Recent events, including the July cross burning outside an African-American family's home in Dearborn Heights, have reopened the debate on race relations and highlighted the need to promote tolerance. Grassroots community and religious leaders need to be at the forefront of this process of racial healing.
Synagogues, temples, churches and mosques all reach out to an audience open to spiritual growth. To achieve that growth and plant the seeds of understanding and cooperation, spiritual leaders of all faiths must first see the need for extending their own comfort zones.
The Quran, Islam's revealed text, clearly addresses the cure to racial division when it states:
"O mankind! We created you from a single pair of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes so that you might get to know one another. Surely the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is the most righteous."
Racism is a sign of not recognizing the intrinsic worth of all humans. If racists saw themselves as human beings first, before their racial or ethnic affiliations, recognizing the humanity of those outside their own group would be less of a leap. It is difficult to dehumanize someone you know as a friend.
Council on American-Islamic Relations for Michigan