Dr. Richard Benkin Bio
Moulana Hafez Hamidullah, preached interfaith harmony based on mutual respect
Are my Sources Better than CNN’sBy Dr. Richard Benkin Sunday, February 8, 2009
My sources of news and information must be so much better than those of the major news media because I keep coming across things that they do not have. The most recent item was the death of an Islamic clergyman this week in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Bangladesh, by the way, is the world’s third largest Islamic-majority country and a battleground between radical and moderate Islamic forces. What happens there is of more than marginal interest.
Moulana Hafez Hamidullah passed away quietly at his residence at the age of 63. He was an influential member of the Bangladesh Khelafat Andolan (BKA), a religious and political association of fundamentalist Muslims, and a very prominent Islamic clergyman. He was also the Vice Principal of a madrassa in one of Dhaka’s poorest neighborhoods. Despite the media’s seeming obsession with Islam and President Obama’s pledge to reach out to the Muslim world, there was no mention of Hamidullah’s passing anywhere.
That is particularly distressing because this very religious Muslim cleric was consistently outspoken in condemning “all forms of militancy in the name of religion.” He also preached interfaith harmony based on mutual respect. Hamidullah and his BKA associates were among the few highly religious Muslims to stand in defense of Bangladesh’s “Muslim Zionist,” Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, who was arrested and tortured after exposing the rise of radical Islam in his country and urging relations with Israel. A Muslim of tremendous courage and perseverance, Choudhury founded and runs Bangladesh’s only openly Zionists newspaper where he recently took very strong public stands supporting Israel’s actions in Gaza. (See CFP’s “Muslim Hero with a Pen.) BKA support has come in the form of numerous public statements, letters to the Bangladeshi government, articles and news releases, and even having some members prominent at Choudhury’s trial. Hamidullah and the BKA also joined with Choudhury to urge the government to drop its ban on travel to Israel.
While I never met Hamidullah, Choudhury and I had a rather intense meeting with two of his BKA colleagues in Dhaka in 2007. ( See CFP’s “Fundamentalist Muslim wants Bangladeshi Government to end its ban on travel to Israel.”) The first part of our hours-long meeting was rather tense and focused on our profound differences, especially about Israel and the United States’ role in fighting Islamist terror. Although we remained at odds on many points even after our uncensored interfaith dialogue, as I remarked, “Well, we’re not throwing bombs at each other, are we.” We found many shared values as men of faith and, most importantly “agreed to disagree” and continue our dialogue. Thus followed a warm relationship marked by rigorous honesty and mutual respect. These fundamentalist Muslims also act on those statements of friendship even at some cost to themselves. One of them even published a statement that “neither the Zionists nor the Americans are the real enemy of the Believers and the Muslims.”
Yet the mainstream media and prominent organizations do not even mention these or other Muslims who have stood up against terrorism carried out in their name. For if they did their agenda of what Judea Pearl called “normalization of evil” fails. Like President Obama’s pledge to speak with Muslim leaders such as Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, who espouse goals that are contrary to the principles of freedom and justice for which people have struggled for centuries; that agenda is premised on accepting those goals as a reality we must acknowledge. It is the same philosophy that attempts to turn Hamas into a legitimate player in the Middle East—even though it espouses genocide and regularly violates numerous principles of international law and plain decency. Those who push dialogue with the world’s Ahmedinejads have, by doing so, turned any war on Islamist extremism into a war on Islam itself. For it hurriedly and incorrectly accepts extremism as basic to Islam. The existence of Muslims—especially highly religious Muslims—who are fighting that extremism, upsets their ideological apple cart; so their existence cannot be admitted.
So, is it the media’s and their political cronies’ ideological agenda; or, as the title of this article suggests, does my unfunded, one-man operation just have far more extensive news resources than CNN, the networks, AP, and everyone else put together?
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Dr. Richard L. Benkin secured the release of Bangladeshi journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury in 2005. The two continue working together to fight Islamist radicals and their allies in South Asia and elsewhere. For more information on how to help, please contact Dr. Benkin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Their web site is [url=http://www.InterfaithStrength.com]http://www.InterfaithStrength.com[/url].
Dr. Benkin can be reached at: email@example.com