Editorial: For Muslims, Ending Hate Speech Begins at Home

May 6, 2004

Source: The New York Times


On May 6, 2004 The New York Times published an editorial by Asra Q. Nomani, saying: "Not long ago in my little mosque around the corner from a McDonald's, a student from the university here delivered a sermon. To love the Prophet Muhammad, he said, 'is to hate those who hate him.' He railed against man-made doctrines that replace Islamic law, and excoriated the 'enemies of Islam' who deny strict adherence to Sunnah, or the ways of Muhammad. While he wasn't espousing violence, his words echoed the extremist vocabulary of Wahhabism, used by some followers to breed militant attitudes. Like others who listened that day, I was stung by the sermon. It stands in chilling contrast to reforms taking place within Muslim communities nationwide. In fact, only months earlier at my mosque, my mother, sister-in-law, niece and I prayed in the main hall, an act of defiance that led to a reversal of the policy that women had to pray in a secluded balcony. Sadly, I have learned that the realization of an inclusive Islam is a fragile thing, even in this country. Americans need not look elsewhere to hear hate-filled rhetoric preached by fundamentalists. It resounds in our own back yards... It saddens me that these Muslim organizations and my mosque leadership are reluctant to take a strong stand, because ending hate begins at home. If Muslims in America and elsewhere expect religious tolerance, we must ourselves enforce a zero-tolerance policy against preaching hatred and bigotry."