Don’t blame Islam for the Boston bombings. The Quran has clear injunctions against murder and violence.There is a wonderful Quranic passage placing primacy on the sanctity of life: “If anyone kills another without a just cause … it is as if he has killed the whole of mankind. And whosoever saves a life, it is as if he has saved the whole of mankind.” (5:32)Obviously, blowing up bombs with the intention of killing and maiming people violates these precepts. The very notion of terrorism “is in opposition to the spirit of Islam, which holds human life sacred and personal culpability a matter for God alone to determine,” professor Tamara Sonn of the College of William & Mary has written.And, certainly, Muslim-Americans in general should not be held responsible for the acts of a couple of sociopaths. Members of the community are generally well-integrated, satisfied members of American society, as a 2011 survey revealed.“A decade after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, a Gallup poll … found that the vast majority of Muslim-Americans say they are loyal to the United States and optimistic about the future,” The New York Times has reported, adding, “The poll in many ways contradicts the stereotype of Muslim-Americans as an alienated and discontented religious minority.”Muslim-Americans are more likely than practitioners of other religions to frown on violence used for political purposes.“Underscoring their lack of sympathy for al Qaeda, Muslim-Americans are also the least likely major religious group in the U.S. to say there is ever a justification for individuals or small groups to attack civilians,” said the Gallup report accompanying the survey.But still the community at large is being smeared. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., has suggested that Muslim-Americans be subject to special scrutiny. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., said after the Boston attack, “I hope we all work together against a religion that will motivate people to murder children and other threats to us as a civilization.”Maligning an entire faith and group is the worst sort of slander.“Jihadists killed 17 people in the United States” between 9-11 and the end of 2012, “according to data collected by journalist Peter Bergen and the New America Foundation,” Mother Jones magazine has reported. “In contrast, right-wing extremists killed 29 people during those 11 years.”Using Bergen’s figures as a baseline, Mother Jones said that only “0.007 percent of Muslims in the United States have been involved in domestic terror plots since 9-11.” We need a sense of proportion and perspective in the aftermath of the Boston attacks.
Amitabh Pal, co-editor of the Progressive Media Project in Madison, Wis., is the author of “Islam” Means Peace: Understanding the Muslim Principal of Nonviolence Today.