing these tough questions and facing facts, we are at a point where the respected Imam Khaki is falling into the trap of meaningless and impotent rhetoric that does not make us any safer. On the contrary, such rhetoric is simply taking us away from asking difficult questions so that we may as Americans answer them and implement the emerging solutions to ensure that San Bernardino does not occur again.
One Seattle-area imam’s attempt to call out extremism continues Tuesday, Dec. 15, in a public dialogue titled “Combating the Cancer of Extremism.” He says, “I have to categorically reject indiscriminate slogans of death
It is one thing to condemn anachronistic rhetoric in a few mosques in Tehran – rhetoric which has rapidly declining currency amongst the most Pro-US youth population in the region. However, why is Imam Khaki silent about the real hate speech that is subtly taking place in Salafi and Deobandi mosques all over the United States!
Can we really afford to perpetuate an Ostrich mentality after discovering how Anwar Awlaki, a US citizen was radicalising Americans in a Wahhabi mosque on US soil?
How about the Friday prayer sermon (Khutba) which is also a central part in scores of Deobandi and Salafi mosques all over America, that calls for “the defeat of the Christians and Jews”?
How about Yasir Qadhi’s anti semitic hate rants and his subsequent speeches at Dar ul Uloom San Bernardino? This is the same mosque frequented by Syed Farooq and Tafsheen Malik, the San Bernardino Killers.
Similarly, the respected Imam Khaki is completely mum on the subtle “othering” that is done by US based Deobandi evangelists like Noman Ali Khan who denigrates the cultural faith based traditions of Shias and Sufi Sunnis.
This selective condemnation by Imam Khaki not only weakens his overall stance but also takes us further away from real solutions to combat hate narrative.