Not to pick on the man or the organization because a million "community leaders" have done it before him, but when Nihad Awad gets on CSPAN and says "Islam is a religion of peace" without much qualifification or explanation, the oversimplification does not do anybody service. It doesn't help us Muslims convey what we are about to the rest of the world; and it doesn't not help the rest of the world understand what we are about, either, when what they are seeing is buildings being blown up and suicide bombers and people protesting at not being allowed to wear a headscarf.
What I wish Nihad Awad had said was that Islam is a religion of Justice and Compassion. (Sorry for sounding like I have been drinking the Omid Safi Kool-Aid, as some well-informed readers will no doubt be quick to point out, but I seriously and sincerely believe this.) Islam puts a very high priority on achieving said Justice and Compassion by peaceful means if at all possible, even making compromises where necessary. But not to the extent of sacrificing Justice or Compassion completely. And when one is forced to the point of "No Justice No Peace", as the old slogan goes, Islam prescribes very clear and strong rules that make it mandatory to not let go of Compassion while you pursue Justice by "other means", as the political scientists call war.
I wish Nihad Awad and the others that get the chance to get on NPR and CSPAN, and heck, even Fox News, would "read into the record", so to speak, the rules of engagement that The Prophet, and Hazrat Abu Bakar and Hazrat Umar and Maula Ali have laid down and repeatedly reiterated; so people would clearly know the basis of people like us saying that terrorism is unIslamic--as, the way I see it, are all WMDs. The thing that goes unmentioned being that Iran did not pursue nuclear weapons (at least as far as he knew) while Khomeini was live--for exactly that reason.
That's what I wish Nihad Awad had said. Sara E's saying it to O'Reilly might have been a little more difficult because of the way he drives conversations. I wish someone would say it on Bill Maher's show, too.
But I am just a cubcile-dweller in Silicon Valley. And, as we Muslims say, WAllahu Aalam; Only a Supreme All-Encompassing Deity can have real knowledge, the rest of us are just blind folk trying to feel up the Cosmic Elephant.
In general people don't get specific when they need to - I think in fear of how the specificty will be 'read' by audiences. Yet, I agree with the iFaqeer, that it is in this specificity that there's real movement. I moved a step ahead in my own understanding of what is actually meant (I had assumed 'nothing) by the statements like "X is a religion of peace"
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