June 27, 2014
Probably many Muslims in the area wish the whole discussion sparked by the proposal for a mosque in the area (see Lima News 5/15/14) would just go away. I am empathetic to those feelings. I want to comment, however, particularly in relation to two letters (“Doing nothing no longer an option,” Lima News 6/5/14, and “Welcome Islam at your own peril,” Lima News, 5/28/14), both of which point to the extremism, especially as manifested in the Middle East. Extremism is an almost daily occurrence, but that is what it is: extremism. Those extremisms are rooted in ancient tribal and ethnic rivalries, and are fueled by current political stagnation and corruption and economic injustices. What the authors do not mention is some moderate Muslims also suffer from that extremism.
The Quran says (surah 2, v. 190) that there is be “no aggression,” only legitimate self defense. And it is not accurate to say there are no words of love in Quran. Surah 2, v 177, for example, talks about the responsibility of those who are able to come to the aid of the needy. It would probably come as a surprise to some that the Quran shows reverence for Jesus as a great prophet, and pays honor to Mary as Jesus’ virgin mother (Surah 3, vv. 42.43.46). There are many references to Mary in the Quran, and the entire Surah 19 is named after Mary.
What we need is not fear mongering based on the extremism currently rampant, especially in the Middle East, but rather to see the face of Islam as revealed in the individual lives of the Muslims living among us. In so doing, we might discover that true Islam is, indeed, what the name implies – a religion of peace. Perhaps a real effort towards community and solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters could be mutually enriching. In the midst of our differences, we might discover that we have a great deal more in common than we had once thought.
— Al O’Dell, Columbus Grove