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Commentary and opinion on current civic, political, and religious events and issues.

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19 November 2001

Northern City Journal
(ISSN 1528-9575)
Vol. 2, No. 46

Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Islam Did Not Attack Us

Sadly, the Rev. Franklin Graham says Islam attacked Christianity on September 11. But that's what Osama bin Laden wants us to think, and that belief leads to unholy war.

by Jerome F. Winzig

In the last few days there have been sad and shocking press reports about anti-Islamic comments made last month by the Rev. Franklin Graham, the head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan's Purse. NBC News quoted Graham as saying the entire Islamic religion is "wicked, violent, and not of the same God." According to NBC, Graham said, "I don't believe this is a wonderful, peaceful religion. When you read the Koran and you read the verses from the Koran, it instructs the killing of the infidel, for those that are non-Muslim."

NBC News went on to say that, when asked to clarify his statement, Graham "repeated his charge that Islam, as a whole, is an evil." They said Graham added, "It wasn't Methodists flying into those buildings, it wasn't Lutherans. It was an attack on this country by people of the Islamic faith."

When Timothy McVeigh was identified as the terrorist who killed 168 men, women, and children in the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995, no one said, "It wasn't Muslims who planted that bomb. It was an attack on this country by someone of the Roman Catholic faith." (Timothy McVeigh's family was Catholic.) No one made an issue out of the fact that his co-conspirator, Terry Nichols, has a son named "Christian."

Instead, most people understood that the Catholic Church in no way approves of terrorism and mass murder. There were numerous press reports about the agony and suffering of McVeigh's father, who hates what his son did. We did not judge an entire religious faith by the perverted actions of two of its misguided, wayward sons. Nor did we find the references McVeigh and Nichols made to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to be convincing reasons for wanton murder, and were horrified that McVeigh dismissed the deaths of innocent children as "collateral damage."

Quoting isolated verses from sacred scriptures or political documents can be misused. Some Jews and Christians are guilty of taking verses from the Hebrew Scriptures or the Christian New Testament out of context and misusing them for their own purposes. Quoting verses from the sacred scriptures of another faith, without being familiar with the entire document and the religion that derives from it, is subject to even greater misuse. For most non-Muslims, the Koran (Quran) is an unknown, puzzling, and even scary document. Consider, however, this verse from verse 29.46 of the book, the Spider: "And do not dispute with the followers of the Book [the Bible] except by what is best, except those of them who act unjustly, and say: "we believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you, and our God and your God is One, and to Him do we submit."

Apparently, there is considerable controversy about the "Book" that is referenced in this passage. At the time of the Prophet Mohammed, there was no Arabic translation of the Bible, and at least some Muslims believe our modern Bible is a corruption of the original. However, the most startling part of that verse is the last half, which says "our God and your God is one."

Anyone who observes the actions of American Muslims discovers they are a people with no more inherent propensity towards violence and terrorism than those of other faiths. Furthermore, even a casual search of the Internet for "Islam and peace" indicates there is a considerable body of literature on the subject. The web site for the Institute for Global Communications, for example lists a 46-page bibliography on Islam, peace, and nonviolence. Imam Yahya Hendi, the Muslim chaplain at Georgetown University, says the attack on September 11 "violates the very foundations of Islamic law."

From all accounts, Osama bin Laden would like us to believe that the attacks of September 11 were done in the name of Islam. If we subscribe to that notion, however, then the deaths of thousands on that day and the suffering of innocent Afghans today will only draw us closer to an unholy war between Christianity and Judaism and Islam -- a war that the one God in whom we all believe does not want.

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