Islamic leaders throughout the nation - including those in the Mid-Valley
- must be strident in their efforts to protect mosques from the influences
of radical religious groups, a prominent scholar said Saturday.
Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council
of America, made the remarks during a service at the Islamic Center
of Yuba City. The service, which was open to the public, attracted about
400 people, including some from as far away as Fresno.
Kabbani, also the founder of the As-Siddiq Institute and Mosque in
Michigan, has long been a prominent opponent of Islamic fundamentalism
and worked closely with government officials.
Children of the Yuba City Islamic
Center school recite praise of the Prophet during the Milad
In 1999, for example, Kabbani warned the Department of State that fundamentalist
sects were infiltrating American mosques and discouraging religious
tolerance. The sects, such as Wahabi, practice what Kabbani called a
distorted version of Islam.
Kabbani reiterated his message on Saturday, calling on his listeners
to protect local mosques from fundamentalist influences.
"They have conspired to take our mosques in America in order to create
an ideology," Kabbani said. "Don't let this mosque be like other mosques."
Kabbani emphasized that true Islam is a religion that values love,
non-violence and respect for authority. A "silent majority" of American
Muslims despise terrorism, a phenomenon that is a relatively new development
in the history of Islam, he said.
Wahabi and terrorist groups such as al-Qaida are not led by true followers
of Islam, Kabbani argued, but rather by opportunists bent on using religion
"Those who are really believers and not really after fame, they are
accepting and content with what Allah gave them," Kabbani said. "Confusion
in the Muslim community is caused by people seeking fame."
|Shaikh Hisham Kabbani spoke to American
Muslims during a speech Saturday afternoon at The Islamic Center
of Yuba City.
Kabbani warned that extremist sects are detrimental to the image of
Islam, since they break down relationships between Islamic leaders and
members of other faiths. ...Kabbani said. "If you really love Allah,
don't allow them to interfere with your mosque or else you will be lost."
The Islamic Center of Yuba City has taken measures to protect itself
from the influences of outside groups, said... a member of the center's
board of directors.
Since it opened, the center has refused donations from outside the
organization to prevent influence peddling.
Outside groups seeking to influence the Islamic Center have been turned
away,..."These guys and their ideology don't reflect what people believe
here," he said.
Some worshippers at the center on Saturday said they are committed
to following Kabbani's message.
Mirwaiz Farooqui, a native of Afghanistan now living in Yuba City,
said Wahabi groups espouse beliefs that are incompatible with Islam
and contemporary values.
"They're trying to tear us apart and we don't want that," said Farooqui,
who fled war-torn Afghanistan as a child more than 20 years ago. "We
want to stay together like brothers."
Non-Muslims who turned out for the speech also said they found solace
in Kabbani's speech.
Yuba City resident Keith Hutcheson, 42, a retired airman, said more
people need to look beyond negative images about Islam.
Hutcheson, who was stationed for a time in Egypt, said he once looked
upon Islam with "a little bitterness." Learning more about the religion
has made him look at it in a positive light, he said.
"There are just a small group of haters that need to be avoided at
all costs," Hutcheson said.
Robert Wachman, a Yuba College professor who is Jewish, also was impressed
by Kabbani's speech.
"I think it's important that the true message be heard that Islam is
not out to get Jews or any other religion," Wachman said.