God's Plan Includes All Faiths

Could we all just take a big, deep breath before we resume screaming at each other?

Continued from page 1

Remember Hesham Mohamed Hedayet, the LAX shooter of July 2002? Many claimed it was a "terror attack," especially since the victims were working at the ticket counter of El Al, the Israeli airline. Eventually we learned that the shooting was motivated by his personal financial problems--not terrorism.

Jumping to conclusions hurts everybody, just like the Qur'an told me: "If a wicked person comes to you with news, ascertain the truth, lest you harm people unwittingly, and afterwards become full of regret for what you did" (49:6).

Let's turn the tables: What if it had been a Muslim family that was murdered, and members of the Muslim community were quick to blame Coptic Christians? Would this be fair? No. Thus, let us wait for the facts.

If Muslims were behind this attack, there is no justification whatsoever in Islam. I do not care what scholar from whichever country and whatever historical era says otherwise. The Qur'an is clear: "do not take life that God has made sacred." Life, period. Verse 47:4 says: "Therefore, when ye meet the Unbelievers (in war), smite at their necks at length; when ye have thoroughly subdued them, bind a bond firmly (on them): thereafter (is the time for) either generosity or ransom until the war lays down its burdens...". This verse speaks about fighting the enemy in battle; it is not a "field manual" for slitting the throats of innocent non-Muslims. This verse would apply just as much if an enemy attacked America, and Muslims took up arms to defend their country.

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Although some Muslims claim the Qur'an forbids Muslims from making non-Muslim friends, this interpretation is incorrect. The Qur'an is quite clear about relations with non-Muslims: "God does not forbid you from dealing kindly and justly with those who do neither fight you for your faith nor drive you out of your homes. For God loves those who are just" (60:8). In fact, the Qur'an says, "...nearest among [people] in love to the believers wilt thou find those who say, 'We are Christians'; because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant" (5:82).

Fourth, though there are tensions between the Egyptian Christian and Muslim communities, this tragedy should not be cause for increasing these tensions. Instead, this should be an opportunity to reach out to each other and focus on what both communities have in common. Both communities in Jersey City have tried, and this is excellent. It must continue.

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