Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Opinion

July 10, 2012

LION AND THE LAMB: Muslims are humans, too

CROSSVILLE — Overheard in a Crossville store, clerk to customer: "You know that Obama is a Muslim." Overheard in a Crossville restaurant: "I've been told that Mitt Romney, being a Mormon, has two other wives living in Utah."

Friends, the trouble is not in "River City," but in Crossville, Tennessee. Do I need to state in a loud voice, "Those obnoxious comments are false"? Of course they are.

As we watch the TV news and read newspapers and magazines, we see and hear comments and actions which are more than out-of-hand or rude. They are vicious and damaging to life on our/God's planet.

We have been been reading about the ongoing dispute over the construction of a mosque in Murfreesboro. It seems that some folks feel that the only persons who may come to our shores and become citizens are white Christian Europeans.

With a quick review of religious belief systems we find that Christians, Jews and Muslims are all a part of the Abrahamic tradition. Yes, that same Abraham found in Genesis in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament). He is the "exalted father" of all three religious traditions. That realized relationship might make us cousins a couple of thousand times removed.

What we do need to do is to stop generalizing and get rid of the belief that all American Muslims are related to terrorist activity. Violence is a human problem, not a religious one.

Many months back, five members of a Rotary Club in Pakistan—two women and three men, all Muslims—visited the Crossville Noon Rotary Club of which my wife and I are members. I was asked to give the prayer before lunch. After much meditation I came up with the following:

"God of compassion and hope for all humankind, we thank you for creating us and guiding us in all situations that come our way. Receive our prayer for our Rotary friends from Pakistan, and may they be guided safely back to their homes. Wherever we go, may truth, fairness, good will, and friendship continue to be a part of our living every day. O God, wherever we live in your world, may that community be a good place to live because as individuals and clubs we have placed service above self. Amen." (A similar prayer could be given at a Kiwanis, Lions, or other service club meeting.)

I believe I can safely say that no one went away with changed religious beliefs. We simply met and enjoyed getting to know other humans in our/God's world.

Last year at New York's Chautauqua Institution I heard Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf speak. (Imam is the title used for Muslim clergy.) Rauf noted: "For Muslims, what Islam means is an act of submission to the transcendent, the personal relationship of every human being to the ultimate truth of the universe. The Islamic tradition teaches that when God created Adam, he breathed a breath of the divine spirit into Adam. That's where the image of God lives within us, in our soul. The primary objective of the human soul is to know God. Within every human being—Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, etc.—there is the constant search for the face of God, for contact with God, even if we are not conscious of it."

As we shop and dine in Crossville, I hope we are careful about what we think, say, and do.

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