Saturday, June 18, 2005

Council on American-Islamic Relations

Recent controversies regarding extremist Muslim terrorists, the treatment of Muslim detainees at Guantanamo, and alleged abuses of the Holy Qur'an by American interrogators, have propelled the religion of Islam into the American spotlight. I always wanted to know more about religions in general, but I'm afraid to admit I only half-heartedly searched the web, looking for general information about Islam.

But then something I saw on television really incensed me: I was flipping through channels when I saw John Hagee, a charasmatic Christian evangelist, denouncing Islam as a religion of violence. He cited several verses of the Holy Qur'an to support his claim, and as the camera panned across the audience, I could see a look of alarm settle upon the faces of his listeners. I was outraged, not only because he presented a slanted view of a major world religion, but his words tended to incite bigotry rather than promote brotherhood. Does he forget our own Judeo-Christian Bible? What if the world judged us as a culture of violence simply because a scattering of Bible verses promote violence? Let us not forget our own Bible often advocated extreme intolerance and even promoted the killing of those who believed in other religions. Let us not forget the same Jehovah who proclaimed from Sinai: Thou shalt not kill (Exodus 20:13), also said:

"And the LORD our God delivered him before us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people. And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones, of every city, we left none to remain;" (Deuteronomy 2:33-34).

"Thus saith the LORD of hosts...go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass;" (1 Samuel 15:2-3).

As a Native American, I know my grandfathers and grandmothers survived cultural genocide on this American continent. They were persecuted and slaughtered for their "pagan" religious beliefs, just as the ancient inhabitants of Canaan.

Despite the history of bloodshed in the Bible, Christians today view themselves as a religion of peace; indeed, they refer to Jesus Christ as the Prince of Peace. Isn't it possible Islam is also a religion of peace, in spite of history and a few radical fringe groups within their midst? I heard it said that to characterize the whole of Islam by extremist Muslim groups would be like characterizing the whole of Christianity by the Klu Klux Klan. It's prejudicial and unfair.

In an effort to understand Islam on its own terms, I consulted CAIR: the Council on American-Islamic Relations. They currently offer a copy of the Holy Qur'an free of charge to any American who requests one. I emailed a request by visiting their web site, and in three weeks received my own copy of the Holy Qur'an. I'm deeply honored to receive a copy of this holy book, and look forward to learning more about the teachings of Islam.

To request your own copy of the Holy Qur'an contact CAIR:

Council on American-Islamic Relations
453 New Jersey Avenue, S.E.
Washington D.C. 20003

Telephone: (202) 488-8787

1 comment:

Miklos Fejer said...

Interesting thoughts.

I've had a copy of the Koran for many years and read it from time to time, along with texts from a variety of other faiths I've come across on my travels.

Keep up the great blogging!