Interview with Al Aqsa’s Sheikh Khalil Al Alami

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Palestine Report Online interviews Sheikh Khalil Al Alami, Islamic official at Al Aqsa Mosque, on Islam and the recent attacks on the United States.

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What is important to say here is that, as Muslims, we are not against the American people as a people or nation. But we oppose their policies of arrogance, of dominance and of double standards. Why is our Orient always being pulled into these things? America has a targeted enemy so it can oppress the peoples of this “enemy” and sap their resources. It is as if it is part of some strategy to always have an enemy that must be fought, and through this, achieve goals.

The dangerous thing now is that our Islamic Orient is the goal of these campaigns. As proof, let me say this. When the president of the most powerful country in the world says that this is a “crusade,” this is no mistake. He did not just say it by mistake and then retreat from it. They want to establish a clash of civilizations. This is their obvious way of continuing to practice oppression, injustice and subjugation.

Now, as Muslims, we are to act according to what Islam dictates to us – that is, you may assault whoever assaults you. But for them to come to the Orient of Islam, oppress and subjugate us, while we are to sit doing nothing? We cannot just stand there and watch. These [American actions] are not only a response to what happened on September 11; there were plans to this effect before and after.

As for the people who carried out the attacks – they were not madmen. We read about their lives in the press. Most were from the Gulf and were well-off. They didn’t have any social or personal complexes that one might say they were reacting to. On the contrary, now we can say that there is a new generation that is willing to fight America and this is something that America cannot stop.

But the Islamic world directs its media efforts at its own people, as if it needs to convince them. The media mechanism in the Arab and Muslim world has been useless in getting the message to the West that this religion is one of enlightenment, innovation, uniqueness and all other qualities that make it great. This has not been received by the Western world in any way.

The second step is that the scholars of the umma [Islam’s followers] must meet. They must elevate the status of Islam through a consensus between them. This needs to be done. I hope to God this will happen. Because – let me say this as a Muslim – nowadays, we need to defend ourselves against being called terrorists and only then can one speak of Islam. These scholars must convey to the Western mind the entire and overall principles of Islam.

But the world will never return to what it was before September 11. A new world order is in formation. Now Europe and the so-called coalition against terrorism is working towards getting America focused on one enemy – not necessarily the Afghans – and becoming a hostile force against Islam.

How can the umma work together as one and speak in one voice in this regard? America always speaks as if from a pedestal so the Muslims’ voice must be strong and united to get the message across that we are a religion of tolerance. The best example of this is the Palestinians. Here in Jerusalem exist the largest group of churches in the world. And they have existed here for hundreds of years in peace.

In light of the current threats to strike the Muslims of Afghanistan, is it permissible for other Muslim countries to take part in this coalition?

No, not in any case. America claims that it was attacked by a group of Muslims, so America can decide how to respond to this. However according to Islamic law, Al Shariya, no Muslim can be part of or support this because in Islam, Muslim brothers must bond together. If America wants to respond, it can respond on its own.

I always say that I do not view Islam through Osama bin Laden or anyone else. I do not want to portray him as some kind of hero. Islam is bigger than Osama bin Laden and any organization. I do not believe in deifying anyone. So I will not portray bin Laden as a hero, nor will I interpret Islam through him.

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