The flames of hate were fanned last week in Paris, a city of history of which I have a great affection. The hate was fanned by a satirical magazine with a desire to insult a large group of people, and hate was fanned by a radical group, Al Qaeda, that took life in revenge. Both acts were unvirtuous.
Charlie Hebdo has every right to publish anything they want; however, their long desire to insult does not make their use of freedom “virtuous”. Islam as a faith has a right to exist in the world; however, it should speak out boldly against Islamic heretics and murderers and define what is “virtuous” – a large numbers of Muslims did speak out against this act. (click text to see an example)
Hassen Farsadou, the president of the Union of Muslim Associations of Seine-Saint-Denis, said the terrorist attacks were “a despicable, criminal act, which we condemn utterly.” (New York Times 01.10.15)
I have many Muslim friends, and events like Paris bring them a lot of sorrow and difficulty. I love my Muslim friends and I hurt for them in times like these. To say I love them has brought ire from some in my faith, Christianity. To not love our neighbor is to be unvirtuous as well as unchristian.
Most of the Christians I know have never read the Qu'ran, nor have they considered the claims of Islam’s prophet. I have considered them seriously. Most Christians I know do not have Muslim friends, but how could they with all those church programs they have to attend.
While I believe Christ is God and the answer to questions of the Universe, this does not keep me from building relationships with people that don’t agree. We share enough in common. I recently had a Christian friend visit Iraq. One of his local Muslim friends took him to the site where it is believed Abraham lived. His Muslim friend stated to him, “Right here is where our faiths divided.”
I seek unity. Science and faith are not divided in my search of truths. Facts and values are not divided when I consider my position. Muslims and Christians are all humans, and that is unity enough to allow dialogue, kind debate and friendship. Not a one-off debate on a stage, nor a share your thoughts once and then a dusting off of your sandals, but much different - a life lived together with common respect and a desire to learn and share truth.
Our reaction to people that murder others should be swift and severe. That punishment should not boil over to those who are innocent. To put Islam under ISIS is to put Christianity under Westboro Baptist Church.
The great faiths: Christianity, Islam, and Eastern Religion all have interesting things to say. As seekers of truth, one cannot seriously make claims to their faith without a sincere, detailed and open minded study of the others.
The person of Jesus, the realities of life, and the reasoning of evidence has lead me to the cross and Christianity. I do believe Christ is Truth and I seek to share that with anyone willing to listen. Those conclusions draw me to people that think differently than me, not further from them.
Your reaction to these events should be a greater understanding of Islam, and a love for people that profess it. In doing so, you may be given grace to share your faith. Any other reaction is unchristian.
I will end with the words of a Muslim leader that should bring us hope, His Highness The Aga Khan, "Architecture of Pluralism is one that will encourage all of us to listen to one another and to learn from one another, with a deep sense of humility and a realization that diversity itself is a gift of the Divine."
My most recent post on Paris: Midnight in Paris