In the six weeks since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon the mainstream media has flooded theairwaves and newspapers with glib commentary about the nature of Islam and whether or not the Taliban or groups likeAl Queda are authentic Muslims.
Just this morning AP, for example, quoted an influential Shiite Muslim cleric once linked to Islamic militants whosaid he does not believe the Sept. 11 hijackers committed an act of martyrdom which he says is a prized duty inIslam–but suicide, a crime in the faith.
The media has spent much of its time contrasting “moderate”- and by implication legitimate–Muslims in the West withmilitant and by implication illegitimate–Islam in Central Asia and the Middle East.
But as Edward Said has noted, there is no one Islam, but a plurality of Islams reflecting a plurality of religiousand political agendas.
We turn now to Farid Esack, a Muslim scholar who has lived the diversity of Islam from Pakistan to South Africa anddeveloped what many call an Islamic theology of liberation.
- Farid Esack, visiting professor of Theology at Auburn Seminary in New York. A leading Muslim figure inthe anti-Apartheid struggle, he spent four years as the head of South Africa’s commission on gender equality. He isalso a leading Muslim scholar and author of ??Qur’an, Liberation and Pluralism and ??On Being a Muslim.