Soul searching

Keeping the faith honest, and ourselves honest about the faith, are Commonweal specialties. So, there was a notable lift in spirits here when "A Memo to American Muslims," counseling community "soul searching" in wake of the September 11 attacks, came to us courtesy of Internet forwarding. The memo’s author is Dr. Muqtedar Khan. An Indian-born Muslim, Khan is director of international studies at Adrian College, Michigan, and a founding board member of the Washington-based Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (

Khan’s memo lays out two specific areas for community reassessment: (1) American Muslims protest against discriminatory practices in Israel, but are silent on those in Muslim states. (2) American Muslims indulge in rhetorical excess when criticizing America. This combination of silence and hyperbole, in his view, has contributed to the "culture of hate and killing" that is "tearing away at the moral fabric of the Muslim society." Khan is one of many voices in the Muslim community counseling rhetorical temperance. But particularly impressive is his refusal of religious or political quietism. Khan believes Islamic resurgence, "the cherished ideals of which pursued the ultimate goal of a universally just and moral society," depends upon the embrace of democracy,...

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