Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, host of Reform This! on TheBlaze and longtime guest of The Glenn Beck Program, joined Glenn on radio today in response to a provocative article published online by Pam Geller, who went after Dr. Jasser, calling him the “Grand Mufti of the Stealth Jihad.” Largely silenced by the left and mainstream media for not being the “right” kind of Muslim, Dr. Jasser is now under attack from a faction of the far right that doesn’t accept the possibility of a moderate interpretation of Islam.
“I admit, Islam has a major problem within it. We’re frustrated. It has cancer. We are in the 15th century. But we need at least a little oxygen. Give us some breathing room to say, you know what, maybe reform is possible,” Dr. Jasser said.
Enjoy the complimentary clip above or read the transcript below for details.
This is a rush transcript and may contain errors.
GLENN: Something came to my attention yesterday, and I wanted to get Zuhdi Jasser on right away. Zuhdi Jasser has been a friend of mine for, I don’t even know. Fifteen years, maybe?
He is, I believe, one of the bravest Muslims in America today, one who still practices his faith. There are many people who used to be Muslim who left their faith. He is a guy who still practices his faith and is a reformer, is somebody like Martin Luther, who says we have to reform this.
There is a difference between Islam and Islamists. If you are a Muslim, that’s not necessarily a problem. If you’re an Islamist, it is always a problem.
Zuhdi Jasser seems to understand this. But apparently, on his radio show on TheBlaze this last weekend, he went off on a few people here in America. Let me give you the — let me give you just the headline and a little bit of this story.
The Grand Mufti of stealth jihad, Zuhdi Jasser says there’s no greater threat than Pamela Geller and her colleagues. This is from Pamela Geller: In one fell swoop, moderate Muslim, in quotation marks, Zuhdi Jasser has dropped a Moab on the most effective counterjihadist in the West. The Grand Mufti of the stealth jihad has devoted an entire episode of his show on TheBlaze network Reform This to smearing me and many of my colleagues, including Robert Spencer, Andrew Bostom, Claire Lopez, John Guandolo, and others as alt-jihadists.
He says there are no greater jihadists than the alt-jihadists when it comes to living in the land of freedom because they seem to want to kill us and knock us off at the knees. Who even knew he had a show on TheBlaze? Why is Glenn Beck giving this vicious saboteur a platform? Wow.
STU: Vicious saboteur. Wow. That’s impressive.
Frank Gaffney immediately wrote to a group of us whom Jasser targeted, telling us to hold off in the interest of peacemaking. It was striking how quickly Gaffney jumped to Jasser’ defense. I’ve never seen him jump to my defense like that. What a Stepin Fetchit boy Gaffney is for Jasser. It epitomizes how much people who recognize the jihad threat have been fooled into thinking that they have to have a moderate Muslim on board, or their efforts will be criticized by the left as Islamophobic.
So she is making the point that Frank Gaffney is afraid of being called Islamophobic
STU: Oh, yeah. Frank Gaffney seems like he has a lot of fear about being called things. If I were — yeah, that’s his defining characteristic.
GLENN: So let me welcome to the program the Grand Mufti of the stealth jihad, Zuhdi Jasser.
STU: Or Zuhdi Jasser. One of the two.
GLENN: Yeah, Zuhdi, how are you?
ZUHDI: Great, Glenn. Thank you for having me. Boy, you know, those responses sort of make me feel like I did the right thing by calling these guys out.
You know, I mean, listen, I get it. We’re a minority movement. I get it that we’re underdogs. But the issue and the reason why I finally needed to speak out, you know, listen, over the last few months, from Stephen Kirby posting on Spencer’s website, others. There’s two characteristics that need definition of the alt-jihad.
Number one, they view Islam as monolithic, a one-entity, a monopoly. No other ideas within it. And, two, they view reformers as having no hope, as liars. They constantly call me a liar about my scripture that I interpret and reinterpret in a different way from the original Arabic.
So fine. I’m not trying to take away their free speech. I know they’re anti-jihad. But how do they differ from the useful idiots on the left who say that Islam is one, it’s beautiful. There’s nothing wrong with the misogyny in Saudi Arabia. Islam is peaceful. How does that monopoly on Islam being positive, how is their yang not the ying to the saying that Islam is all one and the Mufti of Islam is it and Zuhdis are just aberrations? I mean, they’re actually doing the same thing by taking the oxygen out of what we’re trying to do in reform. And when there’s no hope for our work, we have to call it out.
GLENN: So, Zuhdi, I have to — I’m sorry I haven’t been following this — this trial that you’re going through right now, until last night.
And I tried to figure out what this was about. And apparently, you sent out a declaration of principles to all the mosques or many of the mosques. And you asked them to sign on as — as cosigners. And many of them didn’t. In fact, I think only, what was it? Forty did. And what they’re trying to say is, see, Islam is a sham. And there’s nobody behind you. When if I have this right, I look at it in a different way. That you are Martin Luther, who has just nailed the demands up on the church door. And they’re expecting Martin Luther to have all of the — how many of the priests decided to join Martin Luther? Well, not very many. Especially at first.
And they would call Martin Luther a failure. Am I reading this right?
ZUHDI: Yeah, pretty close. I think our role model for what I do are John Locke, Thomas Paine, Jefferson. We’re trying to create the space for Martin Luthers. I realize I don’t have a degree in Sharia, but the reform — reformation in Europe gave space to the enlightenment scholars to have room to do their work.
When we sent that declaration out, these guys were writing at — Spencer was publishing Kirby’s work that said we were dead on arrival, that basically we were hopeless. And we nailed those declarations out, knowing that the establishment, the Islamic establishment would definitely reject it. But we proved our point.
If they were moderates, they would have signed on. And actually the Islamists on the left would have proven us wrong by saying, “Oh, they are peaceful.” Well, no, we proved her right, that Islamists are supremacists. And as Geller says, they’re Nazis. But she’s not fighting the Naziism of Islamism. She thinks all of Islam is hopeless and a monopoly. And us Muslims are lying that are trying to reform from within.
GLENN: So you’re —
ZUHDI: And all we’re trying to do —
GLENN: So let me give you a clearer example. She says that she’s fighting Naziism. But actually, what she’s fighting is all Germans. And if anyone who says I am not a Nazi — I was fighting against the Nazis, they’re automatically lying because all Germans are Nazis.
So anybody who says that they are trying to reform, I’m a peaceful Muslim, even though you’re proving the — the sun shine and lollipops left wrong and saying, “Look, no. These — these guys are not who the left is saying they are. These — this is part of the Nazi party. But there are these — these Germans here that are fighting. But there are many Germans inside of those — those mosques, if you will, that are only there because they’re afraid they’re going to be killed by the storm troopers.” Am I right on that?
ZUHDI: Exactly. I mean, this is why — her verbiage, her messaging is exactly what comes out of the supreme counsel of Iran, the Saudi Wahhabis. The Al-Azhar Universities, the establishment that whips and flogs Muslims like myself. In a country where we can do this work, there’s actually an alt-jihad movement that is basically doing the bidding of those governments by saying, “Oh, the Mufti of Islam is it. There are no reformers. There is no reform possible.” So, therefore, yes, they ignore the fact, Glenn, that we are contrite.
I admit, Islam has a major problem within it. We’re frustrated. It has cancer. We are in the 15th century. But we need at least a little oxygen. Give us some breathing room to say, you know what, maybe reform is possible.
But when they say it’s terminal — when John Guandolo posts on his site and says Sebastian Gorka, because he said that reformers need to be supported, is unfit for duty and says that the Jassers of the world are utter nonsense and calls us a fantasy Islam, how does that actually then give us room to operate and let Americans see a solution?
I mean, I’m a doctor. When I see patients that have cancer, I don’t just say, oh, that’s it. Call a hospice. See you later.
No. Everybody needs hope. Our movement is about hope. We admit we’re a minority. But give us some hope, for crying out loud, or else you’re part of the alt-jihad.
GLENN: And I see now why you’re calling it the alt-jihad because it is part of the alt-right movement. This all-on-nothing, Nazi kind of mentality of the alt-right needs all Muslims to be bad.
ZUHDI: And, you know, I didn’t call it right because I think it sort of exists throughout the left and the right in America, that we — there are two groups on each extreme that view Muslims in a monolith. Either Muslims are all peaceful, no problem, psychiatric or criminal. Or on the other side, they’re either terrorists or terrorists in waiting.
And that’s not the Islam I teach my kids. Granted, they can say I’m a liar about the narrative of the Prophet Muhammad. But do you think that the Islam I teach my kids demonizes and says the Prophet Muhammad is irredeemable? That’s not how you reform Islam.
We have to come up — call it mythology. Call it what you want. We have to come up with narratives of the Prophet Muhammad that are 21st century narratives and call that reform and renew the branding of Islam to an American type of Islam that’s compatible with our Constitution. And if we can’t make that distinction, Americans are going to get confused that there’s no solution, except this cataclysmic battle against 25 percent of the world’s population. And that’s just absurd.
GLENN: Tell me one last thing: Is it Ali — is it Allah Jah Izetbegovic (phonetic)? I don’t know how to say it.
STU: Huge fan. We’re huge fans.
GLENN: Yeah, huge fan.
Do you know the name? By the way, I butchered it.
ZUHDI: Yes, Alija Izetbegovic. You know, listen, on my podcast, I talked about many scholars that affected me. And Izetbegovic was the president of Bosnia. He was in prison 15 years. He talked about humanism and Islam. You know, was he an Islamist? Yeah, he was. He said, so, listen, I’m not an Islamist. But there’s books that affected who I am.
Martin Luther was an anti-Semite. Justin had slaves. There are many people that affected who we are, that had things in their lives — so then Spencer then publishes that I used an Islamic supremacist as a source of reform. That’s absurd. We don’t take authors, in toto. We take some of their messages.
I mean, if there was an author I could tell you is a reformer, we would just use him and say, let’s follow him. But, no, we had to create or invent the Muslim reform movement that has 30, 40 different scholars that we use to inform what we’re doing. Izetbegovic’s book, Islam Between East and West, has a defense of secular humanism. The ideas of humanism being central to part of Islamic ideas. I don’t buy his declaration. I reject it. Our Muslim reform movement rejects it. But what they want to do is cherrypick things I say to say, oh, that proves that I’m a stealth jihadists. So, therefore, forget the last hundreds of articles and books and speeches I’ve given, this proves that Jasser is actually lying. I mean, that’s not American. That’s not —
GLENN: Zuhdi, I have known you — was I the first national host to bring you to the forefront?
ZUHDI: Absolutely. Back in 2006, on CNN.
GLENN: Okay. So 2006. I’ve known you since 2006. And I’ve heard you passionate about many things. I sense something different in your voice this time. A real sense of not despair, but overwhelming frustration here from people who you would hope that would be reasonable. Am I — am I sensing something here, or is it just hogwash?
ZUHDI: You’re right. I mean, I was blessed to have parents that came to the freest country in the world. And I’m getting squeezed from both sides of the political spectrum. And folks that are with me with a common enemy — I don’t care if they believe Islam is evil or whatever as a faith, but at least give us room to operate. And don’t say the same things about me that the theocrats of Saudi Arabia and Iran say. Give us a little bit of room. And say, well, okay. Fine. A little benefit of the doubt that maybe there are versions where minority — and in this country, when I hear this discourse between these two extremes, where are we supposed to operate? It’s frustrating.
GLENN: Zuhdi Jasser, I admire you, sir. And if Pamela Geller doesn’t know why Glenn Beck gives airtime to this voice, maybe the rest of the country can understand it, in just the last ten minutes. I think you have an important voice that has been silenced by what was the left for most of the last ten years.
And now apparently, being silenced by the right or wanting to be silenced. The alt-right. And it’s just as wrong. And I stand with you, Zuhdi. And anything I can do to help expose you to more people, I will do. Anything I can help, I will do. I think you have an important voice. And I sure appreciate your willingness to continue to stand.
ZUHDI: Well, God bless you, thank you, Glenn. Appreciate it. Be well.
GLENN: You bet.
STU: And his podcast is on TheBlaze.com/radio. You should listen to it. Another thing, he threw out a lot of names, and a lot of them you may not be familiar with. One that he did mention that said, hey, you know, we need to give Zuhdi Jasser room to move and show that this can be reformed was Sebastian Gorka. That is a top adviser to Donald Trump, is what he’s talking about there. So you talk about where this battle is happening. It’s not on the right. It’s not on the Donald Trump level. It’s way out in the wilderness of Richard Spencer and Pamela Geller and all these other people out there. But it’s important to know, that in the Trump administration, they’re looking at Zuhdi Jasser as someone who is a real hope to solve this problem. And, you know —
GLENN: And thank God for that.
STU: I think you’re right to sense that despair in him. But that’s encouraging, right?
GLENN: Oh, it’s very encouraging.
This is the guy I’ve been since 2006, I’ve been saying, Bush needed to listen to. Obama needed to listen to. The world needs to listen to. He gets it. He really gets it. And if you just want to hate Islam, he’s not your guy. But if you believe — I mean, I was just in a land where people are worshiping a half elephant, four-armed lady. I mean, I don’t even — I mean, you know. What the hell is that? Is what I was thinking.
Okay. What are the people like? If I’m going over, my job is to destroy all those people that have the elephant idol. Well, good luck with that. I don’t want to join you. If you would like to help people get closer and closer to the truth and out of error, then let’s have a conversation. I don’t want to just be the destroyer of anything, unless you’re trying to destroy everybody else. And that’s what Islamists do. That’s not what Zuhdi Jasser and millions of good Muslims do.