Dr. Robert D. Crane, an American convert to Islam with many ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, has written two articles for an Islamic publication suggesting that Islam is the best means for returning the U.S. to the vision of its Founding Fathers. In the first article, Dr. Crane discusses the ” cancerous evil of secular humanism”, asserting that both the Catholic Church and the U.S. Founding Fathers share his concerns:
The cancerous evil of secular humanism in its manifestation as collectivism and progressivism is what Joseph Ratzinger very rightly was berating in his Regensburg colloquy shortly after his accession as Pope Benedict XVI to the leadership of the Roman Catholic magisterium. He seemed to know next to nothing about classical Islam, but he accurately described the same evils that all revelation, including the Qur’an, and all the Founders of America prophetically warned against. The most dangerous form of collectivism is religious because this justifies the militant polytheism of sectarian tribalism as ordained by God. This is what the Preamble to the American Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights were designed to prevent. Only slightly less malignant is the new religion of secular humanism, which declares that the individual, not God, is the ultimate sovereign and that therefore positivist law invented by human beings, whether by majority rule or by totalitarian fiat, is the only criterion to determine ultimate truth and human rights.
Dr. Crane then cites the work of Omar Tarazi who, according to Crane, has argued that restrictions on religion in public life are not only “un-Islamic” but contrary to America’s founding purpose:
Tarazi’s theme, which has to be read in detail for adequate understanding, is that the more recent interventionist approach of the U.S. Supreme Court to regulate the dynamics of religion and government, despite principled protests by Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, contradicts the “free market” approach of America’s Founders, who limited the power of the federal government in such matters in order to give greater leeway to experimentation at lower levels of government so that, in Qur’anic terms, truth can prevail over error. Tarazi makes it clear that proscribing religion in the public square, just as much as institutionalizing it, is un-Islamic not merely because it inevitably denies freedom of religion but because it denies the role of community in the adaptation of religion through ijtihad to diversity of place and time, which is the greatest genius of classical Islamic jurisprudence. Tarazi’s future research is designed to further develop this theme by exploring the role of justice as the overarching paradigm of purpose for the founding of America.
Dr. Crane then explains the second point of Tarzai’s research which he explains as the assertion that “natural law” was the basis for the thought of the Founding Fathers:
The second task of Tarazi’s research is to address natural law as the Founders’ universal paradigm of thought. The early Supreme Court cases until 1940 spoke of religion in the generic sense of belief in God and human dependence on Him, often with the sense of Christianity as part of the Common Law. This ecumenical definition as the essence of good governance was designed to prevent the establishment of sectarianism in restricting religion to tribalistic concepts. In addition, this broad definition of religion was supported as essential to promote community cohesion, without which no nation can survive.
The conclusion of the piece is that Islamic scholarship is the best way to return to “natural law” and interestingly suggests that International Institute of Islamic Thought, a part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood, is preparing a work on just that subject:
The task of Islamic scholars in the world today is to develop the maqasid al shari’ah, the universal principles of Islamic thought, as the best means to revive natural law, because natural law includes divine revelation (haqq al yaqin) together with modern science (’ain al yaqin) and the human faculties to process them both (’ilm al yaqin) as the source of justice in both theory and practice. This is the task of the Encyclopedia of Natural Law that the International Institute of Islamic Thought would like to prepare over the next few years and then maintain as a constantly developing wikipedia of the best scholarship.
In his second article, entitled “Empowering Islam in America: Political Guidelines”, Dr. Crane argues that the “core message’ that Islamic activists should center on in this election is “justice”. He cites Parvez Ahmed, National Board Chairman of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), another U.S. Brotherhood organization” as arguing that the pursuit of “justice”, as personified in Islam, is how American can transform itself in according witH the Founder’s vision:
Dr. Ahmed offers justice as the essence of Islam in the world and as the only winning paradigm for America and for Muslims in America or anywhere else in the world. The Great American Experiment was founded on it, because only through leadership in its pursuit can America become what its Founders envisioned, which is to be a moral model for all of humankind. In his thoroughly Islamic perspective on justice, Parvez Ahmed, writes: “The principles of justice and morality are not the exclusive domain of any one group or ideology. Islam is not a new message but a confirmation of universal values. … The Prophet strove to develop the believer’s conscience through adherence to principles and values. The values and the principles were more important than the source of those values. He showed a way to transcend group allegiance in favor of primary loyalty to universal principles themselves.”
Dr. Crane then links this pursuit of justice to the concept of “natural law” which he raised in the first article:
These universal principles were known in classical Islam as the maqasid al shari’ah, which was developed over a period of centuries into what is still the world’s most sophisticated code of human responsibilities and rights, even though for several centuries they have been practiced mainly in the breech.
The American Empire must eventually collapse, as John Whitehead predicts, and as all empires have. The challenge is to transform America so that it is no longer an empire and therefore can serve the intent of its founders to be a moral model for the world based on the universal wisdom of all the world religions. This transformation can come only with the help of Muslims who are pursuing the mission of educating their fellow Muslims for the good of America.
These two articles would appear to be part of that long-held vision by Dr. Crane who has held positions with IIIT, the American Muslim Council, and the the United Association for Studies and Research, all part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. What is most interesting is his attempt to make common cause with non-Islamic religious conservatives through his assault on “the cancerous evil of secular humanism .”