Jackson Hole, Wyo.-Dr. Tawfik Hamid, 47, was born in Egypt to an agnostic father and liberal French mother. As a student at Cairo University medical school in the late 1970s, Dr. Hamid joined a radical Islamic group and became, in essence, a budding terrorist.
He has since eschewed violent teachings of the Qur’an and other Islamic texts and has embraced a new and more peaceful interpretation of the Muslim faith which he has developed and encouraged by authoring several books and lecturing worldwide. Dr. Hamid believes changing the Muslim religion from within is the only way to ensure world peace.
“It is the only hope to a long term solution to the problem and not just a recipe approach or a symptomatic treatment for the disease,” the doctor told the Planet during a phone interview from Washington, D.C. “I want to treat the disease from its roots so that we guarantee that it does not come again in the future.”
While Dr. Hamid preaches a peaceful interpretation of the Qur’an, his suggestions for dealing with radical Islamists have been accused of pouring gasoline on the fire. He often defends his position by saying the western world and America is too worried about seeming “Islamaphobic.”
Planet Jackson Hole: You claim you were approached in college by the man who is now considered Bin Laden’s lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri. He got you involved in a rather radical Muslim group called Jamaat Islamiyah. Describe the process.
Dr. Tawfik Hamid: It was a group inside the medical school itself and it was legal back then. We used to have three masques: One relatively peaceful, another a bit more aggressive, and Jamaat Islamiyah. Approximately 3 percent of the students at the school were members of Jamaat Islamiyah. You go to pray with them. They put your name on some sort of list. You sign and are considered a member. It was a group that prepared you, indoctrinated you, with the violent teachings. . .
The process is gradual. One day I prayed with them and they asked us to stand in queues with no separation or gaps in between our shoulders and our feet. This was intentionally done to make us feel as if we were at war. To quote the Qur’anic verse: “God loves those who fight for his cause as if they are one cemented or solid structure with no gaps between them.”
So they put you in the Jihadi mind. You start to feel like you are a soldier, not just someone who is worshipping God. You are a part of a system that is declaring war on non-believers or infidels. In fact, they use the power of hellfire very effectively. The Qur’an describes the hellfire in very poetic and powerful [imagery], with great detail in the torture tactics.
PJH: And I have never heard anyone but you mention this, but there is the use of sexual deprivation on young recruits, adolescent males, at a time in their lives when their bodies are raging with testosterone.
TH: Many students are unable to have any sexual relationships because marriage was very costly and very difficult while they are students. Extramarital relationships are very difficult in this culture and strongly prohibited. So, on one hand you have this sexual frustration, on the other hand you have a description of paradise full of ladies and women waiting for you there. This creates some distortion in our minds and many of the students back then were truly dreaming about going to paradise; dying for Allah as a martyr or shahid, and go to paradise to have these ladies up there.
PJH: How does this apply to women suicide bombers, who are now starting to become more prevalent, where you used to never hear of such a thing? What are they promised, Chippendales and fat-free ice cream? (I have wondered the same myself).
TH: Look, the dream of going to God and the paradise and to die in martyrdom or shahid is actually in the mind of many women including my wife. She used to dream about dying as a martyr to go to paradise.
But the dream for women is a little different. Women are affected by the fear of hell more than desire in having sexual things in paradise. There are words of the prophet Mohammed which are not Qur’anic but are generally accepted by most Muslims, that says most of the people in hell are women. The women are generally afraid of going to hell because the torture tactics are clearly described in the Qur’an. . .
PJH: On Glenn Beck’s television show, you got into it a little bit with CAIR’s (Council on American-Islamic Relations) Ahmed Bedier. What happened there?
TH: It’s something we all need to recognize. You cannot call a person a moderate if he believes he should kill apostates or he allows the beating of women and stoning them to death, or allows slavery to come back again, or uses war against non-Muslims to subjugate them to Islam, or calls Jews “pigs and monkeys.” You can’t consider this a moderate person or organization.
PJH: Do salafist or fundamentalist Islam and radical Islam have to mean the same thing?
TH: A fundamentalist is someone who doesn’t want to shake hands with women. He will force his wife and daughter to wear the hijab. They don’t allow TV in their homes. It’s more within. The effect of it is within. Radical Islam is outside. It’s forcing others to believe. It’s using violence against Christians in order to subjugate them to Islam. They are really two faces to the same coin.
PJH: It sounds like a radical is a fundamentalist who takes up jihad.