John Redekop’s Sept 17 column ends with a reasonable request: ‘Please don’t put all true believers in the same category’. He makes a distinction between those true believers who are inspired to perform service to humanity, and those who are inspired to destroy innocent lives, such as terrorists. Mr Redekop provides some good examples of true believers who are not violent extremists, and these include revered figures such as Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King. He also mentions the good deeds of Sikhs serving free meals at their Gurdwara and the MCC Festival for World Relief.
However, the distinction between good and bad ‘true believers’ applies to all the major religions ‘ including Christianity and Islam. Leaders who called themselves ‘Christian’ generated the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Witch Trials, wars against other categories of Christians, the Ku Klux Klan, as well as persecutions of Jews, scientists, African slaves and Native peoples on many continents. Christians have also been warm-hearted and high-minded providers of schools and universities, hospitals and orphanages, international aid programs, just legal systems, peace initiatives, interfaith cooperation, as well as exalted forms of literature and art.
Unfortunately, Mr Redekop’s letter did not list any positive contributions of Islam or Muslims, and leaves the impression that the phrase ‘God is Great’ is to be associated only with current day atrocities. Islam and Muslims are also to be associated with humanity’s leading civilization during the years 750 to 1500 of the Common Era. They generated lofty legal and social service systems, universities, refinements of Greek and Roman classics, advanced sciences and mathematics, well-developed medical and agricultural practices, civil engineering and architecture, sublime mystical and theological treatises, as well as lofty literature and art.
Please don’t put all true believers in the same category. Our Baha’i education teaches us that we must distinguish between what God has taught humanity, and how humanity has responded to that guidance. A teaching to love others can inspire acts of service and compassion in most people, but in a few it is misinterpreted and perverted to inspire acts of sexual abuse. When any religion’s teachings are hijacked to inspire acts of abuse or injustice, they do not represent the actual teachings of that faith, but the perversion of a few who claim to be its followers but are actually following their own vain imaginations.
Harold and Wendy Rosen