Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Religious leader of the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis speaks on the Fort Hood massacre

Earlier today I was cc'd on an email exchange between several of the Interfaith Partnership (IFP) of St. Louis and Imam Minhajuddin, Imam (i.e., religious leader) of the Islamic Foundation of Greater St. Louis (IFGSL). The email was a reply from Imam Minhaj to an earlier message he received from the IFP and Faith Beyond Walls of St. Louis.

I found his reply to be worth sharing with you and the public, and he kindly granted my request to post his reply on this blog. It will be an excellent addition to the ongoing public discourse American Muslims are having with their non-Muslim fellow citizens about the the sad events that took the lives of 13 innocent victims (and injured over 3 dozen others) nearly on November 5, 2009 in Texas at the hands of Major Nidal Hassan, an American Muslim military psychiatrist currently indicted before military court for first degree murder of 13 victims of that massacre.

The message below is copied verbatim from the Imam's email, and I only trimmed the last section which listed quoted from Sheila Musaji's article listed at the end of the copied section. It referred to quotes of numerous American Muslim organizations about the events.

---------- Beginning of Quote from Imam Minhajuddin message.
Dear Cynthia Holmes, Batya Abramson Goldstein, and all our other interfaith partners,

Thank you so much for your kind and comforting words.

Indeed this is truly a trying time for Muslims in America and all over the world. First of all, our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims of this unspeakable tragedy. The light of their lives was snatched away in a moment of cruelty. We mourn with them and pray for peace and justice for them. May God be with them all.

Secondly, we, American Muslims, are just as horrified as anyone else by this, and all, senseless acts of violence against innocent people. We condemn these actions and pray for the victims of this madman who committed acts of treason against both God and our country. In my capacity as a Mufti and scholar of Islamic Law, I can confidently state that there is absolutely no basis whatsoever in our religion for such an unconscionable act of terror.

Even if the alleged facts may be true : that he was harassed and taunted by fellow soldiers for being Muslim; that being deployed to Iraq was his “worst nightmare”; that he tried very hard to get out of the Army but his requests to end his enlistment were repeatedly turned down; that he argued with other fellow soldiers about the legitimacy of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; nothing whatsoever can justify the murder of innocent unarmed fellow soldiers.
  • "Believers, never let the hatred of a people toward you move you to commit injustice" (Quran, Chapter 5, Verse 8),
  • "For not equal are the good deed and the evil deed. So repel their evil deeds with that which is best in the sight of God. Then, behold! The one who had enmity for you, and for whom you had enmity, may become a most intimate friend. Yet none shall attain this but those who are patient in suffering. And none shall attain this but one endowed with a magnificent share of goodness. But should there be any insinuation by Satan to instigate you to do otherwise, then seek refuge in God. Indeed, it is He who is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing. (Quran 41:34-36)
  • “O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for God can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily God is well-acquainted with all that ye do.” [Quran, 4:35]
No true Muslim could ever commit such a crime against humanity. As Muslims, we are reminded that to take one innocent life in the sight of God is as if one has killed all of mankind.
  • "Whosoever kills an innocent human being, it shall be as if he has killed all mankind, and whosoever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind." (Quran 5:32)
Muslims are also commanded to keep their oaths when given.
  • "O you who believe! Fulfill all contracts, treaties and covenants with God and with people." (Quran 5:1)
Thankfully, besides our friends from the interfaith partnership like yourselves, many amongst the political and military leadership of our country also understand this fact and can make the distinction between the teachings of Islam and the actions of a madman. In fact, many of them have expressed sympathy for the plight of Muslim Americans who have to survive this general backlash. Army commander Gen. George Casey has expressed concern over the impact that this act could have on the 2,000 Arab-Americans serving in the armed forces. He understands that not only do these Americans have the right to serve their country, but they can serve it in unique ways through their linguistic and cultural experiences as American Muslims. Criminalizing all for the crime of a deranged individual does our nation (and Muslims) a deep disservice.

However, unfortunately this is precisely what is happening at Ft. Hood and elsewhere in certain cases. Mikey Weinstein, a retired officer and activist for religious freedom in the military, forwards this communication from the wife of an American Muslim serving in the military:

“…I wanted to let you know what life has been like for myself, being an American-Muslim military spouse, over the last few days here at (name of military installation withheld), since the Ft. Hood incident. When I first learned of this, I was sitting in the PX food court with my best friend whose immediate reaction was, “ No offense to you, but Muslims shouldn’t even be allowed in the U.S. Army”. Wow, this was from my best friend here! I have heard this and similar sentiments repeatedly from various “friends”, as well as people insisting it’s really a terror plot.

Since this happening, my Muslim husband, who is deployed to Afghanistan, has been put on duty to build a chapel on his base, as well as being told not to associate with the Afghan nationals that work there. I went shopping at the commissary and had people mumbling under their breath but loud enough to ensure that I could hear, things like, “get out of our country”, “go back to your country”, “ F-ing Muslims”, “G-Damn Muslims,” and several other expletives you can insert there. Now people don’t just stare at you when they see you go by wearing hijab, they glare. Last time I checked, I was born in this country, this is my country, and my husband is serving it and continues to serve it despite the harassment and racism he encounters. He proudly serves despite the fact that our family pays a higher price for it than many others.”
(Quotations taken from theamericanmuslim.org)

I would highly recommend all of you to take some time out to read the following two very eloquently written articles by our own local Muslim journalist and founding editor of the online Journal, "The American Muslim", Sister Sheila Musaji. She has done exhaustive research and her works deserve recognition.

http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/fort_hood_tragedy_islam_and_america
http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/muslims_must_condemn_religious_extremists1/0017733

---------- End of Quote from Imam Minhajuddin message.
Please follow the link listed above to read Sheila Musaji excellent articles and for the full text of many American Muslim organizations statements.

Khaled

3 comments:

  1. All religions have the problem of extremists interpreting scripture in radical ways for destructive purposes. The best way to fight these extremists is by building bridges with with moderates of other faiths.

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  2. Hello there,
    Crime and terror have no religion, race, gender, nationality, and social or economic status. However, individualism, which underlies core “American values,” does not count when a Muslim “individual” perpetrates a crime, or massacre. Right after the initial newsreels run, totalizing, demonizing, and stigmatizing comments follow in the media.
    The metonymic displacement creates its own system of visual signifiers to create cultural semantics of its own. “Islam” has become a shibboleth for “terror,” and “Muslim” has become synonymous with “terrorist.” It must be the community of Muslims in the US or across the world to account for the crime! The individual has, then, replaced the communal; the self-centered, the ethno-centered, and the prototype, the stereotype.
    After all, “this is America,” and all the US citizens are equal as long as they do not forget that some fellow citizens are more equal! Jews, Catholics, Hispanics, Chinese, blacks (and women of all races) have paid their dues in history for sins they have not collectively committed. It is Muslims now, already stigmatized, and ethnically profiled, who must be collectively apologetic on behalf of some coreligionist who has committed atrocities.Best, Metin Bosnak

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  3. Undoubtedly, let alone this particular massacre, killing of any kind is odious whatever purpose it might be deluded to serve. No Abrahamic religion will ever beckon its followers to kill innocent people. The Koran, in particular, declares that killing a human being is tantamount to killing “all humanity.” Needless to say, when the crime is individual, not committed by a community, the accusation or condemnation should be made along the individual lines, and not extended to members of the same family, community, nationality, ethnicity or faith. McCarthyism may be lingering on in the minds of cynical circles as a panacea, but it has no validity in a globalized World.
    There are no religiously transmitted crimes as genetically transmitted diseases. When Timothy McVeigh, a US Army veteran and security guard, bombed Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, killing 168 people, he was intending “to inspire” a revolt against a “tyrannical” federal government. There was no media quest, then, for his origins in a Catholic Irish upbringing, Republicanism, or libertarianism. There was no reference to his potential reading of the Gospel according to Matthew where Jesus says: "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

    ReplyDelete