Archived Opinion

Understanding others is the way to peace

To the Editor:

We write with deep concern over recent attacks on Muslims and Muslim communities in our country.

One of our principal readings for last year’s Lake Junaluska Peace Conference was Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s fine book, What’s Right with Islam is What’s Right with America: A New Vision for Muslims and the West. In this detailed, scholarly, yet very readable book he outlines the ways Islam, like Judaism and Christianity, share an “Abrahamic tradition” that has come to critically support the democratic and pluralistic institutions we Americans hold so dearly.

Rauf, an American citizen with 35 years of leadership in American Muslim life, outlines in this book his “Cordoba Initiative” of interfaith dialogue to strengthen these democratic institutions and advance the work of interfaith cooperation so crucial after the events of September 2001. On the basis of these beliefs, he and others started planning an Islamic center for interfaith work in New York City. It is this center, whose very purpose is interfaith understanding, that is now the occasion for virulent attacks on Islam around the country, both verbal and physical.

With all our hearts we urge our fellow citizens, our political leaders, and other public influentials to work together to overcome our fear, anger, and ignorance in order to advance the very mission that Imam Rauf has so bravely undertaken. Please read his book. Study what other progressive Muslims like him are thinking and doing. Let us pray and work for an America in which all religious traditions can flourish and find a genuine peace. Imam Rauf closes his book with the words of a famous Muslim poet: “Love is my religion, and whichever way its riding beasts turn, that way lies my religion and belief.” St. Paul could not have said it better. It’s at the heart of the Golden Rule and central to all our religious traditions.

Garland Young, Chairman

Lake Junaluska Peace Committee

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