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Guest post: The image of Islam, under siege

Shaukat Malik is a certified public accountant who lives in Potomac. He is also an entrepreneur and a business and political strategist.

Extremist Islam has done so much damage to the Muslim image that during the 2008 U.S. presidential election opponents of Barack Hussain Obama tried to scare voters by declaring that he was a Muslim and supported terrorists.

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President Obama's being labeled as a Muslim for political advantage is a wakeup call for Muslims everywhere, as it clearly confirms the pariah status of the 1.2 billion people who were born in a Muslim home.

As a religion of submission and acceptance of other religions that gave refuge to the Jewish people running from persecution in Europe to Iran, Egypt, Turkey, Morocco and Tunisia, today, unfortunately, it has been hijacked by the oil rich theocracies of Iran and the Middle East.

The great Rabbi Maimonides -- also known as Rambam – became leader of the Jewish community in Egypt in 1183 and was subsequently appointed physician to King Saladin's vizier. He lived all his life in an Islamic society and died in Egypt. Harmonious co-existence between Muslims and Jews in 1183 confirms the existence of an Islam that was inclusive and welcoming to all, much like the United States of today. There is no reason why we cannot have Muslim states that are inclusive and welcoming to all.

The question we must ask is this. Let us imagine for a moment that Barak Hussein Obama is indeed a Muslim. Would this suddenly take away his intellect and his loyalty to the United States and transform him into an Osama bin Laden-like terrorist living in the White House?

No religion teaches you to harm another human being. The aim of all of the great faiths is to promote a just and fair society. We cannot say that Moses and Jesus were wrong and Prophet Mohammad is right. They were all God's messengers who brought his message and wanted to spread peace, love and understanding.Children are born into different religions all over the world. Clearly God wants you to practice the religion of yourth birth. He wants us to leave the judging to him.

Whenever and wherever religion is combined with government and politics, it leads to atrocities being committed in the name of religion. A theocratic state is the model state for political Islam. Saudi Arabia and Iran are examples of one-party theocratic states.

Dictators are fully aware of the power of religion and have devised methods of employing it to their own advantage. They have substituted religion for a legislature or a free court system by giving the clergy the power exercised in functioning democracies by elected legislators and courts.

As English is the global language of business, Arabic has become the monopoly language of the religious clerics and the practice of Islamic law. Islamic clerics funded by Saudis insist that the Quran should be read only in Arabic, thus keeping close to 800,000 non-Arabic-speaking Muslims in total darkness. An Arabic word, like words in other languages, can have more than one meaning, thus enabling Arabic-speaking clerics to monopolize the translation of the Quran to suit their point of view.

A cleric from India, Indonesia, or Pakistan will narrate the Quran in parrot fashion and impart whatever he has been told by his teacher without fully understanding the context of the verse. His listeners can read Arabic but do not understand the meaning and will accept whatever the cleric tells them.

Doctored translations of the Quran and made-up sayings of the prophet have led to propagation of false interpretations to justify polygamy, the hijab and other violations of women's rights. In this way, a suggestion is conveniently converted into a requirement; a caution becomes a prohibition.

A woman is considered a sexual predator that has complete control of the desires of the man she will invariably lead astray. She must be stopped: prohibited from appearing in mainstream society unless covered, and even then, only if accompanied by a man she cannot marry. She should not drive, as this is will bring shame!

Give us all a break!

By declaring some groups as non-Muslim, dictatorships and pseudo-democracies in Muslim countries keep populations busy in petty vendettas and battles. This is evident in Iraq, where Shias and Sunnis –both Muslims – are fighting each other. The same is true in Pakistan, where Muslim sects target each other. This is a devious way of diverting attention from the failings of the dictatorships and kings who are usurping and spending their country's resources on the well-being of the ruling elite.

By abusing and falsifying the image of Islam, terrorist organizations such as the Taliban and al Qaida have forced peace-loving countries to view Islam with suspicion. After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and attempted attack in Times Square.

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As the example of Turkey shows, kings and dictators cannot survive in a functioning democracy. The military dictatorship in Turkey finally had to give in to the Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP, for its Turkish initials). By embracing democratic values and freedoms for Turkish citizens, the AKP has succeeded in keeping the power hungry-generals in their barracks, where they rightly belong.

A new chapter in Islamic party development and evolution has been written in Turkey. It must be used as a benchmark by Islamic parties everywhere.

The time is here for Islamic parties in Muslim-majority countries to seek guidance from Turkey, a country transforming itself into a force on the dividing line between East and West, and to gradually embrace the Turkish model of separation of church and state and freedom of religion.

Through this model, the Muslim world can deliver the inherent rights of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness that every citizen – notwithstanding his or her religion – deserves to enjoy.

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