Common Word, Common Lord

In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring 

A while back, I discussed the fact that the new Trump Administration seems to espouse a “dark view of Islam,” in the words of the New York Times, and this “dark view” colors every thing with respect to terrorism, extremism, and some aspects of foreign policy.

Yet, Trump and other members of the new Administration are not the only ones who have a “dark view” of Islam.

The savages who act in Islam’s name – such as ISIS, Boko Haram, Al Qaeda – also espouse this  “dark view of Islam.” They espouse a satanic, violent interpretation that is alien to the overwhelming majority of Muslims in the world.

What’s more: many Muslims, including this one, have insisted time and again that these savages “have nothing to do with Islam,” and I know that, when we say this, so many people react to this statement with utter disbelief.

This is because it is absolutely true that, for every act of sheer barbarity committed by savages such as ISIS, an Islamic text can be found to buttress it. It is absolutely true that the savages who act in Islam’s name can point to something in Islamic tradition that can justify their crimes.

So, how can Muslims like me say that ISIS has “nothing to do with Islam”?

It is because – while indeed Islamic sacred text can be cited to cover for horrific atrocities – the understanding of these texts by the overwhelming majority of Muslims and Muslim scholars are completely different than that of the savages. I read the very same texts as the savages and come away with a completely different view.

I, and the overwhelming majority of Muslims, understand that the Islamic texts that seem to justify acts of barbarism have a context: a linguistic, historical, cultural, and textual context. I, and the overwhelming majority of Muslims, read these texts in those specific contexts and comprehend that they do not represent the normative understanding of Islam that has buttressed thousands of years of Islamic civilization.

It is exactly akin to my home town of Chicago. Almost every day, there are headlines of horrific shootings that take the lives of innocent people, including one that recently killed a 2-year-old girl. Yet, those of us who live in Chicago know that this terrible fact does not represent the truth of Chicago, which is a truly wonderful city in which to live and raise a family. 

It is also akin to calling every American who voted for Trump a “racist,” just because there were indeed some of his supporters who openly espoused racist views. The whole can never be smeared by the sins of the few, and this applies to Islam just as much as it applies to Trump supporters or the city of Chicago.

Admittedly, it is a little frustrating having to deal with a President and Administration that seemingly can’t differentiate between all Muslims and the tiny minority of its criminals (case in point: the Muslim ban). But, they are not the only ones who espouse this “dark view of Islam.” 

The savages who commit barbarism in Islam’s name also have a “dark view of Islam,” and as a Muslim, it is my duty to speak out against them, and combat this “dark view” with calm, patience, and peace. 

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