LETTER: Not in the Name of Islam

By Ayesha Butt

As an America Muslim, I am completely dismayed by Brenda Zylstra’s article. Not only were her comments poorly researched, but they also made it seem as though she was a victim of the various misconceptions and stereotypes about Islam.

The Muslim community condemns all violent acts and specifically denounces the actions and reactions that took place after the Pope’s statements. It is disheartening to know that the 1.5 billion followers of Islam have become the target of hatred and prejudice based upon the actions of a small group of extremists. I can not help but be disappointed by the Pope’s choice of reference, and the content of that reference. The Pope is in a very influential position, and his every word is held in high esteem. For him to use such a misleading quotation only reinforces the already existing ignorance about Islam.

In response to Brenda Zylstra’s remarks, “Perhaps it is time for the Islamic community to stop denying the link between Muhammad’s teachings and violence done in his name, regardless of whether or not this is a misinterpretation,” it should be made clear that these heinous crimes are committed by a small minority of ignorant people whose thoughts are neither parallel to the thoughts of Islam nor its 1.5 billion followers. One must be objective in formulating opinions about an entire religion and must take into account both the good and the bad. To state that there is a tie or correlation between Islam and violence based on a few extremists does severe injustice to the 1.5 billion innocent followers who are stereotyped and labeled due to actions that are beyond their control. Furthermore, one can not help but wonder if Ms. Zylstra has fully done her research on this topic, for if she had, she could easily find numerous statements and press releases from leaders of Muslim communities condemning not just the hideous acts performed by that Somalian, but condemning all forms of violence.

Moreover, perhaps it is again Ms. Zylstra who needs to be more rational before making such a strong and outrageous statement as, “Perhaps it is time for Muslims to decide what their true identity is-radical or rational.” She has already made the indirect proposition that because of a small group’s actions, the whole Muslim community should be held accountable. Even if these crimes are committed in the name of Islam, today’s public should have the prudence to distinguish between Muslims and extremists. The large majority of Muslims who are opposed to these atrocities should not have to pay the price for the ignorance of a few fundamentalists. With all due respect, how is Brenda’s statement a rational and just one and not something that would just add on to rampant misconceptions about Islam?