by Imam Mikaeel Ahmed Smith (Annapolis, Maryland)
At the present moment, we are witnessing egregious actions being done in the name of Islam. In spite of the Global Muslim condemnation of the crimes done by some pseudo-Islamic groups, we see that we are being pulled by some elements of the media to become more and more intolerant towards Muslims in general. Among the shallow principles of ISIL is unacceptance of any people and any state that does not conform to its ideology. In fact, we see that more Muslims have been the victims of these zealots than non-Muslims. In the very beginning of the Quran, we see the following message clearly stated, “let there be no compulsion in religion.” These verses must be read and propagated alongside the brutal beheadings that we are being made to witness, for all to see how these actions fall well short of the Qur’anic ideal. If we as a country wish to lead the world, we must lead with peace, ending the bloody cycle of hate and bloodshed.
However, there seems to be an infatuation with presenting these images without an explanation of how these acts are in opposition to the Islamic beliefs of the over whelming majority of Muslims throughout the world. Through these horrible crimes, some segments of the media wish to distort the true meaning of tolerance, which this country was built upon. We are without doubt a country of religious freedom. We are blessed with freedoms, but let us not think for a moment that we have the freedom to define who an American or true American is. Whether a person chooses to be an orthodox Muslim, Christian, Jew, or atheist does not mean that he or she is any less of an American than any other fellow citizen. This is against the principles of our nation, and closer to the principles of the very enemies whom we wish to defeat, i.e. ISIL.
This is a paradox we often find ourselves in, as we attempt to fight for freedom, we begin to hate the enemy and anyone who resembles the enemy. We lose the ability to see the individual as distinct from the group. We lose the understanding that the whole is not to be judged by some elements it contains. Thus we arrive at a moment in history where we decide. Will we try to outline what is and is not moderate Islam? Or will we allow a Muslim to practice his or her religion as they wish, so long that they (like any other citizen) do not infringe upon the natural God given rights of all men and women? Will we attempt to counter the natural tendency of humans beings to judge the whole by the parts? Will we thus shun those who shun all Muslims? Will we refuse to become the terrorist themselves? It is a principle stressed in the Quran that one who has been transgressed against must never, while seeking to redress a wrong, become the transgressor. So America, here we stand. Will we be those who spread peace? Or will we add fuel to the sparks ignited by a misguided few. We should take lesson from the words of the Quran,
يَاأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّامِينَ لِلَّهِ شُهَدَاءَ بِالْقِسْطِ وَلَا يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَآنُ قَوْمٍ عَلَى أَلَّا تَعْدِلُوا اعْدِلُوا هُوَ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَى وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ
“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do.”
Originally published here.