02 August 2005

Defending and Defining

After the recent bombings in London, there was quite a flurry of reporting of Muslim condemnation of the bombings, but I've heard many people complain that Muslims haven't seemed to condemn terrorism strongly enough. This was also a major complaint after September 11th.

There are several problems with this complaint. First, there is no one leader of Islam that can make a general statement against terrorism. There are quite a variety of Muslim leaders, clerics, and imams. You might think that a cleric in Mecca should have more clout than, say, an imam in New York, but that isn't necessarily the case. The hierarchy in Islam isn't really comparable to anything we have in Christianity, so it's not fair for us to expect Muslims to deal with the accusations in a similar way. Our perception of Muslim condemnation of terrorism has to be entirely dependent on the media. There are all kinds of Muslims saying all kinds of different things. Most Christians don't know which ones are important enough to listen to, so we end up relying on the media. Sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't.

Why should Muslims have to spend their time defending themselves against accusations of violence anyway? As I mentioned before, Mormons are familiar with this. I get tired of explaining that we are not polygamists, that those who practice polygamy are not Mormons, etc. People of any religion should be allowed to define what they are instead of trying to defend themselves from accusations of what they are not.

Just as we shouldn't profile, we shouldn't require that Muslims spend their time condemning something that is not supported by Islam. This is not to say that a stronger stand against terrorism by Muslim leaders shouldn't be taken. It simply means that we Christians shouldn't be the ones requiring it. Islam is a very tolerant religion (something I like very much about it) and I would hate for a feeling that intolerance is necessary to appease Christians.

2 comments:

Rachel said...

A friend pointed me to your blog this morning and I am enjoying reading several of your recent entries. I wanted to post a comment specifically on this one to say "right on!"

People of any religion should be allowed to define what they are instead of trying to defend themselves from accusations of what they are not.

Couldn't agree with you more. Thanks for your thoughtful post on this important issue.

Amira said...

Thanks, Rachel. I'm glad you stopped by.