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Guest Commentary: Ramadan, the peaceful month

Omar Shahin
By Omar Shahin
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday December 2, 2002

All praise to Allah who spread peace and created all that has been created, and peace and blessing be upon all prophets and messengers.

It has been said that your freedom ends where the freedom of others begins. This saying states nicely all the meanings that identify your freedom and the conditions to enjoy this freedom. It is not part of freedom to spread evil left and right under the cover of freedom, nor is it part of this freedom to attack and insult others. To accuse others without any basis in fact is not part of freedom of speech, either. If we agree to define a terrorist as one who propagates terror, fear, panic and alarm in the community, and one who destroys the moral fiber and devastates the economic basis of a society, then this definition applies to many people.

People who we do not call terrorists, like drug dealers, spread alarm, panic and fear, and they destroy the youth and the moral fiber of a society. There are also a few who spread division and terror within our community and they work very hard on circulating rumors without any basis and without any logical or factual foundation. They disseminate falsehood and erroneous information to the public in order to spread fear and alarm and nourish the seed of hate between different parts of the community. These people do not use nuclear or conventional weapons to spread their terror, but instead they use a pen and paper.

These days, it seems that they are sprouting everywhere and they are using the media for their agenda. It is my opinion that these people are the true terrorists because in poisoning the minds, mixing the truth and in the loss of true self-identity is the birthplace of all other terrorism. When will the time pass that we will challenge this type of terrorism? When will we stand together to face these people who spread division and propagate hate and bigotry that will result in transgressions and hate crimes?

I read a letter in the Wildcat (Nov. 25, "Ramadan a Īveil of religious pietism,' not a time for peace," by Silas Montgomery) that made my stomach turn. In this letter, the author described the blessed month of Ramadan as a month of support to terrorists all over the globe without providing a single shred of evidence for his claim. He accuses many people falsely and advocates hate toward Islam and Muslims, and in his efforts he hopes to destroy the stability and cohesiveness that we have built in this community to spread good relations and understanding between all religions. This is a dangerous precedence, as if the author of this article wants to propagate hate and bring bigotry to life in our community.

To this author, I say that you would have been better informed if you attended the supper at the Islamic Center on Nov. 20 with Muslims, Christians and Jews coming together to cooperate against discrimination and to remove the barriers of misunderstanding. For your information, the Islamic Center of Tucson has nothing to hide nor does it work under the cover of night to hide its activities. All our activities are announced to the public and, as such, do consider this as an open invitation to all who wish to join us in our activities. As educated people, we should be held responsible for all our statements and comments.

Finally, I say to you that the type of terror that you are advocating is the most dangerous type of terrorism. I do not know if you are doing this intentionally or unintentionally. Either way, what matters to me are the students who came to the United States to study. These students are peace advocates, and we in the Islamic community will seek all legal and medical assistance to deal with this dangerous situation, which can spiral out of control and can result in harm beyond anyone's control.

I hope and pray to God that this is only your personal opinion and not that of terrorist organizations that seek to plant hate in this quiet and peaceful Tucson community. We, Christians, Jews and Muslims, all live in this community together, and together as believers we will stand against those who want to spread hate and bigotry, and those who want to destroy the channels and bridges of understanding that we have built.

To the editor, I say, let us work together to clean the Tucson community of hate, bigotry and crime. Let us stand together side by side and not provide the chance for others who want to tear down the peace and tranquility of this community. No one should have the freedom of expression when it imposes on the freedom of others. To advocate crime is a crime and to spread bigotry is even a bigger crime.

Omar Shahin is Imam and director of the Islamic Center Of Tucson.


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