August 24, 2009
A few weeks back I got a form letter from the Islamic Center of Muncie, IN. It was to invite all religious people to tour their new facility and share in an open house. They have chosen as their new worship space a building that is very visible on a major shopping artery only a few blocks from our UU church.
The first paragraph of the note gave basic information but the second paragraph read as follows:
“This life is entrusted to us as a gift and we must live to serve the oppressed and the needy because it is our duty. We must learn to create kindness, compassion and love for each other to alleviate mutual distrust and enmity between people of different ethnicities, races and faiths. The Islamic Center of Muncie hopes that you will support us in this effort.”
Reading this I thought, “This could have been written as a mission statement of a UU church.” I liked their opening in a stance of gratitude, their emphasis on service, on promoting kindness and love and alleviating enmity. I liked their invitation to cooperation and unity. I know that not all Muslims, even in this center, are of the same mind, but their current leadership has set them on a progressive course. Of course a UU statement would also include something about the free and responsible search for truth and meaning. Furthermore I know that Muslims in general are not thinking of gay or lesbian, bisexual or trans-gender people as among the oppressed. But they can be our allies in many ways.
For instance there is the Maryland legislator, Saqib Ali, who has considered the oppression of glbt people and has taken a stance in support of gay marriage even though he fully understands and accepts that there can be no gay Muslims [or more accurately, if one is to submit to Islam one must accept its strict prohibitions against homosexuality] (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=111770008).
As I learned in community organizing, there are no such things as permanent allies, there are no such thing as permanent enemies. Each may take different paths but the struggle for peace and justice is universal.