Interfaith efforts can’t match anti-Muslim sentiment
Rahfin Faruk, a blogger for Huffington Post, commented on May 28 that despite the best efforts of religious leaders to improve interfaith relations, events like the Boston Marathon bombing are leading to greater and greater setbacks for the cause.
Faruk, the Media Relations Chair for MSA National (the Muslim Students Association), thinks that changing the rhetoric of Muslim leaders may be critical in reversing the trend.
“Muslim leaders need to understand that in the public’s eyes, an attack by an extremist is linked to the entire Muslim community,” he says. “An ideologically inspired attack is far different from an attack by the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh, or Adam Lanza, the Newtown shooter. Leaders need to stand up and find a way to separate the two effects: the works of interfaith organizations should not be affected by outlandish attacks by a small minority.”
Faruk adds, “Muslim leaders need to go on the offensive. They need to disassociate with any extremist groups through powerful public stances. They need to say, ‘Extremists are not part of our community. They do not reflect any notion of Islam. They are not Muslim.’”
In fact, he urges following the example set by America’s Baptist community, which distanced and disassociated itself from Westboro Baptist Church. (Westboro is that renegade congregation which seems to delight in choosing moments of tragedy and pain to promote its conservative, anti-gay, anti-everything agenda—for example, threatening to picket funerals of victims while claiming that the deaths were a result of not following literal interpretations of the Bible that seemingly prohibit homosexuality.)
Faruk points out that if extremists are free to call themselves Muslims, then the Muslim community needs to be able to decisively say who is and isn’t Muslim.
“This is the first step in counteracting the backlash effect and thereby allowing the interfaith community to continue to change hearts and minds. If American Muslims want extremists to be treated as unlinked outliers, our leaders must be willing to say exactly that.”
A refreshingly candid, common-sense assessment. Faruk deserves a lot of credit for speaking out in an attempt to change the status quo in his own community.
By the way, in case you’re curious about what Faruk’s organization, MSA National, is all about – here is what their guiding principles are, as published on their website:
- Sincerity is the foundation of our existence
- Knowledge precedes our actions
- Humility guides our conduct
- Patience is the hallmark of our planning
- Truthfulness is the mark of our speech
- Moderation is the compass for our journey
- Tolerance is the banner of our outreach
- Gratitude binds our hearts together
- Forgiveness precedes our reconciliatory efforts
Now, if you have any doubt that the mainstream Islamic community is actually a peaceable one at heart, MSA National’s mission and goals should convince you.