Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

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Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Islam


For over a thousand years, people have been drawn to Islam’s message of peace.  The word Islam, comes from salam -- peace.  The standard greeting is as-salamu alaykum -- peace be upon you.  Islam is rooted in a commitment to compassion and mercy justice and charity.  Prophet Muhammad taught that whoever wants to enter paradise, “let him treat people the way he would love to be treated.” 
The world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are very diverse.  They’re white, brown and black.  They’re found in Africa and include people from Latin America to Southeast Asia.
Islam started during colonial times, because many of the slaves brought here from Africa were Muslim.  Even in bondage, some kept their faith alive.  When, our Founders enshrined the freedom of religion in our Bill of Rights it applied to all religions.
Muslims were often called Mahometans, and Thomas Jefferson explained that the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom was designed to protect all faiths.  Jefferson wrote: “the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and the Mahometan.”
Jefferson and John Adams had their own copies of the Koran.  Benjamin Franklin wrote that “even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send a missionary to preach to us, he would find a pulpit at his service.”
Muslim Americans built America’s first mosque in North Dakota.  Their oldest surviving mosque is in Iowa.  The first Islamic center in New York City was built in the 1890s.
In 1957, President Eisenhower dedicated the Islamic center in Washington, D.C.  He promised: “I should like to assure you, my Islamic friends, that under the American Constitution … and in American hearts…this place of worship, is just as welcome…as any other religion.”
Muslim Americans are police officers, firefighters, in homeland security, and our intelligence community.  They’ve serve in our armed forces, and some rest in Arlington National Cemetery.
The overwhelming majority of the world’s Muslims embrace Islam as a source of peace, but a very small fraction of Muslims promote a perverted interpretation of Islam. 
Groups like al Qaeda and ISIL aren’t the first extremists in history to misuse religious Scripture.  KKK members were Christians.  Presently, an organized extremist element that draws selectively from Islamic texts, have attempted to justify murder.  They combine it with false claims that America and the West are at war with Islam.  False claims creates tensions and pressure that disproportionately burden the overwhelming majority of law-abiding Muslim citizens.    

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