Thursday, December 10, 2015

Islamaphobia is an ugly disease

Due to the terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, it has suddenly become incredibly popular again to bash an entire religion and the 1.6 billion people who follow it. Just take a cursory glance at your feeds on Facebook and Twitter; how many articles, posts and memes have you seen identifying Islam as a religion of hate or calling for the elimination – and even execution – of Muslims? It’s disturbing.   

Too many people, I dare say a majority of Americans, are painting the entire religion with a wide brush-stroke that makes all Muslims seem evil. Rather than attributing the work of ISIS and other militant groups --- which are incredibly small in numbers but large in impact – to a very small minority of morally-bankrupt practitioners of Islam, it’s popular to blame them all.

While most terrorists may be Muslims, most Muslims are not terrorists. Most Muslims are like most Christians – inherently good people, believing in a mostly-peaceful religion, who try to live to standards of morality but have their own personal flaws. In short, they are humans as you and I are trying to be perfect in an imperfect world.

Two Orleans County business owners whom I admire are devout Muslims. Their love of Man far rivals that which I have seen from most Christians. They devote countless time and dollars to improving the lot of life for the impoverished in that deeply-poor county as well as directly helping children from oppressed nations throughout the world. Their sacrifices and commitments are something special, no matter the religion.

Their peers in faith are equally-adept at practicing charity. A 2012 study in the United Kingdom found that Muslims were the most giving of all religious groups, contributing 38% more than Jews, 84% more than Protestants, more than twice what Catholics do, and more than 3 times what atheists give.

They show that Islam is a religion of peace, of love, of hope.

Many non-Muslims choose to believe otherwise, implying that terror organizations represent the mainstream of the religion and that it is a deadly, vindictive religion. While having never picked up the Quaran, they are quick to spout random quotes from Muhammad that say Islam must convert all non-believers and tax and/or kill those who don’t convert.

If other religions practiced such selectivity and total lack of historical context, Christians would be looked as murderous war mongers, too. After all, the God of the Old Testament had the Israelites wipe out and destroy Jericho, Heshbon, Bahsan and numerous other places, indiscriminately and purposely killing women and children because non-believers and those associated with them needed punishment. That’s a heavy body count, one that is overlooked due to the more just people and kinder God mentioned in the New Testament and religious cherry-picking.

It’s silly to classify Christiandom as evil and violent because of those bloodbaths (and those done in the name of Christianity in the days after the Bible), just as it is to do the same to all of Islam. Christians need to look in the mirror – and read their own doctrines – before pointing an accusatory finger at other religions. What did Jesus say about the first stone?

Islamaphobia is an ugly disease and one that unlike disdain for skin color or sexual orientation is left mostly unchecked. It’s allowed to be expressed in the open and very few stand up against it. Even the innocent Muslims targeted by the hurtful chatter and piercing eyes turn their cheeks and take the hate.

Hate…is that any way to treat your fellow man, no matter what religion he practices? Isn’t hate the same ugly emotion that contributed to the deaths of innocents in Paris and San Bernardino?

From the 13 December 2015 Greater Niagara Newspapers

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