Al Qaeda, Taliban extremists, and Mike Huckabee have at least one thing in common — all believe Islam is a violent religion. In a recent tirade, Huckabee wondered, “why it is that we tiptoe around a religion that promotes the most murderous mayhem on the planet in their so-called holiest days. … the most likely time to have an uprising of rock throwing and rioting comes on the day of prayer on Friday.”
First of all, the idea that “[Islam] promotes the most murderous mayhem on the planet in their so-called ‘holiest-days’” is a bold-faced fabrication. A journalist would cite a Qur’anic verse or hadith to support this fantasy — but not Huckabee. On the contrary, the Qur’an admonishes Muslims, “O ye who believe! when the call is made for Prayer on Friday, hasten to the remembrance of Allah, and leave off all business. That is better for you, if you only knew” (62:10). The Qur’an specifically commands Muslims to forget all worldly matters and focus solely on prayer — and certainly not violence — on its holy days.
But, Huckabee asserts, it isn’t going to the mosque that causes violence — its what happens when they leave the mosque, “So the Muslims will go to the mosque, and they will have their day of prayer, and they come out of there like uncorked animals — throwing rocks and burning cars.” Huckabee first dehumanizes Muslims, comparing them to animals, and once more provides no reference to support his claim. Had he bothered to read the Qur’an he would have discovered the clear commandment to Muslims upon leaving the mosque, “And when the Prayer is finished, then disperse in the land and seek of Allah’s grace, and remember Allah much, that you may prosper” (62:11).
The Quran admonishes Muslims to seek God’s grace when they leave the mosque — and again there is no mention of violence. Now if Huckabee wishes to associate grace with violence, I can think of a few billion Christians — who believe in the grace of God as their salvation — who might object.
Finally, I’m shocked at Huckabee’s double standard that argues because violence occurs in a Muslim majority nation, it is Islam’s fault. What would Huckabee think of a nation in which a person is murdered every 17 minutes? A nation with cities that have higher murder rates than war torn Iraq? Or a nation in which a rape occurs every 6 minutes? A nation in which 1 in 4 women will be raped before graduating college and 97% of rapists will never spend a day in jail? A nation in which a violent crime occurs every 26.2 seconds and a property crime occurs every 3.5 seconds? A nation that comprises 5% of the world’s population but a world-leading 25% of the world’s prison population?
This isn’t Syria, or Saudi Arabia, it’s a nation in which more than 70 percent of its citizens identify as Christian. This is the United States of America. And when it comes to America’s “holy days,” a recent U.S. analysis determined that, “Christmas is the deadliest day of the year,” and “More people die in hospital emergency wards, or arrive dead on arrival, on Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day than on any other days of the year.”
According to Mike Huckabee’s standard, we must blame Christianity for the rape, murder, violence, theft, and high prison population in America because America is a Christian majority nation. According to Huckabee, all non-Christians should be “offended” — as he puts it in regards to Islam’s holy days — by Christmas and the higher death rates it somehow causes.
As a Muslim, I find these arguments ridiculous and won’t patronize my readers by employing them. Islam — like Christianity — teaches bridge building and tolerance. If people want to learn about Islam, do so from practicing American Muslims and recognized Islamic scholarship websites like www.alislam.org, not Huckabee, and not the Taliban or al Qaeda.
But it’s worth noting that the same way Huckabee employs half-truths under the guise of “telling it like it is” to defame Islam and compare Muslims to animals, Taliban and al Qaeda extremists use the American violence and rape statistics to defame Christianity and call Christians animals.
That only proves how dangerously similar Huckabee and Taliban/al Qaeda thinking about “the other” actually is. The billions of us stuck in the middle are the ones who endure a tennis match of ignorance and terror.
It’s time we stopped allowing this dangerous narrative to dominate our headlines. Let us instead seek God’s grace, and remember Him much, that we may all prosper.
Qasim Rashid, Esq. is a National Spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA and author of The Wrong Kind Of Muslim: An Untold Story Of Persecution & Perseverance.