Sincere and Courageous Words from a Muslim

In a world of discourse where the pronouncements of demopaths like CAIR fill the ears with aggressive claims to victimization, words like those of M. Zuhdi Jasser of the American-Islamic Forum for Democracy descend like dew from the heavens. (Hat-tip Lawrence Lowenthal)

I have watched horrified as assassins have read out the words from my Holy Koran before slitting the throats of some poor innocent souls. To my non-comprehending eyes, I have seen mothers proudly support their sons’ accomplishment of blowing up innocent people as they eat or travel. It shatters some part of me, to see my faith as an instrument for butchery.
It makes me hope and pray for some counter-movement within my faith which will push back all this darkness. And I know that it must start with what is most basic — the common truth that binds all religions: “Do unto others, as you would have them do onto you.” The Golden Rule.

The Jewish version of the golden rule differs slightly, if significantly: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to others.” It has a less missionizing and intrusive quality… more live and let live. But in any case, both of the formulas offer a good guide to having a “single standard” so radically lacking in both Islamic public discourse and in our responses.

But that is not what I am seeing taught in a great deal of the Muslim world today, and, unfortunately, in America it’s just not much better.
Night after night, I see Muslim national organizations like the Council for American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, cry out over and over about anecdotal victimization while saying and doing absolutely nothing about the most vile hate-speak and actions toward Jews and Christians in the Muslim world. It is the most self-serving of outrage.
The question I ask myself in the darkness of my own night is, “How did my beautiful faith become so linked with such ugliness.” To me, the answer is both deep and simple. A spiritual path must be only about the spiritual while a worldly path must be about this world. When the two get mixed together, it brings out the very worst in both.

This, I would argue, is the core gift of civil societies to religion. Ultimately, only voluntary commitments are genuine in matters of religion, and only those who impress others by their example, can really communicate the depths of religious insight. As a result, by taking the power of coercion and bribery out of the hands of religion (especially missionary monotheisms), and forcing religious figures to communicate only through uncoerced conviction, they bring out the best in the religions that live under their sovereign protection. In this sense, secular is not anti-religious, but really the arena in which the best of religion can flourish.

I do believe that religions have cycles that they go through. Christianity was once a highly intolerant faith. Jews were labeled as “Christ killers” and the colored peoples of the Third World were people whose native faith was like ragged clothes to be torn off their bodies.
Thank God those days are over. Now my faith community must do the same. It should be the true test of a Muslim, not so much how he treats a fellow Muslim but how he treats someone of another faith.

That is the challenge of Islam. It does not need a “reformation” like the Protestants, for whom tolerance was a “minority’s plea” to be tossed aside as soon as power made it possible to impose the “true religion” on dissidents, and which brought on over a century of vicious religious wars. Rather, Islam needs a constitutional moment like the American Revolution, when, for the first time in Christian history, tolerance was a winner’s creed.

Time is not on our side and the volatile radical minority of Muslims could strike again at any time. But, while true change among Muslims may take generations, our history teaches us that once we start the ideological battle, nothing can counter the power of freedom, pluralism and the desire for human rights.
There are some small signs that my community is finally beginning to wake up to the cancer in its midst. We are learning something that was the central lesson of World War II — that once aroused, evil never stays self-contained.
For many in my faith, it was all right to blow up innocent Israelis as they sat in their cafes and pizza parlors. Through some tortured act of logic, these suicide bombings were seen as some sort of legitimate religion-sanctioned acts. (All the while, notice how few Muslim organizations like CAIR will denounce Hamas by name). But, as evil always does, it migrates, and soon radical Muslims were blowing up little children in Russia, commuters in Spain and worshippers in one of Iraq’s holiest mosques.
Maybe our first true wake-up call was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s homicide attack on the wedding party in Jordan. Because now, the evil unleashed on the occupying Jews had landed on the doorstep of Muslims as they partook in a joyous wedding day.
That is the lesson that we in the Muslim community are now learning. Do evil to anyone and eventually it will boomerang on you. Perhaps, that’s a good place to start. Let the barometer of our faith be how we treat our Jewish friends, because in the end, that is how we will eventually treat ourselves.

Amen.

Unless I am (very sadly) mistaken, this man is an exceptionally courageous and wise person, and a credit to his religion. Would there were many more with the courage to so speak.

5 Responses to Sincere and Courageous Words from a Muslim

  1. 54671876 says:

    Great post. Many non-muslims can also learn from this man.

    My preferred version of the golden rule is the law of Karma which can be stated as: you will reap the consequences of what you sow. Interestingly the speaker in the post seems to agree when he says:

    “Do evil to anyone and eventually it will boomerang on you.”

    This example shows how the law of Karms needs no spiritual explanation and makes no appeal to altruism. It shows how it is in the individual’s own best interest to do what is right.

  2. Lawrence Barnes says:

    Muslims do not believe in karma (Sanskrit word for Hindus, or kamma, Pali word for Buddhists). It’s not in the Koran. What you learn when you ask a Muslim what the Rules of Life are is that all humans must do as commanded by their creator. Those commandments are in the Koran. End of report.

    The ideas promoted by this Muslim are non-Islamic. Islam does not tolerate non-Islamic teachings. Ask any Muslim, even the fellow who is the subject of this post, about that.

    Begin with, “What part or parts of the Koran do you reject, exactly?”

    Good luck. Keep your head on….

  3. pakistan says:

    The Fourth Rail blog has another example:

    http://billroggio.com/archives/2006/04/the_expansion_of_tal.php

    Pakistan, which chose to develop the Taliban as a proxi in Afghanistan, is now itself being attacked by the remnants of the Taliban.

  4. […] ices denouncing suicide terrorism. There may well be many Muslims out there who are, like Zuhdi Jasser, disgusted by what supposed “true belie […]

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