As an Egyptian Muslim living and working in the West, I am keenly aware of the growing tensions afflicting Western-Islamic relations. Contributing to these tensions is the western assumption that somehow Islam, as a faith and as a way of life encourages or at least tolerates violence as a means of achieving political, spiritual or other objectives. This is in stark contrast to the prevailing view shared by one billion followers of Islam who see themselves as peaceful adherents of a great faith who have been the victims of western exploitation and domination over the years.
Addressing this schism necessitates dispelling the myth that an entire faith can be so simplistically held responsible for the evils of terrorism and violence. Propagating such a fallacy serves no one. The crimes of crusaders should not be attributed to the core philosophy of Christianity just as the violence of modern day Muslim radicals should not be the term of reference for judging the Islamic faith.
The Quran, the sayings of the prophet and the legal construction developed by Muslim scholars over the years, collectively shape the framework of Islamic thought and practice and spell out in unambiguous terms the Peaceful compassionate, nature of Islam. This is what one billion Muslims believe in.
A few radical Muslims along with many in the West seem to share a common tactic. They intentionally interpret texts out of context and claim that that is what Islam represents. Neither should be allowed to impose their distorted reading nor to define this great faith.
A sober, scientific discussion encompassing, inter-alia, the three Abrahamic faiths, may lead to a better understanding of the realities and the nuances surrounding this vital issue.
Nabil Fahmy has been ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt to the United States since October 1999. He also has served as Egypt’s Ambassador to Japan. He received his bachelor’s degree in physics/mathematics from the American University in Cairo in 1974 and his Master’s in management in 1976.