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October 23, 2007

Walkersville's Muslims

Roy Meachum

Please let us be clear: The Muslims trying to buy the farm in Walkersville have nothing to do with the other Muslims who have lived quietly in the community for years.

These new people call themselves Ahmadiyya; in some Islamic societies they are subject to arrest and punishment, including possible execution, because they don't believe Muhammad had the last word. Like Christians, they accept Jesus as the Messiah.

In other words, Methodists and Catholics fare better in most Muslim nations than the followers of Mirza Gulem Ahmad, the man who created the Islamic splinter in 19th century British-ruled India: the part now called Pakistan.

The wannabe owners of a Walkersville farm are subject to trial and almost certain beheading by the Wahabis, the extremely orthodox sect that took over present-day Saudi Arabia over 200 years back.

They probably would not do well either under Syria's ruling class, who are Alawis or Alawites, belonging to a Shia sect. This is why they went to the aid of Teheran when Saddam Hussein invaded Iran, which is also Shia.

Without getting into the marked differences that split Libyans from their fellow Sunnis, I think the point has been made. The practices of Catholicism prevent Rome's followers from being lumped in with other Christians. And so it goes.

Much - but not all - enemies of the Ahmadiyyis' request to buy Frederick County farmland rail and rant against "them," without really know who "them" are. The members of the world's fastest growing religion come from every aspect of the human race.

Today's argument echoes in many ways the rhubarb touched off when the Frederick Islamic Society wanted to buy 100 acres in the farmland near Jefferson. The proposal would have placed a school and mosque on the property, with room for a cemetery.

County Commissioner John "Lennie" Thompson led the fight to deny the proposed land use; his arguments were so specious they would have almost certainly brought legal action under the federal law that permits religious institutions to circumvent many local statutes.

Fortunately for taxpayers, then-Frederick Mayor Jennifer Dougherty quietly invited the society to buy within the city. They are here. The doctors and dentists, professionals and non-professionals, worship in peace with the neighbors. And, yes, the mosque hosts carnivals and fund-raisers, like the local churches and synagogues. When asked, most city residents have no idea where resident Muslims pray.

One Monday caller to Bob Miller's WFMD Morning News Express show blatantly misquoted the Quran; nowhere in the book is lying condoned, even in dealing with non-Muslims. No scholar of Muhammad's "recitations" - which is how his followers believe God Himself wrote Islam's Holy Scripture have stated this. I read the Quran several times while living in Egypt. I wanted to know what people were talking about and quoting.

Not from the book but from a brother of the Congregation of Holy Cross, I learned "Allah" means the One God. A former teacher in India's Bengal Province, Brother Basil taught the profusion of gods in Mecca required emphasizing what the Islamic call to prayers proclaims: "There is no God but God and Muhammad is His Messenger."

By the way, a senior member of Beth Sholom synagogue told me the Islamic sect's plans won approval from the county's oldest Jewish congregation.

After all, Allah is the same God as Abraham's and Moses' and all the Biblical prophets. Look at the Quran. And if you will not, then shut up! You have absolutely no right to say what Islam teaches or holds.

And let the Muslims live in peace, the same peace they use to greet each other. Salaam aleikum means "peace be to you." The answer, by the way, is "and with you, peace:" Aleikum wa salaam.

However you slice it, tarring all Muslims with a terrorist brush is racism. Any Christian minister who preaches against their local presence is imitating the last century's murderous bigot, Adolph Hitler - not Jesus Christ.

(Tonight Walkersville's Planning Commission is due to act on the ordinance proposed by Commissioner Chad Weddle which would deny religious facilities on town land zoned agriculture. Tomorrow night it's the town fathers turn. I'm due to visit again Bob Miller this morning, on WFMD 930.)

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