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Churches across America read from the Quran

6 July 2011 General 2 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

Churches across America read from the Quran

by Tad Stahnke

Washington, DC – Although negative stories of Islamophobia in the United States abound in news media, most Americans respect religious diversity. That’s why on Sunday, June 26, thousands of people across America joined together at dozens of churches and other houses of worship across the country. Congregants united to do far more than read Christian scriptures; from Alabama to Alaska, from California to New York, worshippers also heard the words of Jewish and Muslim sacred texts as rabbis and imams joined pastors in leading an event called Faith Shared.

A joint project of Human Rights First and the Interfaith Alliance, Faith Shared brought Americans together to counter the anti-Muslim bigotry and negative stereotypes that have erupted throughout the country in the past few years and led to misconceptions, distrust and, in some cases, even violence.

If I were living in a Muslim-majority country, I might think the United States is filled with people burning the Quran, demonizing Islamic beliefs and tarring all Muslims as supporters of radicalism and terrorism. To the casual observer, the anti-Islam fervor of late would seem to bear that out, but the truth is far more complicated.

It is true that in recent years the United States has seen a disturbing trend of anti-Muslim violence, discrimination and rhetoric, as well as a general lack of understanding about Islam. We’ve seen Quran burnings, individuals attacked only because they are Muslim, a pipe bomb explosion at an Islamic community center in Florida and a surge in reported cases of discrimination against Muslims in workplaces and schools throughout the country.

But those incidents – all of which have grabbed headlines – don’t represent the views of so many Americans who respect religious freedom and the diversity of faiths that freedom brings. In fact, a recent poll by the Public Religion Research Institute found that more than 60 percent of Americans believe that Muslims are an important part of the American religious community, with strong agreement across political and religious lines. The Southern Poverty Law Center recently released a report showing that much of the hatred directed toward Muslims has been stirred up by a small but influential group of activists and media.

Discussions about the role of Islam and Muslims in American life have all too often degenerated into stereotypes and hatred. If not challenged, these can undermine respect for the religious freedom of all Americans and weaken our resilience as a nation.

And the concerns go beyond our country. What happens in the United States with respect to the treatment of Muslims, rightly or wrongly, has a huge impact overseas on the perception of the country in general, and on U.S. efforts to promote human rights abroad.

It’s imperative for the international community to support efforts to create responsive governments – those that give equal rights to members of all minorities, protect religious freedoms and allow for the freedoms of expression and assembly. The United States can and should play a key role in supporting those efforts.

For that reason, it’s vital to recognize that what happens in the United States – how Americans protect human rights and religious freedoms and how they deal with security issues in relation to the Muslim community – influences how the international community perceives the American people’s commitment to promoting democracy. A message of respect among religious groups in the United States, one that says anti-Muslim fervor is only a small part of the American story, will strengthen that commitment in the eyes of many.

As we continue in this effort, my colleagues and I are not naive about the challenges that can divide America along religious lines. Muslims are not alone among Americans in terms of bearing the brunt of stereotypes and hatred. Indeed, with the Faith Shared services, we sent and will continue to send a clear message: Despite the challenges, the way forward must begin with respect.

We cannot solve these problems in a day but on June 26, Americans across the country showed that we respect religious differences and reject the demonization of any religion. Americans are a nation not of the few who burn Qurans and incite hatred, but of the many who fully embrace religious freedom, tolerance and pluralism.

* Tad Stahnke is the Director of Policy and Programs at Human Rights First. This originally published by the Common Ground News Service, or CGNews.

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2 Comments »

  1. Boy ! Mike ! You got some serious issues with words manipulation, you know, my man ! Here’s the right interpretation of The Holy Qur’an’s 9:28: http://quran.com/9 ! I would like the viewers to compare and see how clear the difference in interpretation Mike’s making haha ! I would also encourage viewers to read a few verses ahead and after the ones Mike picked.

    On right, you can select multiple English interpretation sources, by the way.

  2. abdullah,

    that is not my translation, it’s the university of michigan’s. your translation looks to have no real differences. do i need to cut and paste?????? ok

    9.29 Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the Last Day and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the Scripture – [fight] until they give the jizyah willingly while they are humbled.
    9:30 The Jews say, “Ezra is the son of Allah “; and the Christians say, “The Messiah is the son of Allah .” That is their statement from their mouths; they imitate the saying of those who disbelieved [before them]. May Allah destroy them; how are they deluded?
    9:31 They have taken their scholars and monks as lords besides Allah , and [also] the Messiah, the son of Mary. And they were not commanded except to worship one God; there is no deity except Him. Exalted is He above whatever they associate with Him.
    9:32 They want to extinguish the light of Allah with their mouths, but Allah refuses except to perfect His light, although the disbelievers dislike it.
    9:33 It is He who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth to manifest it over all religion, although they who associate others with Allah dislike it.
    9:34 O you who have believed, indeed many of the scholars and the monks devour the wealth of people unjustly and avert [them] from the way of Allah . And those who hoard gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah – give them tidings of a painful punishment.
    9:35 The Day when it will be heated in the fire of Hell and seared therewith will be their foreheads, their flanks, and their backs, [it will be said], “This is what you hoarded for yourselves, so taste what you used to hoard.”

    anyways are not the jews and the christians wrong? are they not bound for the hell fire? they don’t believe muhammad is god’s messinger.

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