Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
I am responding to Pastor David Halla of the Manteca First Baptist sharing his perspective on Islam and Sharia (Bulletin 6/20/17). A good source addressing his specific criticisms of Sharia can be found at http://interfaithalliance.org/americanmuslimfaq/: “(Sharia) may be generally defined as the Islamic law revealed by God to the Prophet Muhammad. That divine law was then interpreted by Muslim scholars over the centuries. Among the primary aims of the Sharia are the achievement of justice, fairness and mercy.”
Pastor Halla states that there “(A)re no common principles between American Law and Sharia …”. Inman Mohammed El Farra of the Islamic Center of Manteca has stated a common principle: “Islam … abhors and denounces in the strongest of terms – at all times – anything which opposes peace ...” (Bulletin 9/22/16).
Perhaps the Pastor could consider joining the Inman at July 4th parade in the spirit of a Southern Baptist Theological Seminary professor: “My goal is not to attack Islam, my goal is to love Muslims … (with) a passionate, positive proclamation of the gospel — rather than polemical.” (Dr. Ayman Ibrahim of the Jenkins Center for the Christian Understanding of Islam.)
I would suggest that the two spiritual leaders share perspectives concerning the Declaration of Independence’s statement “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (sic) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. Another perspective is provided by Qasim Rashid of Harvard: “… the most “Muslim country” in the world is likely America, because America guarantees freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom of thought—all hallmarks of Shariah Law.”
Shariah means “A path to life giving water”. Qasim Rashid also wrote: “Sharia law guides a Muslim’s personal relationship with God, just as the Old and New Testaments guide Jews and Christians in their personal relationships with God. These paths to life-giving water are nothing to fear.”.
Pastor Halla posted a sermon on Peter 1:13-25 entitled “Be holy in your conduct.” He quotes verse 22. “… Love one another earnestly from a pure heart.” He comments: “… one of the best things that he says to people that are suffering and that you and I can deal with suffering people is to love them …” (5/21/17). From my perspective his sermon reflects Quran 16:91: “Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression.”
A great Baptist reminded us that the paths to our rights, freedoms and justice are not easy: “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, 8/28/63). In my experience low income communities, immigrants, refugees and others are suffering as they struggle greatly to achieve their fair share of this promise.
We all need life giving water for the journey to this promised land. Judaism, Christianity and Islam all began with Abraham and Sarah’s migration. I feel that all of us sharing this Earth need to build peaceful ways to coexist during our relatively short journeys here. Or as sung in another wisdom tradition: “All you need is love”. (Beatles, Our World, 6/25/67, first live global telecast).