We are in the midst of the current hate campaign against Muslims. We have had similar hate crimes and phobias by American Christians from the founding of our nation. Indeed, the very heritage of Christianity is a history of war, hate, bigotry, and phobias.
Many will say that the current hatred of Islam stems from 9-11. Perhaps. Some will say that it is because of the intent to build a Muslim center two blocks away from Ground Zero. But the 9-11 tragedy was no more an act of Islam than the bombing in Oklahoma City was an act of Christianity. And the Muslim center AWAY from Ground Zero is actually something akin to a YMCA center with a chapel inside. And mosques are being burned, threatened, and de-faced from Los Angeles to New York, including in Sheboygan, Wisconsin and in Tennessee. There is a craziness afoot as there has been on the past in America. Think of the "witches" burned at the stake. Think of the southeastern part of Colonial America where one group of Christians crucified another group upside down. Think Japanese-American concentration camps. Hatred and phobias dot the entrie history of America and the Christian world.
Most criticism of Islam comes from people who have no knowledge and/or understanding of the religion. Indeed, it is truly amazing that though the Bible quotes Jesus as telling us to love our neighbors, be kind to those who hate us or are our enemies, to turn the other cheek, and to follow the peaceful admonitions of the Prince of Peace, there are those Christians who say that Jesus didn't really mean that. And these same hate-filled people tell us that they know Jesus would hate Muslims. Come on.
"Given a thumbful of facts we rush to make generalizations as large as a tub." -Gordon W. Allport
"Nothing is so firmly believed as that which is least known." -Michel de Montaigne
"Prejudice is the reason of fools." -Voltaire
Let's look at what Muhammad actually said, and follow it with some observations of people who were not Muslims but had studied the religion. Muhammad cannot be responsible for every terrorist any more than Jesus can be blamed for the long history of Christian wars and Christian violence. Muhammad quotes:
"The ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of a martyr." "Do not envy one another; do not hate one another; and do not undercut one another, but be you." "There is nothing heavier in the scales than good character." "Arrogance means ridiculing and rejecting the Truth and despising people." "Do not turn away a poor man...even if all you can give is half a date. If you love the poor and bring them near you...Allah will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrectjion."
In his book, "The 100 - a Ranking of the Most Influential Person in History" by Michael H. Hart, a Christian astronomer, a mathematician, a chess master, and a scientist, rates the number one person in history:
"My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world's most influential person may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels. It is probable that the relative influence of Muhmmad on Islam has been larger than the combined influence of Jesus Christ and St. Paul on Christianity. Furthermore, Muhammad (unlike Jesus) was a secular as well as religious leader. In fact, as the driving force behind Arab conquests, he may well rank as the most influential politcal leader of all time. It is this unparalleled combination of secular and religious influence, which I feel, entitles Muhammad to be considered the most influential single figure in human history."
And another non-Muslim, who experienced the break-up of his new independent nation, India, caused by the splitting demands of Islam, Mahatma Gandhi, nevertheless had this to say of Mohammad in his book titled, "Young India":
"I wanted to know the best of one who holds today's undisputed sway over the hearts of millions of mankind. I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet, the scrupulous regard for his pledges, his intense devotion to friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission. These and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every obstacle. When I closed the 2nd volume (of the Prophet's biography), I was sorry there was not more for me to read of the great life."
And from another non-Muslim, Annie Besant in "The Life and Teachings of Mohammad":
"It is impossible for anyone who studies the life and character of the great Prophet of Arabia, who knew how he taught and how he lived, to feel anything but reverence for that mighty Prophet, one of the great messengers of the Supreme. And although in what I put to you I shall say many things which may be familiar to many, yet I myself feel, whenever I reread them, a new way of admiration, a new sense of reverence for that mighty Arabian teacher."
If you mistakenly think history only records a violent Muhammad, if you think that it is through military force only that a great religion can be established worldwide, then you have not read the teachings of the Prophet. He was a kind and gentle man. We tend to judge him through a prism of 1400 years. Do you do the same with Christianity?
I am not a religious man. But I certainly can appreciate the historical sweep and influence of the Prophet without being a follower. To ignore his nobility of character is not to know Muhammad. Do yourself and your nation a favor: become acquainted fully with the man who led the estabishment of Islam.