A proper response to an inflammatory act
Tariq A. Al-Maeena
REMEMBER the contentious Pastor Terry Jones out of Florida, who rose to fame back in 2010 with his controversial declaration of burning a copy of the Qur’an, an act that was surely meant to inflame passions within Muslims the world over?
Well guess what? He is now planning something on a much bigger scale. On Sept. 11, 2013, the pastor and his disciples will carry out an “International Burning of 2,998 Qur’ans” to “send Islam a very clear warning.”
The 2,998 figure is meant to signify the number of people who died during the World Trade Center (WTC) attacks.
In a message he said: “On September 11, 2013, to remember those who were murdered by radical Islam, and to send Islam a very clear warning that they will not get their foothold in the American Constitution as they have done in Europe, we will be holding an International Burning. The radical hand of Islam shows itself with violence against anyone who dares to stand up and speak the truth. … We will not be silent.”
This time around an American and his associate have decided to counter the pastor’s intended inflammatory actions with a carefully executed response that smacks of ‘turning the other cheek.’
Mike Ghouse, a speaker, thinker and a writer on pluralism, politics, peace, Islam, Israel, India, interfaith, and cohesion at work and social settings is spearheading a move to meet the pastor’s response head-on with a worthy response. Mike, who is zealous toward building a cohesive America and offers pluralistic solutions on issues of the day is planning “to respond to Pastor Terry Jones’ planned burning of 2,998 copies of Qur’an on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.”
In a press release, Mike and his associate Mirza Beg speaking for the organization
(www.worldmuslimcongress.com) said: “Our response — we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an. It was “To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil.” It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”
“God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.”
“We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration (www.UnitydayUSA.com) held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.
“Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3,000 copies Qur’an on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur’an last year.
“As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones’ freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.
“We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) — that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.
“We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.
“We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time the Pastor sought notoriety — We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.
“Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.
“Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and fire chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the city’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.
“We thank the media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.”
Thank you for your commitment towards a peaceful solution, Mike. It is the media who should thank you for your commendable cause.
— Tariq Al-Maeena can be reached at [email protected] and followed @talmaeena