Joanie left for Vegas early Thursday morning. We woke up to the news that another international terrorist attack had been thwarted by the British Secret Service. The details are still sketchy but it looks like the plan was for several radical Islamic fascists to take down as many as 10 aircraft flying from the UK to the US, killing thousands of innocent people, all in the name of Allah. What’s with that? I’m having a very difficult time understanding the rationale behind a faith or system of belief in which hiding behind innocent woman and children like a coward, strapping bombs to your body, or killing just to be killing the “infidels” is a “god” worthy of one’s allegiance.
I don’t believe that every Muslim is a terrorist. But, at this point, most every terrorist since the destruction in New York City on September 11 has been a Muslim. Does that mean we condemn all Muslims as terrorists? I don’t think so. We need to be as understanding of their religious beliefs as we want others to be of Christianity. Understanding doesn’t mean that we agree with their beliefs or follow their faith. But when the media portrayed all Christians as extremists when some misguided “Christians” were bombing abortion clinics, those who follow the faith were outraged at being lumped into such a group. Many felt that Christians were being unfairly labeled based on the actions of a small, extreme group.
Some people think that Christianity is an intolerate system of belief. And I know the history of Christianity can certainly point to horrible episodes of injustice and intolerance through the centuries. But the Leader of Christianity, Jesus Christ, was very tolerant and reached out to all people. He was often condemned because he chose not to hang out with the social or religious elite of his day. One of the reasons I choose to call myself a Christ-follower rather than a Christian is that I don’t want to carry the baggage of the wrongs that have been done in the name of “Christianity” and God. I follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. I am a Christ-follower. Those teachings affect the way I chose to live; how I conduct my business; how I relate to others; how I view the world. They have a positive impact on my life and my relationships.
We have to understand that for most Muslims, Islam is about peace and tolerance. But there are those Islamic clerics around the world who insist that the rules are fixed, written centuries ago and must never be questioned or adapted to changing cirumstances – whether the issue is ill-treatment of women, the persecution of minorities, barbaric punishments or just general intolerance.
Much the way Christians believe the Bible to be the revealed truth of God, Muslims believe the Qur’an to be the revealed truth of Allah through Muhammad, providing guidance and the rules to govern social life. But what about those passages of the Qur’an that seem to promote needless violence? One of the verses most often quoted (Qur’an 2:191) seems to command Muslims to “slay them wherever you find them.” But who are “they?” Is it any non-Muslim or “infidel?” One merely needs to read the preceding verse to find the answer: “Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loves not the transgressors” (2:190). In subsequent verses, Muslims are called upon to stop fighting when the opposing party ceases its aggression.
Al-Hajj Talib ‘Abdur-Rashid, imam of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood in Harlem, says Muslims are “commanded by Allah to lead peaceful lives and not transgress against anyone, but also to defend ourselves against oppression by ‘fighting against those who fight against us.’ This ‘jihad with the hand’ is the aspect of jihad that has been so profoundly misunderstood in today’s world.”
Misunderstood? Many of these Islamic fascists who are using terrorist tactics to kill innocent people believe they are martyrs for their faith. Qur’an Chapter 3, verse 172: “Of those who answered the call of Allah and the Messenger, even after being wounded, those who do right and refrain from wrong have a great reward.” So to claim martyr status, all terrorists have to do is convince themselves that they are fighting for “justice,” which is, of course, highly subjective. Imam Hendi says that the terrorists think if they hurt Americans, then they serve the cause of justice.
Lots of people are fearful and confused about the events happening in the world. Personally, I believe that God is aware and interested in how these events affect us as individuals. And individual responsibility is all that God requires of us. In Romans 12 of the Bible, the writers says:
“Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody. Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. ‘I’ll do the judging’, says God. ‘I’ll take care of it.’ Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.”