As a Muslim I don’t want sympathies, what I want is what everyone wants, a sense of security and letting me live my life as others live theirs. Throw me in a jail for the crimes I commit, but don’t blame me or my religion for the acts someone else commits. As fellow Americans this is what you can do for the other members of the family of faiths, and become a consistent voice to propagate the following narratives…. in the text below. Mike Ghouse
# # #
May 12, 2016, Rockville, MD – The Faith Leaders response team of Montgomery County’s Faith community working group held their monthly interfaith meeting at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockville.
The MCPD Asst. Chief Darryl McSwain and Asst. Chief Luther Reynolds, and MC Fire Chief, Scott Goldstein shared their perspectives in developing safe communities. Both the departments offer facility orientation programs, that is, training and preparing the members of worship places to ‘what if’ scenarios in case of a gunman walking in, a fire breaks out or any other untowardly events.
Rev. Dr. Carol Flett facilitated the meeting attended by nearly 30 individuals representing many faith communities.
A member from each table shared the general conversation of his or her given table. From our table, we shared the needs of various communities. Imam Hadji Sall from Silver Springs Mosque talked about the space needs for his Mosque, he and I have agreed to have a discussion and present the possible solutions to the group. There was an acknowledgement needed for bullying that goes on with Hindu kids along with Muslim and Sikh kids, Richa from the Chinmaya Mission shared that information.
Rabbi Gerry Serotta, Executive director of interfaith council of Washington shared about the upcoming Interfaith Bridge Builders Awards on June 2, event as a head of the Interfaith council of Metropolitan Washington, one of the pastors shared that they pray for the both the victims and the offenders in case of crises. Of course, Scott Goldstein shared what the Fire Department does in case of crises, he made it little humorous about catching the animals.
I found the following powerful quote from the signature line of Rev. Dr. Carol Flett worth sharing, as it resonated with the theme of the verse 49:13 from Quran that I have been elaborating on for over 15 years. It is a Martin Luther King Quote, “”…I am convinced that men hate each other because they fear each other. They fear each other because they don’t know each other, and they don’t know each other because they don’t communicate with each other, and they don’t communicate with each other because they are separated from each other.”
Great food, the families brought in so many varieties of vegetarian food that I have enjoyed at the Jain Temples in the past.
The discussion on how we are dealing with the recent violent incidents in Paris, Brussels, Lahore and our County, with members of our congregations. Let’s discuss practical ways we can reduce anxiety and xenophobia in our own communities, and continue to build a socially cohesive and compassionate county.
Dealing with violent incidents in Paris, Brussels, Lahore and here in the United States
The bottom line of every religion, government and the society is to create cohesive societies that function well, where rule of law is the norm, and where no one has to live in fear, or apprehension of the fellow beings.
It is our duty to keep law and order and faithfully guard the safety of every citizen. Hate is one of the many sources of disrupting peace in a society, and it is our responsibility to track down the source of such hate and work on mitigating it. Ultimately, my safety hinges on safety of others around me.
There is wisdom in the saying, “Sin is the problem and not the sinner” when we focus on the sin, there is a chance to redeem the individual from the sin, where as if we attack the sinner, we will kill the chances of redemption. The idea is to single out the cause for the situation and work on finding solutions.
Similarly, we single out the criminal responsible for the crime, and not blame his or her spouse, parents, siblings, kids, family members, rabbi, imam, pastor, Pundit or religious leader, mayor of the town, governor of the state, president of the country or the religion.
If a rapist is running around in our neighborhood, everyone gets apprehensive and makes sure the doors are locked, alarm is set and family members are guarded. The moment that creep is caught, everyone sighs and takes a deep breath of relief.
What’s happened here is, the “trust” is restored in the community; people feel safe and start living their normal life again. There is nothing like feeling secure. Indeed, Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) work was to build secure societies and he likened the sense of security to mother’s lap where the child feels secure. No matter what is happening to him/her, the child knows he or she is safe in her mother’s lap, the child knows mother will take care of him/her. Mother is one’s security and trust is the key.
The Prophet vision of a civilized society was when a single woman loaded with Jewelry and fine clothing could go from the City of Madinah to the City of Damascus and return without being harassed, chased or robbed of her dignity. That was the kind of civility he had envisaged. A majority of Muslims got that message right and have become the source of such civility; however a few did not get it and we have to work with them.
Those who did not get their religion right, no matter what religion, region or race they belong to cause death and destruction. The list is endless; Brussels, Paris, Grand Bassam, Ankara, Gaza, Mumbai, Bali, Abu Ghraib, Afghanistan, Iraq and several more across the globe including the latest rampages of ISIS. Here at home we have San Bernardino along 354 Mass murders in 2015. Individuals wear suicide vests and hurt others, while nations wrap mega ton bombs to their fighter jets and destroy nations and cities. All of us should reflect on the ugliness embedded in a few men from each one of our faiths.
There is not a religion out there that preaches discrimination or hatred for others. Isn’t that the case with Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism or any faith? Religion doesn’t teach, but the Guardians make a villain out of God towards others. God is not a villain, he/she/ it is about justness, fairness, equity and kindness to the entire creation.
What can we do to cut down the fear mongering and pitting every one against Muslims?
As a Muslim I don’t want sympathies, what I want is what everyone wants, a sense of security and letting me live my life as others live theirs. Throw me in a jail for the crimes I commit, but don’t blame me or my religion for the acts someone else commits.
As fellow Americans this is what you can do for members of the family of faiths, and become a consistent voice to propagate the following narratives;
- Individuals or cult leaders are responsible for their crimes and not anyone else. Let’s not even blame their parents, pastors, mayors, or their religion or their nation.
- We bring justice by punishing the criminals and restore trust in the society, no one but the criminal is responsible for his or her acts.
- Religion is like the Nuclear power, in the right hands it is beneficial to the mankind, but in the wrong hands, it brings death and destruction. Neither religion is bad nor the nuclear power; it is the users and abusers who are good or bad.
- We absolve religion from any blame, as religion is an intangible entity which you cannot kill, kick, murder, slaughter, hang, shoot or bury. Trust cannot be restored in the society by barking aimlessly in the dark.
- War on terror is a dumb idea; it should be war on ignorance through education and knowledge.
Dr. Mike Ghouse is the Executive Director of American Muslim institution and is a community consultant, social scientist, thinker, writer, news maker, Interfaith Wedding officiant, and a speaker on Pluralism,Interfaith, Islam, politics, terrorism, human rights, India, Israel-Palestine, motivation, and foreign policy. He is committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. Visit him (63 links) at www.TheGhousediary.com