Islam is not a religion of peace. Islam is not a religion of war. Islam is not this or that and here or there. Islam is a living tradition with a complex history of fourteen centuries. Islam did not stop evolving in the 7th century. It actually has a history of transformations - grave transformations. It has a history of secessions and renewals and new modalities. Start here and work back. I condemn terrorism with all of my rational, moral and ethical being. I do not need to be a Muslim to do it. I just need to be a human. The jihadists are waging a political war. They do not need to be Muslims to do it. They just need to believe in their own twisted cause.
The point here is that Islam is what it is - and terrorists are what they are. While teh press-release strategy of groups like the Free Muslims certainly make for good community relations, they are simply too apologetic for crimes not of their own making. Groups like the Progressive Muslims Association go even further and try to deny that Islam is a religion of Faith at all. For those who follow American muslim internal politics, the resignation of Dr. Muqtedar Khan from the PMUNA board is a landmark event:
My close interaction with PMU has taught me three things, (1) that clearly I am not sufficiently indifferent to the teachings of Quran and the traditions of the Islamic heritage to be a "good Progressive Muslim"; (2) I was too gullible to believe in its empty claims of openness and tolerance for different perspectives. And (3) I have also learned that I am completely opposite in nature to most of the members of PMU. For example I believe that a rational argument precedes the moral judgment.
PMU is operating with a set of moral principles randomly acquired from Marxism and/or postmodern cultural trends and is treating them as absolutely moral truths, and are now looking for arguments [hopefully with some Islamic content] to justify them. PMU members unleash fanatical rage when this is questioned and resort to abuse, distortion, false accusations as a substitute to argument.
I can understand, sympathize and participate in exercises of Ijtihad that seek to reassess "human understanding" of Islam. I have been advocating this for over a decade. My website Ijtihad was launched in 1999. But not to observe Islamic values after recognizing them as such to me is a sin. I cannot for example in good conscience approve of alcohol consumption by those who acknowledge it as forbidden. To demand that I do so in order to remain a member of the community is exactly the kind of oppression that I though we had come together to fight.
(also see this good analysis by Haroon, who beat me to blogging about it :)
We aren't going to "do our part" as American muslims by rejecting our faith. We can "do our part" by living as good citizens as we have always done, and continue to protect our traditions and culture from all assaults - internal and external alike.
Nowhere is the intellectual void of "progressive mslims" made more apparent by the recent declaration by Progressive Muslim Union Chair Omid Safi - that Irshad Mannji is not a (Progressive) Muslim! As the PMUNADebate blog points out, this is because Progressive Muslims place more value on "Progressive" than on "Muslim" - and in so doing are far more like the radical mullahs, takfir fatwas and all, than they are intellectually capable of realizing.