My Muslim Brothers and Sisters
|Thursday, September 9,2010 16:54|
|By Matthew Cornwall|
My Dear Muslim Brothers and Sisters,
I'm writing this to you in hopes that many of you read it before this Saturday. I am friends with many of you and many of you know me from our time spent discussing politics, American policy in the Middle East/Northern Africa, and discussing religious differences. Over that time I have grown to respect the Muslim faith and many of its followers. I feel that we reached a level of mutual understanding; a mutual understanding that I wish that all Americans could experience. I feel that our level of understanding, if experienced by all Americans, would forever lay to rest the "Islamophobia" that plagues this nation; this world.
Initially following September 11, 2001, I became a skeptic of the Muslim faith. In fact, I became a skeptic of all faiths. I felt that religion was the foundation that fueled the extremist actions of certain individuals (9/11, Branch Davidians, the FLDS XYZ Compound in Texas, etc.). However, I now know that I was wrong. It was wrong of me to judge an entire faith based upon the actions of a small group of individuals.
I believe that many of the Americans that can be labeled as "Islamophobic" have never personally known a Muslim man, woman, and/or child. They have never sat down with a Muslim and had a cup of قهوة عربية [Arabic coffee]. Many of them don't understand the Muslim prayer ritual and what it entails. And many of them believe the words of influential (albeit, uninformed) radio/cable TV personalities that have never taken the time to personally know a Muslim.
It's wrong to judge Americans because of the actions of Michael Enright (NYC cab-driver stabbing). It's wrong to judge Americans for the actions of Terry Jones. And it's wrong to judge Muslims for the actions of 19 al-Qaeda terrorists on September 11, 2001.
I'm writing this in hopes that many of my fellow Americans will agree with what I say.
We do not blame Muslims for 9/11. We know that you, like us, stood there in awe as the Twin Towers fell to the ground. We know that you felt the same pain that we did because, like us, you love this country and the freedoms that it provides.
So, if Terry Jones and the rest of the Dove World Outreach Center do, in fact, burn Quran's on September 11, 2010 in Gainesville, Florida, please
- That we detest these actions just as much as you.
- That their actions are merely an attempt to gain media attention.
- That we are as offended by their actions as you are.
- And that their actions are not a reflection of the United States or its citizens.
- With that being said: Terry Jones and his followers are to America as Osama bin Laden and the 19 al-Qaeda terrorists are to Muslims.
I understand that the "pending" actions of Terry Jones and his followers may anger you and may upset you. However, don't let their actions prevent you from reaching out and creating friendships with non-Muslims, such as my Muslim friends did with me. Many of my Muslim friends took the time to sit down and explain the beauty of their faith with me. They answered my many questions; possibly the same questions that many "Islamophobic" Americans have, but will never take the time to actually ask a Muslim.
All it took was patience, understanding, and respect. That's it. One Muslim man and one agnostic man reached a level of mutual understanding and respect.
I never thought that I would ever know a faith, a culture, and/or a people more than I know Muslims. I also know that this level of understanding is realistic and attainable for all or most Americans.
Americans fear what they do not know. Tensions may be high now, but, with patience, understanding, and respect (and, ultimately, time), I feel that relations between Muslims and Americans will improve.
We, as Americans, hope and pray that Terry Jones and his followers do not go forth with their plans to burn copies of the Quran. We find the act deplorable, disgusting, and done out of ignorance and out of a complete lack of understanding.
الحُمْقُ داء ولا دواء له
They are only doing this because they want attention and, quite possibly, to compel Muslims to react unfavorably. In other words, they're doing this to "push your buttons". By giving them what they want (death threats, protests, media attention) you are fulfilling their expectations; you're giving them what they want.
We're asking you to prove them wrong. Show them that their actions are not going to incite the violent reaction that they're hoping for. Demonstrate to them that Islam is a religion of peace. On Saturday, there will be cameras specifically looking for anything that "justifies" their actions or that could be used for anti-Muslim propaganda. This is an opportunity to follow in the steps of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.
مصائب قوم عند قوم فوائد
I love the United States and I'm proud to be an American. I would love to see the day when the majority of Americans share a mutual understanding with members of the Muslim faith. I know that this is possible. This Saturday could be a crucial building block in the path of understanding between Muslims and Americans. Do not trade the handshake for the fist. We are all in this together; and together, we can start making this an America that excludes no one.