Dear Campus Community,
Some campus members, understanding that I am a Muslim, out of their curiosity, are asking me some interesting questions such as: Are you a US Citizen? Do Muslims believe in Jesus? Does Allah mean God? What do you think about the Terrorists? Why Muslim Scholars living in the United States don’t denounce the terrorists publicly? What is your viewpoint on building the Mosque at Ground Zero?
Since this is an educational institution, I thought it would be good to share my answers with the campus community, not as a debate but as information.
Are you a US Citizen?
Yes, I am a US Citizen. I love this country and I am proud to be a US Citizen. I am grateful that I can call myself an American and still practice my religion freely and peacefully as I want. It is the genius of the founders and the brilliant words of the Declaration of Independence & the Constitution that have helped our country prosper. I have been in several countries in the past and believe this country is the best country to live in on Earth in terms of civility, values, and development. I always tell this to my children, who were born here, and tell them to appreciate the core American values.
Do Muslims believe in Jesus?
Yes, Muslims believe in Jesus as a great prophet and messenger of God, but not as the son of God. Christians and Muslims have more in common than most people think. The only two sources that talk about Jesus are the Bible followed by the Quran. Jesus is quoted more times than Muhammad in the Quran. According to the Islamic articles of faith, you are not a Muslim if you do not believe in Jesus and the Gospel. Muslims also believe that Jesus was born from a virgin birth by the Virgin Mary. Mary is mentioned several times in the Quran and is one of the highest and most respected women in Islam. Muslims believe in all the Old Testament and New Testament prophets. We believe in Adam, Abraham, Moses, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Jesus, etc. We also share much of the same stories of the Biblical tradition.
Does Allah mean God?
Yes, Allah is simply the Arabic word for God (the Only God). Allah is not God of the Muslims only. He is the God of all the creations and universe. He is the God of Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, and all of his other prophets. There are many Christians that live in the Arab world and they also refer to God as Allah. If you open a Bible written in Arabic, you will see that the word for God is written as Allah. Christian priests in the Arab world always use the term Jesus son of Allah.
What do you think about the Terrorists?
I condemn terrorism and those who commit terror in the name of my religion! Islam is not connected to terrorism. Terrorists are not Muslims because their acts contradict the Quran’s foundational principles. The Quran emphasizes the hierarchy of sins. For example, in the eyes of God, murder is a greater sin then adultery. The terrorists commit the highest ranking sins that the Quran warns against. They kill innocent people and are involved in suicide attacks. The Quran states, for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole humanity: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the whole humanity (5:32). It also states, And do not kill yourselves (nor kill one another). Surely, Allah is Most Merciful to you (4:29).
The Terrorists, killing innocent people, are evil individuals who should not be associated to any religion. Sometimes they are associating themselves to a religion but their actions totally contradict the principles for that religion. For example, Hitler with his horrible actions was associating himself to a religion and we all know that his evil actions totally contradicted the principles of that religion. Some of the Terrorists in Islamic countries, who are associating themselves with Muslims, misinterpret Quran or take texts out of the contents to achieve their objectives. You can find bad individuals in every religion, country, race, or ethnicity. It wouldn’t be correct to generalize the entire group for the actions of a few.
Associating the terrorists with 1.2 billion Muslims in reality is empowering the terrorists. It increases the resentments; boosts the morale of the terrorists; assists the terrorists’ propaganda; and makes the recruitment easier for the terrorists. As I have noticed, some politicians, a few radical religious leaders, and most of the media are associating the two more frequently who may have political objectives/agendas or short/long term gains/profits regardless of what harm their actions are causing to American people. They also are misinterpreting Quran and taking texts out of content to achieve their objectives. As we have noticed, they increase the fear and hatred among American people. According to some psychologist, fear takes away peoples’ enjoyment in life and hatred leads to violence or self destruction. Violence could be in the form of physical aggression, protests, discrimination, etc., and self destruction could be in the form of suicide, depression, and other psychological disorders.
Why Muslim Scholars living in the United States don’t denounce the Terrorists publicly?
The Muslim Scholars who I know do denounce terrorists and they should do more. As I have realized, most of the Muslim Scholars travel to their homeland countries making them more vulnerable to the terrorists. They don’t want to put their own lives and the lives of their relatives in danger. Terrorists are ruthless individuals with evil political objectives willing to kill anyone. Even I am careful in not crossing the line to put the lives of my relatives in danger who are currently in Afghanistan.
What is your viewpoint on building the Mosque at Ground Zero?
The Terrorists’ attack of 9-11 was an attack to all Americans including Muslim Americans. The protests and resistance against building a Mosque there is empowering the terrorists because their action is associating the terrorists to 1.2 billion Muslims. It seems that some of those politicians/religious leaders/ and media have achieved their objectives (as indicated earlier) in associating the two and in creating that level of hatred.
If I were in charge of the Muslim Community in New York, I would have changed the location of the mosque to prevent further conflicts. I also would have changed the location out of respect for the 9-11 victims who have been the victims of the terrorists and the victims of those other indicated groups.
In conclusion, I believe, the following will lead to the defeat of the terrorists in Islamic countries: segregating the terrorists from the Muslims and empowering the Islamic countries to denounce the terrorists themselves; understanding of Islam and building bridges with different faiths; and achieving a peaceful resolution between Israel and Palestine which will embrace peace and will stop terrorists’ propaganda as a recruitment tool.
I only have one bone of contention -- I don't think that moving the ground zero mosque will appease anyone. I don't think there'd be the same uproar if a church, temple or shrine were built there. I'm not going into a big political debate about it -- it's just my opinion.
Also -- one comment -- I think that the Muslim Scholars do denounce terrorism -- but it's not as newsworthy as the fear mongering that the media salivates over.