Monday, November 23, 2015

My First-hand Experience with Muslim Peacemakers

As we all know, there has been increasing ignorant, critical dialogue about Muslims being a threat to the foundation of American and Judeo-Christian society. I have seen and heard comments ranging from ISIS representing over 90% of all the world's Muslims to ISIS followers being the most serious and honest Muslims. People are regularly claiming that followers of Islam are fundamentally interested in divisiveness and contention.

During graduate school, I had the opportunity to work with a group of both Muslims and Christians from across the United States on an interfaith peacemaking effort. I literally had the opportunity to break bread with Muslims who took their faith very seriously, which led them to advocate for, raise awareness of, and build competency in interfaith peacemaking. Oh, and this effort was funded by a grant from the US Department of Justice.

This experience led to my dissertation, entitled Being a Peacemaker: A Qualitative Study on the Faith-Based Values of Exemplar Muslim and Christian Interfaith Peacemakers. This title should help emphasize that peacemaking can actually come from deeply-rooted serious faith, even from Islam.

There is good in the faith world. There are wonderful people doing amazing, important work. They have been doing it for decades, getting very little credit, but positively transforming people's lives. And both Muslims and Christians are doing it because of their faith. I believe the values of the people involved in these efforts are far more representative of the larger Muslim and Christian cultures; the perspectives are just not as well-known because the participants do their work quietly and humbly, in contrast to the work of groups like Westboro Baptist and ISIS.

Let's acknowledge the amazingly positive, pro-social transformative power Islam can provide, not just the destructiveness of minority extremism.

Wednesday, I'll explore the cost of security and self-preservation.

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