Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Where Are All The "Moderate" Christians? An Appeal!

As Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Baraktu and Greetings of Peace:

As I take in all of this controversy over the building of a mosque, Islaamic center, whatever you want to call it, near Ground Zero in New York City, one thing keeps getting hung up in my mind: Where are all of the "moderate" Christians?  Where are your voices?

Why are you not speaking out?  Why do we not see your leaders and clergy on CNN and Fox News?  Do the extremists among you speak for the rest of you?  Shall we hold all of you accountable for the minority among you?  Isn't that what some of you did with Islaam and Muslims after 9/11?

Or is there really a minority?  A CNN poll shown this morning reveals that 68 per cent of all Americans polled, or two-thirds of those polled, do not favor the construction of the mosque near Ground Zero.  Who are these Americans?  Two-thirds of all Americans are against the First Amendment according to this poll?  Don't say that "we are for the first amendment and religious freedom, but just not "there," meaning near Ground Zero.  It is not a matter of apples and oranges.  It is the same thing.  You are either for freedom or against it!

We cry loudly about how America's sons and daughters are dying so "we" can be free. 

Who are "we?"

We cry out in agony, mourning the passing of "our" way of life in America?

What does "our" way of life mean in a diverse, pluralistic America?

After September 11th, you asked, "Where are the moderate Muslims?  Why are they not speaking out?"

Now, I ask you the same question. 

What are you doing to quell the rising tide of Islamophobia in America?

The Ground Zero controversy is a symptom.  It's not about "sacred ground," or the area being a cemetery, or possible body parts in/on the building.  If that were the case, we wouldn't see the push back at the building and renovation of mosques all around America like we are seeing (California, Tennessee, Staten Island, etc.).  Something bigger is going on.  Consider the demonstration held a few weeks ago against the Temecula, CA, mosque proposal:

According to the Valley News in its report "Temecula mosque proposal targeted in pending protest"

-- "a loose-knit coalition of area residents is planning a demonstration at the Islamic Center's existing facility along Rio Nedo west of Murrieta Creek."

-- "An e-mail alert sent to area newspapers last week announced that a one-hour 'singing – praying – patriotic rally" will begin at 12:30 p.m. July 30 at the Islamic Center’s existing facility. The advisory -- sent by a leader of a conservative coalition that has been active with Republican and Tea Party functions – recommended participants 'bring your Bibles, flags, signs, dogs and singing voices.'"

-- "'We will not be submissive,' the notice proclaimed. 'Our voices are going to be heard!' The alert went on to question what its authors described as Islamic beliefs. It suggested that participants sing during the rally because Muslim 'women are forbidden to sing.' It suggested that rally participants bring dogs because Muslims 'hate dogs.'"God help us!

When the church in Florida has its Qur'an burning on September 11th, will America's Christians be there protesting against it?  Or will they be tossing Qur'ans into the fire?  Or, will some let these hate-filled people do the dirty work?  If we're not part of the solution, we're part of the problem.

It is with great sadness that I read about mosques all over America asking for police protection for Eid celebrations.  Eid is the celebration of the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting and spiritual renewal.  It is just coincidence that the Eid date falls around September 11th this year.

Some people are asking Muslims not to have Eid ul-Fitr celebrations on September 11th.  Let's see:  no Eid on September 11th.  No Islaamic center near Ground Zero.  What CAN we do Christian America? 

It's been nine years since the horrible events of September 11th.  You've had nine years the learn the truth about Islaam - not the old tired talking points of the Islamophobes given a voice in the media.  Not the cherry-picking of verses from the Qur'an.

Numerous Muslims died in the attacks of September 11th.  The 9/11 families include Muslim families. 

As a Muslim chaplain and as someone committed to interfaith relations, I do a lot of speaking engagements to non Muslim audiences who are primarily Christians.  You know, it's the same questions they ask each and every time.  The people in the audience are confused.  My friends are confused.  What the media and some of their hate-filled Christian chain emails tell them doesn't jive with what they know about Muslims from being friends and neighbors with me and other Muslims they know.

Truth.  We MUST have the conversation in the land of the free and home of the brave.  Truth.  It requires courage.

I heard a 9/11 firefighter say on television, "That mosque will NEVER be built there."  What will you and your supporters do, sir?  Physically prevent the construction?  Blow it up like the church in Atlanta was blown up resulting in the deaths of Black children during the Civil Rights era only to show displeasure because Blacks wanted equal rights in America?  Is that where this is heading?

Americans tell the Iraqi government that Sunnis and Shias must get along, work side by side in tolerance to build the future of Iraq.  We like to hold up our American values as a model for them.  We like to tell people in the Muslim-populated world that America is not at war with Islam, but only with the terrorists.  Every American president since the creation of the state of Israel has tried to bring the Israelis and the Palestinians together, asking them to work toward the creation of two separate states where everyone can live in tolerance and peace.  Does America have the moral authority to do this work considering that it appears that we are heading down the road where American Muslims require police protection and lawyers to defend their Constitutional rights?

My mother was a Catholic.  One half of my family is Christian.  I practiced Christianity for years.  No one ever taught me to hate or oppress people of other faiths.  I am from am immigrant family.  We came to America from Eastern Europe to get away from the kind of stuff going on in America today.

If we want to "win hearts and minds" overseas, we better start here in America.

The Muslim world is watching.  Christians: find your voice!  Speak out against the hate, fear, and oppression.  To the Christians who are fighting against the insanity: thank you!

Ask yourself: WWJD? (What would Jesus do?)


Nora said...

Sorry, but it's really hard to give a damn when you consider the plight of Christians in Muslim-dominated countries like Egypt, Pakistan, and Indonesia.

So, until I don't have to worry about my young, unmarried cousins in Upper Egypt being kidnapped and forced to convert to Isam, quit being so overdramatic.

nida said...

Sorry, Nora - but this isn't Egypt - this is America!

May be you should tell your congress people and urge the US government to STOP supporting such a cruel and dictatorial government in Egypt and pouring in US dollars so that they may continue abusing both Christians AND Muslims. Have you thought about that? Or do narcissistic Americans generally not think about "other" people unless their own backside is burning?

Pakistan also being supported by the US government.

In any event, if you don't want to give a damn, why would expect others to give a damn about your plight?

Have you heard about common courtesy and humanity? It's precisely this hate you clearly exemplify which has brought America to where it is today.

What a Shame!

Safiyyah said...

Greetings Nora - indeed, the perspective of this post is America. We have rights in America that are protected by the Constitution. The Constitution is supposed to work equally for all Americans. The peoples in the countries you mentioned do not have these rights and protections.

I can understand how you feel.

My brother's best friend is married to an Iraqi Christian. She HATES Muslims because of the treatment Iraqi Christians received which forced her and her family to move to America. I have to honor her experience and her pain.

Also, my understanding is that Egypt has horrible treatment of Christians, specifically the Copts. Some facts, Islamically:

1. People of the Book (Christians, Jews, and Muslims) have rights in Muslim countries. Sadly, those governments do not give them their rights. This is wrong. Shall America be like them and not give ALL people in America their rights?

2. Forced marriage and conversion is also not a part of the religion of Islam.

So perhaps you see part of the problem.

UnIslamic behavior and things done by Muslims are misinterpreted as being from the religion of Islam when they are not.

There is a difference between religion and culture.

As Nida has said, our government supports these countries. Our government supported both Iraq under Saddam and Iran until those countries decided they didn't want to play anymore.

I hope your heart softens, Nora, to the true message of Jesus, peace upon him. Clearly, he didn't teach the people attitudes such as you have.

People of faith must insist that our rights in America are honored. Otherwise, we will end up having the type of government in the countries you mentined.

I understand your pain though. If I had relatives over there, I'd be upset, too. But, as long as you and others are appropriate, your feedback is welcome here.

@ Nida - Salaams and Ramadan Mubarak!

nida said...

Wa aleykum as'salaam Safiyyah sister and Ramadan Mubarak to you too!

I don't understand that line of reasoning. Christians were responsible for the death of my family and 62 other neighbors and friends, but that is no reason to hate all Christians.

It is a dangerous and tunneled vision which has clouded all types of fair judgment and encouraged a mob mentality which perpetuates further hate and even genocide amongst people.

And to this date I will stand up for people's human rights even if they be non-Muslim.

Unfortunately, equality is only an idea, dear sister - most people do not practice equality in America!

Trishymouse said...

I grew up in Christianity and chose to become one myself when of age. I left the formal church long ago but still consider myself a person of faith, but also a searcher. I speak up. I discuss and challenge everyone that spew hate and/or disinformation, including some in my own immediate family.

People have so much resentment, so much simplistic me me me attitude, I am appalled at people's attitudes especially some people of faith including Christians where Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount not to turn the other cheek when convenient but especially when it's NOT convenient...

Yes, I still consider myself a Christian, but I welcome everyone of any faith and love learning and discussion. My daughter is Muslim and I have learned a lot about Islam through her. I have friends who are Pagan (Wiccan) and others who are Atheist, etc., etc. Everyone is on a path, or searching, maybe both. Let us concentrate our energy on what needs work - helping those less fortunate, lifting up one another, celebrating life and expressions thereof (music, art, etc.) - THOSE are what are worthy of our passion!

Anonymous said...

Great post. It does make you wonder. I do have that nervous feeling, I feel so ill at ease right now. I can only imagine what a Jew in early 1930s Germany must have felt like. I'm actually considering making provisions for leaving the country for awhile if the Tea Party actually digs in its heels and somebody like Pailin comes into office.

Safiyyah said...

Salaams Everyone:

I'm happy to say that since writing this I am starting to see more and more Christians and other non Muslims speaking out on TV. Also, my small rural community interfaith buddies are putting together a religious freedom forum. It is in the planning stages, but I am so happy to live in a wonderful little community. Our local newspaper is also interfaith friendly as you might have seen from the articles I have posted here where they have interviewed me.

Ah Magari, you bring up a good point. I am always the person with a Plan B, C, and further out if necessary. I keep my passport current, and my credit limits in good shape. First place I would go? Istanbul!

How the Jews felt when Hitler came on the scene and things started heating up: I'm going to write a new post about this.

Hebah said...

Wow, you sure have a lot to say. Excuse me but in arabic jew is Yahudi---that's what Jewish are called in arabic----

Safiyyah said...

@ Random thoughts:

Thank you (I think). What does Yehudi have to do with anything?

Yes, I know that Yehudi is Jew in Arabic, but the problem is HOW the word has come to be used. Some people say Yehudi with venom in their mouth. It has become a slime word among some of its users. Kind of like how people use the word "kafir."

Thanks for your thoughts.