Among the messages of sympathy that poured into London following the July 7 bombings were condolences from the governments of Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Iran, Turkey—all nations with majority Muslim populations—and at least two Muslim nongovernmental groups: Hamas and Hezbollah.
Although Muslim reform may seem like an oxymoron to those who see Islam only through the lens of graphic violence, Muslim reformers have been in the sights of jihadist groups such as al-Qaeda for years. Their increasingly bold public stance has made them the natural enemy of those who seek to squeeze followers of Islam into a tight-fisted sectarianism at war with the entire infidel world.
Prior to September 11, 2001, a substantial majority in the United States approached Islam with a strange kind of detailed ignorance. For many Americans the words Islam and Muslims evoked disjointed images of violence, religious fanaticism, rejection of the modern world, mistreated women, and praying men bowing in the direction of Mecca.
Before mid-November arrives, multicultural educator Afeefa Syeed will have brought third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students from the Muslim Al Fatih Academy in Herndon, Virginia, to several public schools to share the practices and beliefs of their holiest month, Ramadan.
Delegates to the World Council of Churches’ Faith and Order Commission meeting in Kuala Lumpur in August had the novel experience of seeing their sessions covered in the Malaysian media with the intensity that normally attends national elections or the latest developments in the “Malaysian Idol” competition.
Former Illinois Senator Paul Simon, who died last December, was the son of a Lutheran missionary and an avowed liberal Democrat. I served as campaign manager for Simon’s 1984 primary race for the Senate, and directed a staff that was young, aggressive and often frustrated at Simon’s determined grip on his liberal ideals.
What the 9/11 Commission accomplished is a minor miracle in this era of partisan politics. Operating on the premise that it is better to fix the problem than to fix the blame, the bipartisan panel issued a unanimous report analyzing the failure of the U.S. to prevent the 9/11 attacks and recommending steps to forestall future acts of terrorism.
In late 2003 President Bush said, in response to a reporter's question, that he believed Muslims and Christians "worship the same God." The remark sparked criticism from some Christians, who thought Bush was being politically correct but theologically inaccurate.