I’m not even mad anymore.
I’m sad and disappointed, and I shake my head in pity at the misinformed religious and political zealots who continue to push the narrative that Muslims as a people and Islam as a religion are the biggest threat that the U.S. faces today.
They believe that Islam is the enemy. And they are dead wrong.
They seem to forget, or maybe they just don’t know, that non-Muslims have been responsible for 90% of terrorist attacks in the past 40 years. More terrorism befell the United States at the hands of Puerto Ricans than Muslims. There have been more attacks on U.S. soil by the Animal Liberation Front than by all of the Islamic groups put together.
Anti-abortion terrorists have carried out 168 attacks in the U.S. since 1970, compared to the 60 attacks made by Muslims. You are almost 3 times more likely to be attacked by an extremist Christian than an extremist Muslim.
60 attacks from any Muslims in the past 40 years, compared to the 120 attacks by the aforementioned Puerto Ricans between 1974 and 1983. Twice as many attacks in a quarter of the time.
Given that there have been 60 attacks on U.S. soil at the hands of Muslims, and there are over 2 million Muslims in the U.S., the odds of any one of those Muslims being an extremist is less than one in 30,000.
And that’s just looking at the numbers, not any individuals.
I’m assuming that the people who blindly like, share, and publish this vitriolic hate have ever met a Muslim. This past summer, I had the privilege of teaching English at an international school that hosted mostly Muslims from Arabic areas such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Mali, Egypt, etc.
I remember, after class one day, having a discussion on religion with Hassan, a Muslim student of mine. I told him that I had heard that it was appropriate for a Muslim to attack anyone who attacked the Islamic faith in any way; kind of like self-defence of faith.
Hassan recoiled in horror and quickly told me that I must be mistaken, that Islam would never teach that kind of behavior as acceptable in any way. “You can defend yourself,” he said, “like, if someone’s trying to kill you, you can hurt them to protect yourself.”
*As a side note, Hassan was also in favor of inter-faith relationships and he supported same-sex marriage, because: “It’s their choice.”
I remember Mehmet responding to a short movie we watched in the English through Film class. I had asked the class if it was OK to assign values to people in society, depending on what they did, where they were from, what they believed.
Mehmet responded by saying that everyone was equal, even if they were different from you, and that you can’t treat someone different for looking or thinking different from you.
I remember Turkey writing an essay about an important person in his life. Turkey would write things like, “One day, I was playing close to the street, and my mother said, ‘Turkey, don’t go too close to the street.’ And I listened to my mother.”
Every paragraph , almost every sentence seemed to end with, “and I listened to my mother.” Is this the behavior of a man who would throw acid on a woman for not enjoying being raped?
I remember Eyas telling me that Muslims aren’t required to pay a “tithe” or offering to the church or organization as a whole, but that they are required to give their offerings directly to the poor or someone who is in need. He lamented that the oil tycoons in the Middle East are obviously not faithful Muslims in good standing, “if they were,” he said, “there would be no poor peoples. Not just Saudi Arabia. In the whole world.”
We live in a time and culture where it is not appropriate for us to even think that black people as a whole are responsible for any detail of Michael Brown’s death. We live in a time and culture where we can’t ask if someone is an illegal immigrant, because it’s worse to assume that someone is breaking the law than it is to actually break the law.
But a group of 3, maybe 4 Muslims attack Charlie Hebdo, and the whole religion is to blame.
That would be like saying that Mormonism led to Ted Bundy’s serial murders.
That would be like saying that the Italian mob is a result of the Roman Catholic Church.
That would be like saying that Christianity is responsible for every hateful action of the Klu Klux Klan.
But it would be wrong, because although on the rise in the past 10 years (ironically coincidental with the war that the United States seemed to have waged against Islam) religion has only been the motivation for 7% of terrorism since 1970. Not Islam. Any religion as a motivation. If you know Christianity, then you know that the KKK is not Christian. If you know Catholicism, then you know that the mob is not Catholic (especially now that Francis has excommunicated them). If you know Mormonism, then you know that modern polygamists are certainly not Mormons.
And if you know Islam, you know that Islam is not responsible for terrorism, but extremist groups who will twist scripture to their already twisted beliefs.
Is violence committed in the name of Islam? Yes. It would be ludicrous to deny that.
Has violence been carried out in the name of Christianity? Yes. It would be ludicrous to deny that.
Do either of these religions or their world leaders espouse this violence and condone it?
That would be like all the Baptist pastors in America suddenly saying, “Guys, you know what? The Westboro Baptists have it right. We should condone and support their actions and beliefs, and use their methods too.” And we all know that’s less likely than Nicholas Cage starring as anyone but Nicholas Cage in any movie he’ll ever be in for the rest of his career.
If you don’t know any Muslims; if you haven’t read more than 3 verses from the Quran (the three most quoted verses in white America, that tell the Prophet to make a war on the infidels); if you like, share, publish, and most disappointingly, believe all the anti-Islam garbage that the media shoves down our throats—
Then go meet a Muslim. Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts”
Then read the Quran. Scholars say that it is a book of peace, not war.
2:256 “Let there be no compulsion in religion.”
Then study Islam from the eyes of Muslims. You wouldn’t want your faith being taught by those who have already decided that you are a terrorist who will kill infidels. Remember that the news anchor at FOX or a poorly assembled YouTube video is much less of an authority on Islam than the Hadith would be. Most of the antagonists of Islam are much more familiar with the “kill the infidels” motif than with the following.
“Beware! Whoever is cruel and hard on a non-Muslim minority, or curtails their rights, or burdens them with more than they can bear, or takes anything from them against their free will; I (Prophet Muhammad) will complain against the person on the Day of Judgment.”
Islam is not the enemy. Terrorism is the enemy, and some small extremist groups of Muslims are a small part of that enemy, but remember that they’re about as Muslim as Al Capone is Catholic.