by Safi Kakas Co-author of “The Qur’an, A Contemporary Understanding, with References to the Bible”
Since 9/11, Western and Muslim scholarship have characterized the political relationship between the Muslim world and the West as one full of tension and conflict.
Today, fear-based stories about American Muslims have become a daily event, rooted in the notion that Muslims are recent arrivals in America and can’t assimilate; hence, they don’t belong. But for around two million Muslims, America is home.
Is the tension getting any better? Unfortunately, the answer is a firm, “no.” Any acts of terrorism within the United States continue to rekindle the tension and fear within both the Muslim and the non-Muslim American communities.
In this environment, people of faith are called upon to work for reconciliation and to find common ground to allow all of us to live together in peace. In fact, if we are to prevent a much larger disaster from happening, we have no other alternative than to work for better understanding and reconciliation. It is no longer possible to depend solely on America’s long-standing tradition of constitutional rights, tolerance and minority protection.
My Islamic faith has taught me that it is my duty, and I hope the duty of every American of goodwill, to try to work toward peace and true reconciliation. Obviously, there are no guarantees for success as the agenda is often dictated by fanatics. Perhaps, however, it is not that the fanatics are in control, but that we have failed to respond with the love that our Creator has commanded.
After years of trying to build bridges toward others through interfaith dialogue, I thought it would be useful for new bridge builders to have a few insights from my experience on what makes certain efforts work.