It may be that every religion has its intolerant and self-righteous extremes. Christianity certainly does. Recent events in the Middle East over a mean-spirited but obscure anti-Muslim video point to the sociopathic side of religion, based upon fear, not love or compassion.
This may represent the misunderstanding on the part of so many perpetrators of violence against the United States. It seems to have been easy for those people to blame a large abstraction. “Death to America” is a slogan that really has no face, except that of our President, who represents or symbolizes us in many ways, thus providing the scapegoat needed by those who cannot use rational thought, which may require patience in deducing the real source of blame, if blame is actually needed. Our national flag seems to provide another easy and faceless target or scapegoat.
Mindless religion exists everywhere, but when it is reduced to rage resulting in impersonal slaughter of innocents, burning, and useless destruction, one wonders what such a religion is for and what it signifies in the wider landscape of “faith.” If revenge is the principal purpose, then what spiritual need would summon one’s unquestioning devotion to violence and cruelty? We Westerners need to hear more about Islam in terms of its humane and loving teachings.
I know personally several Muslims, who are some of the finest people I have ever met. They are hard-working, loving individuals of great kindness, courage, and spiritual depth. They are just as appalled as the rest of the world at the hooliganism and blind hatred practiced by a deranged minority in the name of Allah. Ambassador Chris Stevens was a good friend to Libya and to Muslims. His murder did nothing to foster affection or respect for those few who instigated and condoned such savagery.
My old friend Kahlil gave me a quotation from the Koran. “If I had but two loaves of bread, I would sell one and buy hyacinths, for they would feed my soul.” There is such wisdom and sensitivity in those words. The passage also echos the words of Jesus, who said, “Man cannot live by bread alone.” We in the West need to hear more such wisdom from the Koran. It would help to encourage understanding that could take us away from the too frequent images of burnings and hateful demonstrations against faceless enemies. I keep wondering why the minority fringe of violent and bloodthirsty Muslim extremists, who dominate the news, unfortunately represent for many Americans, a religion the beauty and inspiration of which are drowned out in the media by repeated incidents of puerile and vicious behavior from the psychotic few among the majority of gentle souls, whose love of God is identified not in burning flags and abstract effigies, murder, and blowing things up, but rather with charity, kindness, and respect for their fellow beings. It is with the latter and much greater group of Muslims that we share so much and continue our collective search for beauty, understanding, compassion, mutual respect, and peace.
The following quotations from the Koran were provided by Dr. Parivz Parsa:
Islam highly respects life’s sanctity (just like Judaism and Christianity) and is a religion based on compassion and kindness, peace, justice, elimination of poverty, and righteousness; all of which are also in Christianity and Judaism. Let me quote a few verses on love, compassion, and kindness on the one hand and standing for justice and the rest on the other hand. The following quotations are from the Quran (Koran):
Quotations on compassion, love, and kindness:
Verse 83 of chapter 2: “And remember we took a covenant from the children of Israel (to this effect): Worship none but God; treat with kindness your parents and kindred, and orphans and those in need; speak fair [nicely] to the people; be steadfast in prayer; and practice regular charity…”
Verse 215 of chapter 2: “They ask thee what they should spend (in charity). Say: whatever ye spend that is good, is for parents and kindred and orphans, and those in want [need] and for wayfarers. And whatever you do that is good, God knoweth it all”
Verse 36 of chapter 4: “Serve God and join not any partners with Him; and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are near, neighbors who are strangers, the companion by your side, the way-farer (ye meet), and what your right hands possesses” [meaning your slaves or captives; underlining mine for emphasis; please count nine different groups counted in this verse as underlined.]
Verse 151 of chapter 6: “Say “come I will rehearse what God hath (really) prohibited you from”: join not anything as equal with Him; be good to your parents; kill not your children on a plea of want [poverty]; We provide sustenance for you and for them; – come not nigh to shameful deeds whether open or secret; take not life, which God has made sacred, except by way of justice and law: Thus doth He command you that ye may learn wisdom.”