The United States of America is the only country in history to have defined itself as Judeo-Christian. This of course excludes a myriad of other religions, agnostics, atheists, and various other spiritual paths. But for now, I would like to focus on Muslims, because I think there is a powerful assertion that most Americans make when they hear of someone being a Muslim. And sadly, upon hearing this word, many of us produce a mental image of terrorism. And I find this to be as delusional and harmful as hearing the word Catholic and envisioning a pedophile.
You see, the act of one person, or even a large group of people, does not define the entire body of any belief or society. Yet with all of this said, I understand that there is powerful imprint on many of our minds that associates the Muslim religion with one of Americas most horrific events. But I do not believe that gives any of us the right, or excuse, to label or separate ourselves from any other human beings.
To be completely honest, I know almost nothing about the Muslim religion save what I have read in a brief view of Wikipedia. The basis being The ‘Five Pillars’ of Islam and are the foundation of Muslim life:
1. Faith or belief in the Oneness of God and the finality of the prophethood of Muhammad;
2. Establishment of the daily prayers;
3. Concern for and almsgiving to the needy;
4. Self-purification through fasting; and
5. The pilgrimage to Mecca for those who are able.
And I don’t know about you, but I see nothing threatening or disturbing in any of those. And there is no need for me to understand more, because I already know that they are all human beings, just like me. With Families, friends, difficulties and joys. The problem, it would seem, is you and me. Our misconceptions, judgements and delusions have created separation rather than inclusion. And I for one, practice to become accepting and understanding. To embrace the diversity in our World and in our society. Perhaps becoming wise enough to revel in it!
I write all of this today, not as instruction to any of you, but as encouragement and enlightenment for myself. One which offers an absence of all bigotry, racism, antisemitism, homophobia, sexism, ideological intolerance, fundamentalism and speciesism. Opening my eyes, my mind and my heart is truly the path to peace. Seeing that we are all Brothers and Sisters. And having equanimity which offers the ability “to look over” without judgement. This in-turn produces a calm and ease within us that we may become balanced. Loving-kindness then becomes the outgrowth of our well-developed mind. And only by way of this gentle, moment-by-moment observation do we cultivate our own wholesome behavior and generosity. The gift and joy of connectedness that we all share, and a deep love for one another.
May all beings be well, happy and peaceful.