IN THE IMAGINATION of Hamza Yusuf Hanson--the American Islamist radical who reinvented himself after September 11, 2001 as a peace-loving spiritual Sufi and alleged advisor to President George W. Bush--no falsehood is too absurd to paraded about as truth.
Unfortunately, Hamza Yusuf, who in the 1990s proclaimed "jihad"--meaning violent aggression, not spiritual cultivation in the manner Sufis use the term--as "the only way" for American Muslims, continues to get a hearing from U.S. and British officials who ignore his past (such as his statement on September 9, 2001 that America "is facing a terrible, terrible fate . . . this country stands condemned").
After the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, Hamza Yusuf Hanson changed his manner, discarding his Wahhabi-style beard and Arabic dress. But he did not change his essential character--he is still a radical. He also did not abandon his penchant puffery: He was once known as Imam Hamza Yusuf; he now styles himself "Sheikh" Hamza Yusuf. Not long ago, the Saudi daily newspaper Okaz published the claim that Hanson is the "mufti," or chief Islamic jurist, for California--as if the Golden State was governed by a Muslim regime.
On November 7, the International Herald Tribune produced yet another encomium on Hamza Yusuf's behalf. Under the headline "For U.S. Muslims, It's the American Way," writer Katrin Bennhold celebrated him as "a preeminent proponent of an American Islam free of politics and anachronistic culture." Hanson declared, "We [U.S. Muslims] have an indigenous leadership that has emerged in the last 10 years." For those keeping score, it was just 10 years ago that Hamza Yusuf issued a denunciation of democracy and the Bill of Rights as "false gods."
But Hanson's theater of the absurd reached new levels when he referred, "jokingly" we are told, to the aged folkie Bob Dylan as "imam Bob."
Huh? An imam is an Islamic cleric who leads prayers. Not satisfied in proclaiming himself a "sheikh," Hanson now wishes to annex an American pop culture figure. Is this the same Bob Dylan who was originally Jewish and became a born-again Christian?
Well, as "imam" Bob Dylan said long ago, "the times they are a changin'." In his Christian phase, Dylan observed that "you gotta serve somebody," and as far as I can see, Hamza Yusuf is still an acolyte of the kind of radical Islam that is disseminated from Saudi Arabia. Any involvement of Western officialdom with Hamza Yusuf Hanson, and promotion of him by the mainstream media, is support for a radical Islam. This charade should stop, sooner rather than later.
Stephen Schwartz is a frequent contributor to The Weekly Standard.