Editor's Note: This piece was originally published in 2011. Daoud Abudiab is president of the Islamic Center of Columbia, Tennessee, where he works as an administrator for a physicians' group.
By Daoud Abudiab, Special to CNN
Last year, my son and I attended the White House conference on bullying prevention. We heard stories of people being bullied for being black, gay, lesbian and Sikh. The stories were compelling and left me more critical of our culture, in which it is popular to act in ways that dishonor our traditions.
Some of my friends were interested in the details of my Washington trip. I commented on the diversity at the White House event. A friend made a joke about the composition of attendees reflecting a typical Democratic Party gathering.
I thought of it as a typical American gathering. But I have become aware that not all Americans honor my American citizenship.
Read: Missouri mosque destroyed in fire
In some circles, my Muslim faith is not even accepted as a religion.
And Muslims everywhere are feeling increasingly less welcome in America. We see our kids bullied in schools over their faith and our daughters, wives and mothers picked on and ridiculed for wearing hijab, the Muslim headscarf.
Mosques across America have been vandalized in recent years. Mine was one of them.
In 2001, I was excited to be among the founders of the Islamic Center of Columbia in central Tennessee.
We are a small Muslim community in a small town. Our families felt welcome, and we were positively featured in the local newspaper on a couple of occasions.
But in February 2008, the Islamic Center of Columbia was destroyed in a fire. A year later, three young men from Columbia were sentenced to prison terms of 6 to 14 years for hate crimes against our house of worship.
According to the federal complaint against them, the fire they set was at least partially inspired by the Bible. “What goes on in that building is illegal according to the Bible,” one of them told authorities afterward, referring to our mosque.
The men belonged to the Christian Identity Movement, according to the federal complaint, and said the arson gained them honor among the group’s other members.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the right-wing movement is “nominally Christian” but has little in common with even the “most conservative of American Protestants.”
After the fire, many Christians supported us. The pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Columbia, Bill Williamson, invited my congregation to pray at his church until we found a new home.
In November 2008, at the opening ceremony for our new location, I handed Bill back the key to his house of worship. We remain friends and share our story of love and compassion for one another any time we get the chance.
There were other Christians who did not act very Jesus-like after the mosque fire.
When my son countered middle school tormenters who called him a terrorist by telling about the burning of mosque, one response was “that’s OK, because you are in our country and we can do that to you.”
One local Christian pastor, meanwhile, publicly criticized First Presbyterian Church for sharing its space with my congregation, arguing that Muslims worship a different God than Christians.
People like that often claim superiority to Muslims, but they don’t walk the walk.
Last year, I shared a stage at Martin Methodist College in Pulaski, Tennessee with Robert Montgomery, a Pulaski pastor who I met through Bill Williamson.
We discussed the journey that led to our friendship. He claims to have become a better Christian as a result of the non-Christian friends he has known over the years. I know that’s true for me as a Muslim.
There is nothing to fear or compromise in such a friendship and everything to gain.
When I articulate my faith to someone who does not share it, I feel accountable. It is uncomfortable to be a hypocrite, or at least it should be.
Let me say to non-Muslim Americans: I do not want to convert you. I simply ask that you be true to who you say you are. Let us all honor the best of our traditions.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Daoud Abudiab.
GOOD SHABBOS TO THE WORLD
SHALOM, YOM TOV.
Someone save my Mohammad. He is burning in Hell right now.
Prayer changes things
Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.
An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.
The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs! ,
why, this is somethig wonderful....here we have a Muslim just asking that we who are cristian just act like we are supposed to and it and we would be ok with him.. :)
Just ack like a Christian us supposed to ack and you will become one :)
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Judaism, Christianity, Islam... all use the 'holy book' to set themselves apart and above their fellow man. They all use religion to justify evil acts. Whether the Torah, the Gospel, or the Quran, religious zealots do great evil in the name of their god, and expect to be blessed for the evils they do. Whether attacking churches in Nigeria or mosques in Tennessee, how can any 'god' justify the killing? In reality the only difference between these attacks and the Holocaust is scale. As bigotry becomes acceptable as part of 'free speech,' our society will crumble. Religious bigotry in America is not only tolerated, but encouraged by exclusionary principles; ie only the faithful enter heaven. Why would a just god exclude a moral atheist, but allow a terrorist?
MohMAD is evil.
The only problem I have with Muslims is that they don't share the most fundamental Western values of equality and tolerance. These values are very important to me and I am not willing to compromise on them. When I know that a Muslim man deep down sees me inferior because I am a woman, there's no amount of effort that can make me well disposed toward that person. Every time I interact with a Muslim I am aware that his religion considers me less than human for not sharing his beliefs. When I cross paths with a Muslim woman wearing a tent, I know she considers me immoral for showing my hair and baring my arms or legs in public. All these things are unspoken, because most Muslims wouldn't say them out loud to a Westerner, but I know they are there. So I am polite and civilized as I am to all people, but I won't be their friend. Because they probably don't want to be my friend anyway.
We look back at the history between Whites and African Americans and you would heard a simular statements such as you just made. Flash forward to today and mostly the only places you would hear the the same types of fear and distrust is in the inner cities and in the remote locations of the states. Places where there are less interactions between the groups. The same I have also heard between Gays and Lesbian.... and dare I say, between the Faithful and Atheist. No matter how much people imagine two groups in society never getting along, it still happens. Look at Martin Luther King and Phillip Randolph or Christopher Hitchens and his Christian friend who eulogized him.
The thing about Islam is that you are a bit correct ... but just like all Whites, all Christians, all any group... you just need to find the ones that are more open. One seriously interesting thing, that totally threw me... and this might be a bit racist. All Muslim women do not wear hijabs or burkas or even cover their hair. I know some that only do such when they are going to to the Mosque or a Muslim function such as a wedding. So, some of the women you think might be Hispanic or Greek or Russian/Slavic ... might be Muslims.
I had a good friend that I worked with for two years who was Kurdish and he was so friendly and so not stereotypical Muslim that vistors were shocked when we told them that he had to leave to return to Iraq for his dying Father. Some thought he was Hispanic and others thought he was just Eastern European. He was so open about Islam and the distinctions between the different sects with in it, that we declared that he and his wife should go around to schools and teach.
Do not let the media decide for you. They will always show the radicals of every group because divison and conflicts sells.
correction : "Gays and Lesbian...and the Faithful
Sy2502 wrote, "The only problem I have with Muslims is that they don't share the most fundamental Western values of equality and tolerance."
Kinda like those "Western Values" that resulted in this the Mosque being burned down in Missouri? Or the Christian nutters trying to stop the Mosque in Tennessee?
Kinda like those "Western Values" that said white folks should be able to own those "colored" folks?
Kinda like those "Western Values" that said there is no such thing as spousal ràpe, because according to their bible, a wife cannot refuse her husband?
Kinda like those "Western Values" where "good christians" seek to legalize discrimination against gay folks?
Are those the "Western Values" you are so proud of?
Wonk.... Do you feel that slavery only happened in the "West"?
American values have us drone striking around the planet but American values have also lead us to be the most charitiable giving country on the planet.
So, just as a African American there are things that other African Americans have done that White supermacist want me to answer and link to....there are positive African American achievements as well but we are suppose to judge each other as indiviudals Wonk, so my own actions are all I am responcible for.
primewonk, none of those things you mentioned are Western values. you are confused
Every one in every religion has beliefs inside they dont bring out. Of course a muslim woman wearing a veil (tent) will think differently of you just like you think differently of her. They are civilized which is why they won't tell you up front just like you won't say you think they are ignorant and feel as if you are immoral to them.
I am an American born atheist however the respect I've seen muslim men give to their woman in comparison to our western society is completely different in many ways. We tend to treat our woman like objects and if you notice we check out every woman walking by...the back and the front. We have many mistresses and affairs beyond belief both ways. In our society we believe every mans success has a woman behind it, with the muslims they believe every mans success has a woman beside them.
It's a shame we have close minded individuals like you who only think one way. God Bless America.
it is not true plz read the coran an you will have your answer if the Islam is so oppress to woman,then why there is more woman than man convert to Islam and do not forget those woman are our mother,sister , wife and daughter
the right that Islam give to woman the western countries just gived this woman in the last 50 years that Muslim woman had for 1400 years
by the way i am a non practice moslum
peace for all
@Mark from Middle River thank you very much
I only have one question, please. If, being a conservative, and kind Muslim living in this country, would you, in the event of a supposingly "take over" by radical Muslims be willing to fight against them, in order to have your religious freedom. We all know that the main stream Muslims believe the Islamic/Shariah laws are the laws of the earth, and no one can go against them without persecution, even to the point of killing. This Great Country was founded by people who came for that sole purpose ; RELIGIOUS FREEDOM. Not to have one that believes their's is the "supreme", and all should live under it. Thank you, and May God Bless You, as I await reply.
At school I have never heard that I have to distinguish between a person himself or herself and his or her faith. As long as people don't know about that distinction, they will commit evil deads of bigotry and fanaticism.
I never heard at school that man has a human dignity which one has to respect at any rate, despite a distinct faith.
Certainly, Christianity is a very advanced faith. However, if we are really Christians, we will never harm or kill our neighbour because of his distinct faith.
When we love our neighbour independent from his faith (or colour, nationality, social status, etc.), we preach the gospel without words and most effective, whereby it is God's work to cause the real faith in someone. Our responsibility is it to love everybody as long as we are together on earth. We are not allowed to condition our love on the conversion of our neighbour. Also we should not try to convert someone by our love. We should love someone, simply because of his human dignity. Yet, our love is limited in that sense, that we will never lump together all beliefs, and say it would not matter what exactly someone believes. There is only one real, true faith which causes deliverance.
What manifests the human dignity?
Jesus Christ, God, the Son, has died for the whole mankind. He died for us, although we are sinners. That shows, how much he and God, the Father, loves us. God, the Father, gave his beloved Son for us.
No Christian has a reason to be proud, because his sinful body remembers him of his past daily. It is only Jesus through the Holy Spirit who helps me to do works of righteousness and love. I am sinful in myself. Without Jesus I am a sinful, dead body.
I'm proud that I'm not a Christian.
I see that you have pasted this post elsewhere. Although I think you are clear in explaining your religion, your faith, this does zilch for the problems that people face in getting along today. It exposes the two-faced nature of the Christian and demonstrates how easily a Christian can justify infringing on a U.S. citizen's rights under the Const*itution. Although Jesus had some decent ideals (regardless of what kind of being you think he was), history shows us that Christianity, the religion, for as much as it has aided people, has been political, corrupt (well just human to be kinder) right from the git-go, and the cause of enormous evil and suffering throughout its history. The designers of the Const*itution were brilliant and knew how important it was for future generations to not view their country as one based on Christianity, but as one based simply on freedom, and so they were very careful to put their own religious views aside and make a strong point with separation of church and state. This is something we are supposed to learn in high school, but on the education front we as a nation are obviously failing. So no, your circular, self-serving logic is less than helpful in addressing the activities that are the subject of this article.
I'm proud I'm not Rainy Man.
Haven't hit our stride yet?
I wish christians and muslims would get along. I mean i have known christians who have met muslims who got along fine. I don't know what's going on here.
Nah, I think I'll stay.
Yes, I believe you will stay a dumb tard.
Why do you want to ruin the debate by citing the truth? How intolerant of you.
Gunmen killed 19 people when they fired on worshipers at a church in Ni.g.eria's central Kogi state during a Monday evening service, police said on Tuesday, the BBC reported.
Happens every damn day by the religion of peace and tolerance. And the crescent news network is right there to spew the propaganda. Awww. A wittle mosque got burned? Oh, boo hoo.
We have freedom of religion. It's in the First Amendment. If you don't like it, get the fudge out.
Way to make it sound like the U.S. should aspire to be more like Nig.eria you dumb-a.s.s tard.
Small minority of Non-religious are atheists.
Why yes, we are an elite group, thank you. We have strong minds and utilize them well. We do not waste time communing with make-believe ent.ities. We take responsibility for our actions instead of being bad and then running to a religion to be excused.
@keep: i like to think we are all athiest; i just believe in one less invisible dead beat father than you do. lmfao
People that are obsessed on attacking Islam as a faith are insecure about their own faiths. The same principle applies to bullies. As a Muslim I have a Bible in my bookshelf that I hold dear. I don't think bashing Christianity, Judaism or any other religion is going to make me a better Muslim or human being. They can burn all the Mosques they want and it would not make a single difference. Islam is a faith, something they will never be able to burn. As an American I choose Islam.
say that junk to your muslim friends in Nigeria, Sudan, Iran, Palestine, Egypt and Indoneisa. Kill thos christian and jews. The world didn't need religions. islam is a proof history of slaughter and human rights breacher.
Human life is spiritual not physical, so is Islam, if any one assumes in his hinduism, ignorance to harm Islam by setting fire to a masque, he is nothing but ah hindu, ignorant, believer of hinduism, ignorance, Islam is foundation of existence of every thing in existence, any one in opposition to truth of Islam is his own enemy, and bound to be eliminated by his own hindu denial of truth absolute way, as he never existed.
i just wish people where more respectful of one anothers differences and cut the crap
READ AND LEARN:-–>
AND THE INFAMOUS ANGELIC (RELIGION) CONS CONTINUE TO WREAK STUPIDITY UPON THE WORLD
Jesus and his family had/has warmongering Michael, gay Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented. (As does BO and his family) (As did the probable red-neck "Christian" arsonist)
Joe Smith had his Moroni. (As does M. Romney)
"Latter-day Saints like M. Romney also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."
Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;
Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).
Jesus and his family had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented. (As does BO and his family)
The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.
Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.