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CAIRing for Jihad

By Joe Kaufman
June 9, 2011

Hussam Ayloush, the Executive Director of CAIR-Los Angeles, claims the term “jihad” means something positive and noble. Yet the organization he represents and the company he keeps belie the notion that Mr. Ayloush is being less than forthright in his interpretation.

Ayloush is the Executive Director of one of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ or CAIR’s largest and most important local chapters, CAIR-Los Angeles.

On April 8, 2011, Ayloush found himself giving a khutbah (sermon) at the Islamic Institute of Orange County (IIOC). The speech was entitled, “Understanding and Defending ‘The Shariah.’”

[Shariah is the set of religion-based legal rulings which are interpreted and enforced by an Islamic court. The practice deals with everything from crime and politics to economics and sexuality. Shariah law has been criticized for including such acts as the cutting off of limbs, flogging, the stoning of individuals, and the death sentence for (even alleged) adultery.]

In his speech, Ayloush stated, “The word jihad now is so demonized that even Muslims are afraid to link to such a noble cause. Striving for justice, striving for the goodness of mankind, striving for good – that’s what jihad is.”

[Jihad means to struggle, within oneself or against others. Most often the term refers to “holy war” against non-believers or non-Muslims.]

In spite of Ayloush’s flowery language, according to the U.S. Justice Department, his organization, CAIR, has had significant associations with the terrorist group Hamas, both in CAIR’s establishment under the leadership of Hamas official Mousa Abu Marzook and in its funding of Hamas through the group’s financing arm, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF).

As well, in December 2001, under Ayloush’s watch, CAIR-California placed a picture on the homepage of its website of a smiling Ayloush shoulder-to-shoulder with Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. This was two years after Qaradawi had been banned from entering the United States.

The ban was for good reason. Qaradawi has incited violence against Jews, has endorsed suicide bombings, has called for homosexuals to be put to death, has voiced his support for various terrorist organizations, has called for the destruction of the state of Israel, and has sanctioned attacks against U.S. troops abroad.

In November 2002, again after Qaradawi had been banned from the U.S., Ayloush glorified him as a “scholar.” He stated, “Several people were asking about the eligibility claim for CAIR. And according to many scholars including Yusuf Qaradawi, basically this is one of the venues of zakat (charity) for your money as vis a vis basically educating about Islam in America and the West.”

One of the issues that Qaradawi has sought to educate the public on is regarding the topic and true meaning of jihad.

In October 2009, in a fatwa (religious ruling) that Qaradawi wrote, he stated, “The meaning of Jihad in our present time particularly refers to striving to liberate Muslim lands from the grip of the disbelievers who usurped them and imposed on them their own laws in lieu of the Divine Law. Those disbelievers may be Jews, Christians or both, or even pagans, who follow no particular religion at all. Disbelievers are all alike.”

Nowhere in Qaradawi’s explanation about jihad is there anything concerning the “goodness of mankind,” as Ayloush stated when defining the term. Indeed, it is more than apparent that Qaradawi’s explanation is based, instead, on hostility toward non-Muslims.

Furthermore, later in Qaradawi’s fatwa, he stated that jihad “needs to be financed from the money of zakat” [Islamic tithed charity] – about which Ayloush praised Qaradawi, when he referenced CAIR as a worthy recipient.

There are two possible explanations for Ayloush’s warm feelings toward Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Either he is completely ignorant of Qaradawi’s bigoted and violent pronouncements regarding jihad, or he is lying about his own interpretation in an attempt to make jihad acceptable for Western consumption.

Given Ayloush’s radical associations, it would seem that the truth resides in the latter – that Ayloush knows exactly who Qaradawi is and what Qaradawi stands for and that Ayloush believes these things himself.

Those who have listened to the khutbah Ayloush made in defense of shariah and jihad or any other speech he has given should consider the above and question the real nature and meaning of his words.

Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.

Source: Hudson Institute

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