A recent survey by the Pew Research Center about American Muslims was received favorably
by many Muslims and apprehensively by many non-Muslims.
The surveys revealed that more than 80% of American Muslims blend comfortably into American society and that they have a broad willingness to adopt American customs, work ethics and are generally optimistic about America. It also revealed an American Muslim population that is religious, diverse, socially conservative and politically liberal. Nearly eight in ten U.S. Muslims say they are either happy or "very happy." They believe Muslims coming to the United States should try to adopt American customs rather
than separating from the larger society.
The study also revealed that two percent of young Muslims under 30 believe that suicide bombings to defend their religion can often be justified while 13 percent of those under 30 believe that suicide attacks to defend their religion can sometimes be justified. Moreover, the study revealed that five percent expressed "even somewhat favorable" opinions of al-Qaida. Not surprisingly, some Muslims and many non-Muslims were concerned by this revelation. The New York Post went as far as editorializing "TIME
BOMBS IN OUR MIDST."
So why do many American Muslims appear less concerned with the minority and instead are focusing on the 87% of Muslims who condemn suicide bombings? One reason is that many Muslim groups feel vindicated or affirmed since they have always asserted that the majority of American Muslims assimilate easily, are law abiding, and peace loving. Moreover, Muslim groups believe that those who recognize exceptions to Islam's
prohibition against suicide do not pose an immanent threat because those young people were responding to a theoretical question about the emotional issue of protecting their religion. Muslim groups argue that those who justify suicide bombings are incorrectly interpreting Islam and that they can be reeducated about the issue of suicide bombings.
Assuming Muslim groups are correct in their analysis of the poll, and they maybe, one must ask why is it that there are any Muslims who would justify suicide bombings in the name of Islam when Islam has always had a clear prohibition against suicide?
The answer is that the minority of Muslims who justify suicide bombings evolved from a recent trend in which some Islamic political movements and leaders began sending mixed messages about the use of suicide military operations. Over the last 20 years, some Muslim leaders have sanctioned suicide military operations when they believed that a particular cause is just but rejected suicide as un-Islamic in other instances. To get
around the Koran's prohibition against suicide some Islamic leaders repackaged suicide bombings by calling them martyrdom operations and argued that such tactics are similar to "a mission impossible," that has been used by modern militaries for centuries. Moreover, they argue that in a war where the "oppressor" possesses superior military capabilities, martyrdom operations are essential. Further, they argue that since the goal of the Muslim soldier is not to kill himself but to defend himself against an enemy who is trying to kill him or steal his property, martyrdom operations do not constitute suicide.
These arguments were given prominence in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict by prominent Islamic personalities who provided moral cover for HAMAS in its use of suicide bombings against Israel based on Israel's alleged persecution of the Palestinians and Israel's military superiority.
So what to do now? For the benefit of the American Muslim communities and the world at large, Muslim leaders must use theological arguments to discredit and condemn those who selectively justify suicide bombings. It is dangerous to argue that suicide bombings are wrong in most instances and justify them when the intended target is seen as an oppressor. All evidence indicates that those who commit suicide military operations believe that they are fighting for a just cause. If societies made exceptions for the select use of suicide when the target is an "oppressor" then other groups may want an exception for their "just cause" or "oppressor" who maybe a Muslim.
Muslim religious leaders must be making clear that suicide bombings are wrong in all instances and when they do they must include the "I" word (Israel). This is important because most Muslims are passionate about the belief that Israel is an oppressor and it is because of these deep emotions about Israel that Muslim leaders must specifically mention Israel by name when condemning suicide bombings.
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August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas
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Mirza A Beg
PLANNED MUSLIMS RESPONSE TO QUR'AN BURNING BY PASTOR JONES ON 9/11/13 IN MULBERRY, FLORIDA
We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.
Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”
God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.
We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration (www.UnitydayUSA.com) held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.
Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.
As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.
We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.
We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.
We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.
Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.
Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.
We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.
The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.