Ayad Jamal Ad-Deen is a name that is known by very few Americans. But he is a household name in Iraq, and commands more than 100,000 followers on his Facebook account. Ayad Jamal Ad-Deen is a prominent Shi’i Twelver Iraqi cleric, famous for his criticism of sectarianism and political Islam.
He is also well known for his support of secularism, and ran a losing bid for a seat in Iraq’s parliament. A controversial figure, he is on record for saying things like “the West has produced human rights and the notion of liberties, things which are entirely absent from Islam,” that “under Islam there is no equality between Muslims and non-Muslims,” and that “the Qur’an with the sword is more dangerous than nuclear technology.”
On April 27th, 2016, Ayad Jamal Ad-Deen continued his track record of controversy by penning an open letter to Donald Trump, in case he assumes the U.S. Presidency. The following is my translation of his open letter:
To Donald Trump, may God grant him victory:
If you want to stop Islamic terrorism, then you must push the U.N. Security Council to officially declare that “Political Islam” is a destructive doctrine more dangerous than Nazism and Communism. You must push the U.N. Security Council to issue resolutions imposing secularism upon the Islamic countries. And whichever Islamic country refuses to apply secularism should be expelled from the United Nations, and relations with said country should be suspended; furthermore, it should be considered a nucleus of Islamic terrorism.
My dear Trump, I am confident that all Muslim rulers, with the exception of Iran’s, will thank you for imposing secularism on them, on their countries, and on their people. My dear Trump, to the Arab rulers and the Muslims applies the saying, “you lust and are ashamed,” meaning, they love secularism but fear its consequences. So force secularism upon them. As for the Muslims, they are conglomerations of the unemployed. Yesterday they were communists and nationalists, and today they have become Islamists; and tomorrow Muslims will morph into something else. Put an end to the religious satellite channels, both Sunni and Shi’i—prohibit the broadcasting of Friday sermons, and they [the Muslims] will gradually change.
My dear Trump, I long for the emergence of another Muslim Ataturk. And my hope is that you will become an international Ataturk, one who forces secularism on Muslims with compulsion. May God reward you with goodness, my dear Trump. The biggest mistake that your American forebears have committed is to try to spread democracy and liberty in our countries prior to spreading secularism.
Secularism first—secularism first, and the imposition of an egalitarian principle between the Muslim and the non-Muslim. That is the key to defeating Islamic terrorism.
These are bold words. No doubt many would have thought that this was penned by some giant islamophobe, if not for the authorial attribution. Indeed, the last thing that would come across the minds of many Americans would be that this was written by a prominent Muslim cleric. But it was.
Muslim clerics as influential as Ayad Jamal Ad-Deen are very valuable to the United States and the West in the fight against Islamic terrorism. After all, as is oft-repeated, Islam cannot be reformed from without: Muslims must reform their own religion. People like Ayad Jamal Ad-Deen, people who are trying to reform Islam from within and change Islamic societies to secular ones, desperately need our support. Their calls should not go unheeded.
 Twelver Shi’ism is the largest branch of Shi’i Islam. A distinguishing belief of Twelvers is the belief in the occultation of the “Mahdi,” a messianic-savior figure. Unlike Sunnis, Twelvers identify the Mahdi as the son of Hasan al-Askari, who is believed to have gone into occultation since the 9th century A.D. The Mahdi is believed to emerge at the apocalypse.