NEW YORK – Many Muslim Americans have faced discrimination since Sept. 11, but one Muslim cleric is working to change the terror-link perception while also working with the community to prevent further terror from within.
Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani addressed his followers recently in New Jersey, just miles from Ground Zero, and called for action and change amongst Muslim Americans.
"We have a problem in the Muslim community," Kabbani, chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council of America, said. "What they did here is a big burden on their shoulder, and they are not going to run away, and they are going to be brought to justice."
Kabbani wants to dispel the distorted image of Islam that has festered in the post-Sept. 11 America. He visited Ground Zero as proof that a more moderate voice of Islam is alive and well. He is a voice in support for peace and understanding between all Americans.
"When America helped Kosovo, when America helped Bosnia, when America helped Afghanistan, when America helped Kuwait, when America helped Saudi Arabia from the threat of Iraq, that is what?" he asked. "That is not helping Islam?"
Kabbani works as head of the Islamic Supreme Council of America, encouraging Muslims to join the war against terror and to denounce those who defile the faith for their own violent ends.
"The Muslim community, they have been hijacked by these terrorists," he said.
Some Islamic leaders have been outspoken about anti-Muslim behavior since Sept. 11, but some clerics such as Kabbani are hoping discrimination can be lessened if Muslims work within Muslim American communities to pinpoint those terror cells that still might exist.
"We are very successful in keeping that watchful eye against any kind of terrorist and terrorism and when we find something we try to expose them and try to show them that there is a threat here," he said.
While radical Islam seems to grab headlines, Kabbani’s moderate approach is gaining attention. And he is adamant that his look-within approach is not anti-Islam as some extremist might proclaim.
"Those who are under the name of Islam and do an action of terror, they are not Muslim anymore," he said. "They are apostate in our religion. They went out of Islam when they killed innocent people."
Kabbani ridicules those who use the Koran to justify violence. The conflict is a political one, he said not a religious one, and the radical voices must be challenged.
"Leadership is very difficult to change because they hijacked the microphone and they hijacked Islam," he said.
Kabbani has been actively working to spread the peaceful messages of Islam. In March he met with Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and his staff to introduce the activities of ISCA and its promotion of moderate Islam throughout the world.
In addition to being chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council of America he is president of The Muslim Magazine, chairman of the Kamilat Muslim Women's Organization, advisor for UnityOne, an organization devoted to ending gang violence in America, and advisor for the Human Rights Council, which supports the establishment of human rights and freedom in all nations.
Fox News' Amy C. Sims contributed to this report.
David Asman joined FOX News Channel (FNC) in 1997 and currently serves as host of "Forbes on FOX," a weekend half-hour program that offers an informative look at the business week (Saturday from 11:00-11:30 AM/ET). Asman is also an anchor on FOX Business Network, where he co-hosts "After the Bell" (4-5 PM/ET) with anchor Melissa Francis.