I admit it, ISIS scares the heck out of me. This group of ruthless terrorists has been inciting hatred and fear worldwide. It’s divide and conquer, and that, frankly, is what scares me most. By creating this façade of Muslim versus the world, I am finding that in America, anyway, we have become a society full of animosity toward the Muslim community. We are drawing lines based on religion and ethnicity and race. We identify with our group and resent any others. We are creating our own civil war when we should be coming together, unified against this sham of an organization.
You see, ISIS does not represent Islam any more than Westboro represents Christianity. There will always be extremists, but they do not truly serve God. They use the guise in an attempt to justify their wrongdoing. And it’s working. Can you imagine if after the Oklahoma City bombing we publicly castigated all white farmers from Michigan? In fact, do you know what the deadliest school massacre in the United States was? Not Columbine. Not Sandyhook. No, in fact, it took place in Bath, Michigan in 1927. Again, a white farmer from Michigan murdered his wife, detonated an explosion at the local school, killing 38 elementary students, six adults, and injured 58 others before killing himself. That would be two mass killers who are white farmers from Michigan. Does that mean all are evil? Should we fear the farmers? The reality is that there are bad people in this world, in every race, religion, and gender. It just so happens that we are currently focused on the Muslims and Islam as the enemy du jour. That saddens me.
We attack the hijab, the headscarf worn by Muslim women. We tell them they are in America and to shed the garb, yet Jews wear yarmulkes, nuns wear habits, priests wear collars without criticism, all doing so to represent their faith. And do you know that along with the hijab, the Muslim women also cover everything (arms, legs, etc.) except for hands and face. Why? Modesty. Perhaps rather than criticize we should take note and encourage our young girls to cover up a little more rather than parade around in sports bras and skirts so short that they leave nothing to the imagination. Muslims do not drink alcohol. And why is that wrong? Muslims don’t eat pork, and we condemn that. When was the last time we called out the Catholics for not eating meat on Lenten Fridays? Or Jews for not eating pork? Muslims fast during Ramadan. Catholics fast on holy days. Why is it acceptable for one and not the other? And what is wrong with praying throughout the day? This society seems to turn away from God more and more each day, and you see how well that is working. I have a difficult time condemning one for practicing modesty, clean eating, deeply rooted faith expressed in daily prayer, and not imbibing in alcohol.
I have Muslim friends, and they are the most generous and kind people with whom I have had the pleasure of knowing. They are horrified by these ISIS incidents. They live in fear of these terrorists as much as I, if not more so. I cannot imagine seeing this horror unfold before my eyes, committed by people falsely claiming to share my religious views. It is bad enough to see the Westboro people picketing funerals and spewing their hateful venom in the name of Christianity. That embarrasses me beyond words. I cannot imagine if these people violently raped and murdered innocent victims in the name of my God. I could not support that simply because they claim to be Christians. I could not support the priests guilty of molesting young boys, but at the same time, I recognize that not all priests are guilty nor do the actions of a few imply that all Catholics are supporters of pedophilia. True Muslims do not support this evil occurring today, yet many are paying the price simply by being Muslim. It breaks my heart.
Could the “kind Muslims” be conspiring against me, drawing me in with kindness to then turn on me? I’ve been asked that several times, and yes, they could be. I could be completely fooled and naive. I don’t believe so, but I could be. However, I would rather wrongly love than wrongly hate. Three years ago, my son was the only Christian on a basketball team of Muslims. It was his first year participating with this organization. Before the playoff game, the team gathered at mid court, knelt, and they prayed together. My son respectfully participated; that was his team. After they finished with their prayer, the coach then looked at my son and asked him to lead them in his prayer. He did, and again, they all respectfully prayed together. Was there a difference in their prayers? Not really. Were they one team praying together to a God from whom they were seeking protection and grace and love? Absolutely. And that is what mattered.
No religion has been free from controversy and scandal. No religion has been free from persecution. History continues to repeat itself: same story, different players. If we want to win this war, we need to understand the war we are truly fighting and who our allies are. We, as human beings from differing backgrounds, need to come together, unified against evil. It really is that simple.