September 2nd, 2010
12:13 PM ET

Opinion: Facing a leadership vacuum, Muslims are at a crossroads

Editor's note: Jihad Hashim-Brown is a leading American Muslim jurist and theologian currently serving as an academic consultant in Abu Dhabi, UAE. A media commentator in the Middle East, he is also a regular columnist for the UAE's The National newspaper on religious and spiritual issues.

Muslims are a very diverse people. Although they share timeless universals that weave them together into a common fabric, it would be dishonest to paint them with a broad brush.

A sophisticated and elegant civilization built over fourteen centuries stretching from Spain to China, it was brought to its knees in a crescendo of upheaval during the 30-year period between the two world wars.

Read the full story

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Islam • Muslim • Opinion

soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Dinalfitrah

    The report is a touch misleading because a "leadership vacuum" does not specify the kind of leadership required to unify all Muslims. Is it religious leadership, political leadership or intellectual/academic leadership? Muslims are just as diverse as Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and Jews. There is currently no unifying leader of any of these world religions. If there is no Christian leader who can effectively unify all Christian denominations (Catholics, Orthodox or Protestant Churches) why should we assume the same for Muslims? Our world is currently leaderless in both politics and in religion. There is no one individual who can be asked to represent all of the various religious denominations or who can lead the world politically. Unless we believe that a universal teacher is likely to emerge as we enter the final moments of this very dark age the question of a leadership vacuum in any religious community is itself vacant and unenlightening.

    September 25, 2010 at 5:55 pm |
  2. Justina

    Mr. Jihad Hashim-Brown, please work to change the major doctines of Islam on perception and treatment of infidels and Islam deserters. Non-Muslims have no reason to trust Muslims unless you change your religious doctrine itself; leadership is not the matter. And please educate Muslims to stop rejoicing over destruction of infidels and deserters. That's downright evil in every sense. It's the deepest part of your heart motivation being watched both by God and the world.

    September 5, 2010 at 9:12 pm |
  3. Iqbal khan

    Islam and or Muslims are not to be afraid off it is the Fear of the unknown that is the weakness of us humans is kept us in our shells until and unless we have an open heart and open mind we will never be able to find the Truth, The Truth that will give us Peace and make us love each other in solving the problems of this short temporary life, As a matter of fact all the Prophets brought in one and same message check the following link.

    September 5, 2010 at 9:08 pm |
    • Xugos

      I'm going to have to call troll on this one.

      September 5, 2010 at 9:10 pm |
  4. Iqbal khan


    September 5, 2010 at 6:45 pm |
    • Xugos


      September 5, 2010 at 9:11 pm |
  5. Iqbal khan


    September 5, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
    • Xugos


      September 5, 2010 at 9:11 pm |
  6. Iqbal khan

    9:44+Added to
    Yvonne Ridley The journalist was kidnapped by the Taliban and eventually, after reading the Koran, she converted to Islam.

    September 5, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  7. Help

    Hey guys, will you visit SaveStan.ORG a friend of mine with 4 young children is fighting for his life.

    September 3, 2010 at 11:41 pm |
  8. Trudy

    There is only One Lord, One Baptism and One Faith and that is in the Lord Jesus Christ. No one will ever convince me of anything else. I know what he has done in my life and that he is the Risen Savior for all man-kind. We will all stand before him someday. The bible says that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that HE is Lord of Lords and King of Kings. He is my Savior and Lord and I am not ashamed to say so.

    September 3, 2010 at 3:47 pm |
    • AGA

      Jesus (peace be on him) is a prophet and messenger of God sent to the Israelites to invite them back to the path of submission and obedience to God.

      He was born to virgin Mary (peace be on her) without a father. His birth is similar to the creation of Adam, who had no father or mother. Jesus spoke even when he was a baby and gave testimony to the Oneness of God. He was neither crucified nor killed.

      He was son of Mary, not son of God. He was not God but a human being. Believing in any one as God other than the one God, the Almighty and the Creator, is an unforgivable sin.

      For more info: visit http://www.whyislam.org

      September 3, 2010 at 4:42 pm |
    • Kate


      Can I ask you, how do you reconcile your thinking with "You shall have no other Gods before me"?

      I have to admit, this concentration on Christ seems to be a direct contradiction – if people are praying to Jesus, calling him their savior, then how does that go with "God the Father"?

      Even if you go with Trinity doctrines, doesn't that really just relegate Jesus to a glorified outsourced answering service?

      And the God of Christianity is renowned for being a jealous God (1 Cor 10:22)

      Just wonderin'

      September 3, 2010 at 6:59 pm |
    • Justina

      @ AGA The Word of God declares, "In the beginning was the Word(Jesus), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Christ died for our sins, He was buried, He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him, and he in God." (John 1:1, I Corinthians 15:3-4, I John 4:15) Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God in the sense no human mind can fully understand, because God is beyond our finite mind. AGA, if your opinion is that believing in the living, eternal, unchangable Word of God is an unforgivable sin, you must question yourself what you are doing in God's sight. And no rubbish of claiming the Bible has changed etc, etc. God never allows humans to change His own Word.

      September 4, 2010 at 12:04 am |
  9. AGA

    @ reality
    the reality is that you will never see the beauty of Islam. Soon your going to ponder the fact that so many Americans are converting to Islam and you'll wonder why is this happening. But that won't change your hate filled ideologies. Truth is not all Americans are as closed minded or as racist as you. Difference is they have a brain and can think logically and they happen to find Islam. Western culture is a mix of many different cultures. Nothing contradicts.
    I hope to God that you be taken unto the straight path, amen

    September 2, 2010 at 4:56 pm |
    • Reality

      Americans converting to Islam? Give us a break!!! By the way listing the horrific acts carried out with the approval of Allah and his koran, is stating the truth in the 21st century. Islam unfortunately still lives in the dark ages.

      September 2, 2010 at 5:04 pm |
    • Kate


      Please don't tell me that not only do you not believe in God, you don't believe Americans revert to Islam?

      Not even you could be that divorced from reality ... erm ... Reality

      Just sayin'

      September 2, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
    • Reality


      What?????? You actually believe that there are large number of Americans converting to Islam.? References?

      September 2, 2010 at 5:27 pm |
    • Kate


      Until the US Census Bureau finally finishes tabulating the last census, you'll have to rely on the last census (2001) results – http://www.gc.cuny.edu/faculty/images/image019.gif

      Bear in mind also that the religion questions are considered "optional", not everyone answers them.

      Just quotin'

      September 2, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
    • AGA

      Thank you Kate

      @ reality
      I think you should understand that Islam also has an elastic clause. It applies in today's age and 1400 years ago.
      Also there is a challenge for you in the Quran sent from God.
      I'm ready to leave Islam if you can prove to me that there is anything wrong with the RELIGION
      peace be upon you

      September 2, 2010 at 6:11 pm |
    • Reality


      Obviously you have not seen the following:
      (peruse and enjoy your new life free from 1400 years of myth and mumbo jumbo)

      The Five Step Program to Deflaw Islam!!!!!

      Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

      "1. Belief in Allah"

      aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your cleansing neurons.

      "2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

      Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".

      "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

      A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc.

      No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

      "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

      Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.
      Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

      Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

      "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) alone."

      Mohammed spent thirty days fasting in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.

      Accept these five "cleansers" and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

      September 3, 2010 at 8:34 am |
    • AGA

      I would love to say that u made a nice attempt – but no u really didn't.
      I specifically said to tell me anything bad about the religion and that includes the Quran and Hadith.
      That means all I want to see are Quranic verses or sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H)
      Give me reason to believe you.
      And I've seen ur post a million and one times
      get bak to me though

      September 3, 2010 at 12:04 pm |
    • Reality


      Obviously your Three B Syndrome i.e. Born, Bred and Brainwashed in 1400 years of Islamic mumbo jumbo. The cure above has been relayed to you at no charge. It is there when you get ready to join the modern world.

      In the meantime, another analysis of Islam's determination to dominate the world by any means to include koranic references:

      Mohammed could not have known the size of the world, but several passages in the Koran show that he envisioned Islam dominating all of it, however large it might be: “He it is who sent his messenger . . . that he may cause it [Islam] to prevail over all religions´(Koran 9:33, M.M. Ali; see also 48:28 and 61:9). M.M. Ali designates these three passages as “the prophecy of the ultimate triumph of Islam in the whole world.”

      Mohammed’s successors, the caliphs, quoted passages like these to inspire Muslim armies as they advanced out of Arabia, imposing Islam by the sword upon a peacefully unsuspecting Middle East and North Africa, as I described in the previous chapter.

      Islamic armies, imbued with what Mohammed claimed was divine authorization, imposed Islam by force over vast areas, all the while extorting wealth from subjugated Jews and Christians to fund their ongoing conquests. As I noted, major defeats at Tours, France, in A.D. 732, and again at Vienna, Austria, in A.D. 1683, halted Islam’s attempt to take all of Europe by force. Gradually Islamic forces were forced to retreat from Europe, except for part of the Balkans. But Islam has again set its sights on a conquest of Europe and of European civilization, wherever the latter has spread to North and South America and other regions. Muslim strategists ask their followers, Why do we find in these modern times that Allah has entrusted most of the world’s oil wealth primarily to Muslim nations?

      Their answer: Allah foresaw Islam’s need for funds to finance a final politico-religious victory over what Islam perceives as its ultimate enemy: Christianized Euro-American civilization. So, Islam follows Nazism, fascism and communism as the world’s latest hostile takeover aspirant.

      Nazis, fascists and communists failed. Does Islam have a better chance at success? I believe it will flounder if we awaken to its threat in time; yet, if there is not adequate planned resistance, Islam does have a better chance of succeeding. Communism’s world takeover attempt was guaranteed to fail because its economic policy was naively contrary to human nature. Advocating the rubric What is mine is thine, and what is thine is mine, communism failed to see that human nature will not keep those two balanced propositions in equilibrium. Like a female black widow spider consuming her mate, the latter part of the formula makes a meal of the former, leading to the collapse of any system based upon that formula.

      In contrast, political systems do well if they can persuade people to adhere to What’s mine is mine and What’s thine is thine maxims.

      Only if a strong religious incentive is added does such an idealistic formula have any long-term chance. Even then success will be spotty. But communism (and Nazism, for that matter) excluded religion. And that mistake was the final nail eventually clamping a lid on communism’s coffin. Communism, on a historical scale, perished while still in its childhood.

      Islam is not repeating communism’s mistake. Mating political cunning and incredible wealth with religious zeal, Islam does have a chance to succeed and will succeed unless major parts of the Western world unite to take appropriate countermeasures. But many Western leaders, unable to believe that a mere religion could possible be a serious political threat, keep proclaiming themselves as Islam-friendly, reasoning that all religions are good-aren’t they?

      A Muslim strategist in Beverly Hills, California, declared several years ago, as quoted by a friend of mine: “Now that the struggle between Western democracies and international communism is winding down, it is time for the real and final struggle to begin, and we are going to win!”

      When will people realize that just as there are good doctors and quacks, good cops and rogue cops, there can also be good religions and bad religions?

      September 3, 2010 at 2:12 pm |
    • AGA

      @ reality
      Every religion wants to be the dominant religion. Not convincing at all.
      The Companions of the Prophet took up the mission of the Prophet after his death. They traveled to distant lands to spread the Islamic teachings. They succeeded wherever they went. Obstacles that stood in their way in spreading Islam were all surmounted. Islam became so strong in such a short while that no one dared try to stop its growth. The Muslims were spread out from India to Spain. They changed the face of the globe. The entire population of the countries they visited were so much impressed by their good example and noble behavior that they began to enter quickly into the fold of Islam. Wherever the Muslims went, they took their highest moral attributes with them–so much so that immorality and injustice dissolved in their presence. They transformed Godless people into God-conscious people and gave them the Light of Knowledge and strength of character. They changed their way of life so that virtue and goodness could prevail. The entire social climate was reformed and remoulded. The hands of the oppressors were held and a reign of justice and fair play established. This was the greatest achievement in the history of mankind.

      The Companions of the Prophet rendered yet another great service to mankind. This consisted in memorising the Quran and preserving it in its original form as it was revealed to the Prophet. They wrote down the Quran word for word and did not miss even a mark in its Arabic orthography. Today, we are most fortunate in having the Quran exactly as it was revealed to the Prophet, written and read in the same language and in the same diction as it was written and read in the time of the Prophet–about 1,400 years ago.

      Another important aspect of their work was to preserve and communicate to posterity the most detailed account of the Prophet's life, speeches, instructions, commands, morals and behaviour. These accounts by the Prophet's Companions are grouped together under the all-embracing title of the Sunnah of Hadith (Traditions of the Prophet). This is the greatest record ever preserved about the life and activities of a man and is a great blessing to every generation. For even after a lapse of 1,400 years after the Prophet's death, people can still see and hear his teachings as the Companions of the Prophet saw and heard them during his lifetime. Now anybody can approach hadith literature and find out the Islamic point of view on any subject. He can learn how to become obedient to God and what type of man is liked by God.

      The Quran and the Hadith are things of greatest importance to a Muslim. With their preservation and security (God has promised to secure and preserve them), Islam is protected for all time to come. In the days before the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Islam was forgotten again and again after being revived, owing to lack of the necessary care regarding the preservation and security of the earlier Revealed Books and the details of the lives of their Prophets. This was the reason why, after every Prophet, generations following forgot the real teachings and drifted towards a life devoid of good morals and norms of behaviour. But Islam, as revived by the Prophet Muhammad, is bound to last for ever because the Book of God and the traditions of the Prophet are both secure and preserved in their original purity.

      The Islamic way of life can be revived and reconstructed again and again with the help of the Quran and the traditions if ever, God forbid, the freshness of its true spirit wanes. The world no longer requires any new Prophet to revive Islam to its pristine glory. It is enough to have among us the learned people who know the Quran and the traditions of the Prophet and who are able to apply their teachings to their own lives and stimulate others to adopt and apply them in their lives as well. This is how the stream of Islam will continue to flow, refreshing the eternal thirst of mankind.

      September 3, 2010 at 4:36 pm |
  10. Radical Conversationalist

    Is the issue lack of effectiveness or is it an unwillingness of the public to actually hear. It seems as if the public has a stubborn problem with Muslims that they have with ALL minorities in America - the difficulty with permeating the neg stereotypes. Even the quote on one of the pages speaks to the challenge of ALWAYS having to disprove something versus having the space (when nothing is going on) to just be – normal, peaceful and benign.

    I wrote a blog that speaks to that issue. The info is out there. But are ppl listening?

    September 2, 2010 at 4:39 pm |
  11. Reality

    More evidence for the significant degradation of Islam i.e.the koranic-driven acts of terror and horror:

    Some examples:

    "1a) 179 killed in Mumbai/Bombay, 290 injured

    1b) Assassination of Benazir Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh

    2) 9/11, 3000 mostly US citizens, 1000’s injured

    3) The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US Troops killed in action, 3,481 and 924 died in non-combat, 97,172 – 106,047 Iraqi civilians killed as of 8/10/2010 mostly due to Shiite and Sunni koranic-driven suicide bombers.

    4) Kenya- In Nairobi, about 212 people were killed and an estimated 4000 injured; in Dar es Salaam, the attack killed at least 11 and wounded 85.[2]

    5) Bali-in 2002-killing 202 people, 164 of whom were foreign nationals, and 38 Indonesian citizens. A further 209 people were injured.

    6) Bali in 2005- Twenty people were killed, and 129 people were injured by three bombers who killed themselves in the attacks.

    7) Spain in 2004- killing 191 people and wounding 2,050.

    8. UK in 2005- The bombings killed 52 commuters and the four radical Islamic suicide bombers, injured 700.

    9) The execution of an eloping couple in Afghanistan on 04/15/2009 by the Taliban.

    10) Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan: US troops killed in action 1,116 killed in action, 902killed in non-combat situations as of 08/10/2010. 40,000 Afghan civilians have been killed to date from the dark-age horror called the Taliban.

    11) The killing of 13 citizen soldiers at Ft. Hood by a follower of the koran.

    12) 38 Russian citizens killed on March 29, 2010 by Muslim women suicide bombers.

    13) The May 28, 2010 attack on a Islamic religious minority in Pakistan, which have left 98 dead,
    14) Lockerbie is known internationally as the site where, on 21 December 1988, the wreckage of Pan Am Flight 103 crashed as a result of a terrorist bomb. In the United Kingdom the event is referred to as the Lockerbie disaster, the Lockerbie bombing, or simply Lockerbie. Eleven townspeople were killed in Sherwood Crescent, where the plane's wings and fuel tanks plummeted in a fiery explosion, destroying several houses and leaving a huge crater, with debris causing damage to a number of buildings nearby. The 270 fatalities (259 on the plane, 11 in Lockerbie) were citizens of 21 nations

    September 2, 2010 at 3:53 pm |
    • Iqbal khan


      September 6, 2010 at 10:18 pm |
  12. sarahmoricebrubaker

    Thank you for this. What an erudite and thoughtful commentary. It's interesting to see how traditional religious worldviews go through the process of negotiating (or refusing to negotiate) with modernity and postmodernity. Once you realize that cultures change over time; that people's worldviews are determined largely by their cultural contexts; that science provides a kind of explanatory power that calls into question some of of the mythological aspects of religious systems; and that tere's no uninterpreted or ahistorical text... then what do you do? Judging from this post, Shaykh Jihad H. Brown seems to be approaching all of these questions with intelligence, nuance, intellectual honesty, and generosity.

    September 2, 2010 at 3:16 pm |
  13. GrecoRomaine

    Try writing a check, reading a clock, counting past 10, or naming the stars without considering the contributions of muslim civilization. That is, unless you are ready to start using a sundial and roman numerals again and praying to the sun/Zeus. That IS roman civilization btw.. and that IS quite hilarious

    September 2, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
  14. laughing

    I could not get past the first paragraph without laughing. HA HA HA HA HA! That's just great stuff. Thanks, guys!

    September 2, 2010 at 12:21 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.