Beliefnet
WASHINGTON, Nov. 19--A prominent American Muslim advocacy group today requested a meeting with Christian evangelist Franklin Graham to discuss his recently-revealed remarks that attacked Islam as an "evil and wicked religion."

In a report aired Friday on "NBC Nightly News," Graham stood by remarks he made about Islam last month at the dedication of a chapel in North Carolina. At that event, Graham said: "We're not attacking Islam but Islam has attacked us. The God of Islam is not the same God. He's not the son of God of the Christian or Judeo-Christian faith. It's a different God, and I believe it is a very evil and wicked religion." In the NBC report, Graham said, "I don't believe this [Islam] is this wonderful, peaceful religion."

On Sunday, Graham issued a statement in which he said: "It is not my calling to analyze Islam or any other religions, though I recognize that all religions have differences. In the past, I have expressed my concerns about the teachings of Islam regarding the treatment of women and the killing of non-Muslims or infidels." Graham said he would have no further comments on the issue.

In a letter sent today to Graham, Nihad Awad, executive director of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), wrote: "We have found that negative impressions of Islam are most often based on a lack of accurate and objective information. As God states in the Quran, Islam's revealed text: 'O mankind! We created you from a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know and honor each other (not that you should despise one another). Indeed the most honorable of you in the sight of God is the most righteous.' (49:13)

"The Quran also states: 'Invite (all) to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best who have strayed from His Path and who receive guidance.' (16:125)

"I would therefore respectfully request a meeting during which recognized Muslim scholars may offer you information about Islam, particularly Islam's stance on the rights of women and minorities, that is free of bias and distortions. At this time of national and international crisis, it is imperative that we come together as people of faith to promote inter-religious understanding and mutual respect."

Franklin Graham is the son of Billy Graham, an internationally-known minister who has counseled a number of world leaders. The younger Graham offered the benediction at President Bush's swearing-in ceremony. On September 14, at the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance service in Washington's National Cathedral, his father said: "We come together today to affirm our conviction that God cares for us, whatever our ethnic, religious or political background may be."

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