Healing the Wounds of September 11
|A New Wave of Islam phobia|
|Written by Dr. Shahid Athar|
After the tragedy of September 11, 2001, attacking Islam and Muslims has become the fashionable sports for the radio, television and the print media. Thus this year instead of Ramadan and Eid greetings, Muslims are receiving vicious and poisonous articles, speeches and e mails by those who are supposed to “love thy neighbors”. Anti Islam writers and speakers are trying to become a clone of Steve Emersion. .While Islam is being portrayed as a religion promoting violence and war (Indianapolis Star, December 4, 2002 column by Cal Thomas), the FBI reports that there is a 1600% increase in hate crimes against Muslims and Arabs since September 11th 2001. Those who are involved in such hate crimes against Muslims, are not the ones motivated by the Quran but by the Evangelists and the anti-Islam elements in the media. Reverend Jerry Fallwell, who after September 11th, had said that “America deserved it” also said “Mohammad is a terrorist and Islam is evil”. Mr. Pat Robertson called Islam the enemy and said “Muslims are worse than Nazis.” Reverend Jerry Wine from Florida said “Mohammad is possessed by demons”. What is the purpose of such unwarranted attacks on Islam and Muslims other than my fear that it may be the prelude to ethnic cleansing in the USA as it happened in Bosnia. However I believe that Americans are wise and smart enough that they would not allow the hate mongers to disturb the peace in our country.
Karen Armstrong, a well known writer on Islam who as written many books and articles, asks this piercing question. “If Islam is so bad, as projected by the media, how come it is still growing so fast in the West?”( Time Magazine 9-17-01 the true peaceful face of Islam ). People should be running away from something so bad, not joining it. So, I add this question : “Where is the sword of Islam now?”. Islam is a religion of peace but Muslims have not been left in peace for a long time by the crusaders of the past and the present. Karen Armstrong notes that “ Islam is not addicted to war and Jihad is not a pillar of Islam”. All of the 30 or so battles in the life of prophet Mohammed were defensive wars imposed on Muslims by unbelievers. In another article, she noted that in 1099 at the fall of Jerusalem, the invading Christian armies killed 65,000 Muslims in 2 days . They had also killed thousands of Jewish people in Europe on their way to Jerusalem. It was not the Muslims that killed 6 million Jews in the Holocaust nor was it them who ran the concentration camps in Europe in World War II and in Bosnia. Cal Thomas calls Islam “ a religion of war “ but it is not the Muslims who used Atom bomb on Japan and agent orange in Vietnam. It was not the Muslims who killed millions of Polish people in WW11 nor did the genocide of native American Indians. One should not throw stones at other while sitting in a glass house.
The verses of Quran (i.e. 4:90) which appear to promote violence, should be taken in context of its revelation as Karen Armstrong states that these verses were revealed to the Prophet Mohammad, asking him not to give up against the terrorists of that time who were persecuting Muslims. Looking for verses that appear promoting violence can also be found in other scripture including the Bible( i.e. Deuteronomy 7:1-2, Numbers 31:17-18 and Deuteronomy 20:10-17.)
The attacks on Islam and the prophet Mohammad which started 1423 years ago will continue. The hate mongers of the past and of today will become history but the names of Mohammad, Moses and Jesus ( peace be upon them ) will continue to be remembered and respected until the end of this earth. Muslims neither asked nor bribed Michael Hart, the author of the book “The Most Influential Men in the History of Mankind”, to put Mohammad as the number one person. Americans should disregard such incitement to hate from both sides and concentrate on peaceful harmony in our country. I agree with Cal Thomas that moderate Muslims should “clean up the mess created by fundamentalists” and I urge the moderate Christian and Jewish people to do the same to the Taliban in their ranks. Let me assure the hate mongers that terrorism against Islam and Muslims by pen or speech will only help Islam and Muslims in a positive way. The more Islam is attacked, the more Muslims will hold on to their faith and more non Muslims will try to know the truth about “ the most misunderstood religion” thus answering Karen Armstrong’s piercing question.
Muslims thank Pope John Paul II for trying to make peace between Christians and Muslims. On October 28, 1965, the Second Vatican Council stated “over the centuries, many quarrels and dissentions have risen between Christians and Muslims. The sacred council now pleads with all to forgive the past and urge that a sincere effort be made to achieve mutual understanding for the benefit of all men. Let them together persevere and promote peace, social justice and moral values.”( Nostra Aetate 3 ).While addressing the Catholic community of Ankara, Turkey on November 29, 1979, Pope John Paul 11 said “my brothers, when I think of this spiritual heritage (Islam) and the value it has for man and for society, its capacity of offering, particularly in the young, guidance for life, the filling gap left by materialism and giving a reliable foundation to social and judicial organizations, I wonder if it is not urgent, especially today when Christians and Muslims have entered a new period of history to recognize and develop the spiritual bonds that unite us in order to persevere and promote together for the benefit of all men, peace, liberty, social justice and moral values as the council calls upon us to do”.
The moderate Muslims respect and will listen to moderate Christians whether Karen Armstrong or Pope John Paul II but not to Islam phobic evangelists or columnists.
You can never get someone's cooperation by attacking his faith, scripture or his prophet.