Friday, September 14, 2012

A Word from our Muslim Neighbors About Recent Middle-East Violence

East Cobb UMC members and friends,
The following is part of an email I received this past week from one of the leaders of the East Cobb Islamic Center (the mosque near our church that we have been in dialogue with this past year), and wanted to pass it on to you.
I hopefully don’t have to tell you that the sentiment advocating peace that they as Muslims express is the same sentiment that Jesus challenges us as Christians to have, and that I truly appreciate them taking the time to share this message with us to avoid any further misunderstanding.
Here is part of the original email, along with the message they wanted us to know about from their I.S.B. (Islamic Speaker’s Bureau… kind of like our North GA UMC Annual Conference office):
Pastor Brian,
I wanted to share the announcement below with you and want you to know that I (and numerous reasonable Muslims) join you and all our fellow citizens in mourning the loss of the members of our embassy staff including our Ambassador to Libya, and for the loss of reason. I pray for reason and peace to return to the world where hate and prejudice reign. Amen.
ISB Atlanta Condemns Violence in Libya and Egypt
Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta condemns in the strongest possible terms the extremist attacks on U.S. diplomatic compounds in Libya and Egypt on Tuesday, September 11th, one of which killed U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stephens along with three of his staff members. The parties responsible for these events in both nations claimed to be reacting to an online film considered offensive to Islam.

It is important to emphasize that it is a greater defamation of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad and the Qur’an to react with violence and murder of innocent people – one of the greatest sins in Islam – than any claimed insult from an Islamophobic film. Those who responded in such a manner should instead study the Prophet Muhammad’s example in the face of harm. On a daily basis, Muhammad was exposed to demeaning abuse for 13 years during the early years of his mission. His response was not to return insult for insult or hurt for hurt, but to pray for his persecutors and overlook their insults. In a famous Islamic tradition, he stated: “It is not allowed to cause harm to others or to return harm for harm.”

It is also an Islamic principle that one does not blame or punish another for the crimes of another. The employees at the embassies were in no way responsible for the actions of either Terry Jones or the producers of the film. Such extreme responses, in fact, can only help Islamophobic interests. Such actions and reactions are but a useless cycle of hate that benefit no one and as occurred yesterday, can be potentially dangerous and even deadly.

ISB Atlanta is committed to upholding the right to freedom of expression and unconditionally condemn any use of violence as a means to protest offensive or hateful speech. In the United States, this fundamental, inalienable right is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The answer to speech we find deeply offensive is more speech — speech that tells the true story of Islam — not censorship or violence. Acts of violence carried out in the name of Islam are a greater offense against Islam than the content of any film or speech.

ISB Atlanta Executive Director Soumaya Khalifa urges both fellow Muslims and fellow Americans to “Work together for a more peaceful world and take this opportunity to redouble efforts towards peace and harmony through increased outreach, dialogue, and understanding.”

The Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta is a 501©(3) non-profit, apolitical educational organization that provides certified Muslim speakers to promote awareness about Islam and Muslims. The ISB is a local affiliate of the Islamic Networks Group (ING). ISB Atlanta, P.O. Box 2608, Peachtree City, Georgia 30269. Telephone: 404-377-8380
 Please join me in praying for peace not only in the Middle East but that it would start with better understanding with our Muslim neighbors here at home. Pastor Brian

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