Saturday, March 17, 2012

Post #214 - Hearing Aids

I wish I had a dime for every time I’ve heard someone say, “why don’t Muslims speak out on (fill in the blank:  9/11, extremism, al-Qaeda, the Holocaust, etc.)?”  The fact is that such statements have been made with great frequency before and after September 11, 2001.  Some Muslim leaders are so sick of doing obligatory proclamations of pacific feelings, distancing themselves from terrorists or holding out the olive branch to other faiths, that they now do it grudgingly, despite their sincerity.  Others recognize that they are pushing a very heavy boulder uphill and simply may have to push it up again and again.  As one instance of the seeming deafness of our citizenry and our media, I wonder how many of you reading this blog ever read the following statement, made by a group of prominent American imams?:     

O you who believe, stand up firmly for justice as witnesses to Almighty  God."  (Holy Qu'ran, al-Nisa "The Women" 4:135)

      On August 7-11, 2010, we the undersigned Muslim American faith and community leaders visited Dachau and Auschwitz concentration camps where we witnessed firsthand the historical injustice of the Holocaust.

       We met survivors who, several decades later, vividly and bravely shared their horrific experience of discrimination, suffering, and loss. We saw the many chilling places where men, women and children were systematically and brutally murdered by the millions because of their faith, race, disability and political affiliation.

       In Islam, the destruction of one innocent life is like the destruction of the whole of humanity and the saving of one life is like the saving of the whole of humanity (Holy Qu'ran, al-Ma'idah"the Tablespread" 5:32). While entire communities perished by the many millions, we know that righteous Muslims from Bosnia, Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco, and Albania saved many Jews from brutal repression, torture and senseless destruction.

      We bear witness to the absolute horror and tragedy of the Holocaust where over twelve million human souls perished, including six million Jews.

      We condemn any attempts to deny this historical reality and declare such denials or any justification of this tragedy as against the Islamic code of ethics.

      We condemn anti-Semitism in any form. No creation of Almighty God should face discrimination based on his or her faith or religious conviction.

      We stand united as Muslim American faith and community leaders and recognize that we have a shared responsibility to continue to work together with leaders of all faiths and their communities to fight the dehumanization of all peoples based on their religion, race or ethnicity. With the disturbing rise of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of hatred, rhetoric and bigotry, now more than ever, people of faith must stand together for truth.

    Together, we pledge to make real the commitment of “never again” and to stand united against injustice wherever it may be found in the world today.

If you had seen this, did you tell anyone else about it?  If you hadn’t, do you wonder why?  If you were a Muslim leader who commemorated 9/11 each year and preached peace in his mosque, what would you do to get through the filters that kept your words from reaching your neighbors in this ordinarily hyper-linked country of ours?  At least one of those who wrote the open letter above, Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed, National Director of the Islamic Society of North America’s Office of Interfaith & Community Services, is still speaking to Jewish and Christian audiences on his experience.

Do we remember that the first place the attacks of 9/11 were protested was in the streets of Tehran?  Do we know – or care – that when Iran has experienced natural disasters aid has been kept from reaching the victims because of our sanctions?  What does it take for positive messages to travel across the no-man’s-land that our politicians have created?

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