As the nation winds down from the solemn 12th anniversary of the deadly terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania, as well as the Benghazi, Libya attack that killed four, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens; the nature of Islam is forefront on the hearts and minds of many Americans. America and Israel have been at war with Islam for centuries (or vice versa); and with a possible military strike looming on Syria, there is no doubt that Americans have serious issues with Islam.
On Sept. 11, 2013, Americans were outraged when a band of Muslims planned a protest in the nation’s capital to dispel “Islamophobia” fear and hatred following the 9/11 attacks. The protest dubbed the “Million Muslim March” was later renamed the “Million American March Against Fear” after indicating the first name was off-putting. The proposed rally was sponsored by the American Muslim Political Action Committee (AMPAC), and essentially wanted to show that not all Muslims are extreme terrorists and that American Muslims live in fear of being lumped into a category and pegged as extreme terrorists.
From the AMPAC site, “Many non-Muslim Americans are terrified of Muslims, who are portrayed by Hollywood and the US media as fanatical terrorists. Muslims, too, live in fear – of being dragged off in the night to Guantanamo and tortured, simply for the crime of being Muslim in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
There is no question that many believe that all Muslims are dangerous and that when push comes to shove, a true Muslim will choose Islam and Sharia law over any sense of civility, humanity, secularism, and for the most part, it’s true.
People can debate the nature of Islam ceaselessly without ever really coming to a resolution. For the majority of Muslim adherents and followers of the teachings of Islam, there is a strong dislike to hatred of Jews and a separation of followers of Allah and the rest of everybody else (infidels). Most Islamic countries do not have a boundary between church and state as religion is the law. While many would like to think that America can waltz into Muslim countries and make them more tolerable for the “infidels” to live with, the reality is this is a war steeped in religious tradition where both sides tend to believe the enemy should be eradicated; either on the offense or the defense.
But do all Muslims live by Sharia law? Do all Muslims, especially in the U.S. hold fast to the teachings that loyalty to Allah should override all human interactions?
Essentially, the question must be asked if all Muslims, when forced to choose between loyalty to Allah and co-existing with people who do not believe or worship Allah, will use extreme tactics to defend their rights and faith.
In the U.S., there is a segment of Muslims who are more “secular” or “ordinary” in their thoughts and beliefs. They could also be described as “Americanized” if you will; and have embraced concepts that are espoused in our Constitution to the point where they do not put Sharia law as the rule of their life. Though there are ordinary Muslims in America, there are ordinary Muslims in other countries as well. By contrast; however, they are often accused by more committed or devoted Muslims as not being “real” or “true Muslims,” simply because they do not practice Sharia law as determined by other, committed or fanatic Muslims.
For example, a group of “secular Muslims” met on April 5, 2007, at the Center for Inquiry’s Institution for Secularization of Islamic Society and created a declaration of their beliefs and goals.
A portion of the declaration states, “We affirm the inviolable freedom of the individual conscience. We believe in the equality of all human persons.
“We insist upon the separation of religion from state and the observance of universal human rights.
“We find traditions of liberty, rationality, and tolerance in the rich histories of pre-Islamic and Islamic societies. These values do not belong to the West or the East; they are the common moral heritage of humankind.”
Continuing, the declaration reads, “We see no colonialism, racism, or so-called "Islamophobia" in submitting Islamic practices to criticism or condemnation when they violate human reason or rights.
We call on the governments of the world to
reject Sharia law, fatwa courts, clerical rule, and state-sanctioned religion in all their forms; oppose all penalties for blasphemy and apostasy, in accordance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights;
eliminate practices, such as female circumcision, honor killing, forced veiling, and forced marriage, that further the oppression of women;
protect sexual and gender minorities from persecution and violence;
reform sectarian education that teaches intolerance and bigotry towards non-Muslims;
and foster an open public sphere in which all matters may be discussed without coercion or intimidation.”
Ordinary or secular Muslims, are those who haven’t committed their entire lives to the doctrines of Sharia law, therefore are open to living peacefully with others. There are many ordinary Muslims in the United States. They truly have no desire to commit terrorist acts, participate in “honor killings” or hunt down “infidels.” These Muslims may not pray five times per day, may not follow dietary customs, and do not live a life devoted to or in adherence of Islamic rules. Here is a Facebook group (practically defunct now), but you can see that there are Muslims who are interested in living their lives with those of other faiths in a peaceful manner. Facebook: Ordinary Muslims
There are committed Muslims who are more devout, but still draw a line at committing terrorist acts or violence. The more committed or devoted a Muslim becomes; however, the greater chance he or she could become increasingly radical in their views. Other Muslims include Orthodox, who adhere to all of the rules in the Koran and whose goal it is to live like the prophet Muhammad and fanatic or radical Muslims.
While there is no question that America must be on guard to protect our nation from radical Muslims, it is a mistake to believe that all ordinary Muslims are extremists. Just like there are many people who refer to themselves as Jewish (yet eat everything offered at the Pinky Pig buffet) or Christians (while only attending church on Christmas and have never opened a Bible), there are all types of people who claim to be a “religious faith” without adhering to all of the teachings; especially the extreme ones.
This country is founded on freedom of religion and within that, there are numerous types of offsets, branches, cults, and more. When you speak to one person in a religious faith you run an excellent chance of meeting someone else of the “same faith” yet they have tremendously different views.
Muslims are no different.
All Muslims are not the same and all Muslims are not extremists.