Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD
Epigraph: “And thou shalt assuredly find those who say, ‘We are Christians,’ to be the nearest of them in love to the believers. That is because amongst them are savants and monks and because they are not proud.” (Al Quran 5:83)
As the year of 2012 draws to an end we reflect back, a video plays in the eye of our mind, we can see wars, terrorism, bombing in Mosques by the Muslims, shooting in Sikh temple by a Christian gunman, school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, USA by a gunman, whose religion we are not told, a young woman gang raped to her death in a bus in Delhi, India and pushing of a Hindu in front of a moving train, by a hateful Christian woman in New York, for 9/11, in a strange feat of guilt by association and stereotyping.
In the 21st century we can do better than this.
Let each of us on the last day of the year go back to our respective scriptures and read the message of love, compassion and universal brotherhood and sisterhood, and how we can give up tribal frame of mind. It is in every scripture if only we try a little harder to find it. I promise!
I get to read the Holy Quran every day in one form or the other. Today my special focus is the Holy Bible:
One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions. (Mark 12:28-34)
In presence of these clear teachings by Jesus Christ, no believing Christian can condone hate speech, hate crimes or aerial bombings against his or her neighbors. Even those who are agnostic and atheist, in the West, often consider Jesus to be a good teacher of moral values, so, in a way this biblical message, in the Gospel of Mark, has a universal appeal.
Hillel, a Jewish scholar, was a teacher and a founder of a school (Beit Hillel) in the first century B.C.E. Hillel was born in Babylonia. At age forty, he went to live in Jerusalem. There he became the spiritual leader (Nasi) of the Jews from about 30 B.C.E to 10 C.E. When asked by a non-Jew to relate all the Torah had to say while standing on one foot, Hillel replied, “Do not unto your neighbor what you would not have him do until you; this is the whole Law; the rest is commentary.”
No one likes hate speech against him or her, especially if it begins to take hold and creates possibility of discrimination, hatred, mayhem and murder. No wonder there are laws against hate speech, against antisemitism and even against holocaust denial. Most Muslims, living in the West are peace loving and have moderate views towards their fellow citizens and are worried about the recent anti-Islam film and negative ads in New York subways and hate speech against them, which is finding some roots in the Western countries, in one form or the other.
How could the Christians hate the Muslims and be brotherly towards the Buddhists, the Hindus, the Jews and atheists, while the Muslims honor Jesus to be an honorable prophet, consider belief in him as part of their essential beliefs, take his mother the chaste Mary as a role model, as described in the Holy Quran and notice all the time that a chapter is named after Mother Mary in the Quran and realize that the name of Jesus, appears more often in the Holy Quran than the name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad himself, and all the other religions regard Jesus as a liar, a non-entity or have no opinion about him? Does it make sense? It is self evident that those who hate monger against the Muslims are not well wishers of Islam or the 1.5 billion Muslims, but, are they well wishers of the Christians, leading them into a world of contradictions and chaos?
Your friends and family can contact you through email within a few seconds from the remotest corners of our global village. If a disaster strikes any part of Africa, Australia or Galapagos, we hear about it instantaneously. So, in the context of our global village each and every homo-sapiens is a neighbor! I believe, that is exactly what Jesus would say if he were to come back!
Hate and prejudice, like other negative emotions have no creative power and can only spoil and destroy. So, say no to hate mongering. Say no to stereotyping! One and a half billion Muslims are not monolithic, just like the two billion Christians are not identical twins. We live in a global age of information and individual responsibility and not tribal rivalries of stone age. Let me introduce to you, a few Muslims, you may already know to some degree:
The foremost: Muhammad: the Light for the Dark Ages of Europe!
The first picture is courtesy of, Chris Christensen: the host of popular travel podcasts, Amateur Traveler.
Thanks to Wikipedia for making my life so easy.