Imam Sayed Hassan Al-Qazwini
Asalaamu Alaykum My Dear Brother and Sisters
It has been several years since the grand opening of the new building of the Islamic Center of America, which is truly a huge Islamic landmark in the west in general and in the United States in particular. The small jihad is over and now remains the greater jihad; we have finished off with the smaller challenge so thankfully we can move onto our larger challenge which is to establish the roots of moderate and open minded Islam in a pluralistic society such as the United States. Unfortunately it is currently a society that is growing more anti Islamic and anti Muslim due to the influence of negative and misleading propaganda generated by Islamophobia. Recent polls by the Washington Post indicate that 46% of Americans have negative views about Islam. This percentage has almost quadrupled from 13% right after the attacks of September 11, 2001.
This shows clearly that we Muslims must double our efforts to provide a more accurate perception about our great religion; the religion that respects the human being so much that it considers the human being the "most sanctified" of His whole creation. According to some ahadith, it is lighter in the eyes of God to vanquish the entire Earth than to shed one drop of human blood unfairly.
Some, including Samuel Huntington have predicted that the world is moving towards a clash of civilizations; the Eastern Islamic Civilization against the Western Secular Civilization and this clash even though it has not yet occurred, is inevitable and unavoidable. However a more optimistic perspective suggests that the so called clash of civilizations can be avoided, but only through dialogue bridging the gap with real and constructive discussion between the east and the west, between Islam and Christianity. In a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican recently, I asked the Pope to take the lead in encouraging and promoting the Muslim- Christian dialogue, knowing that Muslims and Christians currently make up more than half the worlds population. The Pope agreed with me and emphasized the significance of such dialogue and indicated that he is already committed to such discourse.
I truly believe that building a real and permanent dialogue between the West and the Muslim world would eradicate the misunderstanding, prejudice and the kind of tension we see today that has become so prevalent in our world, tensions that would eventually lead to catastrophic consequences. Building such dialogue is imperative in working toward our ultimate goal which is the propagation of Islam, something that we encourage our community to actively engage in and become a part of.
Disseminating the message of Islam and educating the world about it and offering our fellow citizens a real understanding of Islam is not only a religious duty that Islam encourages, but it is also a necessity that has been mandated by the extreme hardships that Muslims are enduring while living in the west where they face a fierce anti Islamic campaign aimed at defaming the religion, a campaign that smears Islam with terrorism and violence and labels it a backward, uncontemporary religion unfit to coincide with democracy.
It is all of our duty, so let us all come together to fulfill this goal with the help of God.
"Say: This is my way; I call to Allah, I and those who follow me being certain, and glory be to Allah, and I am not one of the polytheists.”
The Holy Quran 12:108
Imam Hassan Qazwini
Islamic Center Of America
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