An open letter to all Muslims

Why do so many of you have such hatred for others? Why do so many of you, after 1,390 CE years since the Battle of Badr, continue to believe you cannot have honour and pride without a sword in your hand? 

by Alan Simons

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I say this to you with all the sincerity I can muster. I can’t help thinking of the famous quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr: “Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction… The chain reaction of evil—hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars—must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”

As a Jew, I continue to shake my head in bewilderment at the reluctance of moderate, hard working and decent Muslims to stand up and be counted against hate, against intolerance, against terrorism, against racism and for good measure while I’m at it, against the vile cesspool of antisemitism.  I ask myself what does it take for you, as Muslims, to vigorously express yourselves openly, as individuals or as a community, against these concerns without losing your dignity or honour? 

Why do many of you find it so much easier to demonstrate against all that is Jewish, yet lack the courage of openly demonstrating against the abhorrent acts of brutality initiated by your fellow Muslims who are slaughtering thousands through sectarian violence, bombings, the kidnapping of women and children and, as we learnt today, ISIS has ordered female genital mutilation for women in Mosul, Syria.

Since this past Monday, an overnight suicide bombing in a Shi’ite district of Baghdad killed 33 people. In Syria, ISIS ordered Christians to convert to Islam, pay a tax or face death. Many of them have fled. Mosul’s Christian population before last month’s militant takeover by ISIS was around 5,000, now only 200 are left. In the Gaza Strip, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed alarm yesterday that 20 rockets found hidden in a United Nations school in the Gaza Strip had gone missing. In Libya, at least 12 people have been killed and 60 injured in the Benghazi’s Buatni district. And let us not forget, last week 700 Syrians were killed in two days of conflict and two bombings in Nigeria killed at least 42 people in the latest violence blamed on Boko Haram Islamists.

I ask you, is your fear of being shamed, of having to admit these atrocities are committed by other Muslims so powerful that to openly convey your thoughts to non-Muslims might affect whatever power and influence you personally have in your community?

As the Islamic spiritual scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan so eloquently put it: “Not all Muslims become involved in acts of violence. Yet all might be held culpable. This is because that section of Muslim–in fact, the majority–who are not personally involved, neither disown those members of their community who are engaged in violence, nor even condemn them. In such a case, according to the Islamic Shariah itself, if the involved Muslims are directly responsible, the uninvolved Muslims are also indirectly responsible.”

Let me remind you of what Tarek Fatah, the Pakistani-born Canadian writer and founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress has said: “Any nation, any society, any country that is created on the basis of a hatred towards the others, will soon run out of people that it can hate or groups it can decimate and it will devour itself.”

For me, I can tell you proudly, we Jews no longer suffer from what is called a victim mentality.  So, learn from our tragedy. Learn that you can still have honour and respect without the sword. Learn, before your own fanatics devour you, your family and your community.

As you approach Eid al-Fitr be gracious and reach out to non-Muslims. The concepts of your hospitality, charity, spirituality and community can be shared by all, irrespective of one’s religion, race and nationality. During the next few days extend your hand out to non-Muslims by inviting them in to your home for iftar.  According to a hadith, Prophet Muhammed said, “Charity is a proof of faith” and “The best charity is that which is given in Ramadan.” Make it so.

And so it is. Kul ‘am wa enta bi-khair! Shalom.

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