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A Letter of Sympathy And A Prayer From a Muslim

Violence: A Betrayal of Our Covenant With Our Creator

By guest blogger Fizza Hussain-Razvi

Christmas has passed but every Christmas season, although it is not part of our cultural celebration, I refresh my memory of the Super Man, Jesus Christ, whose birth many celebrate.

Unfortunately, this Christmas season I write with a sad and heavy heart—a heart that has struggled and worked for peace and understanding and helped the deprived, hoping to find a better tomorrow. Instead I see a rather foggy past. We have hardly made a dent in poverty and hunger; social problems are on the rise; our consumption and loans are swelling; and worst of all, an overwhelming presence of violence permeates our societies and the world.

In the midst of indiscriminate violence and injustices by deluded individuals, aggressive governments, and religious fanatics, it has been extremely heartbreaking to learn of the atrocities that are being committed by a handful of supposed Muslims against Christians in Iraq and elsewhere, especially around Christmas. On the contrary, celebrating the birth of Jesus, whom Muslims also love and revere dearly, should be plenty cause for peace and unity.

Any form of violence against innocent people is a betrayal of our covenant with our creator. Such despicable acts are beyond condemnation and completely against the teachings of Islam and are in complete violation of the noble and just precepts of every faith. Such cruelty is not driven by religious teachings but by a deluded mindset that manipulates religion to strum an emotional chord in ignorant, uninformed and, oftentimes, desperate and hopeless individuals.

History is witness that intolerance fueled by ignorance, greed, hypocrisy, hatred, lusts, jealousy and bigotry has given rise to brutal atrocities committed by individuals and institutions who find religious and/or political justifications for their sadistic actions. Such is the human race—noble, dignified, gracious, upright, and gallant on one hand; and at the same time reprehensible, disgraceful, immoral, cowardly, and cruel on the other. Who do we want to be?

Condemning and standing up against injustices and atrocities, irrespective of who the perpetrator or victim is, is a religious responsibility. Jesus’ life is a brilliant example of an uncompromising stance against injustices for the sake of peace.

Prophet Muhammad also was a reformer who took an uncompromising stance against oppression and cruelty toward the weak by those who were economically and politically powerful. He transformed a violent and oppressive society into a moral and upright nation. Unfortunately, just like other men and women who took such stances, he was not without enemies who strove with all their might and power to undermine his reforms during and after this lifetime.

The Quran teaches us that God has made life sacred and that taking one life unjustly is like killing all of humanity and saving one is like saving all of humanity (5:32). Prophet Muhammad’s life and teachings are full of lessons on tolerance, graciousness, and kindness.

Many such verses can be found in the Quran about living in harmony:

  • Those who believe (in the Qur’an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians—any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. (2:62)
  • We gave Moses the Book and followed him up with a succession of messengers; We gave Jesus the son of Mary clear (signs) and strengthened him with the holy spirit. (2:87)
  • It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong). (3:3)

Those who claim to be Muslim and commit shameful atrocities against innocent humans clearly violate the fundamental tenants of Islam—they are not worthy of being called “Muslim.” Muslims are those who peacefully submit to the will of Almighty God—the very same universal God that Abraham, Moses, Jesus (called the Spirit of God), and Muhammad (peace be upon all of them) worshiped.

While I condemn and detest with earnestness the atrocities against Christians in Iraq, the irony is that Saddam Hussein’s right-hand man, Tariq Aziz, was a Christian. He was Foreign Minister (1983-1991) and Deputy Prime Minister (1979-2003) of Iraq and a close adviser of former President Hussein.  According to Mr. Aziz it was not “regime change” in Iraq that the United States wanted but rather “region change.” He summed up the Bush administration’s reasons for war against Iraq briefly: “oil and Israel,” according to Wikipedia.

I offer a heartfelt prayer that Christians and oppressed people everywhere in the world should enjoy freedom, equality, peace, and harmony in every nation; that Jesus’ teachings of humility and compassion to all humans become a beacon of hope to the oppressed so we can live as one noble human community; and that peace reign everywhere.

A blessed Christmas with a sad heart.
Fizza Hussain-Razvi

Quranic quotes taken from:
The Meaning Of The Holy Quran, Abdullah Yusuf Ali

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A Christmas Message From A Muslim

By guest blogger Fizza Hussain-Razvi

With due respect to the holiday traditions, for a moment I would plead to set aside the trees, Santas, shopping, and decorations because the superficial symbols overshadow the great man being celebrated. Celebrating the birth and the inspirational personality of Jesus, the ‘Spirit of God’ as he is referred to in Islam, becomes an obligation and a pleasure.

Growing up as a Muslim in a multi-religious community in India, we shared everyone else’s celebrations and sometimes joined each other in prayer services. There was not a day that our ears did not witness church bells, calls to prayer, and a bhajan (Hindu praise to God) or two.

In the midst of this rich environment, Jesus was always amongst my favorite personalities, my hero, and my inspiration as far back as I can remember. The person responsible for this inspiration was my very dear and wise paternal grandmother from Iran who would read and narrate to us stories from Islamic traditions about the life and teachings of Jesus the Messiah and his virtuous mother Mary.

Through Islam I learned that both Mary and Jesus are highly esteemed and are greatly revered and admired for their virtues in the Noble Quran. Mary is honored by Prophet Mohammad as one of the four greatest women who ever lived, and Jesus’ life and teachings abound in Islamic narrations. It is narrated that Jesus was a humble man with no desire for the material world. He draws an analogy that the love of God and love of the world cannot dwell in the same heart—like fire and water cannot be in the same container.

I was taught that Jesus the Messiah, the Spirit of God, came at a time and to a people who had become devoid of spirituality and morality. In times when spiritual darkness prevails and arrogant, corrupt men proclaim their rule over the people, then the spirits and souls of the common masses become worn out, weary, and shattered. Such was the time of Jesus when inner beauty had lost its charm, overshadowed by vulgarity and shallowness. In that spiritless darkness Jesus’ fearless stance became the beacon for rekindling dwindling spirits of those who desired his radiance.

When Jesus tried to spread this light amongst the decaying spirits, he was dealt arrogance, harshness, and contention, for the dark spirits were fearful of the awakening to humility and loss of power. Thus they defamed him, humiliated him, and called for his crucifixion. Yet nothing shook this solid pillar of uprightness and morality—this pillar was so deeply rooted in God’s love that no amount of hatred or cruelty would sway him in the slightest towards hurting, hating, or subjugating another.

Along with Jesus I came to revere other inspirational personalities and found deep-rooted commonality amongst them which attracted me deeply to their message. They displayed intense compassion towards their fellow humans; they unwaveringly stood up for truth, justice, and equality under all circumstances; and they were passionate and reverent about their mission. They defied oppressive and immoral social norms and threats to their life, preferring their own suffering over accepting injustices and the suffering of others—in short they were selfless.

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of this great man, Jesus the Messiah, the Spirit of God, are we ready Christians, Muslims, and people of the world? Are we ready and willing to walk in his footsteps? To live in his image with compassion towards all our fellow beings? To uphold truth, justice and equality? To make these ideals our passion, and, finally, are we ready to make this celebration worthy of the man we are setting out to celebrate? Let Jesus’ words echo as we humbly worship this season, “How many lamps the wind has put out, and how many worshippers pride has corrupted.”

A blessed Christmas season to all,
Fizza Hussain-Razvi

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