I remember a funny story few years ago when my nephew, Christian (who was about 7 years old at that time) said he would not eat meat. Surprised, we asked him “Why?” He said, “Because its Ramadan, our teacher said that it is a time of fasting.” Everyone who was there, laughed. “Christian, you are NOT Muslim! So, you don’t have to fast.”
In truth, in the past five years, I have altered and revised my views on Muslims and their religion. Perhaps because of my good fortune of having the opportunity to meet and befriend a few people of that faith in my work as a dentist. Previous to that, I held the view that majority of Muslims were a bunch of violent barbarians still mentally living in the 7th century. Perhaps, this opinion had been borne out of seeing too many horrifying images on TV of terrorism, kidnappings, beheadings, wars, violent protests that almost always seemed to have something to do with people who belonged to the Muslim faith. Not to mention, I found some of the punishments in their legal system that is still being practiced in some Muslim countries very horrid and inhuman (EX: stoning people to death, chopping of body parts for offenses). Moreso, when I heard about the old nun who was killed in Sudan and the burning of a Christian church in the Middle East after Pope Benedict XVI said his controversial speech at Regensburg, Germany. Violent acts, like these, can give the Muslim religion a bad reputation, especially if the peaceful, decent BUT **silent **majority do not publicly condemn the atrocities. There is a saying, “One bad egg can ruin the whole cake.” It can be frustrating to many non-Muslims, like me, that they seem not to have a unified, authoritative voice to tell them right from wrong. One imam can issue a hadith on the peacefulness of their religion, while another imam will issue a calling for a jihad on unbelievers or a death sentence on someone (EX: Salman Rushdie) who insult their religion (the word insult, being a relative term). Such contradiction can be very disconcerting, if not frustrating, for many people of goodwill who want to give them the benefit of the doubt. This news story, **MUSLIMS CELEBRATE EID’L FITR SHUN TERROR (front page Philippine Daily Inquirer October 24, 2006 Tuesday) ** is like a breath of fresh air for many. The article said that sermon in many places of Muslim worship had a similar theme:
- SENSELESS VIOLENCE IS HARAM.
MUSLIMS FINEST ROLE IN A COLLECTIVE JIHAD (STRUGGLE) IS THAT OF “MAINTAINING “GOOD RELATIONSHIP AMONG HUMANITY AND OTHER CREATIONS OF GOD.”
At last, these once-silent majority of peaceful Muslims are now coming out of their shell and are now willing to take a stand for peace. I am glad that they had used this time of Ramadan well, as it is a time of prayer (salat) and fasting (sawm) and reflection. It is a hopeful beginning for peace in our nation in a world still on the alert for more terrorist attacks after 9/11.
While, I am aware that it may take some time for changes to happen, still, it is a step in the right direction. I believe that PEACE is achievable only if everyone sincerely wants it. A great majority of Muslims are good people, peaceful, decent and kind who do not subscribe to any form of violence. Its about time they make a stand for what they claim to be their “Religion of Peace.” After all, it will only be believable if they mean what they say and say what they mean….and we, Christians, should give them a chance to prove their words right.
At the same time, with the Christmas season at hand, we should do well, to do fasting, prayer and reflection of our own. Our Christian love and sense of charity should encompass everyone, including, our Muslim brothers, who, according to Pope John Paul II, are “our brothers in Abraham”.
May God (Allah) bless us all with peace, love and goodwill for each other.