Saturday, May 7, 2011

Muslims in Chattanooga

It's sad that I get the paper everyday (my wife gets it for the coupons) and I hardly ever read it. It took Doug B (thanks Doug, what would we do without your daily dish of local religious hijinks) over at Groping the Elephant to bring to my attention the announcement of construction of the new Islamic Center being built here in Chattanooga. The full article can be found here.

When I first learned about this I felt both anxiety and relief. Anxiety because I know the sh*t is about to hit the fan as vile anti-Islamic groups, like the one which set up camp in Murfreesboro, will soon migrate down here as news spreads of the construction. Relief because the more visible any group gets the local citizens will get to know them. And through understanding, I believe and hope, compassion and love can flourish.

The really sad part about this story is the construction of this Islamic Center was never really a secret. And there are also 2 or 3 mosques (and a private elementary school, I think) in Chattanooga already. I remember last year when that broohaha over Park 51 spread across the country to local mosques, I feared for the local Muslim community. In fact I even tried encouraging some of the more liberal pastors in the area to get together with the Muslim community during Ramadan. That got nowhere quickly as most either ignored my calls and emails or kindly brushed me off. (I've never participated in any political or community activism so I didn't really know what I was doing in the first place.)

Now that the Muslim community will become more visible in Chattanooga, I hope more people will try to learn a bit more about this misunderstood faith. I know there will be protests and a lot of ignorance shown on how this "Muslim Threat" is taking over our once "peaceful" community. Local citizens will form groups to try to find ways to stop the construction and the same pointless protests will go down at city hall like up in Murfreesboro. I highly doubt any of my doubting and fearful neighbors will attempt to speak directly with the Muslim community. All they'll do is shout and holler "go back home". Sadly they've been here for years living, eating, and shopping like the rest of us. And when the sh*t finally does hit the fan I'll be right there standing with them on opening day.

Update: I just got a change to see Thursday's episode of the Daily Show and nearly died of the giggles after watching this clip on the dangers of Muslims and Christians getting along.


                           
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15 comments:

Sabio Lantz said...

You said, "I hope more people will try to learn a bit more about this misunderstood faith."

Not to be too technical, but there is no ONE Islamic faith to understand -- there are lots of them.

Today I did a post on the Harm and Benefits of Religion which may help in dialoguing about these issues. Or maybe not. I'd love your opinion.

I hope that the various sects of Islam quickly change, reform or however you want to say it. Perhaps America, will be the best place for that -- who knows.

It is all so complex. I, like many Americans, just wish Muslims would be more vocal against the fundamentalists who fly the same flag they do.

Eruesso said...

@Sabio

Exactly! I was speaking about the general public which perceives Islam as a "threat" as a whole and never get to the point of understanding that there are many different sects. I believe once we get past the generalizations like "Muslim= Terrorist" or "Islam= Evil" we will begin to understand the complexity and our shared humanity with those who call themselves Muslim.

Sammy said...

I sincerely hope that the Muslims building the new Islamic Center in Chattanooga do not have to endure as much prejudice as the Muslims in Murfreesboro did. Seeing people acting so viciously since they equate all Muslims with terrorists absolutely sickens me, especially because many of them are Christians who claim their religion is loving and peaceful while Islam is universally hateful and violent.

@Sabio- While I agree that it would be beneficial if more Muslims would speak out against the fundamentalists, I doubt it would curtail much of the prejudice or violence against non-fundamentalist Muslims in America. Growing up in the South, I've unfortunately witnessed it first hand. In my personal experience, nothing would convince the worst bigots. They believe Islam is evil and, more often than not, that it is their Christian duty to oppose it.

Eruesso said...

@Sammy- My biggest fear is that the anti-Islamic groups that took over my beloved Murfreesboro will march down to fight the construction of this Islamic center if and when they lose their current battle. I don't want that hatred spilling into my hometown but if it does the following events might help people reconsider their views on Muslims.

~Sam~

Anonymous said...

It is one thing to be kind and compassionate on a personal level with Muslims in our community. It is another thing to acquiece to their religion. Islam is not a peaceful religion -- never was, still isn't. It's goal is world conquest (restore the Caliphate), and America is on its list just like all other nations. The Chattanooga group claims to be "moderate" and "not extremist," but then it tells us that it only seeks to follow the Holy Quran and the Sunnah -- both of which are opposed to the American Constitution. The goal is sharia law; we are to become part of what they call "dhimmitude," i.e. slaves to Islam, paying a tax for the right to stay alive and be second-class citizens. Open your eyes, Chattanoogans. Go to (politicalislam.com) for more information.

Eruesso said...

@ Anonymous

Please don't take this personally or offensive but the view you have of Islam is extremely narrow. Are there Muslims that would like the world under the banner of Islam? You bet. Is it a large percentage of the Muslim population? Not even close since most Muslims are as apathetic as most Christians. The small minority of Muslims we are talking about (the ones that match your descriptions, not the ones locally and certainly not the majority) are extremists.

Viewing all Muslims as one evil monolithic group on the verge of taking over the world is like viewing all Christians by the KKK, an extremist Christian group. The truth is that Islam is as diverse and rich as Christianity. There are extremist and reformers in both groups. Both religions have blood soaked histories (many Christians brush off the Spanish Inquisition and the Crusades easily while pointing out the gruesome history of others), but the point is that we (the common Chattanoogan) must understand the diverse nature of religion in general.

I usually don't call out my commenters because the negative ones usually don't come back, but in this case you really need to read a few history books. And it probably wouldn't hurt if you actually met some of your/our local Muslims.

Anonymous said...

Obviously you have no clue what Islam is really about. Islam means submission - not peace. Read the Quran and Hadith and then come back here and tell people how wonderful Muslims are. 1400 years of death and destruction in every country they have ever entered. Get ready. Morons like you are being co-opted to help in the fall of America. I hope your kids don't kill you for what you have done to them.

Eruesso said...

@Anonymous

It's very bold of you to assume what I do or do not know(it's easy to be bold when hiding on the internet anonymously knowing you can troll a site, make your "holier than thou speech" and never come back). It's also very easy for me to delete this comment but that is against the spirit of this site which is to dialog and learn from our fellow man.

I can tell you that I have read both the Quaran (read it cover to cover and I own 3 different translation) and the Hadith. There was even a period of my life in which I almost converted to Islam.

Muslims are wonderful not because they are Muslims but simply because they are HUMAN. WE are all human. They are not animals, beasts, or boogeymen. They are human who fall in love, feel pain, bleed, eat, laugh, learn, and grow. If you can not accept your global neighbor as a human being then this conversation is over. There is no need to continue. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

Name calling only means you are reacting emotionally and have no real point to make, you just want to spew out hatred. That is also not welcomed here. You can go spew hatred with those in your belief tribe.

I hope your kids don't kill you for what you have done to them.

I have no idea what to make of this other than you must be so emotionally upset over the topic here that you've begun to put random words together hoping to wound my pride in some way.

I would love to discuss the topic further via email (or even in person if you also live in Chattanooga) if you like but name calling and fear mongering stops here. It just doesn't help.

Here's hoping you'll come back and have a thoughtful discussion,

Sam M.

Eruesso said...

@Anonymous

Was hoping to discuss this in person but it looks like you're writing from Plano, Texas. We can still discuss via email by filling out the blue box on the right hand side.

Thanks again for commenting. Have a great day.

Anonymous said...

Americans do no generally welcome Muslims with open arms because Islam teaches everything that goes against our Christian foundational beliefs:

1. Islam teaches polygamy (surah 4:3)

2. Islam teaches mistreatment and a lack of respect for women (surah 4:34)

3. Islam teaches violence (surah 47:4, surah 2:190-194, surah 2:216-217, surah 22:39, surah 61:4, surah 9:1-5, surah 9:29, surah 8:39,57,59-60,65,67-69, surah 47:4-6, surah 3:156-158 & 195). The Bible teaches love & forgiveness (Matthew 5:39 for example). Muhammad himself was a man of violence as he led 27 military campaigns and planned an additional 38.

This comment is not made in hate. I just want you to try to see our side. Is their any possible way a Christian could go to Saudi Arabia and open a church? Never, because they have laws of the land and Christianity is not part of their culture

Sam Morales said...

@ Anonymous

I grew up as a Christian and studied Islam for a few years as well and know enough of both to say they have plenty of skeletons in their closets. Both religions are guilty of polygamy, mistreatment and lack of respect of women, and teaching violence. I'm well aware of what both sides have to say. The two religions share more similarities than differences throughout history. Both are capable of horrible deeds against their fellow man but more importantly both are capable and have demonstrated the beauty of love and forgiveness.

Anonymous said...

Sam,

Islam and Christianity are not compatible at all and have nothing in common.

There is polygamy in the Bible but it is never endorsed in the Bible. In Ephesians 5, we are directed to "love our wives as our own bodies...for no one ever hated his own flesh". That cannot be mistaken for "beat your wife if necessary"

A few people in the Old Testament like Saul were commanded to wipe out cities because of the sin. All that changed when Jesus Christ was sent to earth to die and his shed blood atoned for everyone's sins. The New Testament is filled with directives to love one another. Christianity was not born of violence like Islam and Jesus never took part in any violence. His life was all about loving others and helping/healing people. The quran is filled with directives to violence. A Muslim cannot say Islam is peaceful with a straight face.

If we accept the gift of salvation Christ provides, we are assured of an eternity in Heaven. We cannot achieve this through our own good works. According to Islam, a Muslim will never know if they "make it" until they are dead and appear before allah. If the good outweighs the bad, they made it. This is where the extremists come into play. Allah is pleased if a non believer is killed, and even better if the Muslim dies also during the process. That does not sound like the loving God that I know.

God loves us even if we sin. The Bible says "if you confess your sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins".

Sam, where are you at in your faith now?

Jamie

Sam Morales said...

I'm gravitated towards the Agnostic label, but I'm not comfortable with anchoring my spirituality to just one label.

http://agod-sizedpuzzle.blogspot.com/2011/01/letter-to-my-christian-friends.html

This sums up, more or less, the reasons why I left Christianity. I was born and raised in the faith and it just doesn't speak to me anymore. I follow the wisdom of Kohelet in Ecclesiastes to eat, drink, be merry, have a good career and a few good friends.

http://agod-sizedpuzzle.blogspot.com/search/label/Blog%20Series%3A%20The%20Dance%20of%20Ecclesiastes

That about sums it up. My spirituality took years to change and was a personal journey of self discovery. I can sum up my beliefs with one word: love. Love and get to know your fellow man regardless of faith, gender, nationality, etc. And I do that by respecting the beliefs of others. I respect your beliefs equally with my Muslim or Hindu neighbor.

Anonymous said...

Well, It's either all or nothing being a follower of and trusting God. I hope and pray that you will find your way back to the Truth Sam. Sounds like you have a restless heart.

Sam Morales said...

Most Christians make the same assumption of me having a restless heart (I've heard it all before). In fact I feel more at peace now than I've ever been. I'm also coming up on the 5 year anniversary of my blog this Fall and I welcome you to continue reading and hope to continue discussing spirituality with you in the future.

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