The London transit bombings happened on a Thursday. Islam's holiest day of the week is Friday. That's when the most important sermons -- known as khutbas -- are delivered in mosques everywhere.
And that's why Muslims everywhere face a test in the next several hours. Assuming we're serious that Islam means peace, we must demand that our Friday khutbas denounce the London terrorist explosions in unambiguous and unqualified terms.
Here's what I predict will happen instead. The preachers will express condolences for the victims and condemnations of the criminals. Then they'll add, "But Britain should have never invited this kind of response by joining America in the invasion of Iraq."
The trouble with this line of reasoning is that terrorists have never needed an Iraq debacle to justify their violent jihads. What exactly was the Iraq of 1993, when Islamic radicals tried to blow up the World Trade Center? Or of 2000, when the USS Cole was attacked? Hell, that assault took place after U.S. military intervention saved thousands of Muslims in Bosnia.
If staying out of Iraq protected anyone from terrorism, then why did "insurgents" last year kidnap two journalists from France -- the most anti-war, anti-Bush nation in the West? Even overt solidarity with the people of Iraq, demonstrated by CARE's top relief worker in the area, Margaret Hassan, didn't shield her from assassination.
These are the facts that ordinary Muslims must take to their preachers at Friday's sermons. A clear repudiation of the London bombings will not bring back the dead. What it can do is help the rest of the world differentiate between the moderates and the apologists.
In Britain, a bill to outlaw strong criticism of Islam awaits final approval in Parliament. Mainstream Muslims crusaded for it, arguing that they're being terrorized by racists. Today, many of their neighbors have the fear of a capricious God, thanks to Islamic fanatics.
What will Muslims do?