Hello, my friends. As-salamu alaykum.
It seems to me that the world is in a particularly high place of unrest. Sure, the world has never been peaceful and evil has always manifested itself on earth, but I do not think it is quite a stretch to say that, to Americans, recent events have demonstrated that the world as we know it is unstable and confused. While the dreaded 9-11 attacks mean we are certainly not naïve when it comes to terrorism, many Americans, specifically in my generation, only remember 9-11 for what happened, not the fear and chaos it caused to the average life of the American, and have not felt the uncertainty of the future that we are feeling now. The attacks in Paris hit us close to home, as we are incredibly close to the French people, and we are scared as we begin to step forward.
However, the world would not seem half so scary if the reaction by many Americans was not so terrifying. Many of us in the country that prides itself in religious liberty, equality, freedom, and human rights have reacted in an ignorantly vengeful way and have begun to shout ideas and rhetoric that not only disquiets my souls but tears it apart. Talks of making Muslims wearing identification, and of shutting down Mosques, and of making a database of Muslims have not only been growing on the internet but have also been making its way into the words of a presidential front runner. They shout that Muslims are a threat to America and to Christianity and that we must take steps to keep ourselves safe. However, while I recognize that radical militant Islam is a threat to all Americans (Christians, Jews, Atheists, and Muslims alike) and that I do fear groups like al-Qaeda and Daesh (Arabic pronoun for ISIS, used because the word itself is an insult), the fear I feel cannot match what you must be feeling.
It seems to me that the truth is, though we may not accept it, that Muslims have more to fear, in relation to recent terrorist attacks, in America than Americans do. Daesh has already made it perfectly clear that it does not distinguish between any who disagree with their view of the world and that any who oppose them will be slaughtered, whether they be Christians or Muslims. But, more importantly, a vocal minority of Americans, many of who, I am ashamed to say, claim to be Christians, have increased their anti-Islamic rhetoric that surpasses education-based critique of the religion into what can only be described as ignorant hate. Muslims walk around our universities, our streets, and our neighborhoods, not plotting the destruction of America or the death of infidels, but actively fearing oppression, religious intolerance, bigotry, and acts of violence.
But, surely, you recognize this. Why then, do I feel the need to state this? To demonstrate to you that I understand. It is not enough to simply say, “yeah I get that you might get insults sent your way.” I understand completely and ask you to enlighten me in the ways you are feeling that I have not described here, as I am sure there are many. However, the reason I write this letter is not only to tell you I understand, but to offer you some encouragement and love.
These bigots that claim to be Christian might use the same word, “Christianity,” as I do, to describe the religion we follow (this pains me greatly), but we certainly do not share the same thoughts or beliefs when it comes to Muslims. I, along with the majority of Christians in this country, fully understand the difference between the actions of Islamic extremists and those of the vast majority of the international Muslim community, even though we might not be fully educated in Islamic theology. For example, at the University of Virginia, the Center for Christian Study hosted a lecture on the Christian view of Islam and, while recognizing our theological differences in an attempt to educate (not sow enmity), it spoke of the great parts about your faith: unity, loving devotion and submission to God, and loving devotion to humanity (I recognize that this list is not exhaustive). There were almost two hundred Christians there and following the talk, during our discussions, I never once heard anything derogatory or insulting towards Muslims, but only affirmation for the way your faith cares about its God and those around it.
As Christians, we believe all of you are creations of God. You are made in his image, and are part of humanity, the glory of his creation. God loves you; and we Christians love you. We love your faith, we love what it stands for, and we love those who follow it. While we might disagree on truth and theology, your friends, the Christians, will denounce intolerance of your faith, will denounce those who seek to tear you and your friends down with bigoted words, and will always stand up for you, in the same way that Muhammad did for the Christians at St. Catherine’s Monastery. We are praying for all Muslims; we are praying for your safety and well-being; and we are praying for love between our faiths.
We are here if you need anything. We love you guys.