“Mom!” My kids were bursting at the seams, impatient to tell me the news when I picked them up yesterday. “School’s closed tomorrow because people might be coming with guns! The teachers said they only want to scare us, but it’s because they don’t like Islam or something!” Their faces incredulous, eyes bulging. I had to stop the flurry of curious questions and worries flying through the car, with the assurance that I would explain everything.
I felt a tinge of sadness at the idea that my children have to experience this – their fellow Americans coming to our beloved sanctuaries, in order to display a livid, venomous kind of hatred for us. I knew at the same time, that opportunities for much good often lie in ominous looking situations.
The concept of people opposing, hating and actively working to destroy Islam, is not new, nor is it shocking. Throughout the Quran we are told of people who opposed Islam, from the people of Noah, to the People of Abraham and Lot, the people of Pharaoh in the time of Moses, and also Jesus was hated such that his people wanted to Murder him and torture him in the most humiliating method of the times. At the time of Muhammad, he and his followers were persecuted in nearly every way possible for many years.
What really doesn’t sit right with me now though, is that these people, this so called “Global Rally for Humanity” doesn’t even seem to know what they are protesting against. Their shirts say F*#@K Islam, yet when they speak, they don’t even seem to know what Islam is…
Their contradictions are too plentiful to list but to highlight the most apparent:
- The rallies are said to be a response to a march by Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam which is not related to mainstream Islam and defies too many of the texts of Islam to be taken seriously as an Islamic movement (why associate the rest of the American Muslims with Farrakhan, when most don’t even consider the nation of Islam to be within the parameters of Islam?)
- The fact that they claim patriotism and the exercising of “constitutional rights” while freedom of religion is part and parcel of our constitutional rights.
- The name of their group, claims they are rallying for “humanity” while more than 1.5 billion humans are Muslim and that number is only growing. How can rallying for humanity involve hating nearly a quarter of that humanity?
- They cite acts of violence as reasons to oppose Islam and Muslims, yet openly advocate that their supporters bring their weapons as a display of hostility and hopeful provocation. ‘We oppose violence by appearing violent..’ Someone didn’t think that one over too well.
These contradictions are apparent enough to anyone with a will to see objectively. Their ignorance so plentiful, that even my little children feel pity for them. So how are we to deal with these people and the potential harm they present?
My husband wrote an excellent piece directing all Muslims to refer to Islam, as we should in all matters, to learn how to react internally and externally to these rallies of hate. Please check out his advice to the Muslims for some insight on what the shariah says, here: http://www.shakielhumayun.com/rallies-of-hate-at-your-mosque/
So, knowing that we are facing no more than ignorance and bigotry, more than sorrow for myself, or my children, or the rest of the American Muslims, I feel pity for all the hateful people, who hate before knowing. And yet, I feel hopeful for them, because these rallies may bring the protesters closer than they ever have been to actual Muslims, and some of their hearts may be softened at being faced with the humanity and kindness of living, breathing Muslims.
One of Islam’s greatest historical leaders and highly regarded companions of the prophet Muhammad, Umar ibn al-Khattab was similarly intent to rid his land of the “Muslim problem”, yet upon actually interacting intimately with Muslims (his sister had become one) and hearing the Quran, he himself became one of the most devout followers of Muhammad. So, as Muslims we know that potential lies within every human being for change and goodness. As humans we cannot judge what is within anyone’s heart. We can only hope and pray to God to open their eyes and ears and hearts, even if via events and actions that are apparently malicious.
There are indeed many problems and confusions in our world, but hate is never the right answer. It’s no solution. These incidents show us the importance of education, both for ourselves and our neighbors.
As American Muslims I know we must do more to express the reality of what Islam is to those around us. This can be an awakening that strengthens and solidifies our faith and commitment to our communities, and also an awakening for the millions of Americans who truly do not know what Islam is, to find out from the people who study, practice and teach it.