Moderate Muslim Voices

In light of this week’s recent political/religious developments in the Middle East, I thought it might be helpful to give some perspective from an interfaith worker.  One question I get from people in the Christian world (it could be true in other religious traditions, too) is “where are the moderate Muslim voices?”  Yes, it’s true that extremism is alive and well in Islam (just as it is in any religion).  Where are the moderate Muslim voices countering this tide?  Well, they are alive and well, too, you just don’t hear about them.  They don’t make the evening news.  Well…not exactly.  This week I participated in a press conference with interfaith and Muslim leaders here in Los Angeles – all denounced the violence in Egypt and Libya, and it did make the evening news!;  All spoke of the need for co-existence, and all spoke of the ways of peace inherent and integral to all the Abrahamic traditions.  One of the problems for Muslim advocacy groups here in the US is that they are branded as extremist groups by those on the right.  In their constitutionally guaranteed right to advocate for their religious and political point of view, they, as Muslim Americans, are painted into a corner and marginalized, when they should be celebrated as being voices for moderate Muslims.  Groups like MPAC and CAIR have voices that should be heard, but often the media goes for stories that inflame rather than stories that soothe (this is not really the place to acknowledge that media is by and large a profit driven business, searching for eyeballs on the internet, television, and print platforms).  People of faith are sickened by what has happened in Libya and elsewhere.  Violence in the name of religion is not only against the tenets of all Abrahamic religions, but is also about as morally fashionable as the shields that went out with the Crusades.  This is a new epoch where the way of God is one of love, not force.  Ironically, perhaps that’s the vision of God that was always central, we just have now come into an understanding of that reality.  It’s only taken centuries!  Now that’s a story that needs to be told.

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