Identifying the real enemy

Muslims For Peace

I am an American-Muslim who was born in Pakistan. I belong to a religious community which is persecuted throughout Pakistan for its beliefs – in particular for its rejection of an aggressive jihad. Voices calling for the killing of people such as myself are regularly heard in mosques and religious seminaries throughout Pakistan. Following the massacre of nearly 90 members of the community, while most of my Pakistani ‘friends’ failed to send me a message of condolence, my hospital program director led a moment of silence. He did not care if the victims were orange or green, believed in the Sun or disbelieved in the moon. All he cared for was humanity – welcome to America!

I am writing this article to remind America of its distinctive founding values.  At the same time, I have message for American-Muslims.

Controversy over the “Ground Zero” mosque is raging as opponents voice fiercer arguments against it. Actually they are just repeating the same arguments more fiercely – that a mosque is a center for terrorism and Islam, by nature, is a terrorist faith. Islamophobia has recently gained more support as some politicians repeat the same rhetoric against the Muslim faith.

Here is my point – we must be clear about what defines Islam and we must be able to tell the difference between Islam and those who exploit it. Islam is not what Osama bin Laden or Faisal Shehzad say. Islam is what the Quran says and what Prophet Muhammad practiced. Islam is not what we see with the government of Saudi Arabia or Pakistan’s suppression of religious freedom.  Islam believes in religious liberty as well as free speech. It says “There is no compulsion in religion.” And “Let him who will believe and let him who will disbelieve”. Prophet Muhammad was a champion of religious tolerance and freedom. Jews coexisted in Medina during his time. About the Christians of the world, he declared openly that any Muslim that harmed them in any way would spoil God’s covenant and disobey him. He said, “Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate.”

Most American-Muslims today are peaceful law-abiding citizens. Why then should the acts of a few fanatic terror organizations that operate under the name of Islam elsewhere be used to attack the sentiments of over 2 million American Muslims?

America, I must remind you that you are a champion of human rights in the present age. You must not compare yourself to despotic and totalitarian regimes like Saudi Arabia or to countries like Pakistan suffering from the curse of fanaticism. You must uphold the clear injunctions of the First Amendment. There have been challenges in the past. Uprisings have taken place against the Catholic Church and the Jewish community. We must learn from these events and not fall prey to hate and religious discrimination in this age.

I admit that certain Muslim groups espouse extreme behavior, but remember that as a moderate Muslim, I am a bigger target of the hate of such fanatics than you are. I suffer each day at their hands across the Muslim world. In a recent sermon, an influential Pakistani religious cleric said he would tolerate Jews and Christians but would like to see members of my community killed throughout Pakistan.  Just this last week, two prominent members of my community were gunned down for their religious beliefs, one a US citizen. As such, you must realize who the fanatics are and who the moderates are.  You must understand that Islam is not to blame, that a particular fanatic interpretation of it is.

To my fellow moderate American-Muslims, I ask why are so few talking? Pick up your pen and make it clear that you stand against fanaticism and disown fanatic interpretations of our beautiful faith. If you truly disown the acts of terrorists, say it loud and clear. If your voice is not heard louder than theirs, you are complicit. Silence is usually soothing – not here!!


Posted on August 31, 2010, in Islam, peace, religious freedom, Terrorism, Unites States. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. well delivered kashif bhai…..may allah bless you!

  2. Renata Rzeznik

    The Islam I believe in is the Islam you just described. And that’s the Islam that should be propagated around the world, so that the poorly informed would understand that Islam is peace, not war ! Another jewelry from you, Kashif ! Keep this great work ! And may people like you inspire humanity !!

    • Renata, I am humbled by your comment. I am glad to see the love you have for Islam despite not being a Muslim. This love for humanity is what all religions originally cam eto teach and preach. Thank you for making the world a better place with your love and inspiration.

  3. Jazak Allah Khair for this Kashif. Keep inspiring us to do more! I totally agree with you about the fact that us ‘moderate-Muslims’ should speak up more. I’d prefer to call us ‘sincere-Muslims’.. those who are striving to deserve the name of one who is following Islam as a way of life. In that spirit, I’ve begun blogging too. No where near as eloquent as you, but hoping I can join my voice to those advocating for truth to be heard inshaallah. Ramadan Kareem!

    If you can read and comment so I can improve inshaallah, I’d appreciate it.

  4. Thank you so much joymanifest.. I appreciate your kind words and Ramadan Kareen to you as well. I will definitely be following your blog 🙂

  5. I totally agree and applaud your call to action to the American Muslim community. We are extremely fortunate to live in a country that uphold actual Islamic values of tolerance, diversity and peace (even if they aren’t labeled as “Islamic”). The only thing I will respectfully disagree with in this post is the label of “moderate” Muslims mainly because I usually find labels like these (“Extreme” and “liberal”) to be vague. Also because I’ve met many “moderate” Muslims from “extreme” countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran and Afghanistan. Those whom I would consider “extreme” are, as you mention, those who even prosecute their own Muslim brothers and sisters with daring to disagree.

    Insha’Allah, more Muslims will get the word out and take a strong stand against violent and oppressive forces who raise their swords in the name of Islam.

  6. I appreciate your comment Maha.. 🙂

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