by Dr. Al Aziz Eddebbarh
Sometimes enough is enough of the Islam bashing and after reading recent news articles, especially a March 22, 2016, USA Today column, “The Quran’s Deadly Role in Inspiring Belgian Slaughter” by Nabeel Qureshi, I decided to write a response.
Like the article’s author, Nabeel Qureshi, I was taught by religious scholars and community members that Islam is a religion of peace. My family also, ‘modeled love for others and love for country’. He grew up in America and I grew up in Africa. It’s amazing how with similar backgrounds we can come to such opposite opinions about Islam. I still believe Islam is a religion of peace, Nabeel Qureshi; I don’t think so. After the Belgian attack, he did research and was surprised to find that – in his words, “the pages of Islamic history are filled with violence”.
President Obama answered the critique of Islam as a particularly violent religion last year at his annual February prayer breakfast by recalling how Christians used the justification of violence and racism in the West, “And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”
Since 1865, more than a century, the Ku Klux Klan has terrorized Black people in the name of Christ Jesus. However, Christianity was never, has never been condemned for their actions. The Bible was never, has never been condemned as the source of their terror. Why is there a different standard for Christianity than Islam? Black people must speak to this historical contradiction. Our voices are needed in the ongoing conversations about Islam and terror.
Does ANY religion preach violence, hatred, inequality and other abominations for that matter? The
simple answer is no. Religious analysis requires so much more than using certain quotes to prove a point. That’s called ‘proof texting’, which is to understand scriptural texts outside of their cause and context which does very little to explain that religion. Anyone can take any sacred text outside of its proper understanding and use it to prove just about anything.
In President Obama’s speech last year he reminds us, “No religion condones the killing of
innocents, and the vast majority of [the Islamic State’s] victims have been Muslim”.
Religious ‘misinterpretation’ is at the heart of these acts of violence. To say ISIS or Daesh as it is also called represents Islam is to say that 1.7 billion Muslims with all its diverse races and cultures are adhering to a faith that justifies violence against innocent civilians. If that were true there would have been many more so called terrorist attacks all over the world. What about the Muslims in China, Russia, Albania, South America, Canada and other places? Why no terrorist attacks there?
All around the world there are Muslims living their very peaceful and content lives according to the principles of Islam that are in stark contrast to what ISIS is doing. They serve their communities, rear children to be successful citizens and faithfully worship their Lord.
This is far from what ISIS is doing. They strip minorities and other Muslims who don’t agree with their heinous and twisted ideology from their human dignity and inflict on
them the harshest of calamities. They end suicide bombers to kill innocent men, women and children. If we honestly want to stop these horrid acts, we must give people more reasons to live than they feel they have to die.
Start with a few simple questions: Are all people equal? Are all people entitled to freedom, justice and equality? Are there lives we mourn and others we don’t? Did the lost lives in the terrorist attack at the Istanbul Airport receive the same attention as the lost lives at the Nice attack? The simple answer is no. As African Americans we understand and feel the inequality of treatment in our lives as we face violence by police on an almost daily basis.
On a very basic level all people want freedom, justice and equality. They want to live in a world that offers these basic tenets of humanity without condition or prerequisites. They want the same human rights they see given to other people around the world. They want a standard ruler used to explain the rights and wrongs of life. They want to be able to live life that is pleasing to God.
Imam Abdul Aziz has a Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences and received a traditional Islamic Education in Morocco. For years, he’s worked on promoting social justice, cultural understanding and interfaith harmony. In addition to being the Imam of TaHa Mosque in Santa Fe, he is also a frequent Khatib at Masjd As Sabour, Masjid Altawhid, and Jamai Masjid in Las Vegas. He is currently a student at Hartford Seminary.