Editor's note: On Tuesday, May 4, Naseem Mahdi, the national vice president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community condemned radical Muslim fanatics in a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Below is a brief interview with Mr. Mahdi and the transcript of his remarks at Tuesday's press conference.
FOX FORUM: What made you decide to speak out on Tuesday at the National Press Club?
It was painful for me but I had to say what I said yesterday. You see, for a very long time, a small minority of Muslim clerics, they have hijacked the faith of Islam. It's not a problem of Muslims, it's universal, it's an international problem. I consider Islam the most beautiful religion because it teaches us to live in harmony with Christians and Jews. And when I see these people promoting hatred, I feel pain in my heart. That is painful to me. And what I said was not a pleasure to say because, a vast majority of Muslims are moderate, peace loving and abiding by the laws of the countries they live in. And they are being labeled as if they are all fanatics.
The second point I highlighted in my talk on Tuesday is loyalty to homeland. And this is not, I repeat, a political statement of mine. This is my religious duty. This is my faith. That we should be loyal to the country we live in. The Prophet Mohammed has said love of homeland is part of faith. So how could I think otherwise. If I live in the United States this is my religious duty. This is painful to me -- that people are living in the most beautiful country in the world, getting all of its benefits and then they are saying they are not loyal to this country? That's not only against religion, it's against common courtesy.
But some of those people I'm talking about, their loyalties lie somewhere else. Is this not hypocrisy? If you read the Koran, you find again and again that you should be grateful. You cannot be grateful to God, if you're not grateful to people. The most important thing is, that in the United States, and I consider it of great value, we have Freedom of Religion. There's not only that but freedom of conscience and freedom of choice. I am a Pakistani. But I cannot practice the faith of Islam, the way I see it, the moderate the Ahmadiyya interpretation of Islam, I cannot practice it in Pakistan. Jews cannot even enter Pakistan! And here, the United States and in Canada (I lived in Canada for 25 years), I have delivered speeches in an inter-faith setting with a rabbi on my right side and a Christian pastor on my left.
FOX FORUM: What has the reaction been to your press conference yesterday?
You can see some of the reaction on WashingtonPost.com. Some people say, "he's crazy. He's not giving the real Islam." They say that I am politicizing this. That I want to get something out of it. And this is the freedom I'm talking about. That's fine. We can have a debate on this but we don't fight. I've also gotten a lot phone calls and e-mails praising what I said yesterday and saying that we need to hear more on this from Muslim leaders.
Transcript of Naseem Mahdi's May 4 at a press conference held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
We live in an expanding universe but the world is shrinking daily and it is so highly important for us all to discover and follow the paths that lead to peace.
I am going to make a few brief comments prompted by the recent attempted bombing in NY but necessitated by much broader considerations.
Islam condemns terrorism unreservedly and totally.
The Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, India, had declared over 120 years ago that there is no place or justification found in Islam for violence whatsoever.
He said that Islam requires all Muslims to live in peace and harmony wherever they may be.
It is thus the duty and responsibility of all Muslims living in the US to be loyal to the flag and to be law abiding citizens.
It is clear from the events happening all around that a small, fanatic, extremist minority of Muslims has hijacked the faith and continues to mislead and misguide the Muslims and ruin their total life.
In my considered opinion, such fanatics present a distorted view of Islam based on false and misguided interpretations.
For example such people say that it is not necessary for a Muslim to follow any non-Islamic government…This is utterly false..
If the vast majority of reasonable, peace-loving and law-abiding population of Muslims living in the US do not speak out and speak out loudly this will continue and ultimately ruin the lives, economic and social, of all Muslims and the community at large.
I am calling today on ALL MUSLIMS IN THE US to join me in condemning all actions of violence and terror caused or carried out by anyone whoever he or she may be.
I call on all of them to boldly claim and express with their tongue and action that they are loyal and law-abiding and obedient citizens of the United States of America.
This is fully in accord with the teachings of Muhammad, peace be on him, the Holy Founder of Islam, who said that hubbul watanay minal eeman..
Love of one’s homeland, one’s place of residence, is a part of the Muslim’s faith..
It is high time that Muslims living in the U.S. wake up to their responsibilities and declare openly and repeatedly and loudly that they stand for peace and loyalty and are proud of it and that this is in fact what Islam itself requires of them.
Let me end by being totally forthright.
I say to those among Muslims living in the US who are not loyal or who do not want to be loyal that they are benefiting and enjoying all that this open, free, country has to offer and yet they say that their loyalties are to another country or government.
I want to say to such people that they are not only living a false and hypocritical life but that they are thus also ungrateful and my advice to them is to be bold and leave and go and live in the lands where their loyalties belong.