Quotes give incorrect view of Islam, Muslims

We write this to take exception to the letter published Oct. 4 in the New Castle News, titled “America not the place for Muslims.”

The writer obviously considered himself an expert on the text of Islam’s Holy Book, the Koran (sic). He quotes verses from Al-Qu’ran without any historical or contextual knowledge, and concludes that Muslims do not belong in America.

The Bible contains many verses of extreme violence, but does this disparage the whole of Christianity? Of course not. The writer can neither translate nor explain properly the verses he quoted. These verses were allowances from God for the early Muslims to defend themselves against the relentless onslaught of horrors served upon them by their enemies and idol worshippers. Without those allowances, Muslims would have perished.

The writer fails to mention any of the 156 verses of mercy in the Qu’ran (2:182, 7:51, 12:92, 23:118) or the 65 verses of peace (2:182, 4:90, 6:127, 8:61, 49:9) or the 93 verses of love (2:195, 3:31, 4:36, 19:96).

Briefly, Islam teaches the worship of One God and it accepts the prophecies of Moses and Jesus and others mentioned in the scriptures. There are 7 million American Muslims, half of whom are U.S.-born. We are educated, middle-class citizens who work in every profession. America is our home, and we’re not going anywhere.

Muslims have been here for a very long time. Dr. Barry Fell, an American historian, discovered the ruins of Muslim schools in Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico and Indiana dating back to 700 to 800 C.E. In 1492, Columbus had two captains for the Pinta and the Nina who were Muslim. Columbus and others later discovered ruins of Mosques and minarets with inscriptions of Qu’ranic verses in Cuba, Mexico, Texas and Nevada. We can go on and on, but suffice to say, Islam was here even before there was a U.S.A. There are more than 500 places in the U.S. today with clearly Islamic names: Mecca, Indiana; Medina in New York, Ohio and Texas; Toledo, Ohio; Mahomet, Illinois; Islamorada, Florida; etc.

One has to ask what is the value of writing such unlearnéd and negative material, filled with hatred and bigotry. Christianity forbids hate. Muslims are not an enemy; hate is. It is ironic that he writes at a time when hundreds were killed and maimed by Stephen Paddock, a Christian man in Las Vegas, causing the worst case of domestic terrorism in our history. Alas, it is not called terrorism, just because it’s not committed by a Muslim.

We would be remiss if we did not also take exception to the decision of the editorial board of the New Castle News to publish the letter. Of course, it is everyone’s right to express one’s opinion, as enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

This is a given. But it is also the right of a privately owned paper to choose the material in publishes, especially in a time when we are trying to unite the country, not fracture it. This is not the first time the paper has published disparaging letters about Islam and Muslims, but enough is enough. Imagine if the paper were to publish disparaging letters about Jews or Judaism. We think it would never happen. Why Muslims, then?

We depend on the propriety of the editorial board to chose material that advances the benefits and comity of its readers, not sowing the seeds of divisiveness and inter-religious warfare. 

We look forward for more reasoned and civic minds to prevail. We hope that “We the People” means that we are all on this land to “make a more perfect union” in peace and humility to one another and to The One God of all.

(The above was submitted on behalf of the Islamic Society of New Castle by its public relations officer, John Hamed Jr.)

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