Islamic Faith Preaches Peace, Not Violence

During the past weeks there has been a series of bomb explosions around the world. The suicide bomb attacks on Israeli civilians by Muslim militants killed and injured many people. And shortly thereafter, another bomb - one of anger and indignation - exploded silently in the minds and hearts of a billion Muslims.

My father, after watching television news showing the dead bodies and wounded victims of the first bombing, tearfully asked, "Why are they killing civilians? Islam is not the religion of violence."

My father is not alone with his thoughts.

Mannuele Hassassian, a professor at Bethlehem University, says: "This is the first time we are seeing in blunt, straightforward, and vociferous actions where the Palestinians as a people are expressing indignation against acts of violence."

As a Muslim child growing up in a strictly Muslim country, Afghanistan, I was taught that Islam starts with salaam and means "Peace be with you." I was taught that Allah (God) was the Reb-ul-Alemin, which means God of the universe, not only of the Muslims.

The Muslim's holy book, the Koran, declares "Jews and Christians and whoever believes in God ... and does what is right shall have nothing to fear or regret."

But now I see extremists perverting the peaceful religious teachings of Islam to achieve their political agenda. The act of violence against innocent civilians is incongruous with the authentic Islam that preaches peace.

We need to unilaterally and unequivocally condemn the terror, whether by states against their citizens or by individuals or groups. I am calling upon President Clinton to designate a day for the condemnation of terror and violence.

Terror is toxic to our peace, detrimental to our pluralistic society. It needs to be contained.

Wahab R. Gharfarzoy

San Diego

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