My friend Eboo Patel, founder of the Interfaith Youth Core, has a blog over at Newsweek, and I've been meaning to plug it for a while now. What's prompted me to do so now is his most recent posting Discrimination Against Muslims, which has forced me to pen some thoughts that I've been kicking around for awhile now. Aziz, too, has a piece on people's understanding of the West and Islam, which highlights some of the issues I've been thinking about.
For me, Eboo's key quote is:
Read how the commentators insist on highlighting only the dark sides of Islam, making some things up, taking other things out of context and dramatically twisting the tradition to which I belong. Doesn’t every nation/religion/tradition have a dark side?
And Aziz' entire post is filled with the same sort of blind searching for hatred in Islam.
Muslims do hateful things in the name of religion. There is no doubt of this. They read scripture to support their arguments, as do those who claim that Islam is a religion of violence. As Eboo correctly notes, every religious tradition has a “dark side.” (I'm also a huge Star Wars fan, but I'm not sure it has a place in this discourse.) It seems that those who claim Islam is a religion of hate and/or violence are those embrace an understanding of faith that is based on hate and/or violence. The key distinction seems to be that their understanding of hate/violence is justified, whereas that of Muslims is not. I am not advocating hate/violence in the name of any religion, in fact, I condemn it, but I am attempting to put the debate in some context.
Those who claim is Islam is full of hate, do not offer their religious perspective as being full of love. Their words may say so, but their actions are say otherwise. I would like to meet the religious critic of Islam who says Islam teaches hate, and his faith teaches love, except for gays, women, people of color, etc., whom their God hates. Pat Robertson and Osama bin Laden have the same understanding of Islam because they read from a position of hate. But the reverse is true as well, Pat Robertson and Osama bin Laden have the same understanding of Christianity because they read from a position of hate.
There a great deal of good, honest criticisms that can be made of Muslims and interpretation of scripture. To say that Muslims are hateful, and therefore must be hated, is not one of them. The objection, to me, seems to be that Muslims hate in a way different to their critics, so Muslims must really hate illogically (is there a logical way to hate?), and it puts Muslims on the low end of a scale of hateful/hated. The debate over whose God hates more is not one I want to engage in, but it seems to be the dominant form of debate when it comes to Islam.
Just needed to get that off my chest. You may think your God hates more than my God. You may think my God hates more than your God. Don't care. My God doesn't hate. I don't hate you for hating me. Don't care. My God is the most Compassionate and the most Merciful. I can only strive to realize that.
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