Time for Muslims to take a stand against hatred

Time for Muslims to take a stand against hatred

 Helen of Troy launched a thousand ships, and of course, a war. The recent acrimony surrounding the disputed conversions of two Coptic women in Egypt is not the stuff of myth but threatens a real and senseless violence. Al Qa’eda in Iraq has decided to weigh in, using a debate several countries away to justify a war on Christians.

Egypt can often be divided but here the nation has stood together. Egypt’s Coptic Patriarch has said that al Qa’eda’s venomous rhetoric has inadvertently focused attention on the plight of his church. 

The Imam of Al Azhar Ahmad al Tayeb has rallied to its defence. “This is something to be rejected and strongly denounced, and it serves none but those who want to spark discord and target national unity,” he said about al Qa’eda’s wish to stoke religious tensions.

That the Muslim Brotherhood has joined in the effort to denounce threats of violence is particularly encouraging. “The protection of holy places of all monotheistic religions is the mission of the majority of Muslims,” the region’s largest political organisation said in a statement on Tuesday.

One can disagree with most every tenet of the Brotherhood, but not its strong offensive against al Qa’eda. This does not absolve the group nor its counterparts from their sometimes murky methods and dealings. 

The Brotherhood also actively bars women from political participation in Kuwait and limits their autonomy elsewhere. Still, their vocal support for tolerance in this instance and others is a sign of how the most hateful voices are increasingly marginalised.

There is more work to be done. It is one thing to speak up, it is quite another to listen. But the efforts of a “silent majority” who have worked for years on inter-faith dialogue and intra-faith relations appears to be paying off. 

Since 2004 when the Amman Message was delivered, uniting more than 200 Islamic scholars in defence of mutual respect and tolerance, the effort to denounce the manipulations of al Qa’eda and others has grown stronger.

In all nations there are those who will respond to bigoted rhetoric. Their are also those who can combat hatred with kindness and openness. This may require herculean patience, but that doesn’t make this work any less essential. It must continue.