- The Washington Times - Monday, October 8, 2001

Excerpts from a sermon given at Friday prayers by Imam Faizul R. Khan at the Islamic Society of the Washington area in Silver Spring:
In the midst of the catastrophic events that have hit America, questions have been raised as to how such [terrorist] acts are judged and interpreted by Islamic shariah [law]. Any calamity that affects humans has its ruling in Islamic shariah.
Killing the weak, infants, women and the elderly and destroying property are considered serious crimes in Islam. Acts of corruption and even laying waste to the land are forbidden by God and by His prophet. Viewing on the TV networks what happened to the Word Trade Center and the Pentagon was like watching Doomsday.
Those who commit such crimes are the worst people. Anyone who thinks that any Islamic scholar will condone such acts is totally wrong. Aggression, injustice and gloating over the kind of crime that we have seen, are totally unacceptable, and forbidden in Islam.
For us Muslims, the world will never be a safe haven when religious fanaticism, extremism and atrocities are committed in the name of religion. While it sounds reasonable to speculate that Osama bin Laden or some terrorist groups from the Middle East are responsible, let us not forget that believers of the Islamic faith, like the other great religions, see the killing of innocent people as a crime against humanity.
Some people are using this incident for political purposes, for spreading hatred against Islam and Arabs in general. This is not right. We must show the world what true Islam is all about, tolerance and compassion.
Today, I would like us to reflect on the challenges facing Muslims in America. Forty years ago, we were scattered and isolated. Not long ago, most people did not understand Islam or Muslims, and there have been misrepresentations of Islam in the West, since the time of the Crusades, that Islam is a religion of the sword, that Islam oppresses women.
Today, the situation is vastly different. Today, we find Islam is the fastest growing religion in America. The future of Islam is bright. This dream and vision is made up of hard work, sacrifice and sincerity. There will be challenges for us in America, such as the challenge of identity. We have a common identity in the Koran and Sunna [custom], but we must humbly demonstrate our beliefs and practice, as true Muslims, to avert the negative images.
Muslims must affirm their membership in the American community, and assure non-Muslims that we are not marginal actors in American civilization. We must assimilate without being assimilated. We must be involved, and work to enhance our agenda for morality, decency and sobriety in mainstream America.
The quest of Muslims is to find a place in the cultural landscape of America by advancing Islam and its value. We are best known outwardly, because our sisters wear the hejab [head scarf] and our brothers wear a certain dress and behave like Muslims. But with our identity, we should make inroads into American society. Islam is a reality here; it is not going back anywhere. We must adjust, being conservative enough to keep our heritage, but liberal enough to form alliances with those of common interest.
We are witnessing a clash of Western civilization with Islamic civilization, as many scholars have said. The West does not appreciate the diversity of the Muslim world. So we must engage in a dialogue toward a common good. There are Islamic values and contributions, some of them made in the past during times of darkness, ignorance and superstition [in the West], and today we offer a constancy of the Muslim way of life.
We have this wonderful agenda ahead of us, an agenda that includes Christian and Jews, and hopes for a society of morality, decency and justice. "Let there be among you a people of goodness."
Next week: a sermon at a District congregation.

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