Davi: I'm Davi Barker writing for Examiner.com and I’m here with William Coley who’s currently on a national tour of talk radio shows. Will is a long time Tea Party activist. Former co-host of the first Tea Party radio show in America, “Tea Party Patriots Live” on WORL 660 Orlando, and he’s the director of Muslims for Liberty. I've got a whole list of questions here but I kinda just want to have an informal conversation. Can you start by telling me more about your background.
Will: Absolutely. Have you ever seen a Normal Rockwell painting?
Will: That’s basically where I grew up. I live on the buckle of the Bible Belt. We don’t like the government. We don’t like the rich. We like our guns and our religion and we just want to be left the hell alone.
Davi: See, I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s more like a Salvador Dali painting. Everyone is tolerant and peaceful, and you can be anything you want to be if you just follow your heart.... and the 10,000 regulations we have to keep you safe from yourself.
Will: ::laughs:: We don’t have a lot of lefties around here. We were a traditional southern family in a small conservative community.
Davi: So how did you find Islam in the Bible Belt?
Will: Well, part of my family is Apostolic, which believe in strict monotheism, and the other part is Southern Baptist, which is trinitarian. But they were reading the same book, which always fascinated to me. As a kid I had a gift for scripture. It just sticks in my head. In high school they called me “Preacher Man” because I was always studying scripture. I read the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the Bhagavad Gita, the Tao Te Ching. I wanted to understand everything.
Davi: I was the same way. We weren’t really religious in my family, but I was always investigating. You know they say for a lot of converts Islam is the last place they look after studying everything else.
Will: Exactly. So, when I found Islam about four years ago it just spoke to me. Because it was the same strict monotheism I always believed, along with the tight knit, socially conservative, modest family values I grew up with. Being in that community, feeding the homeless, studying Islam at a deep level really transformed me, and changed my whole life.
Davi: So, how did you get to libertarianism?
Will: I have always had libertarian leanings, ever since I got my first job and realized that people were taking my money for things I don’t agree with. But basically I went from being a liberal to being a libertarian in the process of learning to be Muslim.
Davi: Why? I mean that’s interesting because it was the same for me. But why for you?
Will: Because libertarianism is spelled out over and over again in Sharia. A constitutionally limited federal government, with the strength to defend independent states that govern themselves. These are the principles practiced by Abu Bakr and Omar and Uthman and Ali, the first rulers to succeed the prophet Muhammad. And when you read about the principles of free markets, and the protection of individual liberty, that’s small government. And the city-states governed themselves under their own legal systems. Jewish states ruled with Jewish law. Christian states ruled with Christian law.
Davi: Did you know the first governor of Jerusalem under Muslim rule was a Jew? And not a Jewish convert, a practicing Jew.
Will: Exactly! That’s the kind of independence the founding fathers intended for America. Tennessee was ruled the way Tennesseans wanted. California was ruled the way Californians wanted, and the Federal Government didn’t really meddle in it.
Davi: Wouldn’t that be nice? So, tell me about your group Muslims for Liberty.
Will: Absolutely. We are a group of Muslims and non Muslims of a liberty minded ideology fighting to change the perception of Islam in American, and offer tools to conservatives and libertarians who want the facts about Islam without all the sensationalized rhetoric we get in the media. Basically we push libertarian ideas, constitutionalist ideas and voluntaryist ideas in the Muslim community, and we do outreach to other Tea Party groups to say, “look, we’re here, we’re not going anywhere, and we are fighting for liberty just like you. We should be fighting side by side, not against each other.”
Davi: I have to ask, is the Tea Party something different out in Tennessee? I was like first wave Tea Party back in 2007, during the Ron Paul campaign, but most of the rank and file today have no idea what it was about at the beginning. I feel like being anti Muslim is a central part of their message now. Around here Tea Party folks came out to protest our mosque building a minaret. They even protest charitable fundraisers.
Will: Yes and no. Our efforts are helping, alhumdulillah. Let me give an example. We started up some educational classes at our local library. Totally by coincidence it was the same day the Anti-Sharia legislation was introduced in Tennessee. We reached out to a handful of Tea Party groups in East Tennessee, Patriots of East Tennessee, Citizens for Blunt County’s Future, who were Tea Party before Tea Party was cool, and we did a comparative study of Sharia and the US Constitution.
Now, there was a another local Tea Party group. I won’t say who because I don’t want to open old wounds. But they didn't want to hear anything we had to say, or attend any event we put together. We were Muslim, and they were Christian, and therefor we were liars and not to be trusted. So that does exist. But today 12 of the 14 Tea Party groups in East Tennessee actually voted that they were not anti Muslim after we reached out to them.
Davi: That’s awesome.
Will: You have to keep trying. That’s the trick. You make one call and you find friends. You make another call and you find enemies. But you gotta keep making that next call.
Davi: What’s been the response from the Muslim community?
Will: A lot of Muslims are completely politically apathetic. They don’t believe they are represented. They feel unwelcome. They are made to feel like they are not a part of society.
Here’s the problem. In 2000 Muslims overwhelmingly voted for George Bush. This is a community that traditionally voted for conservatives. That changed obviously. In 2008 most Muslims backed Barack Obama. Now what’s happening? A lot of Muslims are seeing that he is not the person he claimed to be either.
He said he was going to close Guantanamo. It’s still open. He said he was going to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They’re still going. And worse than that, Obama has killed more civilians in 18 months than Bush did in 7 years.
Davi: Wow! I didn’t know that.
Will: So Muslims are defecting from both parties in droves, because they see that they are both willing to throw our community under the bus any time it’s politically convenient.
Davi: So Muslims in America are essentially politically homeless.
Will: Not really. Muslims are joining libertarian groups, agorist groups, voluntaryist groups, environmentalist groups. A lot of Muslims are joining The Green Party because they shares our values of taking care of the environment and taking care of your neighbor, and the Libertarian Party because they share our values of personal liberty and free market ideas.
The libertarian philosophy is about individualism not collectivism. Like Martin Luther King Jr. said, we judge by “the content of your character.” So, you may not even know you were talking to a libertarian Muslim, because we're libertarians. Things like race, and religious preference don't really matter in libertarian circles. The only thing that matters is your principles.
But a lot of Muslims have given up. That’s why we try to encourage civic involvement within the Muslim community. Muslims aren’t out there enough in my opinion. A lot of us do a lot of work, but there is a mindset in our community that we’re afraid. Other Muslims don’t come to Tea Party events with me because they are terrified by the portrayal of Tea Party people in the media. And it’s the same for the Tea Party. If you’d never met a Muslim, and all you know is what they said in the media, would you feel safe coming to a mosque? I wouldn’t.
Davi: So, your basically saying that the division is the fault of the media on both sides.
Will: Exactly! I call it the Jerry Springer affect. The media doesn’t educate people. It’s there to get people to sit on their couch and watch a spectacle so they can make money selling advertising. The Tea Party is dealing with the same problem as the Muslim community. They’re struggling to wrestle their own narrative away from the media.
Muslims are associated with terrorists. Even if a headline says, “Muslims condemn terrorism” that still adds to that perception. They’ve done the same thing to the Tea Party. People associate the Tea Party with Christian extremists, because that’s how they’ve framed it in the Media.
Davi: They’re starting to call the Tea Party and libertarians terrorists now too.
Will: Or course. No matter how many people are at a particular event. They will always focus the camera on the one guy who best suits their agenda. I’ll give you a classic example.
Anjem Coudary is one of these patented crazy extremists from England, and he came to Washington DC to organize these “Sharia Law in the USA” rallies. He was encouraging the overthrow of the US Constitution. As if somehow 2% of the population is going to impose Saudi Law on the other 98%. I call it Saudi Law because what they’re talking about it totally unIslamic.
He tried three times to set up these rallies and all of them had to be cancelled because no one showed up except counter protesters. But the media gave him four days of non stop coverage. He was on Glen Beck, and Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly and all these other right wing shows. He got the royal treatment from our media.
But the very next weekend 100 Imams, American Muslim leaders, organized an Anti Terrorism Rally in New York City that was attended by over a thousand Muslims, and there was a media blackout. Nobody covered it. Not even the local media. If you weren’t an activist in the Muslim community you wouldn’t even know it happened.
I don’t deny extremists exist. That would be nonsense. But we know that they’re crazy. We know they encourage violence. And we reject them. So why does the media put the spot light on them when there’s 1.5 billion Muslims on this Earth?
Davi: That’s a great point. But I guess it’s not surprising. They did the same thing to the Ron Paul Campaign in 2007. We raised the most money, won the most polls, won the most debates and the media pretended Ron Paul didn’t even exist. Now they’re doing it again this year, but at least people are waking up to it.
Will: The media refuses to acknowledge we even exist! The liberal media doesn’t want to talk to us because we’re Tea Party. The left doesn’t want to admit that Muslim communities can work together with libertarians and conservatives and Republicans. The right wing media isn’t interested because we are Muslims and we believe in the principles of liberty as part of our faith. So we are the antithesis of this bogey man they say we are. Basically our very existence challenges the narrative that both sides are using to create division in our society and maintain control.
Davi: Why do you call it Saudi Law?
Will: Saudi Arabia claims to be a Sharia compliant country, but it’s a tribal law system. The name “Saudi Arabia” itself is a violation of the Sharia.
Davi: Why’s that?
Will: Muhammad said that that land should only be known as “Arabia” and they renamed that country after themselves. Plus the country is ruled by a King. Islam specifically came to do away with patrilineal monarchy. The first four leaders after the prophet Muhammad were all elected. So for the leader of Arabia to be a king who passes leadership down to his son is an unislamic idea.
There are no Sharia compliant countries on the face of the Earth today. Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sudan... all these places just drape a cloak of Sharia over their own corrupt systems. There were checks and balances that were actually set up by the prophet Muhammad to protect the people from the government. There was a specific court called the Qadi Mazlema and one of it’s functions was to protect people from what we might call “unconstitutional legislation.”
I’ll give you an example. There was a king in Morocco who wanted to build himself a grand mosque to honor himself on his 60th birthday, and the people protested because they didn’t want to pay the taxes for it. So they went to the Qadi Mazlema and argued that it was unIslamic. And this was mosque, but the court agreed that he didn’t have the authority to tax people for that reason and ordered the treasury not to collect the taxes.
Davi: That sounds like the Supreme Court.
Will: Muslims support the ideas in the Constitution because most of them came from our religion. Now people will immediately say, no no no, these are Judeo-Christian values. Ok fine. I’m not saying it was purposeful. I’m saying that English Common Law, as it developed historically, has tremendous commonality with Islamic Law, and coincidentally did not come into existence until they were exposed to Muslims in Palestine.
When the King of France set up the first jury system he openly stated that it was modeled on the system used by the Saracens, the Muslims in Palestine. Before Islam there was no legal system that guaranteed your right to face your accuser. No other legal system had ever given the judge the leeway to judge the law itself. If he felt that the punishment for a crime didn’t fit the individual case, because their wasn’t forethought, or malice or whatever, a judge had the right to nullify the law in that case.
Most of the rights under English Common Law, that our founding fathers discussed at length and enshrined in our founding documents, were adopted from Islamic Law. In fact, four of the five normative maxims in Islamic Law are mirrored almost exactly in English Common Law and in the Constitution.
Davi: What is a “normative maxim.”
Will: Maxims are ways to understand Islamic Law from a layman’s perspective. We call them normative because they are common across every school of thought. I don’t think there’s any difference of opinion about this anywhere in Islamic history, except that they are ignored by every modern Islamic state.
For example, the very first normative maxim of Islamic law is that you are not liable for any action, whether it’s civil or criminal, until it has been proven in court with the preponderance of evidence that you are liable. Or, in our system we say “innocent until proven guilty.”
Davi: You’re saying no court system before Islamic Law had the presumption of innocence?
Will: No. Prior to Islam if a king or a judge said you were guilty, you were guilty until you convinced him you were innocent.
I’ll give you another example. The second normative maxim is that certainty is never overruled by doubt. That might sound confusing, but it means you can’t bring in circumstantial evidence to trial. If your evidence is not certain, if it’s doubtful, it is inadmissible in a court of law.
The fourth is that custom is the basis of judgement. That’s in our First Amendment. So for example, if you’re a Christian or Jew living in Muslim lands, you can have a pig farm or a winery on your land, because their prohibition is not your custom.
The fifth normative maxim is the 9th Amendment. Everything is permitted until it is shown to be forbidden. Until something is shown to be a harm to society it is considered permissible.
Davi: So why haven’t we heard any of this before? I see people debating Sharia Law on the news all the time.
Will: But they only talk to people with political science degrees, and criminal law degrees about theology. It makes no sense. We have people on our staff with knowledge of Islam, knowledge of fiqh, knowledge of Sharia. We could be very effective doing these kinds of media spots. But they don’t want to talk to us because we don’t fit the narrative.
There’s this cottage industry of people like Pam Geller and Zuhdi Jasser peddling fear and hatred across America. Robert Spencer came to Tennessee last month and charged people $20 to hear him tell people to hate and fear their neighbors in a church.
All these so called experts make big money telling you Sharia says this, or Sharia says that. Really? Show me. What book? What scholar? What maxim? What school of thought? Because I’ve been studying Sharia at a pretty deep level for years and I can’t find any of that. Because I can show that Sharia and the US Constitution follow almost exactly the same guidelines, not only in form but in function. And I’ll give you the sources so you can go home and look it up yourself.
I challenged Bridgett Gabriel to a public debate, to show me where it says what she claims. You know what happened? I was told she doesn’t debate. But I’ve seen her debate. The truth is she doesn’t debate anyone with credentials. She’ll debate these Muslim spokesmen with journalism and media relations degrees till the sun goes down, but put her in front of somebody who has actually studied Islamic Law and she doesn’t want anything to do with that. Because they would expose her as a liar, and she knows that.
I shut down Bill Warner. His argument hinges on this idea that there are two separate Qurans. There’s this early Quran in Mecca that’s peaceful, and benevolent toward people of other faiths, and there’s this other Quran revealed in Medina that is totalitarian and teaches to kill everybody that’s not like you. He claims the newer revelation abrogates the older one. So I asked him, which scholar’s theory of abrogation does he follow? And he gave me a deer in the headlights look. There are hundreds of scholars of the theory or abrogation. He’s quoting me the opinion of one of them. Which one is it? Well, he had no idea what I was talking about. He’s claiming to be an expert on this information and he can’t tell me where it came from? That tells you he’s just making it up. Because the verses that talk about peace, justice and equity before the law are from the very last two chapters to be revealed. So if newer chapters cancel out older chapters, well these are the newest chapters.
I invited Allen West and Adam Hasner to face me on Political Roundtable. It’s a huge show carried on 77 networks across Florida, but they refused. I just want to get these hard core anti Muslim voices to actually sit down with me and prove what it is that they claim. We don’t need to talk to people who want to be our friends. We need to confront the people who want to put us in an internment camp, so when my son grows up he doesn’t have to deal with this. We want an opportunity to expose these people for the fraud that they are, and show that they are spreading anti Muslim hysteria for profit in our society.
Davi: Let’s back up a little bit. You said that free market principles are part of the Islamic religion?
Will: Yes. Muhammad is the only religious leader who was also a merchant. He practiced free market economics in his daily life. The prophet Muhammad stated that prices are set by God through the market. Mankind has no authority to manipulate prices. Our religion calls for a free market system, starting with sunnah money.
Davi: Explain sunnah money, because I think that’s one of the most important issues to break down for people in the current global economy.
Will: Sunnah money is the gold standard, which most if not all libertarians call for. Gold, silver, copper, any precious metal coin that can’t be manipulated by a central bank the way that paper currency is. Well, Saudi Arabia’s money is based off the US Dollar, which is based off interest. Well interest is forbidden in Islam. So once again the Saudi government is showing us that it’s not an Islamic government.
I have no love for the Saudi government. You’re not going to get me to say anything good about them at all. These people are swimming in money from the US and they are the world’s top financial supporter of terrorism. It’s insane.
Davi: Is there anything you want to add before we close?
Will: Yeah. I just want people to understand that a lot of the stuff that people say is in the Quran is not actually in the Arabic. A lot of the translations out now come directly from the Saudi Government, printed by the Saudi royal family. There is a documentary called “Inside the Quran” that exposed that what’s written in the original Arabic and what’s written in the Saudi translation are completely different.
For example, in the first chapter, which we recite in our prayers, it says “keep us on the straight path not the path of those who go astray” and then the Saudi translation says, “like the Christians.” But that’s not in the text anywhere. Next it says, “make us not from amongst those who earn your wrath.” and the Saudis added “like the Jews.” But the word Yahud and Nasrani are nowhere in there. They are manipulating the translation to cause division between people. This is well known, but again the media doesn’t talk about it because it doesn’t fit the agenda.
The prophet was not like that. When someone criticized him for standing and giving honor to a funeral procession that was for a Jewish woman he looked at them and replied, “Are they not human?” That’s how we feel.
Davi: Great. So finally how can people find more information about Muslims for Liberty?