Christians and Jews, Bless Your Muslim Brothers and Sisters

The faithful of all religious traditions should welcome any opportunity to show friendliness to the world’s Muslims, for the literal meaning of the word “Muslim” is “one who has surrendered self-will and made peace with God.” Now anyone who has done this and now lives at peace with God, whatever his or her religious tradition, must be very dear to God, and no one else who wishes to live at peace with God should ever wish to trouble such a person.

Christians and Jews may continue to disagree with Muslims on matters of theology, as they do between and among themselves, but ought to bless and encourage anyone who even attempts to surrender self-will to the One God whom we all worship. It has wisely been suggested that all our troubles began when we first thought to experiment with having wills separate from God’s own will, which eternally wills what is best for each creature and all creation. A Muslim in the true sense of the word is one who says to God, as Jesus and Abraham did, “not my will, but Thine, be done,” thus repenting the archetypal error of Adam and Eve and so putting the axe to the root of all selfishness, cruelty, deceit and war. All blessings be on such a soul!

A cynic may point to evidence that some who call themselves Muslims (or Christians, or Jews, for that matter) behave unworthily; but the existence of counterfeits has never proved the non-existence of any genuine article, and if one takes the trouble to look for Muslim saints, one will find them. But if one is looking not for good but evil, one should ask oneself: why? Why look for justifications of hatred and fear, when these are sicknesses we should pray to be healed from? Are we looking for motes in our brother’s eye to keep attention off the corruption we have in our own? Jesus had something to say about that (Matthew 7:3 ff, Luke 6:41 ff). In fact, Jesus put it quite plainly: we should love our enemies (Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27, enemies of any faith or no faith), refrain from judging others (Luke 6:37, Matthew 7:1), and, in the face of all provocation, be “harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16), forgiving even our own murderers if need be (Luke 23:34).

Meanwhile, legislators eager to investigate alleged “radicalization of the American Muslim community and homegrown terrorism” might wisely consider how their own government, economy and culture creates its own foes, nay, depends on having “enemies” to keep their worldly machine humming – “the Communist menace” yesterday, “the Muslim extremists” today. For fear creates jobs and profits, and distracts the fearful from the state of their own house. But love, which casts out fear (1 John 4:18), pacifies, heals, and disarms. It is the only thing that does that. The United States has yet to try basing policy on it.

The author of this article is a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). This article expresses only his personal understanding, though he believes it to be consistent with traditional Friends’ testimonies. It is not a statement by or on behalf of any Quaker organization.  It was first distributed on the streets of New York City on 3/1/2011, at a rally by the Muslim community to protest a series of investigations of Muslim Americans threatened by Rep. Peter King (R-NY), then the new chairman of the Homeland Security Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. The author welcomes thoughtful responses and inquiries at this blog.

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