Open Letter to Wardah Khalid

Dear Ms Khalid,

I’m writing to you regarding the article you recently wrote in which you harshly criticized Muslim reformers for their efforts to modify Islam.

I totally get it that you disagree with them. What I find baffling, however, is your assertion that your ideological opponents shouldn’t be given a voice at all in the government and the media. To me, that sounds a lot like censorship. And worse, you seem to be suggesting that your effort to silence these “eccentrics” is being done on behalf of the majority of Muslims.

What strikes me as especially strange is that you go on to write that “no single person can speak on behalf of a religion with more than a billion adherents or even the millions of American Muslims.” Do you see the Jekyll/Hyde thing we have goin on here? One minute, you’re totally against the notion of anyone acting as the chief spokesperson for all adherents of a religion. But then you appoint yourself to that very task in the next sentence:

“There are many, many people out there speaking on Islam and extremism whom Muslim Americans ourselves generally consider to be fair representatives of our views. These are the people the government and the media should be consulting.”

Sooo apparently, there are indeed people who get to speak on behalf of the entire Muslim community. And that honor, you allege, belongs exclusively to you and those who happen to agree with you. Muslims who find themselves on a different page are “offensive and incorrect.” They are “eccentrics” that you say the government and the media shouldn’t pay attention to….

Now, let’s look back at some inspiring things you said on Texas Muslim Capitol Day just last year. You stood before a doting crowd and said Muslims must redefine their own narrative and make their voices heard. Then, most notably, you added “We as Muslim Americans will no longer sit idly while others seek to define us and our beautiful faith.”

That last line got an applause from the crowd. And from me as well! See, I agree with you that each person ought to have the right to practice their own faith and no one should be defining it for them.  But aren’t you doing exactly that when you refer to your ideological opponents as “psuedo experts” and “anti-Muslim” zealots simply because you don’t see eye to eye with them on the issue of reform?

Your anger over this disagreement seems to have driven you to behave in a way that is inconsistent with your stated principles.

You’re deciding who is an authentic Muslim and who is not.

You’re deciding which ideas are “incorrect and offensive” for Muslims and which are not.

You’re drawing the line on which views are “fringe” and which are not.

Anyway, these are just some thoughts I had. I am always available to dialogue with you if you’d like. My twitter handle is @thebobbynelson.

Take care,

Bobby Nelson


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