Opinion: Muslims' Turn to Ask 'Why Do They Hate Us?'Updated: 1 day 13 hours ago
AOL News (Sept. 23) -- One day after the 9/11 attacks, U.S. security specialist Richard Clarke asked, "Why do they hate us?" Nine years later, with global and American opinion of Muslims sinking to modern historical lows, it's time for the Muslim world to overcome its aversion to introspection and ask the same of itself.
Muslims might have little to worry about if anti-Muslim sentiment in America were limited to the small segment of the public predisposed to bigotry and roiled by hard times. It isn't. In a country renowned for tolerance and pluralism, resentment toward Muslims now extends far beyond the conservative right.
A Gallup poll in January found that 43 percent of Americans have a "little," "some" or "a great deal" of prejudice toward Muslims (compared with 18 percent toward Christians, 15 percent toward Jews and 14 percent toward Buddhists). And another poll conducted in late August found that even in the cosmopolitan capital of the world, New York City, one-fifth of respondents said they felt animosity toward Muslims, and nearly 60 percent said their friends held negative views toward them.
What's behind these disturbing attitudes?
Lately, a good part of it is the provocative proposal to build a mosque and cultural center two blocks from where Muslim terrorists crashed two jetliners into the World Trade Center. The imam behind the center, Feisal Abdul Rauf, may be considered a hero to some in the Muslim world, but he's done more than any single individual of late to whip up anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S.
Another factor: the recent instances of homegrown terrorism, from Fort Hood gunman Nidal Hasan to Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad. Prior to this wave, most Americans made a relatively clear distinction between the Muslims "out there" and those down the block. Now they have been forced to confront the "Americanization" of the terror threat.
While President George W. Bush's bellicose policies gave rise to legitimate Muslim grievances, they also allowed the Muslim world to put off the urgent need to work on itself. Muslims asserted their identity and faith but grew more irrational and weaker in the process.
Instead of unambiguously showing that the intolerance displayed that September morning had nothing to do with them, many Muslims grew more hostile. They spewed more venom. Radicalism grew. Moderates remained mostly mum; on the rare occasions they did speak up, it was only against injustices toward Muslims, conveying an indifference to the other five-sixths of humanity.
Leaders of nations wishfully labeled moderate, such as Malaysia's Mahathir Mohamad, took blinkered aim at Jews and went so far as to pin 9/11 on Hollywood, thus damaging the reputation of both their countries and their faith. From Britain to Indonesia, Muslims hunkered down, embraced a victim mentality and failed to produce inspiring global leaders or even credible, persuasive spokespeople.
All the while, Muslims were sure, thanks to reassuring distortions in the Arab media, that America was losing, which meant the Muslim world must be winning. They missed that the Bush years represented a bad inning (or two) but didn't reflect the overall score. They overlooked the unflattering opinions slowly being formed among the many Americans who had mindfully reserved judgment, or were striving to hold positive opinions of Islam.
Recently Americans have become more familiar with the Muslim world and the Quran, and they see correlations between the two. Violent verses of the Quran -- now widely circulated on the Internet -- are being conflated with the actions of extremists and, more presumptuously, with the thinking of moderates.
Many Americans feel they have witnessed one too many double standards from the Muslim world, which asks for sensitivity but fails to deliver the same in return, as demonstrated most recently and vividly with the proposed Islamic center near Manhattan's ground zero. (This is not to ignore that America has dished out a fair share of double standards to Muslims.)
What's more, Americans are rightly tired of cowering in the face of terrorist threats. Every time Gen. David Patraeus or President Barack Obama says you shouldn't burn a Quran out of fear of violent retaliation, a portion of America is going to defy these pleas, or secretly cheer on those who do.
Sponsored Links The sad truth is that the Muslim world has few modern accomplishments to speak of, feeding suspicions that Islam itself is the cause of underdevelopment. Wrong as that may be, the Muslim world has to understand that the perceived nature of any faith is decided largely by what people witness of it in the present.
There is a real danger that Muslims will react to this wave of anti-Muslim sentiment as they so often have when confronted with what they find disagreeable: to play the victim, cling to deep denial and fail to adopt proactive ways to positively alter their destiny.
In our most action-oriented of nations, which rejects reactive self-pity and honors industrious self-improvement, that is sure to obliterate the remaining goodwill Americans feel toward Muslims.
A more constructive course would start with the question Clarke sought to answer that chilling September morning nine years ago.
Ioannis Gatsiounis, an American writer and journalist now living in Uganda, previously reported from Malaysia, the topic of his book Beyond the Veneer.
SUCCESSFUL NAATIA MUSHAERA ON 2.21.14
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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.