Today I had to refute yet again the Big Lie that hounds the Muslim community -- that we fail to speak out and condemn terrorism.
I was being interviewed by the wonderful radio host Dr. Alvin Augustus Jones about my new novel Mother of the Believers. Dr. Jones is a deeply spiritual man whose show always features uplifting themes and speakers. And he went out of his way to make me feel welcome.
But as a good journalist, he had to ask the question he felt his audience wanted answered -- "Why do mainstream Muslims fail to speak out against terrorism?
It is a question that I get almost every single day, and it leaves me flabbergasted. I often respond to that question with one of my own -- "Why does the media fail to report on Muslims who condemn terrorism?"
Since before 2001, every single major Muslim group in the United States has been outspoken in their condemnation of terrorism and the murder of innocent people in the name of Islam. And yet the media ignores it. Every single time.
Don't believe me?
That site lists links to dozens of major Muslims group and Islamic scholars who have condemned terrorism as a violation of the fundamental moral precepts of Islam.
Here's a compilation of Islamic fatwas against terrorism by Juan Cole, scholar of the Middle East and author of Engaging the Muslim World.
Cole's list was compiled after Thomas Friedman wrote an outrageous column in The New York Times claiming that "no major Muslim cleric or religious body has ever issued a fatwa condemning Osama Bin Laden."
Friedman knew (or should have known as an alleged Middle East expert) that what he was saying was a lie. But he chose to publish this garbage anyway, giving it the full credibility of the Times.
What was so shocking was that Friedman's column was published on July 8, 2005. But three months before, on March 11, 2005, a group of Spanish imams issued a fatwa against Osama Bin Laden:
So what is going on here?
As one of the few Muslims who has worked inside Hollywood for the past 7 years as a writer and producer, I can only explain this shocking lie that has become a national meme as the product of an intentional media agenda.
There is a real political agenda inside the media itself to keep Islam as the enemy, and to portray mainstream Muslims as a fifth column inside America. The idea that your Muslim neighbors are silently supporting Bin Laden sells newspapers. It captures the attention of viewers of the nightly news. And it furthers the ambitions of politicians who need a rallying point to get votes.
As a Muslim and a patriot I don't know what more to do except continue telling the truth every time I get the opportunity.
But I ask my non-Muslim friends this question. How would you feel if your community was being falsely portrayed as being sympathetic to murderers by the media? How would you feel if every single thing you do to condemn and fight such criminals is intentionally ignored? What would you conclude about the character and motivation of people that continue to spread a lie against millions of your fellow human beings?
If you can take a moment to consider, you might get a sense of the true burden your Muslim neighbors carry. The world wants us to be the monsters. When we condemn and fight the monsters, no one notices or cares. It's like the army telling a soldier who has just survived a hellish firefight that he was never in the war in the first place, and condemning him for his cowardice.
It would be a formula for despair for most people. And yet what is remarkable is that Muslim groups continue to patiently work against terrorism in accordance with their faith, even though they receive no credit for their deeds. They are secure that everything is in the hands of God. And, as the Holy Qur'an says, that the light of truth will never be put out by the mouths of liars.
Last year, I attended the Pilgrimage to Mecca, a powerful, life-changing event that I chronicled on my personal blog at blog.kamranpasha.com
One of the most remarkable stories that I heard when I was there was the tale of Abraham, who Muslims believe founded the first settlement at Mecca with his son Ishmael. The Angel Gabriel appeared to him and told Abraham to climb a mountain and call mankind to God.
Abraham was incredulous, and responded that there was no one in the barren desert valley except him and his family. Who would hear the call?
And Gabriel smiled and said: "Just call mankind to the truth. God will make sure it is heard."
In response to this article, the new meme is being promulgated: "Muslims condemn terrorism, but it's all talk! Sure, Muslims say they condemn terrorism, but there's no action!"
Where do I begin to respond to this kind of nonsense? There are 1. 5 billion Muslims living their lives in peace, trying to put food on the table for their families. Over six million of them live here in America as patriotic citizens. They work hard, pay their taxes, and have ZERO contact with the criminal underworld where these terrorists breed.
I have never, ever met a terrorist in real life (it is ridiculous that I even have to say this). If I met one, I would turn him in to the authorities, as would every other Muslim I know. Since I don't have access to this shadowy underworld, I live my life on the surface in broad daylight, working in my community to promote interfaith cooperation, peace and prosperity. It is that grassroots effort that Muslims do to promote good in this world that receives ZERO coverage in the media. I could list every single good thing I and other Muslims have ever done to make the world a better, safer place, but people who hold this attitude don't care. It will never be enough. If I listed 1 million positive things Muslims are doing in their daily lives today on this planet, they would respond: "Why can't you name a billion things you've done? See, you're not doing enough!"
So I ask those who are outraged at this supposed Muslim inaction: "What have YOU done to defeat racism in this world?" List every single thing you have ever done to fight the Ku Klux Klan. List it here, right now. Times, dates and hyperlinks please. The response would be that I am crazy -- average Americans have nothing to do with the KKK, and don't need to justify their daily actions in support of righteousness to me or anyone else. But that same common sense response is rejected when a Muslim uses it.
The terrorists are a few thousand criminals (less than 0.01% of the Muslim population). They act in secret, in a shadowy underworld that is more like the Mafia than a public organization that holds meetings and takes minutes. Asking Muslims to list how they are fighting Al-Qaeda is like asking a pizza store owner what he is doing to destroy the Mafia.
Muslims fight these monsters by publicly denouncing them, leading lives as law-abiding citizens, helping their communities, and trying to educate people about the loving and harmonious values of true Islam.
It is what I am doing here, every single day.
But for some people, it will never be enough,
So I respond in the way the Holy Qur'an teaches Muslims when they encounter ignorant people. I say to them: "Peace."
Kamran Pasha is a Hollywood filmmaker and the author of Mother of the Believers, a novel on the birth of Islam as told by Prophet Muhammad's wife Aisha (Atria Books; April 2009). For more information please visit: http://www.kamranpasha.com