Memphis Muslims Speak 

Every time the fugitive terrorist Osama bin Laden opens his mouth for one of his periodic videotaped messages, his every utterance is greeted with rapt attention by the world at large — and especially by that part of the world (which includes us) that is the target of his murderous personal jihad. Even the changing colors of his beard are given a, er, fine-toothed analysis.

We are rarely exposed to statements of a more considered and humane kind from mainstream Muslims — an overwhelming majority, we would hazard — whose loyalty is not to hatred and the creed of violence but to the same presumed Almighty of love and benevolence whom Christians and Jews also venerate.

As it happens, the Islamic community of Memphis, speaking through a group of local Muslim clerics, has chosen, quite recently, to communicate a message of love and harmony more in accord with the actual precepts of Islam. After expressing solidarity with the rest of mankind and condemning the "criminal acts of an infinitesimal minority acting outside the teachings of the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad," the clerics' statement continues:

"We make these statements because we are members of this community and because the Quran states, 'Oh you who believe, stand up firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even if it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be against rich or poor; for God can best protect both. Do not follow any passion, lest you not be just ... .'"

Apropos the rash of suicide bombings in the Middle East and elsewhere, the clerics' statement notes a statement in the Koran in which the Prophet Muhammad specifically condemns such acts and goes on:

"We are heartsick at the impact violence in the world is having, regardless of religion or ethnicity, on all humankind. We hope our neighbors realize that we, as believers in God, also mourn the hundreds of thousands of Muslims who have been killed in recent years. Every religion has some extremist members who commit heinous acts despite the teachings of the religion they follow. Thoughtful people condemn the sinner, not the religion."

We are grateful to these fellow members of the greater Memphis community for their outreach and for their determination to speak out in accordance with the goals of peace, tolerance, and understanding shared not only by all true religionists but by the humane secularists among us.

The Muslim clerics' statement concludes with this advice: "If you would like to meet moderate Muslims — who are your obstetricians, engineers, and neighbors — or ask questions about Islam, you are welcome to visit us at one of your neighborhood mosques."

The simplicity and candor of the clerics' statement, along with its appeal to universality, constitute a welcome and needful reminder that we are all one people, sharing a common skin and mutual, eternal aspirations.

In the greeting known so well by members of the Islamic faith, we respond by saying, "Salaam Aleichem." Peace be unto you.

Here is the statement made by the Islamic clerics in full:

Muslims in Memphis Condemn All Acts of Violence

Some ask why Muslims are silent concerning acts of terrorism when the perpetrators claim they acted in the name of Islam. This question is frustrating because moderate Muslim organizations all over the world have repeatedly condemned these acts.

For example, immediately after the attempted terror attack on the airport in Glasgow, Muslims organized a massive demonstration condemning the attempt and rejecting the claim by the perpetrators that they were justified by the Quran - but this condemnation received very little coverage by the media.

So let us be clear: we condemn all acts of violence perpetrated against innocent civilians anywhere in the world. This expressly includes, but is not limited to, suicide bombings in the Middle East, terror attacks in London and Madrid, the killing of Christian missionaries in Yemen, and the shooting at a Jewish center in Seattle. Muslims condemn these attacks ideologically and absolutely.

Further, we refuse to allow our faith to be demeaned by the criminal actions of an infinitesimal minority acting outside the teachings of the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.

We make these statements because we are members of this community and because the Quran states "Oh you who believe, stand up firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even if it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be against rich or poor; for God can best protect both. Do not follow any passion, lest you not be just." (Quran 4:135).

In the collection of Hadith (Narrations of the Prophets), Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) clearly condemned suicide by stating that those who commit a suicidal act will be destined to hell fire.

We are heartsick at the impact violence in the world is having, regardless of religion or ethnicity, on all humankind. We hope our neighbors realize that we, as believers in God, also mourn the hundreds of thousands of Muslims who have been killed in recent years. Every religion has some extremist members who commit heinous acts despite the teachings of the religion they follow. Thoughtful people condemn the sinner, not the religion.

Any questions or comments regarding this release should be addressed to the above named contact person.

If you would like to meet moderate Muslims - who are your obstetricians, engineers, and neighbors - or ask questions about Islam, you are welcome to visit us at one of your neighborhood mosques ....

Muslims in Memphis Organization

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