Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser is the president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD). A Syrian-American and devout Muslim, Jasser is one of the most outspoken, nationally recognized opponents of political Islam and Islamist organizations. As a former lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy, Jasser served 11 years as a medical officer. In addition to heading AIFD, Jasser is a practicing physician specializing in internal medicine and nuclear cardiology.
Jasser recently spoke with The Daily Caller and answered some questions about the need for reform in Islam, the silence of moderate Muslims, and his view of the “Ground Zero” mosque.
1) Why did you start the American Islamic Forum for Democracy? What do you hope to accomplish?
We founded the group in 2003. After 9/11 there was really no sense of ownership of our problems within the Muslim community. All the groups that spoke for American Muslims were of the victimology mindset and only looked at terrorism as a problematic tactic rather than looking at the core problem, the root cause, which was an ideology that was pre-modern, that had not gone through a phase of enlightenment as we had in the West. These groups continued to promote their own platform of political Islam and took no responsibility for reform. My struggle against political Islam and Islamist imams and organizations was one I had my whole life, but the struggle could no longer wait generations. So we felt we needed to create an organization that systematically looked at and engaged political Islam in all of its manifestations as the problem in order to reform our faith and stop terrorism, which was only a symptom.
Our organization has a two-pronged goal. The first is as a think tank with a specific mission to “separate mosque and state” in the Islamic consciousness and to try to do that through a constant engagement of Muslims in the war of ideas between political Islam – Islamism — and western secular democracy. Americans and Muslims need to realize that this is a Muslim problem that needs a Muslim solution.
The second part of our mission is [as] an activist organization in that we are trying to gain supporters and members that will eventually help us create a movement that will reform the faith into modernity.
2) Do you believe that the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), and groups like it, accurately reflect the views of most American Muslims?
They absolutely do not.
I’ll tell you, my family came to this country in the sixties, coming to this nation based in freedom to escape the oppressive influence of both the secular fascists and the Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood. I think what Americans do not realize is that CAIR, the Islamic Society of North America, and all of the other Muslim Brotherhood front groups based in D.C. and pretending to speak for all American Muslims do not show the true diversity of the American Muslim population and are really a skewed product of the Islamist ideas and donors, such as some of the petrodollars that feed them.