After 9/11, the world was coached to understand that terrorism is not Islam. The West slowly came to understand that there were sects and branches of Islam, and that we can not hold the whole of the faith responsible for the actions of a few. President Bush visited mosques to underscore this point. The media rushed to fill the headlines with images of innocent Muslims being attacked for their faith. The violence, we learned, was not your fault.
Except that it is.
Amid all the outrage that I’ve heard in the media during the attacks in Mumbai, there is one voice that remains silent: the peaceful Muslims. If atheists were out there killing people in the name of my beliefs, I’d be the first person to jump up and call the idiots out. I would be furious to have my thoughts and beliefs profaned on the world stage, and I would not stand for it.
And yet, you are.
We hear Islamic demagogues scream for blood and Allah’s retribution nearly every day, and yet there is no Islamic voice offering the world a better vision of Islam… a vision the world can work with. Instead, all we get are the rantings of people who want all of us dead; People who swear to overthrow the governments of the world and instill an Islamic tyranny.
I’ve read the Quran. I know that there are peaceful interpretations of the commandments you find in it. But if I can’t hear your voice explaining this, then I know there are many young Muslims who can’t hear you either. A muffled scowl and a disapproving nod do nothing in the face of the fiery rhetoric and bloody vengeance that captures the headlines daily.
I agree that acts of terrorism like those in Mumbai are not the responsibility of the average Muslim who just wants to live, work, and feed his family. However, with each new atrocity committed in the name of Islam, the voice of average Muslims is becoming weaker, while that of the extremists grows strong.
The world wants to hear the average, peaceful Muslim. I want imams from London to Fresno getting on the news and openly decrying the kind of violence and cruelty being committed in the name of the faith they preach. If Islam is a religion of peace, then it must be reclaimed now, today. The world needs to see the clear light of day between the Muslims they live and work with, and the Muslims they see on TV. More importantly, the next generation of Muslims who are learning much of their beliefs from media rhetoric need to see the difference.
If the Muslim world fails to act decisively to decry these kinds of attacks, the future of the faith will rest in the hands of terrorists, not with your local imam. If that happens, Islam really will become the cruelty that so many already believe it is, and the voice of the moderates will be nothing more than a heresy to the soldiers of a new Islam.
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