ORLANDO, Fla., Dec. 1, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Only days after an attempted terror attack in Oregon, one American Muslim has taken the fight for the soul of Islam online to confront the extremists. Frustrated by the continued radicalization of Muslim youth, Dr. Ali Shehata - an ER physician and author of the book Demystifying Islam, as well as an instructor with the Al-Maghrib Institute Muslim seminary - has decided that enough is enough.
"We never believed that radicals who espouse extremist thought would be this influential, and unfortunately too many Muslim preachers and leaders have been caught off-guard by the plethora of plots by Western nationals. We have our work cut out for us to protect our communities in the West from these dangerous ideas - a battle that must be fought both in our local communities AND online where many youth become radicalized by personalities like Anwar al-Awlaki," said Dr. Ali.
While many in the news media have falsely accused Muslims in the West for not being critical enough of extremist rhetoric, continued Dr. Ali, "they are correct in one aspect. We haven't condemned the terrorists in detail. In addition to Hollywood-style videos that glorify their acts of murder, the extremists also put out droves of articles with detailed arguments for their positions. We, on the other hand, have limited our condemnations in too many cases to a few words, believing that to be sufficient." The de-radicalization work being done in particular by Al-Maghrib Institute in the US, Canada and UK, as well as blogs like MuslimMatters.org, has been promising but has also unfortunately been nearly absent from media coverage.
Muslim moderates these days are struggling on many fronts - with growing Western Islamophobia on one side, countering the arguments of extremists on another, working cooperatively with law enforcement, and providing spiritual guidance to their communities - and yet they must persevere in the face of these issues knowing the importance of their work.
Dr. Ali has faced some of these struggles himself as a volunteer youth mentor in Orlando, FL. He has also continued to witness the importance of these issues in his discussions with students of the Al-Maghrib Institute and through his occasional blog posts on Muslim Matters. It is for this reason that he decided that the Muslim community in the West had waited long enough to confront this growing epidemic.
In his first post, Saving Our Youth from the Disease of Radicalism, available on MuslimMatters.org today, he directly challenges the ideas of those like al-Awlaki, in addition to taking a page from an earlier playbook of his - when he called upon Osama bin Laden to repent for his evil in September of 2007. In today's post, he will also call upon al-Awlaki to reconsider the harm he has caused to so many lives, and to contrast that with all the good he did when he was living in America giving peaceful lessons about the lives of the righteous.
When asked if he feared that the extremists might make him a target, Dr. Ali only said, "If my words will save innocent lives, as well as turn others away from this road of destruction, then this is a price I am gladly willing to pay. But my hopes are that these people will reflect on my carefully selected words from the Prophet Muhammad and that they will repent for what they have done, joining us in saving others from this great evil."
Dr. Ali Shehata
SOURCE Muslim Matters