I was going to write a lengthy post about Dr. Tawfik Hamid, who spoke last night to a full house in the auditorium of Beth Tzedec Synagogue. (I took copious notes). I was going to say how refreshing--almost shocking--it was to hear an Arab stand up in public and commend the state of Israel, a land that is so respectful of its Muslim minority that it puts Arabic on its street signs and money. (Dr. Hamid commented re the fraudulent apartheid charge that if Israel were really the hateful, prejudiced place its critics claim it is, then why are Arabs always clamouring to get in, not out?) I was going to herald the way he didn't try to fudge the truth about Islam--how he didn't fall back on that "the true jihad is an internal struggle to follow God's path" palavar; how he admitted that "radicalism," including the propensity to slander Jews as "pigs and monkeys" isn't a fringe deal, but is mainstream, run of the mill, everyday Islam. I was going to mention the three factors that lured him, when he was a young medical student in Cairo, into the embrace of the campus chapter of Jamaa Islamiya, not the least of which was the opportunity to hook up posthumously with 72 hot-to-trot lovelies (an opportunity denied him in life because, as an unmarried practising Sunni, he wasn't allowed to get his ya-yas off with flesh and blood females; Shias, as he explained, are rarely enticed to become human bombs with the virgins payoff because they have that "temporary marriage" loophole).
I was going to delve into all the above--and more. But since Dr. Hamid's "solution" for Islam's mainstream madness is to appeal to young Muslims' "critical thinking," reinterpret holy texts such that the violent passages are not seen to pertain to present day kafirs (thus providing a theological basis for a non-threatening, defanged form of Islam), and embark on what I predict will be a fruitless seach to find influential imams to back his efforts, much as I admire the man's honesty, passion and bravery, I can't help feeling that, in terms of sheer numbers (there's only one of him and, what?, 1.6 billion or so other members of the ummah) he's attempting the impossible. But, hey, I've never been one to tilt at windmills, so why listen to me?
Update: Here's Dr. Hamid explaining his "ABCs of Radicalism," a series of questions which reveal whether or not a respondent subscribes to a threatening form of Islam. I suggest it be administered as a pre-condition for participation in any interfaith Kumbaya 'n' Samosas fêtes.
Update: One might have hoped that Beth Tzedec's senior rabbi, Baruch Frydman-Kohl, a chap who's been known to partake in more than a few of those K 'n' S gatherings, would have taken Dr. Hamid's message to heart. Alas, he wrapped up the night's proceedings with some barely comprehensible message about "hermeneutics" (which, unless you'd heard the word before sounded like "Herman Nooticks"--who he?) and how, essentially, we're all the same blah blah blah mushy mushy squish. So don't expect him to use the ABC test on any "interfaith" imam anytime soon.