Open Letter To Reverend Franklin Graham

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 13:
Franklin Graham, religious leader and son of Billy Graham, during our interview on November, 1
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 13: Franklin Graham, religious leader and son of Billy Graham, during our interview on November, 13, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Reverend Franklin Graham,

Can we talk? You seem to have confused the horrific actions of some who claim to practice Islam, with the actual teachings of the faith. In regards to the massacre of 49 people at a gay bar in Orlando you recently posted on your Facebook page, "What Omar Mattan did was following the teaching of the Koran." That's just not true. The Quran prohibits such heinous actions, as Islamic organizations and scholars have consistently proclaimed.

I grew up Catholic but left the church for a variety of reasons. When I started my family, I studied a lot and chose to follow Islam. The things you are saying about Islam do not match what I've learned.

You've said "They (Muslims) hate the God of the Bible, and they hate those who follow Him". But the Quran refers to Jews and Christians as "People of the Book"; they are those who have received revelation from God; the same God that sent revelation to Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. (Peace be upon them all). The Quran says "Verily! Those who believe and those who are Jews and Christians, and Sabians, whoever believes in God and the Last Day and do righteous good deeds shall have their reward with their Lord, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve" 2:62

You've said "If you're an American, they hate you whether you're a liberal or conservative." However, there are over 3 million American Muslims; we are part of the fabric of this country. American values are in keeping with Islamic values; such as the idea that all men are created equal and freedom and justice for all. There are people around the world who are angered by America's foreign policies, but that doesn't mean they hate what our country was founded on.

You've said "They want you to be subject to Sharia law and the god they worship." There are absolutely no instances of Muslims trying to institute Sharia law in America. The Quran says "There is no compulsion in religion". (2:256)

You've said "Women of the world, Islam wants to put you behind a veil of horror." And "Honor killings are a practice of Islam". Although it is true there are women in majority Muslim countries that are treated appallingly, it is in spite of Islam, not because of it. People take things out of context in order to justify following their pre-Islamic barbaric customs. Islam actually granted women rights hundreds of years before they were granted in the West: such as the right to own property, to an education, to participate in public discourse, to choose their spouse, to get a divorce, and many others.

You've said "The god of Islam requires followers to die for him." And "The Koran teaches followers of Islam to kill and destroy nonbelievers." That is not an accurate interpretation of what the Quran teaches. Yes, there are people who take Islamic teachings out of context to justify committing heinous acts for their own geo/political gains, but they don't represent Islam any more than the KKK represents the teachings of Christianity.

What you are saying about Islam is dangerous for Muslims, America and the world. Your words fuel hate towards the other and become recruiting tools for terrorist organizations.

We live in a country of diverse people with different ideologies and religions, yet we are founded on the principal of uniting for the common good, "E Pluribus Unum". We can't do that if we look at people who are different than we are with hate. I pray you will agree to meet with me so we can listen to each other. I think we can both agree that God is love and love conquers hate, let's use that as a starting point.

This post originally appeared in the Charlotte Observer June 15, 2016.

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