Hard teaching: Amid fear and division, what does it mean to love our Muslim neighbors?


by Josh Graves

Dr. Amir Arain is a good friend of mine. We’ve worked together on several projects during the four years I’ve lived in Nashville, Tenn.

Amir is a top neurologist at Vanderbilt Medical Center and a leading professor at Vanderbilt University. He also happens to be the spokesman on matters of faith and culture for the Nashville Islamic Center.

While Amir is from Pakistan, he became a U.S. citizen. He is dedicated to his adopted country and is as devout to his faith and family as I am to mine. The same is true of my immediate neighbors: Baha, Nima, Arin and Alan Hassan.

In Dearborn, Mich. — just 20 minutes from where I grew up — U.S. citizens make up the single largest concentration of Arabs in the world outside of the Middle East. These Muslim leaders are doctors, teachers, military servants and spiritual directors. They are part of the fabric of our nation.

I immediately thought of my Muslim neighbors — Amir, the Hassan family and the people of Dearborn — when the Islamic religious affiliation of the two brothers accused of bombing the Boston Marathon emerged.

We can’t make sense of the horrific and despicable actions allegedly carried out by brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. But neither should we conclude that most Muslims are hateful, violent and vengeful people.



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