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FIRST-PERSON: Will the real Islam please stand up

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (BP)–While much of the world threatens to be engulfed in the terror of Islamic wrath, there has not been a single Islamic voice of reason to emerge in the midst of its wreckage and carnage to tell the world fully who or what the real Islam is.

Since Sept. 11, the focus on Islamic faith has been intense. Particularly, debates have surfaced time and time again, mostly one-sided, over whether Islam is or is not a religion of peace.

In America’s politically correct society, only the truly courageous have taken the stand to say that Islam is anything but a religion of peace.

Christian leaders who openly advocate the view of Islam as a non-peaceful religion have been Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and Franklin Graham. Despite their scathing reviews of Islam as a religion of violence under a maniacal leader of violence, not one Islamic or Arab leader has arisen to the challenge of correcting this view for the international community. In fact, daily current events, such as the recent Miss World Beauty massacre in Nigeria, the slaughter of innocents in Kenya at the Paradise Hotel and the misdirected but deadly attacks on tourists in a Bali nightspot, seem to confirm the stance of these leaders.

On Nov. 13, John King of CNN’s Washington Bureau reported that President Bush reiterated an earlier statement in which he said that “our war against terror is a war against individuals whose hearts are full of hate. We do not fight a religion.”

On Feb. 28 on CNN, Pat Robertson went on record to say, “I have taken issue with our esteemed president in regards to his stand in saying Islam is a peaceful religion. It’s just not. And the Koran makes it very clear, if you’re an infidel, you kill him.”

According to Islam and its extremists, infidels are all those who do not adhere to the tenets of the Islamic religion, which is most of the world.

Whether anyone agrees or disagrees with these Christian leaders, they should be commended for their willingness to challenge those who claim to promulgate a godly cause through ungodly means. While it is true that America is not conducting a war against a religion, it is clear that it is the misguided men of misguided religious intentions who have fanned out across the world in order to subjugate it with an ideology of oppression and hatred.

It is not up to Christians, Jews, atheists or others to change the perception of Islam. It is not up to the world to define who or what Islam really is. And, yet, there is not the least iota of irony in the fact that all that America, and unbelievers of Islam in the world, has to judge Islam by are its missing voices of reason amid the deadly acts of those who now act and speak on behalf of Islamists. Muslims who passively witness their extremist brothers destroy innocent lives in the name of religion cannot expect to convince the world of its peaceful nature, godly character and motivations.

Where are those Arabs who are courageous enough to challenge adherents within their own faith tradition who do more harm to it than good?
Terriel R. Byrd, Ph.D., is assistant professor of religion and director of urban ministries studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University, West Palm Beach, Fla.

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  • Terriel Byrd