Very recently I stumbled onto a political cartoon depicting Muslims as barbarians that delight in murder and bloodshed. This is laughable to me because Muslims are no less barbaric than Christians, Jews, Hindus, or those of other faiths and practices. Seeing the comments on this cartoon, comments that read things like, “What do ya call a 10000 Muslims on bottom of ocean……a good start”, or “Way to go right wing glad some one big like you have the balls to stand up for us JESUS CHRIST AMERICAN loving people.” There were more, but they contained graphic ideas and profanity.
I have been acutely aware of the issue of Islamophobia in the US and Europe for sometime, but that has never deterred me from being interested in Islam. As a Latter-day Saint, I have a firm testimony in the teachings and doctrines expounded by my faith. Knowing what I know to be true, I have found pleasure in studying the religions of the world, especially those with ties to my own faith. Islam has been one of those faiths I have come to respect over the years. Because of the negative image they receive in less upstanding news sources, I thought it wise to give the Millennial Mormon perspective on what Islam, and its adherents, mean to Latter-day Saints.
ISLAM STARTED BY REVELATION
One of the great bonds that Mormons and Muslims share is the belief that their faiths each began through divine revelation to man. This idea that God had begun to speak again was a cause for tremendous excitement for the people of the Arabian Peninsula. I think a similar fervor filled the hearts of saints in the 1800s who heard that God was indeed alive and leading His church again.
Hugh Nibley wrote a comparison of Mormons and Muslims which contained this very insightful passage:
Early Mormon leaders saw no reason why Mohammed should not be considered a true prophet, for there have been many prophets, great and small, in the past whose words are not in the Bible.
Though Latter-day Saint do not have the Koran in their cannon of scripture, we recognize the good within it. Our similarities should be cherished, and our differences learned from.
MUSLIMS PARTICIPATE IN THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT
The scriptures suggest that the covenant made with Abraham applies not only to Isaac and his posterity, but also to Ishmael and his. Ishmael is the progenitor of Mohammed and the Islamic faith. The promise that Abraham’s seed would be numbered as the stars in the heavens is obviously being fulfilled through a combination of Islam and faiths. While other blessings and promises were made specifically to all of Abraham’s seed, others were promised to the children of Israel. Thus we see through this covenant, our Muslim brothers and sisters share, in part, the same promise we ourselves participate in. When Muslims pray to Allah, they are praying to the God of Abraham. Allah is a title, not unlike Christ, or Father.
INTERFAITH RESPECT IS IMPORTANT
With a global religion, we have no reason to be uninformed and disrespectful about the faiths of those around us. Islam is currently having a PR nightmare with all the terrible things being done by radicals in it’s name. When I hear of Latter-day Saints contributing to the disrespect of their faith, I am hurt and shocked at the ignorance they display when only 30+ years ago it was still legal to kill a Mormon in the state of Missouri. Pioneers faced murder, rape, plunder, tar and feather, and other injustices at the hands of bigots and spiteful men. Are we unable to stop doing the same to our Muslim brothers and sisters?
As I continue to stumble upon the obscenities being launched at these people by “Christians” from across America, I feel a rise of disgust and sadness. While there will be little to no reasoning with these people (who are too far beyond the grasp of reason and rational thought by now anyway), I would appeal to the membership of the LDS Church, specifically the Millennial Mormons. We have the opportunity to shape and mold the conversation. We can be loving, and charitable, and sincere in learning about the beliefs of those around us. We can stamp out the phobias sprouting up among ourselves. If not for those reasons, then do it because Muslim Millennials also abstain from alcohol so our parties would seriously be crazy amazing, or just because great people can be found anywhere if you look.
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