This is the transcript of my speech given on September 11, 2011 in the Park Church, Elmira, New York — A United Church of Christ Congregation!
It was very well received by the audience. Reverend Felicity Wright called it interesting, useful and provocative.
Allow me to quote from the written meditations and prayers that have been distributed in the Church today. I want to read from the meditations, my favorite Christian prayer, if you will. The prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi:
Lord make me an instrument of Your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is darkness, light
Where there is sadness, joy
This is the reason for our visit today and theme of my speech. I share almost all the sentiments that have been expressed here today to honor the victims of 9/11.
On the fateful day of September 11, 2001, a black day, a day that will forever live in infamy and notoriety, nineteen hate-mongering terrorists hijacked 4 commercial jets. They not only hijacked the planes with the passengers, but also hijacked peace and tranquility of many and the religion of Islam, which stands for peace and submission to the will of One God. They slammed the planes into the World Trade Center and the pentagon killing more than 3000 innocent lives. Their hijacking of the religion of Islam, riding on the air-waves of the national and world media has continued to slam and smash the consciousness of all humans, raising a fundamental question, Is Islam a peaceful religion or does it promote violence? This is the question! This is the question, with a capital Q!
This is a fundamental issue that every thinking person has to resolve for himself or herself to maintain his or her sanity and integrity. If we as Americans fail to assign legitimate blame we will be guilty of naivety and other major consequences will follow. On the other hand if we assign a false guilt we will be stereotyping and blaming 1.5 billion Muslims and Islam for something they do not stand for. A grave error that will have major social, political, moral and spiritual ramifications. Once again, I want to second all the sentiments that have been expressed about 9/11 and everything that has been said to honor the victims of 9/11. Having said that I want to move to the main theme of my speech which is to discuss Islamic teachings of Jihad, which is about self purification and defensive war and to vindicate Islam from the terrorism perpetrated on 9/11.
Now, let me show you Islamic teachings about honoring each and every human life and declaring it sacred. The Holy Quran equates killing of one innocent life with killing of all mankind or creating a holocaust. In this way Islam puts an absolute value on each and every human life, which cannot be sacrificed for one’s political goals.