Viewing Islam Through a Different Lens

On the morning of September 11, 2001 the lives of Americans, and those in the rest of the word, were changed forever. It was on this day that we were awakened to something to which we had never given much thought, terrorism. While there had been random acts such as the Oklahoma City bombing, the first World Trade Center bombing, the Unibomber, or Waco, Visit online http://Altoheed.com for more details ,those committing these crimes were for the most part Americans. They looked like us, talked like us and grew up in our cities and towns. The crimes of 9/11 were perpetrated by a group of “Thems” from countries most of us never heard of, let alone visited. Americans, “We”, once again had a “Them” to point to and blame.

Over the past nine years following 9/11 there have been many actions and much rhetoric taking place when it comes to a “war on terror.” Putting aside the semantics of such inflamed language and the actions they promote, I want to address certain attitudes, beliefs and values of those involved in an issue that has become a very hot topic in many circles of American life. Over the past few months the issue of building mosques has become a topic of hot debate. From President Obama to the blogosphere, it seems that everyone has an opinion. What are these opinions based on and how are they affecting our understanding of our religious freedoms and the United States Constitution?

We have been brought up to believe there are always two sides to an issue, yours and mine. I have come to believe there are three sides to a story, yours, mine and the truth. What if there were several truths, how would that change the dialogue and conversation? When it comes to issues of the day we basically hear two view points on a given topic, left and right. These two viewpoints have become so polarized in the past thirty years that each side cannot hear what the other side is saying.

News in the United States has cycles and those with the loudest voices are the ones that get heard. The voices of the moderate view points on both sides of the political spectrum are often drowned out. This has lead to a general feeling of apathy among the populace.

What I am suggesting is a new type of dialogue; a new way of looking at issues. Otherwise we are doomed to the continuation of more of the same, like the rat in the proverbial maze, easy to enter but never able to find our way out.

Mosques in America oh my!

The issue of mosques in America is the latest in a long line of flash point issues. Time magazine’s August 30,2010 cover asks, “Is America Islamophobic?” The extremes on both sides of this issue find themselves in a frothy uproar. These are the zealots and flame throwers who feel it is their God given right to stoke the flames of intolerance lobbing bombs, verbally or literally, at one another. Currently we are being presented with issues over mosque’s being proposed or being built in New York City, two blocks from the World Trade Center, Mufreesboro,Tennessee, and in Temecula, California. I choose to look at the Temecula mosque, but what follows can and does apply to any of the proposed mosques.

There is a seeming debate between those who support the builders of the Temecula mosque and those who are opposed. The rhetoric from both sides of this issue is like a house ripped from its foundation in a tornado with debris flying everywhere. It does not seem to matter to those opposing the building of this mosque and community center that there is currently an existing practicing community of Muslim worshipers in Temecula.

There is however, no real debate taking place. Instead what we have are people on both sides of the issue pointing fingers at one another and calling names, all in the name of righteousness. See if you can suspend your thinking mind for a few moments and imagine you have two televisions sitting side by side, one is airing MSNBC and the other Fox. Here is what we would hear when we turn up the volume:

MSNBC: Madam, you support the building of the mosque in Temecula what do you think of those who oppose the building of this mosque?

Supporter Guest- “Not only are these protesters woefully uneducated about Islam and Muslims, their brazen bigotry is astounding. I find it absolutely amazing that American citizens in 2010 display so proudly their ignorance, prejudice, and hatred of entire classes of people; that they are calling for baiting “the enemy” with things they supposedly dislike; and pushing for the burning of books, what with all the connotations of Nazi Germany that brings up.”

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