By Mr. Jack
The word “Islam” is derived from the Arabic root word of “salema.” For those unfamiliar with this beautiful tongue, it means peace in the most general sense. Like all words, it has multiple definitions, which include purity, submission, and obedience. We hear these words in English, and we think power, we think control. This is not, however, the same thing. Submission and obedience in Arabic are more akin to the English words of humbleness and respect. In essence, the word Islam seeks to embody the ideal relationship that a person should have with god: that of reverent service and loving piety and peace.
Islam is founded on the Five Pillars of faith. Shahadah, which means to witness roughly as in the way Christians only witness one god above all others, Zakat, alms giving, Salah, which is prayer, Sawm, which is fasting to show devotion, and the Hajj, or the pilgrimage to the holy land. Together these five hallmarks embody the two ultimate beliefs in Arabic: love of god, and love of neighbor and family.
When viewed in conjunction with Christianity, which is what the majority of Americans believe in, it is quite simple to see the connections. Both share a devotion to god, a respect and honoring of neighbor, and a love of family and charity. In fact, Islam and Christianity are almost one and the same, having both gone off of the Torah with their own further interpretations. They are both Semitic in origin, and their cultures are inexorably tied together.
I point out these definitions because it is through a terrible great many traumas and issues which we as Americans have come to view the Islamic world as a world of hate, violence and control, which is rather what the Islamic world tends to also say about America. The most recent agitation of the feud concerns the actions of 19 men.
19 men. Radicals of a religion which few others would ever take to the same extremes. Vigilantes, who saw widespread injustice and sought to destroy it. Just a dozen and a half men who decided that enough was enough, and that they would make the ultimate sacrifice to prove that their faith, their countries, and their world would not be subjugated under might and power.
And then the towers fell.
And then the other radicals began to talk. Radicals of a politic which few others would ever take to the same extremes. Crusaders, who saw widespread injustice and sought to destroy it. Just a dozen and a half men who decided that enough was enough, and that they would send others to make the ultimate sacrifice to prove that their faith, their country, and their world would not be threatened by inferiors rebels and terrorists.
People forgot about the hundreds of Arab Americans who also died when the towers fell, who had come to this country peacefully with the same promise we all ultimately have. They forgot about the thousands of Muslim families in America who watched in horror as their beloved nation was attacked, and then turned on them with hate and blame. They forgot how both faiths, brothers in belief, had been born of the same love of god, man, and peace.
And suddenly, Islam meant hate. There was no understanding, no time to even think. There was only action, and anger, and pain, and suffering, and a terrible outcry about things which people could not quite define but had known to be for thousands of years. And then there was war.
Nine years after that attack we still have not healed. People of Islamic faith in America are looked down upon with derision and suspicion. Our brothers and sisters, who suffered as the Japanese Americans did in World War II for the same sort of incident, still suffer today. We look upon them as aliens, as conspirators, as terrorists. We do not recognize that they too are victims of an attack. An attack which struck their honor and the very hallmarks of all they believe. They are as us, and we are all still in pain and pieces.
And it is not right.
Today is a day of remembrance for the fallen, but it should also be a remembrance of those who still live on. We all live with a burden, of guilt, of loss, and of misunderstanding.
If we are ever to understand peace, we must understand our own hate first. We must conquer that general loathing we harbor wantonly, and realize that this was not just an attack on white, Christian America, but an attack on everything Islam stands for, everything the Arab world has tried to accomplish, and everything we have today. It was an attack on all of us.
As people who are attempting to be exemplars of society, we must not give in, no matter how deep our hate and no matter how great our pain is, to our desire to relieve that pain but dealing it out to those we feel have wronged us. The violence we deliver never heals. It will always leave a wound and always leave somebody else who then thinks they can relieve it with putting it on to something else. If we ever are to live in peace, we must bring the pieces of our wild anger into bounds. And we must love.
This day is a day of mourning. For today people still die because of that attack. People still burn books because of it. And people still cry for war because of it. Until that stops, and until we as progressing humans attempt to help our own hate and hurt end, there can never be healing.
By Mr. Jack