A Plea to the Muslim Community

All of us on the outside are confused and beg your help. Christians, Buddhists, atheists, Jews, pagans, everyone who can open the newspaper, or more likely these days switch on the computer, can see a host of horrors committed in the name of Islam. Because at the same time the Muslim community remains largely silent or equivocates, the larger world is left with little to tell it that this evil is not really the face of islam.

No one wants to believe it is. It is just too terrible to see this wonton killing, cruelty, intolerance, and destruction as the product of one of the world’s great faiths. President Obama tries to reassure people that the horrors are not typical of Islam, as did George Bush before him and as do many other Western leaders. Their arguments are, however, unconvincing. The average citizen knows that these presidents and prime ministers do not really know Islam, that they have not read the Koran much less studied it, that they have their own agenda. Those who know some history can make an argument for themselves. They can call to mind a record of Islam’s great achievements, enlightened leaders, shining centers of learning, marvelous artistic creations. These, more than anything a Western politician can say, scream that ISIS and these other ugly killers speak only for themselves and not for Islam. But many do not have these counterexamples at their disposal. Even those of who do know that they speak to us only from the past, sometimes a very distant one.

What the world needs now is reassurance from the larger Muslim community that it values the virtues so evident in Islam’s glorious history. An aloof demeanor, explanations, excuses, and equivocations fail to do this. Perhaps the Muslim community has no desire to help. Perhaps it does not care what others think of it. I suppose that is not unreasonable in one respect, but if it remains silent on this point, it will also remain complicit when others react to the only information they have at hand.

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