Not yet two months into the New Year and already the mood of the year is dampened by chaotic events. Even before President elect Trump’s inauguration the storm was brewing and a mighty storm at that. In previous years Islamic terrorist attacks have been on the increase, stirring up lots of animosity, rage and fear.
We’ve had September 11, the Bali bombing, the Orlando mass shooting, Brussels bombings, the Berlin attack, the Lindt café and many, many more catastrophic events that have shaken our foundation to the core. You don’t need a high IQ to figure the connection between the religion Islam and the atrocities. What person in their right mind would follow such a deviant faith?
Assalaam Alaykum! (Peace and Blessings be Upon You). I greet you with a flag of truce. We are living in ugly times whereby many media outlets, TV host shows and politicians thrive on sensationalism. It seems almost like a guarantee unexpected future events will continue to terrorise us in the remaining days of our lives unless we actively reject distorted narratives of hate.
The Prophet Muhammad taught Muslims that no-one can be a person of faith if his neighbour does not feel safe from him or her. Islam is the religion I choose to follow because contrary to existing beliefs it teaches Muslims good conduct, social interaction, justice and kindness.
My dear neighbours, I am disturbed no-one is feeling safe. These extremists are violating, destroying and dividing our communities, homeland and sanctuary. I do not carry the title of Imam or scholar nor am I an extremist or want-to-be victim. I am your ordinary, middle-class, working mother that happens to be a practising Muslim who profoundly opposes terrorism and is ardently seeking harmony.
Far from harmony I witnessed two so-called respectable women on ABC Q&Acome head to head and create a huge divide, although both demonstrate passion for their causes; one is an advocate for Australian war veterans and injured soldiers, Senator Jacqui Lambie, the other Yassmin Abdel-Magied, a social activist.
Just over two years ago in Jacqui Lambie’s political career she created controversy on Australia’s ABCInsider television program when she equated sharia law with acts of terrorism. At that time she struggled to understand the Islamic law and again when she presented herself on ABC Q&A this week she was not any the wiser. Ms Lambie said “acceptance of sharia law is a clear sign of a divided loyalty.” Mark my word many Muslims loyalty is to our great nation of Australia.
What I’d like to reaffirm to Senator Lambie and fellow Australians is that Sharia law is not part of Australian secular law nor is there any call to make any change. What is called for is the need for greater education and dialogue with experts. (I don’t claim to be an expert). Through collaborative dialogue, open discussion and critical thinking, opposing beliefs may begin to shift. A shift from feeling disgust, resentment and anger to a feeling of an obligation towards each other to be tolerant and understanding should prevail. Surely intense and fiery emotions cannot serve us or our community in the course of our lives. Irresponsible headlines such as Sharia Law, law of the land, should be confronted with “Rubbish!” as we place our efforts towards social cohesion.
How might an activist demonstrate social cohesion? Social cohesion engages people, promotes trust and offers people a platform to build working relationships. Positive and respectful dialogue forms the ‘glue’ or bond that binds people of all race, faith, age, sexual orientation, ability and culture. Again I reiterate the necessity to seek credible information and to grow one’s knowledge base. I’d like to pose the question to Majied, “Why would "people talk about Islam without knowing anything about it"?
For the remainder of the year where should you cast your sights? Further negatively, fear and feelings of disempowerment and outrage or would you attempt to demonstrate your power of positive influence?
Rabbi Jonathan Sacks put it eloquently when he said, “We celebrate both our commonalities and differences, because if we had nothing in common we could not communicate, and if we had everything in common, we would have nothing to say.” Before we can celebrate let us first enrich each other’s world of differences with peaceful faith.
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