Time for Change
I've often written about how tired I am -- and many in the Muslim community are -- of feeling constantly on the defensive. We are tired of the continual calls to condemn acts of violence by Muslim militants, tired of having to explain the misogyny is not inherent to Islam, despite Iran, the Taliban and Saudi style oppression of women, of having to refute claims that Islam calls for the slaughter or conversion of all non-Muslims, that it is backward and hidebound, that our Prophet was either hedonistic or puritanical, bloodthirsty, malevolent, and an all around despicable character.
All too often we retreat into that defensiveness. We talk about Islamophobia (a real problem, as we can see by the recent murder of a hijab-wearing woman in a German courthouse, and a similar situation in the US where a Muslim woman and her child were threatened by a knife wielding man at her doctor's office.) We engage in interfaith activities to help others understand the beautiful aspects of Islam and the true character of our Prophet.
But we need to go a step further. We need to advocate for real change in the Muslim community, cause there are real problems in our community, both in America and globally. We need to return to the fundamental values of mercy and compassion that are so prevalent in the Qur'an, to turn away from extremism and militarism. We need to embrace the liberating and affirming aspects of the Qur'an that leave no place for racism, classism, misogyny, homophobia, and religous bigotry. This is one of the goals of MPV and other progressive Muslim organizations -- to pull the Muslim community in more humane directions.
I just hope more Muslims jump on the bandwagon and do the hard work of countering negative trends within our community. I hope more people work on changing our community for the better than on changing perceptions of our community for the better. By doing the former, the latter will naturally occur, and the world will be a better place. Doing the latter, only opinions, not facts on the ground, will change.