A Leauki's Writings
Khaleel Mohammed
Published on December 10, 2008 By Leauki In War on Terror

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)


on Dec 10, 2008


on Dec 10, 2008

Very interesting, Leauki,  I enjoyed this piece very much.  This man has a keen eye.  Would that we could all begin to act for the sake of others as such is always acting for the sake of ourselves. I am hopeful that moderate Islam will soon take a stand against these extremists.  Yet, I think K. Muhammed's point is that its the cultural baggage that is at issue. I assume by this he means attitudes toward modernity by Muslims. Other cultures have had to deal with these, just look at sexism, for example. Women in the US had to fight for all sorts of basic rights often against their husbands and churches.  But it wasn't easy and many women suffered greatly, as well as male supporters. 


Did I read that there was a movement among young Muslims to advocate against the radsicals somewhere?  It was a recent story on the wires.  I just can't recall...mad cow, you know.


Anyway, I did enjoy reading this refreshingly clear analysis.

Be well.

on Dec 10, 2008

I am hopeful that moderate Islam will soon take a stand against these extremists. 

I do not consider Dr. Mohammed or Sheikh Palazzi to be "moderate". They are completely and utterly convinced by the Quran's truth. They do not compromise. The Quran itself just happens to be moderate, so to speak.

It is the others, I think, who compromise. The so-called extremists compromise between what the Quran says and what powerful interests (including Arab nationalism) want. In fact the extremists happily give up the Quran for power.


Yet, I think K. Muhammed's point is that its the cultural baggage that is at issue. I assume by this he means attitudes toward modernity by Muslims.

I'm not sure he (or I) would refer to cultural differences as "modernity" vs. whatever the opposite is.

It's just that different societies face different problems. A Muslim boy in Yemen is less likely to fall in love with a Christian girl than a Muslim boy in Canada. Both would probably need advive from a trained imam, but an imam from Yemen is not likely to have actual experience with mixed couples. Interfaith marriage is not a "modern" thing as such and Islamic law addresses the issue. But the boy will likely want more than just legal advice. He will want to know how to handle Christian holidays.

An imam from Yemen is not likely to know how to advice a Muslim about how to behave during Christmas present shopping.

Irshad Manji points to an article of Dr. Mohammed's about interfaith marriage:


In it Dr. Mohammed argues that a Muslim woman can marry a Christian man, not because it is modern but because the Quran already permitted such a union a long time ago.

How could an imam from Yemen, even if he were actually trained to be an imam, possibly understand the issues faced by a couple living a life he could not even envision for himself? It's impossible.

This case is one of Muslims today and their attitude towards Islam's classical period. A thousand years ago when there were many more Christians living in the Islamic world, the issue was probably as current as it is now for Muslims living in the west. But in "modern" Yemen it is probably not.

An Yemenite imam would have to be very old indeed to have experience with such a situation.



on Dec 10, 2008

I Did not know that the koran supported the Jews claim to Israel, nice to see that a goodly amount of Muslims somehow forget this little fact.

on Dec 10, 2008


See my second article on Israel's Muslim friends for more details:


Also note that Emir Faisal was welcoming the Jews "home" in 1919. He said

"We will do our best, in so far as we are concerned, to help them through; we will wish the Jews a most hearty welcome home."


The "Muslim" belief that Jews are somehow supposed to die or should at least not live in Israel (or any middle-eastern country) is a rather new phenomenon.

In Iran it was introduced by Khomeini. Among Sunnis it came from Arab nationalism which despite its anti-Islamic message (Islam differentiates between believers and non-believers, not between nations) influenced Islam.

In reality Arabs and Jews are brothers, descending from brothers Yishmael and Yitzhaq respectively. The only difference between the two was where G-d sent them to live. Yishmael and his mother were sent to the desert people (Arabs) and Yitzaq and his mother remained in Canaan.

I will write an article about that in the "religion" category soon.

But for now look forward to Israel's Muslim Friends V and VI featuring two well-known historic characters, one of which you might not have realised was a Muslim.

(That is, unless I find another interesting individual to cover first.)




on Dec 10, 2008

Well writeen and insightful.