Khaleel Mohammed, Associate Professor of Religion at San Diego State University
Born in Guyana, he moved to Canada as a teenager in 1974. He studied in Mexico, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Syria, and Yemen. He has a B.A. in Religion and Psychology, an M.A. in Religion (Judaism and Islam), and a Ph.D. in Islamic Law. He received scholarships from Saudi Arabia and Quebec.
Dr. Mohammed argues that western countries should not "import" imams (Muslim clerics) from foreign countries because those clerics are unlikely to understand western culture.
"They should be familiar with the Canadian outlook and understand the cultural values of Canada. There is no need to import imams, because they cause a lot of friction. They come from Bangladesh, South Africa, Guyana, Egypt and Syria etc. and they bring their cultural baggage with them."
"They (Canadian imams) have to speak English. All mosques I've been to -- give or take five per cent -- have been using an overwhelming amount of Arabic that is incomprehensible to the people listening. I can go to a mosque now and I can start reciting the Koran in Arabic. I can quote one verse and tell them it means whatever I want it to mean."
"But one has to think in terms of national security. Do a random survey tomorrow -- choose a church, a synagogue and a mosque. The average church has a priest who speaks English with a Canadian accent and can relate to Canadians because he has grown up in this country and understands the outlook and cultural values. Go to a synagogue and you'll find the same thing. Go to a mosque and it is not the same. And Muslims can't use the argument that they often use that they are new immigrants because it is not necessarily true. Muslims have been here for a long, long time."
("The scathing scholar", Ottow Citizen, 6th of February 2007)
But Dr. Mohammed has also been inundated with hate mail because he quoted the Quran on the Children of Israel and reminded Muslims that Islam's holy book supports a Jewish claim to the Land of Israel.
In defending Islam as well as Israel Dr. Mohammed has drawn criticism (really hatred) from both (self-proclaimed) Muslims and (ignorant) Christians. In an experience that neatly combines anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, Dr. Mohammed is targeted by both sides, choosing himself the rational middle ground:
"In a discussion on Islam, I am told to go back to my country. This presupposes that all Muslims are aliens--forgetting that the first Muslims in America were slaves--who did not come here out of their own free will. My position on Israel is free from any hidden motive: it is based on my reading of the Qur'an, one that I must admit places me at odds with many of my coreligionists. I certainly do not support Israel so that the in-gathering of the Jews can fulfill the parousia, and they be converted to Christianity. This to me is latent anti-semitism. Nor do I support a Jewish land in Israel so that I can convert Jews to Islam. This would be latent Judeophobia."
(From Dr. Mohammed's Web site.)
An ardent critic of so-called "Islamic" regimes, Dr. Mohammed notes that Muslim intellectuals capable of being a voice for reform are punished for speaking up.
"The evidence is blindingly clear: Throughout the world, Muslim intellectuals are punished for daring to criticize. Muhammad Said al-Ashmawy in Egypt is under house arrest for his own protection; Abdel Karim Soroush is beaten in Iran for daring to raise the voice of inquiry, Mahmoud Taha is killed in Sudan. Scholars Rifat Hassan, Fatima Mernissi, Abdallah an-Na'im, Mohammed Arkoun and Amina Wadud are all vilified by the imams for asking Muslims to use their intellects."
("To my Fellow Muslims: We Are Our Own Enemies", FrontPageMag)