The phrase ‘American Islam’ was originally coined by shaheed Sayyid Qutb (the Ikhwan ideologue who was executed by the Egyptian regime in 1966), and was later also used by shaheed Ali Shariati (who did so much to prepare the groundwork for the Islamic Revolution in Iran before his assassination by the Shah’s secret service in London in 1977) and Imam Khomeini (ra). For them, it signified a minimalist, quietist, personal Islam that could happily co-exist with American political hegemony and the norms and values of a materialist, secular, consumerist society. It has become a term used with contempt by Muslims around the world, as indeed most things ‘American’ are.
It is, therefore, ironically appropriate that this phrase should now have been adopted by neo-conservative ideologues who hope to create a West-friendly version of Islam, such as Daniel Pipes, as well as the Muslim renegades in organizations like the Progressive Muslim Union of North America (PMUNA), who are willing to work with them. These include Muslims who regard themselves as ‘cultural Muslims’ or even ‘atheist Muslims’, who are willing both to attack every fundamental basis of Islamic belief, including even the Qur’an itself, and to offer total support and legitimacy to any and every Western policy. Their most recent gimmick is mixed-sex jumah prayers in New York, led by a woman. The event was given widespread publicity in the western and internationalmedia as a laudable attempt by American Muslims to update sexist Islamic teachings and practices.
In truth, however, such Muslims are a tiny, marginalised and irrelevant minority even within the American Muslim community, recognised by the vast majority of Muslims everywhere for what they really are. The truly ‘progressive’ face of Islam is that shown by modern, educated Muslim youths in countries like Egypt and Turkey, who are turning in droves to Islam’s ethical values, and who are and steadfast in their opposition to Western hegemony and everything the US and the West stand for. This is the wave of Islam’s future; those trying to mislead us in another, western direction are utterly irrelevant, bound to fail and -- despite all the noise they make -- merit no further consideration.