Iftekhar, we are proud of you, keep writing and keep building bridges, that is the most productive susatainable good will. I urge Muslims to write to the editor, at least in 50 words, however you feel about the article. But please do write. The news papers prefer local address for publication. You can write this much, it is 60 words.
Your column has appeared in 7 News papers, and that is really good news. The more the better.
- Oakland Tribune http://www.insidebayarea.com/oaklandtribune
- Tri-Valley Herald http://www.insidebayarea.com/trivalleyherald
- San Mateo County Times http://www.insidebayarea.com/sanmateocountytimes>
- The Argus http://www.insidebayarea.com/argus
- Daily Review http://www.insidebayarea.com/dailyreview
- Alameda Times-Star http://www.insidebayarea.com/timesstar
*Love and Islam*
One friendly neo-conservative keeps asking me if there is love in Islam, and what the Koran says about forgiveness and reconciliation. Another question I get is, what does the Koran say about loving your enemies?
They are legitimate questions, especially in the present climate of the war on terrorism.
The more and more I think about this, I am reminded that the Koran gives broad guidelines for establishing a peaceful and progressive society within your family, your community, your country, and the rest of the world.
Love is not mentioned as many times in the Koran as it is in the Gospels, because Jesus never lived to see the fulfillment of his Kingdom, whereas in the case of Prophet Muhammad, he lived, regulated, controlled and interpreted the laws when he established an Islamic state.
In the case of Jesus, love, forgiveness and reconciliation became central to his teachings, because he did not want his followers to become vengeful for cutting his life short and causing suffering.
With Muhammad, his initial life of suffering and pain were replaced with successful fulfillment of his dream, which led to the establishment of the Islamic state in one succession after another.
Reconciliation came in the form of establishing a law-abiding Islamic state through the interpretation of the Koranic laws that guaranteed successful continuation of Islamic states for more than a thousand years. Hence, forgiveness and reconciliation came more from the point of view of victors or the vanquished.
Thus, love, in Islam, plays a dominant role in raising a child from birth to 10 years, and discipline plays a major role during the formative years from 11 to 20.
During adulthood, love takes on a lesser role, when education, hard work and labor are key factors in arming a person with tools for living a better life. The goal for the well-disciplined citizen would be to take on the world and build communities with strong foundations based on sound family values.
In the case of loving your enemies, the Koran takes on a more practical approach of reforming and shepherding them to righteous ways before they get entitled to forgiveness.
Under the global war on terror, terrorists are not entitled to love and forgiveness if they do not change and reconcile first from within their hearts and minds.
Finally, Muslims should never consider non-Muslims as enemies, because the Koran acknowledges pluralism. Salvation is for all, as long as they believe in God and do righteous deeds.
The global war on terrorism is not a war on everyone of Islamic faith. It is focused on radicalized terrorists who take a narrow-minded view and who deny others their basic human rights.
The concept of unconditional love is reserved more for the immature or mentally unstable person — not for terrorists. The war against terrorism will ultimately lead to victory for freedom, liberty and justice that are so essential for establishing a society of love where justice can reign.
*Iftekhar Hai,* president of United Muslims of America Interfaith Alliance (http://umaia.net