Muslims Must Not Let Terrorism Become Voice of Islam
We are your youth, the next generation of Islam, your sisters and brothers, and your peers. Many of you are our elders, those who have planted our cherished faith in this country, and as such, we respect your thoughts and wish to share with you our own concerns. We urge you to hear us with open hearts and open minds in light of the terrible tragedies that have beset our nation.
During the terrorist bombings of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, we watched helplessly as our friends, families, children and compatriots were brutally and mercilessly slaughtered in an act of sheer cowardice. These terrorists are, regrettably, our loudest voice in America as Muslims. When our families came to this country seeking liberty, justice, peace and a new life, they could not have imagined this would be their children's inheritance. Therefore, let the voice of terrorism not be the strongest voice of Islam, but a voice that we as Muslims have a duty to smother swiftly and justly.
We watch and wonder how others more adeptly than us represent their faiths and keep their communities whole, while we become disconnected polarized into two categories; fanatic or faithless.
Therefore we must insist, as those who carry on the torch of Islam, that you help us squelch those charlatans who proclaim their Islamic virtue as they slaughter the innocents.
We must stand together in solidarity with one voice, with one purpose, under one God. We must not hide behind our frustrations as Muslims, our victimization or our shattered sense of unity. We watch and wonder how others more adeptly than us represent their faiths and keep their communities whole, while we become disconnected polarized into two categories; fanatic or faithless.
This is a somewhat simplistic view of a complicated question that deserves much more discussion. However, we are struggling to remain balanced in our faith. So we urge you to let us act now, to speak forcefully and clearly to our fellow Americans in the wake of these heinous acts.
We request firmly that the Islamic community denounce these terrorists as "enemies of Islam", regardless of their faith or cause. It is not enough for us to quote passages of the Qur'an or claim our innocence. We must also unequivocally denounce those who carry out their selfish political aims in the name of Islam and commit acts of violence under the guise of Islam. It is a book of faith and a way of life, not a weapon with which to manipulate people.
We request firmly that a relief fund be organized nationwide under the banner of the Islamic community for the innocent victims of these terrorist acts. It is not enough to ask your fellow Muslims to give to their local relief funds. We must now show courage and resolve and come forward as a community to care for our fellow Americans.
We request firmly that American flags be raised at each mosque so that the communities that surround us can view our solidarity with them as Americans.
As you know, at this time many Muslims have experienced a backlash, and we must extend ourselves further than anyone else in order to be clear about our loyalties to our fellow Americans and heal the rift between us. This assurance is our unfortunate burden and one that we did not ask for, but we must carry it proudly nonetheless.
Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) was a man of action as well as thought. Without both, there could be no Islam. And today that is true more than ever. We must not allow those who take action without thought to be our voice. And so it would be equally foolish for us to speak without actions to support our words. It is not enough to pray, walk or dress like Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.) did, or name your children after the Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H.).
It is time to speak and put action behind our words and show compassion and strength the way he did. This is not a time to be silent. It is time to call out loudly, although our Muslim hearts are heavy and wish to mourn over the loss we have experienced. This is the only way we will drown out the insidious voice of terrorism that has regretfully become so strong.
We will aid you and support you in whatever way we can toward these efforts.
However, many of us do not feel we are in a position in the Islamic community to create these changes by ourselves. We, the next generation, have been your hope for the future, but at this moment you are ours. Your actions now will decide whether Islam itself will survive in the modern world, a world we can no longer avoid. Perhaps in this tragedy, we will all find a way to realize a new path for Islam, one in which those who have so long kept the flame of Islam, and those who strive to carry it forward come together to create change, enlightenment and peace with one voice and one heart. With all our prayers, love and respect we hope you have heard our plea. Insha'allah, you have.
Blerime Topalli is a filmmaker and writer in Los Angeles, California.