Archive for May, 2009

Why Angels and Demons Will Shake Up Hollywood’s Attitude Toward Religion

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

Ron Howard’s new adaptation of the Dan Brown book Angels and Demons represents a breakthrough in Hollywood’s approach toward religion, taking the discussions of faith away from the extremes of proselytizing and rejection to the middle ground. That is where most believers are, and that is where great storytelling takes place. And Angels and Demons is great storytelling.

As a practicing Muslim working inside Hollywood, I have often felt that there is a tangible bias in the entertainment industry, not just against my own religion, but against people of faith in general. Too often, I have seen important film and television projects that look at religious faith in a sophisticated way disappear into a black hole within the system. The excuse used by many traditional Hollywood types, that religion is just too controversial a matter to deal with in cinema, has always rung false.

Indeed, the great moguls who founded Hollywood knew that the majority of their audience consisted of devout believers, and being smart businessmen, they catered to religious ticket buyers with majestic films like The Robe and The Ten Commandments. Indeed, it is the latter film, Cecile B. DeMille’s epic on Moses, which has exerted profound personal influence on me both as a believer and as a filmmaker. The Ten Commandments was the first movie I ever saw after I emigrated from Pakistan to the United States at the age of three.

Watching that film on our newly acquired television set in our tiny apartment in Queens, I was taken away to a magical dimension. A world where God spoke to men through a burning bush and a pillar of fire, where a shepherd’s staff could transform into a snake and the Nile could turn red with blood, a world where an evil Pharaoh could be humbled by a simple prophet emerging from the desert. I remembered turning to my father as the end credits rolled, my heart pounding with wonder, and asking him a question that would begin my personal journey of faith.

“What is God?”

Over the years, I have heard many answers to that question, but none that has yet to satisfy me more than the one my father gave me that night after we watched the movie.

“God is the light of the universe. What Moses saw was just one ray of that light.”

His perspective has stayed with me over the years, and has allowed me to approach both my craft as a filmmaker and novelist, as well as my social interactions as a human being, with a sense of humility. The Ten Commandments taught me that God is everywhere, and His voice can be heard at any time, from any source. Whether it is through a bush burning in the desert, or from the mouth of someone from another culture, even another religion, God’s voice is always echoing around us, if we only choose to hear.

Yet faith, as any true believer will admit, is hard. We are imperfect people living in a broken world trying to make sense of it all, and it is often hard to reconcile what our hearts tell us about the spiritual beauty of God and what our senses tell us about the evils and suffering of creation. Faith at its best is our shelter during the storms of life, our sturdy ship to guide us through the turbulent seas of the human experience. But at its worst, it can be used as a tool to control and oppress others, to spread suffering instead of love in this world. Any believer who is sincere must confront daily the contradictions that come with belief and somehow synthesize these opposing realities in a way that makes sense to the heart, even if it cannot be grasped by reason. To trust that there is purpose and meaning in this cosmos, despite the onslaught of evidence to the contrary. Maybe that is why it is called “faith” in the first place.

Angels and Demons is the first Hollywood movie in a long time that really looks at what it means to be a believer, and the extremes that can be found among people who look to faith for guidance. Without revealing the film’s secrets, I think it is safe to say that it is a movie that examines whether science and religion are incompatible, and explores the dark actions that people take when they conclude that one of these disciplines threatens the other.

While some conservative Catholics might find the film’s portrayal of the secret dealings inside the Vatican offensive, I think most people, Christian or otherwise, will appreciate its very human picture of characters who are motivated by faith and committed to struggling with “demons,” both in others and within themselves. It is this presentation of raw, imperfect human beings struggling with faith that I appreciated most, as I face these battles within myself every day as a believer.

Indeed, when I wrote my novel, Mother of the Believers, I found myself naturally examining these conflicts in the context of the birth of Islam. My book, which follows the rise of Islam from the perspective of Aisha, Prophet Muhammad’s wife, portrays the early Muslim community as consisting of very complex, passionate and, at times, flawed individuals. People who most overcome their own inner demons to do good, and when they sometimes fail, who repent and return to the “straight path,” as sincere faith is called in the Qur’an.

What I hope my novel accomplished, and what I know Angels and Demons did, is to take the discussion of religion out of the hands of extremists with an agenda. That agenda could be the desire to proselytize others and convince them of the truth of a religion, or to go to other extreme, which is to mock believers as simpletons who couple faith in God with a conviction that the earth is flat and that babies come from storks.

To my sorrow, many of my colleagues in Hollywood share the latter agenda. People of faith have complained for years, with real justification, that Hollywood promotes an anti-religion outlook. Bill Maher’s recent documentary Religulous went out of its way to find the wackiest, craziest believers in the world and then mock them. And Hollywood studios continue to resist making movies that would appeal to believers. Long before there was any controversy over Mel Gibson’s beliefs, his idea about doing a film on the Crucifixion in Aramaic was mocked by studio executives, who could not understand why such a film might appeal to millions of Christians.

While one can certainly take Mr. Gibson to task for some of his words and actions, the movie is a powerful and compelling work of cinema that even a non-Christian like myself can appreciate. At its core, it is a film about the central Christian story of the Messiah’s tragic sacrifice for mankind. How could that not be a blockbuster? And yet many people I knew in the industry flew into an outraged frenzy when The Passion of the Christ became a huge global hit. It was as if the demonstrated power of traditional religious audiences was a personal insult to the worldview of many Hollywood players, who, in my experience, usually worship only one god – money.

This prejudice against faith inside Hollywood makes Angels and Demons an even greater accomplishment. Ron Howard’s movie is important not only because it treats religious faith with respect, but because it actually explores the central issue that is important to many believers today – how to reconcile ancient religious beliefs with the modern discoveries of science. Contrary to the prejudices of anti-religion writers like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, the majority of faithful people are not living in a delusional world, their eyes and ears closed to science and discovery. InAngels and Demons, one of the most important scientists involved in cutting edge physics research happens to be a Catholic priest. For that character, the quest to understand the fabric of the universe through the lens of quantum science is very much a religious quest to pierce the veil and see at last the Face of God.

As several characters in the film point out, religion and science are methodologies to come to understand the truth of the cosmos. They do not need to be antithetical to each other. In fact, they can and should be complementary human endeavors to understand this remarkable universe in which we find ourselves.

And this is by no means a radical new perspective among believers. As the film points out, Galileo saw himself as a devout man seeking to understand God’s creation. Isaac Newton also found no contradiction between faith and science and believed the existence of God was self-evident. It was simply his role as a scientist to better understand the work of the Creator. God was the cosmic clockmaker and scientists were merely examining the delicate inner workings of His design.

And in the modern world, with the strange and inexplicable discoveries of quantum physics, scientific treatises on the nature of reality sound remarkably like ancient mystical writings. The more we learn about the shocking contradictions and improbable mechanics of the subatomic world, the more it appears that the universe is less like Newton’s giant clock and more like one giant dream, imagined from within an implicate order that transcends human reason. Such a vision would be familiar to the Sufis of Islam, along with their counterparts among Buddhist masters, Kabbalists and Christian mystics like Meister Eckhart.

And it is not only the scientists that are beginning to realize that something truly magical serves as the foundation of reality. Believers are beginning to see in the wondrous scientific order of the universe the evidence of the Divine in action. In The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, Francis S. Collins explains why the discoveries of modern science only confirmed his personal faith as a Christian. Mr. Collins is no backwoods preacher – he is a pioneering medical geneticist who once led the Human Genome Project.

A similar effort to unite faith and science has long been under way in my own faith, Islam. In my novel, I discuss how Islam was founded on a hunger for knowledge. Prophet Muhammad said: “Seek knowledge, even if you must go to China.” And his words inspired Muslims to become the world’s greatest scientists at a time when Europe was mired in the Dark Ages. In Lost History: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Scientists, Thinkers and Artists, Michael Hamilton Morgan demonstrates how Muslim scientists in the Middle Ages made incredible advances in every field of study, from astronomy to medicine to mathematics.

In the modern world, there has been a popular effort among Muslim writers to present Islam’s scripture, the Qur’an, as completely compatible with the discoveries of modern science. A bestselling book in the Muslim world, The Bible, The Qur’an, and Science, by a French physician Maurice Bucaille, argues that the Qur’anic verses describing everything from the expansion of the universe to the intricate details of embryonic growth inside the womb are in absolute alignment with modern scientific theories.

Of course, non-believers will be skeptical of such claims, but the point is not whether Mr. Bucaille’s reading of the Qur’an is correct. What matters is that his theories are now commonplace among Muslims, so that believers do not find modern scientific discoveries to be in any way threatening to their faith. In fact, because of this widespread interpretation of the Qur’an, many Muslims find confirmation of their faith through the discoveries of modern science. The painful Christian debate over the primacy of faith versus science that is portrayed in Angels and Demons is simply not happening in the Muslim world, as there is already a consensus that there can never be any contradiction between the two.

But even if one is unconvinced that any ancient scripture can remain unchallenged by the discoveries of modern science, it is important to note that the purpose of scripture is not, in fact, to serve as a scientific textbook. The purpose of any holy text that has survived the centuries is to provide moral and ethical guidance to human beings. That is true of the Bible, the Qur’an, the Bhagavad Gita and the Buddhist Sutras. These texts are meant to help us as human beings live in this world and make sense of our lives. They survive because they work.

A Christian friend of mine once asked how I reconciled the story of Adam and Eve in the Qur’an with the scientific consensus on evolution. I smiled and said to him that I didn’t bother. It’s like comparing apples and musical notes. The scientific theory and the scriptural story serve totally different purposes.

Science is about how. Religion is about why.

Scientists examine the fossil record and come to an understanding of what it means for the history of life on our planet. But the scriptural story of creation is not about history – it is about values. As a believer, the story of Adam and Eve teaches me everything I need to know about what it means to be human. We are all children of Adam, whose name simply means “dust” in Hebrew and Arabic. We are children of this earth. Human beings are brothers and sisters, all part of one family. Like our archetypal father figure, we can make mistakes, we can sin, and we can also repent and find forgiveness. That is the lesson of the story in both the Bible and the Qur’an. Whether it describes a historical event is absolutely pointless and irrelevant.

Science can tell me how I got here as a human being, but it cannot tell me what I am supposed to do now. Indeed science without a spiritual connection can be used to create great evil, as the Nazis proved with their eugenics experiments. The Nazis believed in the methodology of science, but they did not believe in the simple lesson derived from faith – that human life is sacred. The ancient stories and rituals of our religions are meant to help us learn profound spiritual truths that cannot be deduced by examining cells under a microscope. It is that power of wise storytelling that is religion’s purpose and gift to humanity.

Cecil B. DeMille understood that. He knew that the power of the Bible lay in its stories, and he turned those stories into incredibly moving, epic films. These ancient tales about good versus evil, the power of love and forgiveness, and the triumph of the weak over the proud, are timeless and have meaning for every generation. It is a kind of storytelling that Hollywood has sadly forgotten.

But perhaps with Angels and Demons, Hollywood can start moving away from the extremes of materialism and cynicism toward the spiritual center where the audience eagerly awaits. And then maybe we filmmakers might be able to play a more profound role as storytellers that help human beings make sense of this truly majestic cosmos.

Europe and its Muslims: A Gap of Trust

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Gallup recently published a remarkable report on the attitudes of Muslims and non-Muslims regarding Islam in Europe.  One of the most striking points in the report was that 80% of French Muslims believed that Muslims were loyal to France.  But only 44% of their non-Muslim countrymen believed Muslims were loyal. 


Wow.  What a disconnect.


The report, The Gallup Coexist Index 2009: A Global Study of Interfaith Relations, is the first annual report on the state of religious relations in nations around the world.  The report contained some remarkable findings that show a troubling gap between how European Muslims see themselves, and what others assume about them.



French Muslims, for example, identify with France as much as other French do (52%/55%), although they identify much more with their religion (58%) than the general French public (23%).  So for French Muslims, their religion and their national loyalty are complementary, not mutually exclusive.  But their religious identification makes their patriotism suspect to their neighbors.


Similar results were noted in Germany, where 71% of German Muslims said Muslims were loyal to Germany, while only 39% of their neighbors trusted Muslim loyalty to the state.  What makes this finding even more ironic is that 40% of German Muslims actively identify with Germany, while only 32% of the general German population did.  So Muslims in Germany not only see themselves as more patriotic than others credit them for, they are more loyal to Germany than other Germans!


In the United Kingdom, 82% of Muslims said British Muslims were loyal.  Only 36% of their neighbors shared that view.  But what is even more fascinating is that UK Muslims showed more faith in their country’s government than other Brits.  83% of British Muslims believed that their nation’s elections were fair, while only 57% of the general populace did.  76% of British Muslims believed in the integrity of the justice system, while only 55% of their neighbors trusted the courts.


The wide gap between how Muslims see themselves and their patriotism, and how their neighbors perceive them, is dangerous and must be addressed.  Unfortunately, the problem appears to lie less with the Muslim communities, who clearly love their countries, than with deep-rooted bigotry and social exclusion practiced by many of their neighbors.  Muslims in many of these countries complain, with justification, that they are locked out of jobs and denied opportunities available to the rest of their countrymen. 


And in Britain, the economic result of this discrimination is very real.  The poll showed that 62% of British respondents were employed, but only 38% of British Muslims held jobs.  The poll’s results also suggest that radicalization among European Muslims is most likely to occur in environments where they are economically deprived or discriminated against.  Not exactly a shocker.


As an American Muslim, one of the greatest  things I treasure about the United States is that economic opportunity is largely available to everyone, regardless of race or religion.  The kind of overt class system that appears to be still be very much in place in Britain is anathema to American notions of entrepreneurialism and social mobility. 


Most Muslims I know are quite well educated and prosperous, with the usual joke being that American Muslims won’t settle for anything less than high-paying jobs as doctors, engineers and lawyers.  I myself am a former attorney with three graduate degrees and have become a Hollywood screenwriter and producer for networks such as NBC and Showtime.  Being a Muslim does not automatically create a glass ceiling in this society, and it is for that reason that most American Muslims are much better integrated than their European counterparts.


Integration into foreign societies is actually a long-standing Muslim tradition that goes back to the birth of Islam itself.  In my novel Mother of the Believers, I relate how the early Muslim community, including Prophet Muhammad’s daughter Ruqayyah, had to immigrate to the Christian country of Abyssinia to escape persecution in Arabia.  Welcomed by the ruling Negus as fellow monotheists, the Muslims became an integral part of Abyssinian society, living in peace and trading with their Christian neighbors. 


When the pagan Arabs of Mecca sent envoys to the Negus demanding he deport the Muslim exiles, the king refused, citing Muslim love for Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary.  Muslims and Christians were brothers in the eyes of the Negus.  This event is quite a remarkable moment in history, as one religion (Christianity) protected and defended another (Islam) from annihilation.  And Muslims to this day look back fondly on the years of Abyssinian sanctuary, and the Christian Negus is considered a great hero by Muslim historians.


In this ancient tale there is also a lesson for today.  Integration is a two-way street.  The Muslim immigrants became loyal and active participants in Abyssinian society because the Abyssinians were secure in their own identity and welcomed the newcomers.  And Ethiopia, the modern descendant of the old Abyssinian kingdom, remains today a majority Christian nation with a large and integrated Muslim minority.  Europeans must similarly change their attitudes toward their Muslim communities and welcome them as neighbors, not treat them as pariahs.  These countries must end discrimination and provide their Muslim populations with equal opportunities that will further solidify their demonstrated loyalty and patriotism.


There is much to learn from Gallup’s new report.  But I hope that Europeans will begin the process of soul searching as to whether their fears of their Muslims neighbors are based in their own prejudices rather than in fact.  European Muslims love their countries and want to integrate.  It is now up to their host countries to welcome them into a new partnership that will be critical to the future of Europe and the world.

Bibles and Guns: Why Soldiers who Proselytize Strengthen our Enemies

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Many Americans have expressed shock at news that some U.S. soldiers have been seeking to use their positions of power in Iraq and Afghanistan to preach Christianity.  But this does not come as news to Muslims, who have been long aware of these proselytizing efforts at the end of a gun.


The Pentagon’s General Order 1 prohibits American troops from attempting to convert people in foreign countries.  Nonetheless, this activity has been rampant since the United States military first entered Afghanistan and Iraq.  In this month’s Harper’s Magazine, Jeff Sharlet’s article “Jesus killed Mohammed: The Crusade for a Christian Military” provides troubling insight into the efforts of fundamentalist Christian churches to turn our armed forces into a modern-day Knights Templar, fighting infidels on behalf of the Church.



As a person of faith myself, I understand the urge to share spiritual witness.  Both Christianity and Islam believe they have a message from God for all humanity, and as a result, believers in both traditions naturally seek to engage others and share their faith.  And I have no problem entering into discussions and debate with others on matters of religion.  Indeed, it is a healthy part of human discourse.  For only through openly examining ideas and beliefs can we as human beings discover what feels spiritually true to us.  And when our heart finds something it feels to be true, the urge to share that truth with others is natural and part of the human condition.


But faith proffered at the end of a gun is not the same as spirited discourse between equals.  American soldiers are in a position of power – lethal power – over the men, women and children in whose countries they are acting.  When an armed man seeks to share his beliefs with you, it is not about spreading enlightenment, but about domination and control.  To go into other countries with a rifle in one hand and a Bible in the other, can only create fear, resentment and backlash.


Even worse, the image of the soldier-preacher fits directly into Al-Qaeda’s meme that Americans are engaged in a new Crusade to destroy Islam.  And to the extent that these fundamentalist churches are allowed to exert influence in our military, our enemies are proven right.  Both Muslim extremists and their Christian counterparts seek to ignite a war of civilizations, a zero-sum game in which their ideology will ultimately destroy their adversaries completely.


But I don’t believe most Americans share that vision of Christianity, just like most Muslims don’t seek to dominate and destroy other religions.  And it is now up to people of good will, whatever their beliefs, to work together to prevent this clash of civilizations that the militants among us desire.


The irony of these American churches’ efforts to spread Christianity in the Muslim world is that Christianity has been part of the fabric of these nations for centuries.  As I discuss in my novel, Mother of the Believers, the Muslim conquest of the Middle East was supported by Christian groups like the Egyptian Copts, who had been oppressed by the Byzantine Church for doctrinal differences.  The Muslim leaders guaranteed religious freedom for “the People of the Book,” and as a result they were able to attract the support of Middle Eastern Christians who were being terrorized by their fellow believers.  Indeed, when the Crusaders took Jerusalem in 1099, they massacred its Christian population, who were seen as traitors for living in friendship with their Muslim neighbors.


In Iraq, an ancient Christian community has been in place for the past 2,000 years.  And Iraqi Christians like former Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz rose to positions of power in Saddam’s secular regime.  With the destruction of Iraq’s secular dictatorship by American forces, Muslim extremists have filled the power vacuum, and now Iraq’s Christian community is undergoing terrible persecution.  About a third of Iraq’s 800,000 Christians are believed to have fled overseas since 2003.


That’s right – there were almost a million Christians already in Iraq under Saddam, part of a community that has lived in peace with its Muslim neighbors for over a thousand years.  American Christians who supported the Iraq war as an End-Times battle to spread Christianity have ironically created an environment where Christianity is now disappearing from Iraq. 


The lesson of these tragic events is that faith is best shared through dialogue built on respect for those who differ from us.  It can never be imposed through power, and if it is, it is not faith at all, but mind control.  And efforts to control the hearts and minds of others will always fail.


The Holy Qur’an says very clearly in Surah 2:256: “Let there be no compulsion in religion.  Truth stands out clear from error.”


If what you believe is true, you don’t need to use power or manipulation to convince others.  So let us lay down our guns and embrace each other as brothers and sisters.  The truth will win out in the end.  It always does.

Why Suicide Bombings Violate Islam

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

The evil of suicide bombings must be defeated by Muslims, as it violates every tenet of Islam.  In the past week, at least 150 people were killed in Iraq in a wave of suicide bombings which have torn apart any illusion of security in that tragic country. 


As a Muslim, as a human begin, I am filled with horror at images of men, women and children torn to shreds by the madness of people who turn themselves into incendiary devices.  And I am filled with outrage and fury at the diabolic forces that seek to present this monstrous, murderous, terrorist activity as somehow sanctioned by my faith.


Let me put this in as simple terms as possible.  Suicide bombings, indeed all forms of terrorism, are rejected by mainstream Islam, and always have been. 


The Holy Qur’an says it in very clear, without any ambiguity:


“Do not kill yourselves, for truly God is merciful.  And if any do that in rancor and injustice, soon shall We cast them in the Fire. ” (Surah 4:29-30)


The Qur’an makes it clear that there are rules to human conflict and limits that must be followed:


“And fight in the way of God against those who fight you.  But do not transgress the limits. Truly God does not love transgressors.” (Surah 2:190)


As I discuss in my new novel Mother of the Believers, traditional Islamic law established very clear rules of war based on the practice of Prophet Muhammad and his early followers:  Do not kill civilians.  Do not kill women and children.  Do not harm priests of of other religions.  Do not destroy the environment.


Abu Bakr, the first leader of Islam after Prophet Muhammad, gave these commandments when Muslims were fighting the forces of the Byzantine Empire, which had sought to destroy the new religion and killed the Prophet’s ambassador:


“Stop, O people, that I may give you ten rules to keep by heart: Do not commit treachery, nor depart from the right path. You must not mutilate, neither kill a child or aged man or woman. Do not destroy a palm tree, nor burn it with fire and do not cut any fruitful tree. You must not slay any of the flock or herds or the camels, save for your subsistence. You are likely to pass by people who have devoted their lives to monastic services; leave them to that to which they have devoted their lives. You are likely, likewise, to find people who will present to you meals of many kinds. You may eat; but do no forget to mention the name of God.”


Muslims always took great pride in the fact that they acted honorably, even in war.  They looked with contempt upon the warriors of Europe, who slaughtered civilians mercilessly during the Crusades.  When Saladin defeated the Christian kingdom of Jerusalem and took the holy city, he spared its Christian populace and pointedly said: “We will not do to you what you did to us.” 


His comment was in reference to the First Crusade, where Christian “holy warriors” massacred tens of thousands of civilians upon taking Jerusalem in 1099.  Muslims were slaughtered en masse, the Jews of Jerusalem were locked into its main synagogue and set on fire.  And Arab Christians were murdered by their co-religionists for the sin of having dark skin and looking like the enemy.  The Gesta Francorum, a Crusader chronicle of their activities, proudly notes that the “the slaughter was so great that our men waded in blood up to their ankles.”


In the town of Ma’arra in Syria, the Crusaders committed the ultimate atrocity — cannibalism.  As Crusader chronicler Radulph of Caen wrote: “In Ma’arra, our troops boiled pagan adults in cooking-pots; they impaled children on spits and devoured them grilled.”


To this day, the Crusaders are referred to in the Muslim world as “the cannibals of Ma’arra.”


The Muslims looked at this kind of atrocity committed in the name of God as unworthy of any great religion, and held themselves above such monstrous behavior.


So how is it possible that its modern equivalent, the mass murder of civilians through suicide bombings, should now be done in the name of Islam?


In Dying to Win, Robert Pape, a scholar at the University of Chicago, analyzes the history and motivation of suicide bombers.  Many people who read the book will be surprised to learn that suicide bombing was a tactic that was first used regularly by Hindu terrorists known as the Tamil Tigers.  One of the most prominent victims of this tactic, Rajiv Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India, was killed on May 21, 1999 by a female suicide bomber from the Tamil Tigers.  According to Pape, Gandhi’s murder marks the first use of the “suicide vest” which has become the tool of suicide bombers throughout the world today.


A full chronology of the history of suicide bombing among Tamil extremists can be found at:


(A warning that the link contains graphic photos of the carnage caused by suicide bombers.)


One of the greatest tragedies of modern Islam is that Muslim extremists began to adopt this horrific tactic of suicide bombing over the past two decades.  Palestinian militants, arguing that they had no other effective way to combat Israeli oppression, began to adopt these tactics, and the image of the “Muslim suicide bomber” began to take hold in the media .


I remember at the time most Muslims I spoke with expressed disgust at these horrific acts, but some added the caveat — “What else can these poor people do?  They have  no tanks or jets to take on Israeli tanks and jets.  This is their only way to fight.”


My response then and now is that Islam is a religion that has established rules of war for a reason.  Human conflict is perhaps inevitable, but unless there is a sense of morality among warriors, even among the warriors of the oppressed, human beings will descend into monstrosity.  The nobility of a cause is forever tainted when dipped in the blood of innocents.  The argument that Israeli military activities kill countless Palestinian civilians, so Muslims are free to target their civilians in response, is not an argument that is supported by the noble spirit of Islam.  As Saladin pointed out, the Muslims would not inflict on the Christians the atrocities that the Crusaders had inflicted on their victims, simple because we as Muslims were better than that.


And I warned those who would excuse the suicide bombers as long as they targeted “the enemy,” that in Islam all human beings are brothers and sisters and have rights before God and man.  I predicted that once some Muslims turned their back on Islam’s strict rules of war and went beneath themselves in order “to win,” the wrath of Allah would be unleashed upon us.  If we allowed suicide bombings against non-Muslims, then soon would God punish our sins by unleashing the same horror on Muslims.


Tragically, my prediction came true.  Suicide bombers in Iraq and Afghanistan now kill thousands of Muslims a year, innocent people going to pray or shop in the marketplace.  Their only crime being in the wrong place at the wrong time.


This kind of monstrous behavior is not Islam.  It never has been Islam. And it will never be Islam, no matter what kind of self-serving justifications the terrorists use. 


For those who wish to learn more about mainstream Muslim positions about war, terrorism and suicide bombing, I refer you here:


It is time for Muslims and people of all faiths to stand together in love and justice and end this horrific scourge of terrorism and suicide bombing on humanity.


I look forward to the day that the world will no longer associate such monstrosity with my beloved faith.  And that one day, mankind will believe that Islam represents what its name stands for: “Peace.”