Between the Lines
President Obama and residual conversation on the 9-11 mosque site: Ramadan is probably the best time to discuss America’s growing anti-Muslim sentiment
The holy month of Ramadan represents the time where Muslims rededicate themselves to their faith and the practice of Islam (the religion of peace; “Islam” means “peace” in Arabic). It is also a time to educate the world on what Islam is about. Propagating one’s faith is the American way.
Americans invoke God in everything they do, whether they believe in a supreme being or not.
The reality is that America is not a Christian nation. America has no national religion. The constitution bans a national religion. Christianity is the dominant religion in the United States, in its various strands, but less than a majority of the nation’s population practice any form of Christianity.
America is supposed to be a nation that espouses religious tolerance to practice (or not to practice) one’s religious beliefs. Only two-thirds of the nation practices any religion at all. Most cultural practices in America go against the seven things God hates, revealed to us in Proverbs (6:16-19)—1) arrogant eyes; 2) a lying tongue; 3) Hands that shed innocent blood; 4) a heart that plots wicked schemes; 5) feet eager to run to evil; 6) a lying witness that gives false testimony; and 7) one who stirs up trouble among his brothers.
The promotion of violence, sex, materialism, truth relativism, and false witnessing puts American culture in direct opposition to the will of God, and it has produced the manifestation of God’s seven deadly sins, also known as “capital vices” or what we call “Cardinal Sins:” Greed, gluttony, envy, sloth, pride, lust and wrath.
Greed is considered the mother of all sin, but wrath (revenge) is the center of most dissent. God’s wrath is different from man’s wrath. God’s wrath comes from abundant sins against society. Man’s wrath is often sin committed against one another. Religious warfare is the biggest sin against society as man’s constant battle to insist “Who has the biggest God?” causes societies to fall over their insistence that no other belief exists other than their own.
The more interesting reality about religion is that when it comes to beliefs outside American’s dominant belief, all other beliefs are not protected against persecution. An act of a single so-called believer indicts the whole group. America is becoming more and more anti-Muslim, because of this mindset.
The demonization of Muslims in America must stop. Ramadan can serve as the teaching moment even as another anti-Islamic conversation happens.
Never was anti-Muslim sentiments more evident than the recent conversation around building a mosque near the New York Twin Towers site (the so-called 9-11 site). Detractors have almost called the construction of the mosque sacrilege, an attack on the memory of those who died on that fated day in 2001. The mosque isn’t being built on the site, or even cross the street from the site. It’s being built a couple blocks away. It’s almost like there is some sort of “no-Muslim zone” being created. How close is too close? Moreover, how far is too far? Six blocks? One mile? The island of Manhattan?
Just as Christians are allowed to pray anywhere, Muslims should be as well. President Barack Obama said as much at a White House Ramadan dinner.
The problem is that the whole 9-11 conversation has become about “Muslims trying to change our (American) way of life.” Thus, Muslims are not to be trusted in American society and to be verbally attacked whenever possible, so that Islam never becomes an acceptable religious practice in America.
You have ideologues like Newt Gingrich saying that building a mosque near the twin tower-site is tantamount to building a Nazi building next to a Holocaust site, or building a Japanese memorial at Pearl Harbor. The intent here is to create a permanent stigma against Islam.
Islam scholars and believers have repeatedly said those involved in 9-11 were not Muslims, because Muslims don’t shed innocent blood.
It’s like a person who calls themselves Christian and commits a murderous act. Are all Christians now to be distrusted because one committed an act fraudulently in the name of Jesus (it has happened)? No they’re not. So, why should Muslims continue to be persecuted for something non-Muslims, acting in un-Islamic ways, have done. Only ignorance allows it.
This coming September 11th (2010), a right-wing fringe pastor named Terry Jones, over some denomination called “The Dove Church”, is calling for an international “Burn The Qu’ran Day” www.episcopalcafe.com/lead/religion_in_america/antimuslim_sentiment_ swelling.html, which he will host and call on others worldwide to do. He even had a church member post instructions on how and why to do it (burn the Qu’ran). This, of course, will incite Muslims worldwide and wrath will run amuck. Everyone will lose their religion (grounding for religious beliefs) based on what we know God hates. Hopefully, this will not occur, and September 11th can be used as a day to promote greater religious tolerance. Now is the time to have this conversation. Not when something happens at the egging of anti-Muslim ideologues.
Anthony Asadullah Samad, Ph.D., is a national columnist, managing director of the Urban Issues Forum and author of the upcoming book: “Real Eyez: Race, Reality and Politics in 21st Century Popular Culture.” He can be reached at www.AnthonySamad.com.
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