My Muslim friends are not guilty

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

As an Iranian living in Britain, I watched the terrorist attack last week with the same horror as my Muslim Iranian friends did. My Iranian friends in the UK are all devout Muslims, just as I am a very committed Christian.

Since I have no family living in this country, they are my only family in the west. We meet in our different customs and different code of dress. They cover themselves with the Islamic head scarves, and we meet as women only. My friends don't mix with men, and none of them speak English. They have lived in this country for years, but have kept their custom and tradition, and this makes me so happy. Each time we meet, it is just like being back in Iran with my family again. We share our culture, rich poetry, and literature. We owe it to ourselves to keep our language and literature alive for our children and pass on to them the richness of our culture.

I am proud to be an Iranian, and I am proud of my Muslim friends. I have learned so much from them. They are the most loving people I have ever met. They are honest and law-abiding. They wouldn't think of hurting a fly. They are just as sad and upset at the atrocities as I am. But if you saw them in their headgear and "chador," it would be easy to miss the kind hearts and loving natures that beat beneath it all. Their clothing may make them look severe and fearsome.

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They, too, keep asking who could do such a thing. My friends can't tell you, as Muslims, what led the terrorists to such an evil act. Virtually all the chapters in the Koran commence with an invocation to a merciful God. Having lived with them, I know that what they do know is the clear, unquestionable values, moral premises, and ethical restraint of Islam. Kidnapping, hijacking, and other acts of terror are as contrary to the teachings of Islam as they are to Christianity or Judaism. In every religion there are extremists whose actions are not representative of the teachings of the religion. Muslims are our brothers and sisters. We must not fail to appreciate how much we share with them in the denunciation of evil acts.

Love for our brothers and sisters is the only progressive step forward. Together we can stand united against terrorism. Where love is deep, there is no room for blind and irrational revenge. Together we can obliterate hatred and terrorism.

Many of the last messages given to their dear ones from the victims of the airplane crashes spoke of their love for them. The sanctity of that love is not lost. From the rubble, it goes on to build a world that is founded on brotherly love. The strength of divine Love expressed in each life gives us courage to press forward in our quest for peace and justice.

Real love is like a tiny, perfect diamond. It is not loud or pretentious, and it is without a single flaw. There are no ulterior motives in real love.

War on terrorism starts within each individual's expression of love for a world that is calling out for love. It begins with you and me in our communities, embracing each different nationality and culture; and, in spite of our differences, reaching out to open a loving dialogue to break down barriers of divisions and suspicions. As Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science and founder of the Monitor, wrote, "At all times and under all circumstances, overcome evil with good" ("Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," pg. 571).

Please don't look at my Muslim friends with suspicion. They are also praying for peace alongside you and me. As we love each other, we will find the answers together. The Bible's promise of the peace of God with us can still our thought: "Be still, and know that I am God:... I will be exalted in the earth" (Ps. 46:10). As we allow the power of stillness to calm the turbulence of terrorized thought, we silence the hatred and drink in the Life that is divine.

In the words of Rumi, the renowned Sufi poet: "There is a channel between voice and presence, a way where information flows. In disciplined silence the channel opens. With wandering talk, it closes."

We must watch "wandering talk" and realize that we stand together with our Muslim brothers and sisters against terrorism. And we can build a world founded on brotherly love.

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