Saturday, August 27, 2005

Signs of Hope in the Waco Trib

Today's edition of the Waco Tribune-Herald has a Religion page, with a guest column by Al Siddiq, a leader of Waco's Muslim-American community, entitled "Dialogue can overcome negative images of Islam." It's a breath of fresh air in the midst of the hunkered-down mentality I so often see in this part of Texas.

Siddiq points out that Eric Rudolph was not branded a "Christian terrorist," nor are the IRA terrorists branded as Catholic.

Bin Laden is politically motivated; he is not a religious scholar. Yet Bin Laden and other terrorists are presented as though they speak for all Muslims. A turban and a beard do not qualify a person to speak on our behalf.
Siddiq goes on to tell about many patriotic Muslim-Americans, including himself, who have served or are serving in the U.S. military, and to dispel the untruths to which many people cling concerning the Quran [Koran, etc.].
There are many who criticize the Quran and call it a book of violence. There are many passages in the Bible and the Torah that, if taken out of context, would sound just as bad. Yet the Quran teaches us never to ridicule the religious beliefs of others. "And insult not those whom they worship beside God, lest they insult God wrongfully without knowledge. ..." (Surah 6:108) "Those who believe in (Quran) and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures) and the Christians and the Sabians, and who believe in God, and the last day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward." (Surah 2:62) ... It is the duty of Muslim-Americans to undertake the mission of building bridges of understanding between themselves and the rest of their fellow citizens in this free society. This can happen only when mainstream Muslim groups [such as the Islamic Center of Waco] actively engage the media and the policymakers of this land. — Al Siddiq, 2005-08-27, Waco Tribune-Herald page 6B
I think I'll stop by the Islamic Center of Waco while I'm in town and see if I can talk to Mr. Siddiq.

[Geeky Star Trek non-sequitur: On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Dr. Bashir was played by Siddig El Fadil, who changed his name mid-series to Alexander Siddig.]

By the way, next week's guest column on the Religion page is by the Rev. Charley Garrison, pastor of Central Texas Metropolitan Community Church From The Heart. Yet another sign of hope in Waco.