Thursday, September 30, 2010

Are We Afraid of Islam?

There is no question that there has been much discussion and many comments in these past several months from a variety of people concerning Islam.  Much of it began when it was announced that a group of Muslims wanted to open a cultural center near Ground Zero in New York City.

Then, of course, we heard about the attempt on the part of an evangelical pastor to burn copies of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.  Just where do we stand as Christians and Jews or people of other religious persuasions (or none) on the topic of Islam?

There is no question that Muslims in New York have a constitutional right to build a cultural center wherever they can obtain property and have the financing to do so.  Whether they should build it within several blocks of Ground Zero is the question.  I believe that if they would bring more discrimination against Muslims by doing it they might want to reconsider.  But they have a right and should be able to exercise that right.  I was pleased to see how well received a similar cultural center has been accepted here in the Capital District of New York.

What are we afraid of?  People need to remember that those who perpetrated the attacks against the U.S. at the World Trade Center were "radical" Muslims - people who had twisted the message of Islam to meet their own needs and hatreds.  Muslims were also the victims of 9-11.  There are extremists in any group or religion who tend to alter the basic beliefs of the group to their own ends.  We should not let the actions of people like this to change our attitude toward the larger number of peace-loving and God-fearing members of a group or religion.

"Islam" means "surrender."  Perhaps we need to reach into our own hearts and surrender any prejudices we may have against those who practice Islam.  We are all God's children no matter what name we use to call on him.

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