COMPASSION IN A SEA OF VIOLENCE
Sanity in the midst of madness
By: Gulamhusein A.Abba
Being a peace loving Muslim, a Gandhian and a staunch believer in non-violence, I was, and continue to be, outraged, saddened and very disturbed by the senseless and horrific violence by misguided Muslims over a silly, amateurish, vulgar and baseless movie.
Innocent men were killed, including US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others. Property of those that had nothing to do with the offending video was torched and destroyed. Relations between countries were savaged.
It was gratifying to note that many political and religious leaders, including Muslims, denounced both, the violence and the video. No less than the US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined the condemnation and brave Muslims in Benghazi itself stood on streets with signs stating that the perpetrators of the violence did not represent Libyans or Muslims, much less Islam.
At the local level, the Association of Religious communities, representing almost all the faiths in Danbury, spoke out loud and clear through a sagaciously worded full page advertisement in the Saturday issue of the News Times.
Without in any way justifying or excusing the violence that has been let lose all over the globe by misguided Muslims, there is a need to understand that though the video triggered the violence, it is not the underlying cause for it.
Muslims feel, not without reason, that Muslims and Islam itself are being targeted by Western nations. Minarets have been banned by the Swiss government.. The wearing of a head scarf has been banned by France and Belgium. In the US itself various police departments have profiled and “mapped” Muslims, planting informants in mosques. Worse, the building of mosques is being opposed, even those cleared by respective town/city councils, and existing mosques and sites of proposed ones have been vandalized.
Newspapers and TV screens are full of images of violent Muslims, with the mandatory sound bite of AllahoAkbar included, giving the impression that millions of Muslims across the world had taken to the streets. Important figures continue to level defamatory and baseless accusations against Prophet Mohammed. It is even alleged that terrorism is ingrained in Muslims and is in fact a part of Islam itself!
In an article in a recent issue of Newsweek, the violent protests against the insult to Prophet Mohamed were described as ‘intolerance’ and the article proceeded to claim that ‘such intolerance has crossed borders and become the defining characteristic of Islam’. (Emphasis added).
Joe Scarborough, MSNBC’s host of Morning Joe publicly commented that Muslims hate the US because of the religion itself. He went on to state: "If you gave every street vendor, from street vendor to prime minister in that region, a chance to throw a rock at the U.S. Embassy, they would."
After a week of the violent protests, the French magazine Charlie Hebdo decided to pour oil on the fire by publishing offensive cartoons of the Prophet.
All this needs to be countered. But violence is not the answer. By resorting to it the perpetrators are playing into the hands of detractors of Islam and of those who hate Muslims. There are better and more effective ways of countering such propaganda, and that is by presenting the truth.
The truth is, as pointed out by Dean Obeidallah (a former attorney and now a frequent commentator on various TV networks) in a recent excellent commentary to CNN. “In Indonesia, a nation of over 200 million, (only) several hundred people took part in protests …. In Egypt, a nation of over 80 million, about 2,000 people protested on Friday… In Lebanon, no protests occurred until Monday. Why? Because the pope had been visiting the country, and the leader of Hezbollah, which the U.S. has labeled as a terrorist group, didn't want to do anything to interfere with the pope's historic three-day visit.”
Just as pastors like Terry Jones and Bill Keller, commentators like Joe Scarborough, Muslim hating writers like Robert Spencer, David Horowitz and Pamela Geller, and mobs that demonstrate against a mosque being built do not represent either America or Christianity, so do the miniscule proportion of Muslims that indulge in saber rattling do not represent Muslims, much less Islam.
As stated earlier, the best and most effective way of countering falsehoods is by presenting the truth. So what is the truth about Islam and Prophet Mohammed?
That will take a book to explain. For now, as a former Catholic nun, a world-renowned author on world religions and a champion for peace worldwide, Karen Armstrong's video about Islam and the Prophet Muhammad and his compassion is great to view and share. Click here: http://youtu.be/lahXSUkuaIA
Top it with this fine article about the mercy of Mohammed: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kamran-pasha/the-mercy-of-prophet muhammad_b_1879601.html?utm_source=3000+Letters+Sent&utm_campaign=MercyMail+Update+1&utm_medium=email
In conclusion, acts are always better than words. A notable example is being set by Celebrate Mercy. They have put together a mercy mail campaign to ask Muslims to send condolence letters to the family of Ambassador Chris Stevens as a perfect way to counter the anti-Islamic video with a good deed.
In just 45 minutes they got 3,000 letters! In the first 1,638 letters that were sent, I am happy to say that the largest percentage (31.26) were from America. At last check, more than 5,000 letters had been sent.
Hear the contents of just one of the letters by clicking here: http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/19/opinion/obeidallah-muslims-rage/index.html?hpt=op_t1 and then clicking on the video shown on the page that opens up.
This writer strongly urges readers, especially if they are Muslims, to send a letter of condolence to the deceased Ambassador’s family. To do this, click here: https://andalusianarts.wufoo.com/forms/send-condolences-to-ambassador-stevens-family/