Those who accuse Muslims of silence aren't listening very well

Allie Shah, Star Tribune
July 31, 2005 SHAH0731

http://www.startribune.com/stories/562/5533865.html

Where are the moderate Muslims?

And why aren't they condemning the terrorist attacks
in London and the Middle East?

Is their silence a sign of tacit or even overt support
for the killings? Or is it that they're afraid of
retaliation?

In short, why aren't Muslims speaking out against
terrorism?

Since 9/11, this question in one form or another has
been raised by non-Muslims on talk radio, where the
verbal attacks against Islam and Muslims borders on
terrorizing, and in letters to the editor and in water
cooler conversations.

The better question might be: Why aren't you hearing
us?

To be fair, most of us are doing the same things you
all are doing this summer: going to school or work,
attending weddings, shuttling kids to summer camps,
and trying to get ahead on our never-ending task
lists.

We're living our lives, pursuing the American Dream.

What are we supposed to do? Drop everything and walk
out to the nearest street corner with a bullhorn and
shout: "I am a Muslim and I love America and the West
and I abhor and condemn the latest suicide bombing in
XYZ country that killed X number of people"?

The fact is that many prominent American Muslim groups
have clearly and publicly denounced acts of terror in
the name of Islam as barbaric, heinous and just plain
wrong. Though they religiously send out press releases
and e-mail statements after every attack, somehow
their message doesn't seem to penetrate.

On July 7, as the news broke about the horrific bus
and subway bombings in London that killed 56 people,
American Muslim groups scrambled to issue statements
condemning the attacks and expressing sympathy for the
victims' families. Some, including the Muslim Public
Affairs Council based in California and the Council on
American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Washington, D.C.,
continue to post their statements on their websites.

After the second round of attacks in London subways
two weeks later, a coalition of Muslim student
organizations at universities in the United States and
Canada got together to openly condemn all terrorism as
"crimes against humanity" irrespective of the
motivation or the perpetrator.

In Minnesota, a Muslim speakers bureau has spent four
years delivering fact-based presentations about Islam
and Muslims to churches, schools, civic groups and law
enforcement agencies at their requests.

As part of these presentations, speakers from the
bureau, known as Islamic Resource Group (IRG),
regularly condemn terrorist attacks as fundamentally
un-Islamic. They cite passages from the Qur'an which
state that killing one person is the same as killing
all of humanity.

It doesn't get much clearer than that.

Last fall, CAIR launched a national petition drive as
part of a campaign by Muslims called "Not in the Name
of Islam." To date, nearly 700,000 Muslims have signed
the petition condemning terrorism committed in the
name of Islam, and many newspapers have covered the
petition drive. As part of the same campaign, CAIR
also created and paid for public service announcements
set to air on television stations nationwide.

If that doesn't grab people's attention, I'm not sure
what will.

If all that wasn't enough, last Thursday the Fiqh
Council of North America issued a fatwa, or religious
ruling, against terrorism and extremism. Endorsed by
more than 100 U.S. Muslim authorities, the fatwa
boldly and unequivocally forbids terrorism and
admonishes those who commit terrorist attacks. "Islam
strictly condemns religious extremism and the use of
violence against innocent lives," it states. "There is
no justification in Islam for extremism or terrorism.
Targeting civilians' life and property through suicide
bombings or any other method of attack is haram -- or
forbidden -- and those who commit these barbaric acts
are criminals, not 'martyrs.'"

The lengthy fatwa continues with references to the
Qur'an that support the ruling. It may not be enough
to dissuade a minority of extremists hellbent on
destruction, but it is the right thing to do.

In the meantime, we will continue to react with the
same shock and dismay and, yes, anger, at the
misguided people who continue to show no regard for
human life. And we'll continue to speak out against
terrorism in the hopes that someone is listening.

Allie Shah is at ashah@startribune.com.



		




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