1. Critics say these hearings on Muslims were McCarthyesque. What do you say?
In truth, the hearings were a major step in beginning the dialogue necessary to bring real change for American Muslims and real security to the United States. Critics used "McCarthyism" to dodge any responsibility for the hard work of reform necessary to truly counter the radicalization of some Muslims.
2. Why were you invited to testify?
Homegrown terror from Muslims is increasing exponentially, and we are failing. I have been willing to frankly and publicly discuss the root cause of political Islam and work against it. I think the committee appreciated that forthrightness and presentation of tangible solutions like the "liberty narrative" that can inoculate Muslim youths against radicalization.
3. How did American Muslims respond to your testimony?
There has been an overwhelming positive response from many American Muslims. The American Islamic Leadership Coalition, our alternative to Muslim grievance groups, has now grown exponentially in the past week. On the opposite pole, the hate speech against our work from Islamists nationally and locally has spiked with epithets against me like "Uncle Tom."
4. Why do you have so many critics on the left?
I just don't get it. I'm one of the most outspoken American Muslim voices for women's rights, pluralism, our First Amendment and the central nature of our Establishment Clause (the separation of mosque and state) toward defeating political Islam. And yet, many in the left have seemed tone deaf to all these traditionally sympathetic ideas to look through the jaundiced eye of partisan politics. They cannot seem to depart from the thought that American Muslims are victims.
5. What is the most significant point non-Muslims should understand about Islam?
Islam has no anointed clergy or de facto leadership. There is no "one" Islam. Muslims are not monolithic. We are a diverse community with diverse interpretations of our scripture, laws and practice. That may be heresy to some imams (teachers) and the power infrastructure of many mosques and Islamist groups. But the future of our beautiful religion and rich history resides in the ability of the vast majority of Muslims to wake up and take on that establishment. American security hangs in the balance.
6. Do you see the relationship between Islam and the West evolving or devolving?
In my own life, it has evolved as I have obsessed with reform, absorbing into my own Islamic interpretations the ideas of liberty and Americanism. For revivalists, who see themselves bringing Islam to non-Islamic lands, it will continue to devolve into a dangerous struggle between those in denial and those against Islam. I pray American Muslims awaken toward reform and away from revival.
7. Has the United States taken the right lessons from 9/11?
Not yet. We have no offense against the ideas that fuel Muslim separatism down that slippery slope of radicalization.
8. What one book do you recommend all Americans read?
America needs to visit again "The Road to Serfdom" by F.A. Hayek. In Chapter 2, he poignantly quotes (19th-century German poet-thinker Friedrich) Holderlin: "What has always made the state a hell on Earth has been precisely that man has tried to make it his heaven."