What’s to admire about Muslims?
After I posted What Muslims Really Think, a reader left an important comment. You won’t find it pleasant, for it points to one of the more famous weaknesses of Americans: we don’t know much about the rest of the world. But it is important, and it is honestly asked, and so, where else can we begin? Here’s the comment (and I wince):
I cannot think of one think I admire about Muslims, or should I say Islam, since I have met individual Muslims that I do admire. I was wondering if you could list some of the things you admire about Islam that I might consider.
Honest Poet offered a collection of grand ideas at that same thread. And here’s my own first offering: excerpts from a post by Eboo Patel, founder and director of the Interfaith Youth Corps (found thru Clipmarks excellent clipper Arifsali, who found it in the Washington Post/Newsweek’s On Faith). Emphases are mine.
The Spell of Islamophobia
A few weeks ago, I was on Radio Times, the mid-morning talk show on Philadelphia Public Radio. […]
I spoke about how Muslim history and theology support religious pluralism. I talked about many of my Muslim heroes, scholars and activists like Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and Imam Zaid Shakir who have articulated visions of a world where people from different backgrounds come together in positive ways. I described my book, Acts of Faith, which tells my story of how the discovery of my Muslim identity inspired me to start the Interfaith Youth Core. (Listen to the podcast) […]
The phones started ringing off the hooks. The callers basically had two questions: “Why don’t Muslims condemn terrorism?” And, “Where are the moderate Muslim voices?”
One caller said, “I was raised a Catholic and we were taught love and acceptance. You were raised a Muslim … and you were taught hatred which leads to violence.” […]
I answered each question pretty directly. I effectively said there are many moderate Muslim voices. You just heard one of them – mine – speak for about thirty minutes. Instead of continuing to ask that question,
please tell your friends about me. I cited several other such voices.
I expanded on many of the points that I had made in the initial conversation with Marty Moss-Coane – that the dominant ethos of Islam tends towards compassion and pluralism, values that Islam shares with
But I admit, there was a little voice inside my head that wanted to say to some of these callers, “Don’t you feel a little embarrassed revealing that level of ignorance and bigotry on Public Radio? Do you know nothing more about the religion of one-fifth of humankind for over 1000 years but the violent bits? […]
I am convinced that if I got up on stage and did nothing but list the names of Muslim leaders I know who have very publicly condemned terrorism (check out the Not in the Name of Islam campaign, signed by 700,000 people and only one small example of Muslims condemning terrorism), people would still ask me “Why don’t Muslim leaders condemn terrorism?”
So here’s my new theory on this. There has been a spell cast on certain portions of America. Whenever they see a Muslim speaking – it doesn’t matter whether the talk is about gardens or finance or peace –
they fall into a hypnotic state and can only ask two questions: “Where are the moderate Muslims?” and “Why don’t Muslims condemn terrorism?” […]
OK, where shall we take it from here? What can you add that would help us learn what we don’t know?
Tags: Muslims, Islamophobia, Muslims+condemn+terrorism, Not+in+the+name+of+Islam, Islamist, Islamofascism, Islam+terrorism, Monte Asbury