*The holy month of Ramadan represents the time where Muslims rededicate themselves to their faith and the practice of Islam (the religion of peace, “Islam” means “Peace” in Arabic).
It is also a time to educate the world on what Islam is about. Propagating ones faith is the American way. Americans invoke God in everything they do, whether they believe in a supreme being or not. The real reality is that America is not a Christian nation. America has no national religion.
The constitution bans a national religion. Christianity is the dominant religion in the United States, in its various strands, but less than a majority of the nation’s population practice any form of Christianity. America is supposed to be a nation that espouses religious tolerance to practice (or not to practice) one’s religious beliefs. Only two-thirds of the nation practices any religion at all. Most cultural practices in America go against the seven things God hates, revealed to us in Proverbs (6:16-19); 1) Arrogant eyes, 2) a lying tongue, 3) Hands that shed innocent blood, 4) a heart that plots wicked schemes, 5) feet eager to run to evil, 6) a lying witness that gives false testimony and 7) one who stirs up trouble among his brothers.
The promotion of violence, sex, materialism, truth relativism and false witnessing puts American culture in direct opposition to the will of God and it has produced the manifestation of God’s seven deadly sins, also known as “capital vices” or what we call “Cardinal Sins:” Greed, Gluttony, Envy, Sloth, Pride, Lust and Wrath. Greed is considered the mother of all sin, but wrath (revenge) is the center of most dissent. God’s wrath is different from man’s wrath. God’s wrath comes from abundant sins against society. Man’s wrath is often sin committed against another (revenge). Religious warfare is the biggest sin against society as man’s constant battle to insist “Who has the biggest God?” causes society’s to fall over their insistence that no other belief exists other than their own. The more interesting reality about religion is that when it comes to beliefs outside American’s dominant belief, all other beliefs are not protected against persecution in the same way. An act of a single so-called believer indicts the whole group. America is becoming more and more anti-Muslim because of this mindset. The demonization of Muslims in America must stop. Ramadan can serve as the teaching moment now that another anti-Islamic conversation is talking place.
Never was anti-Muslim sentiments more evident than the recent conversation around building a mosque near the New York Twin Towers site (so-called 9/11 site…but there were several sites attacked on 9/11). Detractors have almost called the construction of the site sacrilege, an attack on the memory of those who died on that fated day in 2001. The mosque isn’t being built on the site, or even cross the street from the site. It’s being built a couple blocks from the site. It’s almost like there is some sort of “no Muslim zone” being created. How close is too close? Moreover, how far is too far? Six blocks? One mile? The island of Manhattan? Pushing a Muslim mosque out of the vicinity of the twin towers will do what? Just as Christians are allowed to pray anywhere, Muslims should be allowed to also.
President Barack Obama said as much at a White House Ramadan dinner. The problem is that the whole 9/11 conversation has become about “Muslims trying to change our (American) way of life.” Thus, Muslims are not to be trusted in American society and to be verbally attacked whenever possible so that Islam never becomes an acceptable religious practice in America. You have ideologues like Newt Gingrich saying building a mosque near the twin tower site is tantamount to building a Nazi building next to a Holocaust site, or building a Japanese memorial at Pearl Harbor. The intent here is to create a permanent stigma against Islam. Islam scholars and believers have repeated stated that those involved in the 9/11 killings were not Muslims, because Muslims do not shed innocent bleed. It’s like a person who calls themselves Christian and commits a murderous act. Are all Christians now to be distrusted because one committed an act fraudulently in the name of Jesus (it has happened)? No they’re not. So why should Muslims continue to be persecuted for something non-Muslims, acting in un-Islamic ways, have done. Only ignorance allows it.
Yet, the political right is trying to ratchet up the religious rhetoric and force another confrontation over religion by further antagonizing Muslims. This coming September 11th (2010), a right-wing fringe pastor named Terry Jones, over some deomination called “The Dove Church” is calling for an international “Burn The Qu’ran Day”http://www.episcopalcafe.com/lead/religion_in_america/antimuslim_sentiment_ swelling.html, which he will host and call on others worldwide to do the same. He even had a churchmember post instructions on how and why to do it (burn the Qu’ran). This, of course, will incite Muslims worldwide and wrath will run amuck. Everyone will lose their religion (grounding for religious beliefs) based what we know God hates. Hopefully, this will not occur and September 11th can be used as a day to promote greater religious tolerance. An effort to push a proposed mosque out of the site of the twin towers, will not push anti-Muslim sentiment out of the minds of Americans. Now is the time to have this conversation. Not when something happens at the egging of anti-Muslim ideologues.
Anthony Asadullah Samad, Ph.D., is a national columnist, managing director of the Urban Issues Forum (www.urbanissuesforum.com) and author of the upcoming book, REAL EYEZ: Race, Reality and Politics in 21st Century Popular Culture. He can be reached at www.AnthonySamad.com.