In his song “God Bless the USA,” Lee Greenwood proclaims that pride in America resonates “From the lakes of Minnesota, to the hills of Tennessee, across the plains of Texas, from sea to shining sea. …” But we now are hearing a much different tune – something quite un-American – sweeping “across the plains of Texas, from sea to shining sea.”

From New Jersey, to Texas, to North Carolina, to California and elsewhere, reports are coming in of a disturbing trend. Imams at mosques in these states, despite acting separately, have been delivering the same message in sermons to followers. This, in itself, should not be surprising since all imams take their teachings from the same religious book – the Quran – and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, known as “hadiths.” But what should be alarming is the content of the message conveyed. It is a message espousing absolute hate – a call for Muslims to kill Jews.

Hearing about this message should be our “aha” moment as to what Islam really is all about.

Presumably, these imams were properly vetted prior to entering the U.S. and found not to pose an extremist threat. Yet, their preaching that Islam, as a religion, mandates Jews be killed, leaves us with one of two conclusions. Either these imams are extremists who were not properly vetted or, being properly vetted, they are moderates. Neither of these conclusions should leave us with a particularly warm and fuzzy feeling.

If the latter conclusion is correct, it actually is the more worrisome. The “aha” revelation becomes unavoidable: These sermons are not the result of extremists hijacking Islam, proclaiming it to be something it is not; they are the result of moderates telling us what Islam is really all about. Our “aha moment” frighteningly tells us when we hear the cry “Allahu Akbar,” coupled with an act of terrorism, “It is Islam, stupid!” It is not, as others would have us believe, Islamic extremism that is being unleashed.

The reality we must grasp is that Islam provides a license for Muslims to do violence to non-Muslims. While only a small percentage of Muslims may actually use that license, nonetheless, it is there for the taking should one day’s “moderate” decide to become tomorrow’s “extremist.” While we take comfort in believing a moderate versus extremist dichotomy exists, it should be noted what Muslim leaders such as Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tell us. He criticizes the term “moderate Islam” as an “ugly” description that “is offensive and an insult to our religion.” He clarifies, “There is no moderate or immoderate Islam. Islam is Islam, and that’s it.” Thus, he suggests, there is no room for misinterpretation among Muslims as to what the Quran mandates.

On Dec. 8, 2017, New Jersey Imam Aymen Elkasaby of the Islamic Center of Jersey City delivered a sermon exhorting Allah to kill the Jews. Critical that the Temple Mount Mosque “remains a prisoner in the hands of the Jews,” he beseeched Allah to “grant us martyrdom. … Count them (Jews) one by one, and kill them down to the very last one. Do not leave a single one on the face of the Earth.”

Also on Dec. 8, 2017, during his sermon in North Carolina, U.S.-based Syrian Imam Abdullah Khadra invoked the same sermon based on a well-known hadith about how, when time ends, Jews in hiding will be revealed. Khadra claimed, “The Prophet gave us the glad tidings that at the End of Time, we will fight those Jews until the rocks and the trees will speak: ‘Oh Muslim, this is a Jew behind me.'” The hadith then adds, “come and kill him.”

Meanwhile, in Texas, also on that same day, Imam Sheikh Raed Saleh Al-Rousan, founder of the Tajweed Institute of Houston, gave an incendiary speech at his mosque. His remarks hit the same theme: “The Muslims will kill the Jews, and the Jews will hide behind the stones and the trees, and the stones and the trees will say: Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him, except for the Gharqad tree, which is one of their trees. … The hour [i.e. Judgment Day] will not start until Muslims fight the Jews there, in Palestine. And they know that fact. And the Muslims will have the victory.”

Several months earlier, Imam Ammar Shahin of the Islamic Center of Davis in California delivered a sermon in which he prayed for Allah to “annihilate” Jews “down to the very last one.”

It should be noted all these sermons were conveyed on a Friday. For Muslims, Friday is the most important day of the week to assemble for prayers. It is comparable to Sundays for Catholics and followers of other religions. For Muslim worshipers, the Quran’s teachings are heavily emphasized on Fridays with followers encouraged to pursue its mandates. And, we should not be so naive as to believe delivery of this sermon was limited to just these four mosques. It is a sermon heard repeatedly in every mosque in the U.S., and around the world, as part of Friday prayers.

The New Jersey imam was suspended without pay and required to undergo retraining. The California and Texas imams apologized for their remarks. We should not be so naive to believe the retraining and the apologies are anything more than a PR effort to put a smiley face on an issue deeply embedded within the Muslim psyche that has festered for 1,400 years. No retraining will change that imam’s mind.

Additionally, the Islamic concept of “taqiyya” empowers Muslims to deceive non-believers about their true beliefs to further their religion’s goals. Relying on taqiyya, imams seek to deceive non-believers that a “kinder, gentler” Islam –”Islam Lite” – really exists. But once non-believers are lulled into a false sense of security, these same imams will be relying upon those same repeated calls for violence in the Quran to motivate their believers to act. Consumption of “Islam Lite” desensitizes us from recognizing such violence is not just limited against Jews alone but against all non-believers.

We need to fully educate ourselves about Islam’s true message. A good start would be to read the Quran. Simply accepting “Islam Lite” will kill us.

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