[NH] A HOME OF TOLERANCE !!!!!!!!!!!


A Home Of Tolerance Media speculation since the horrific terrorist
attacks on America has pointed the finger at Muslims and the Arab
world, and that has meant ordinary citizens of the US and other
Western countries becoming easy prey for anti-faith hooligans. Shame.
Sadly, the latest horror to hit the US looks to have been caused by
people of Middle Eastern origin, bearing Muslim names. Again, shame.
This fuels more hatred for a religion and a people who have nothing to
do with these events. This is why I want to explain some basic facts
about this noble way we call Islam, before, God forbid, another
disaster occurs - next time probably aimed at Muslims. I came to Islam
in my late 20s, during my searching period as a wandering pop star. I
found a religion that blended scientific reason with spiritual reality
in a unifying faith far removed from the headlines of violence,
destruction and terrorism. One of the first interesting things I
learned in the Koran was that the name of the faith comes from the
word salam - peace. Far from the kind of Turko-Arab-centric message I
expected, the Koran presented a belief in the universal existence of
God, one God for all. It does not discriminate against peoples; it
says we may be different colors and from different tribes, but we are
all human and "the best of people are the most God- conscious". Today,
as a Muslim, I have been shattered by the horror of recent events; the
display of death and indiscriminate killing we've all witnessed has
dented humanity's confidence in itself. Terror on this scale affects
everybody on this small planet, and no one is free from the fallout.
Yet we should remember that such violence is almost an everyday
occurrence in some Muslim lands: it should not be exacerbated by
revenge attacks on more innocent families and communities. Along with
most Muslims, I feel it a duty to make clear that such orchestrated
acts of incomprehensible carnage have nothing to do with the beliefs
of most Muslims. The Koran specifically declares: "If anyone murders
an (innocent) person, it will be as if he has murdered the whole of
humanity. And if anyone saves a person it will be as if he has saved
the whole of humanity." The Koran that our young people learn is full
of stories and lessons from the history of humanity as a whole. The
Gospels and the Torah are referred to; Jesus and Abraham are
mentioned. In fact there is more mention in the Koran of the prophet
Moses than of any other. It acknowledges the coexistence of other
faiths, and in doing so acknowledges that other cultures can live
together in peace. "There is no compulsion in religion," it states,
meaning that people should not be compelled to change their faith.
Elsewhere it states, "To you, your religion; to me mine." Respect for
religious values and justice is at the Koran's core. The Koranic
history we teach our young provides ample examples of inter-religious
and international relationships; of how to live together. But some
extremists take elements of the sacred ******ures out of con****. They
act as individuals, and when they can't come together as part of a
political structure or consultative process, you find these dissident
factions creating their own rules, contrary to the spirit of the Koran
- which demands that those recognized as being in charge of Muslims
must consult together regarding society's affairs. There is a whole
chapter in the Koran entitled Consultation. Communal well being is
central to human life, so there is a concept in Islam called Istihsan,
which means "to look for the common good". Even though the Koran may
lay down a diktat, scholars are also supposed to consider the
circumstances prevalent at the time. Sometimes that means choosing the
lesser of two evils or even suspending legislation if necessary: for
instance, a person who steals bread during a famine is not treated as
a thief. Once I wrote in a song, "Where do the children play?" Our
sympathy and thoughts go out to the families of all those who lost
their lives in this tragic act of violence, as well as all those
injured. But life must go on. Children still need to play, and people
need to live and learn more about their neighbors so that ignorance
doesn't breed more blind fanaticism. Moderation is part of faith, so
those who accuse Muslim schools of fostering fanaticism should learn a
bit more about Islam. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Ruined
are those who insist on hardship in faith," and, "A believer remains
within the scope of his religion as long as he doesn't kill another
person illegally." Such knowledge and words of guidance are
desperately needed at this time, to separate fact from falsehood, and
to recognise the Last Prophet's own definition of that which makes a
person representative, or otherwise, of the faith he lived and the one
we try to teach. by Yusuf Islam (formerly the singer Cat Stevens)
Published on Monday, September 24, 2001 by Al-Hewar Magazine.






















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