Opinion: “The Good in Muslim Hearts Offers a Better Self-Portrait than Violence”

February 21, 2006

Source: The Christian Science Monitor


On February 21, 2006 The Christian Science Monitor ran an opinion piece by Ibrahim N. Abusharif, editor of Starlatch Press, a Muslim publishing house in the Chicago area. "A growing discussion among American Muslims centers on this observation: We are missing from the diverse cultural space of American life. The focus on terrorism and the vague war against it threatens to relegate and typecast Muslims forever. What more can we do to encourage and empower American Muslims to produce and show their art, to express what they value through literature, theater, film, song, visual arts, and even humor?... It is naive to expect the American public to independently reject mendacious labels about Islam if the flavorful and extraordinarily rich traditions of this religion and its people are kept secret. A vigorous cultural presence, one hopes, can help a people reclaim their right to show who they really are while protecting the interior narrative of their faith from being co-opted by fringe extremists, whose deeds, then, are trumped up by media 'experts' who often peddle medieval fears about Islam with impunity. When people are known at a visceral level - something pushed along by the puissance of art - their place in society becomes layered and authentic. Their sense of belonging strengthens, as does their voice in public debate."