CA: VIEWPOINT; A MODERATE MUSLIM SPEAKS OUT
I am writing in response to the Feb. 15 letter to the editor entitled "Muslim Groups Quiet" by Joe Fagundes. I was the co-founder and president of the Islamic Student Association at Paso Robles High School during my senior year. A fellow student and I established it with the primary intent of creating an outlet that would bridge the gap between the Muslim and San Luis Obispo County communities. Some of the events we hosted included a Ramadan dinner as well as an interfaith profile that addressed issues concerning interfaith dialogue.
As a student at Yale University majoring in political science and Arabic and Islamic studies, I have often been faced with the question Joe Fagundes is asking. Why indeed are moderate Muslims staying quiet on the issue of terrorism? We aren't. We simply aren't given the spotlight.
Here and now I do not hesitate to state that the actions taken by "mujahideen" and other "freedom fighters" are not supported by the Qur'an, Hadith (saying), or Sunnah (example) of the Prophet Muhammad. But it would appear to the average person that such actions are. As Mr. Fagundes implied, the only things we hear coming out of Muslim mouths today is a condemnation of the Western world or a harried defense of Islam.
I will agree with Mr. Fagundes on that point. That is all that is heard about. However, that is not all that is said. In Islam, there is no overarching hierarchy similar to that that exists in Catholicism with the Pope and the Vatican. We believe that each individual is accountable for his or her own actions, and only God can either forgive or not forgive that individual. While this idea of individual accountability is appealing on a religious standpoint, when it is time for the Muslim community to respond as a whole, it is difficult to give a united opinion, because the religion does not operate under a centralized authority.
But though we do not appear to have a collection of leaders condemning these acts of terrorism, moderate Muslims are the largest group of people in America condemning these acts.
It is perhaps bold of me to make this statement, but as a moderate Muslim I will not only state this once, but repeatedly. The average Muslim has the most to lose while his or her religion is repeatedly being profiled in a negative way by those surrounding him/her. It will lead to misunderstandings and an eventual fallout on both sides.
By not actively condemning acts of terrorism, the average Muslim condemns him/herself to self-segregation because of difficulty when interacting with other Americans, religious and ethnic profiling and other issues. We cannot, and do not allow this issue to slide under the table.
As a member of my university's Multifaith Council, and a writer for the Yale Daily News, it is necessary that I, whenever possible, dispel this myth of the "quiet" moderate Muslim.
Mr. Fagundes, I can assure you that we are not quiet on this point. I will not condone these acts of terrorism. They are not in line with Islamic belief or practice. The ones who believe that they are carrying out the will of God are accurately portrayed as the fanatics, but they are in a very small minority. Like you, I am disappointed and disgusted by these acts, and like you, I feel that it is necessary to speak out.
Former Paso Robles resident Nisreen Hasib is now a student at Yale University.