September 22, 2001
TERROR HAS NO RELIGION
Three years ago, Osama bin Laden held up a
Koran and condoned terrorist attacks on Americans: ''You cannot defeat
the heretic with this book alone. You have to show them the fist.''
The same attitude drove the terrorists who
transformed commercial airliners into kamikaze bombs which destroyed the
World Trade Center and set the Pentagon ablaze.
However, Farzad Derwa of the Washington
Islamic Center objects to calling them ''Muslim terrorists. Terror has
no religion,'' he asserts. ''The Ku Klux Klan call themselves Christian,
but an average man of faith does not believe they are.'' He also puts
the Taliban, Muslim clerics who rule Afghanistan, in the same class as
bin Laden. No other Muslim nation bans women from education.
Believing Muslims do not drink. Yet a number
of the men who have been identified as the terrorists who brought down
three airplanes, frequented bars with strippers. One had been arrested
for drunk driving.
Many Americans are lashing out at American
Muslims, or anyone who appears Arabic, as if all were terrorists.
Anti-Muslim bigotry and violence is horrifying. In the week since
September 11, two Muslim owners of small businesses have been killed as
was Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh owner of a gas station in Mesa, Arizona.
His killer then went to a 7-ll and shot at two Lebanese. There have been
500 cases of reported violence.
Dr. James Zogby, President of the Arab
American Institute in Washington, has had death threats. One caller
said, ''Jim, you towel head. Death to every Arab!. We'll slit your
throat and kill your children.''
There is massive ignorance about these faith
traditions. Test your own knowledge:
1. Is a Sikh, who wears a turban and a beard, a Muslim?
2. What percentage of Arab Americans are Muslim: 20 percent,
50 percent, 100 percent?
3. Is Islam a religion which honors terror, promising
paradise to suicide bombers?
Sikhs are not Muslims but a totally separate
faith, the 5th largest world religion with 22 million members, most of
whom live in India; 500,000 are in the U.S. ''We are a monotheistic
religion, who believe, as do Christians, that there is only one God who
was the creator of everything,'' said Sumeet Kaur, associate director of
Sikh Mediawatch and Resource Taskforce. ''We do not cut our hair
and we were taught to cover our heads by our guru, as a way to identify
A remarkable 80 percent of 3.5 million Arab
Americans, are Christian. The rest are Muslim.
President Bush, alarmed by the U.S. backlash
against Muslims, invited a Muslim cleric to pray at the Interfaith
Service at the National Cathedral on Friday. Bush also visited the
Islamic Center on Monday and said, ''The American people were appalled
and outraged at last Tuesday's attacks. And so were Muslims all across
the world....These acts of violence against innocents violate the
fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith. And it's important for my
fellow Americans to understand that.''
''Let me quote from the Koran itself: `In the
long run, evil in the extreme will be the end of those who do evil. For
that they rejected the signs of Allah and held them up to ridicule.'
''The face of terror is not the true faith of
Islam. That's not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These
terrorists don't represent peace. They represent evil and war,'' said
Another quote from the Koran, which American
Muslims are citing is from Sura (Chapter) 5, verse 32: ''If anyone slew
a person - unless it be for murder...it would be as if he slew the whole
people; And if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life
of the whole people.''
Professor Robert Douglas of Lincoln Christian
Seminary in Lincoln, Ill., who spent 12 years as a missionary to Muslims
in Lybia, Egypt and Lebanon agrees that Muslim terrorists are a minority
in Islam. They cite a few verses justifying a Jihad, or holy war against
unbelievers: ''Fight them and God will punish them by your hands.''
He says that Muslims worship ''the same God we
do but like the Jews are incomplete in their understanding of who God is
because of their understanding of Jesus. Muslims believe there is one
God, that He is creative, the sovereign Lord, all knowing, all powerful,
merciful and compassionate who will call all humankind to judgement on
the last day.''
Bush's comments have deepened U.S.
understanding of Muslims. Jim Zogby reports, ''We have had an
unsolicited outpouring of support. Our e-mails are running 10-1 in favor
and sympathetic. I am humbled and gratified.''
Copyright 2001 Michael J. McManus.