An Op-Ed Article


A link to the illustration's Arabic script content information
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 A Letter to Al Qaeda and Anyone Else

    By Philip Steven Knight

"Bismillah hirRahman nirRahim" (in the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful) ~ Holy Qur'an

Whether one is deeply religious or not, the progressive improvement of life for all in the Middle East area from Darfur to Palestine and Iraq, and in fact the entire world will depend on one thing: a new and gracious humility.

There is a sometimes accurate, sometimes vanity driven view held by many Arabs and Muslims toward the U.S., the West and the rest of humanity, in great part the result of painful historical experiences with the non-Muslim world. 

It is the one that non-Muslims are too materialistic and spiritually shallow. There is also an Arab proverb, "Consider not the person who speaks, but what is spoken."

What follows was written by a fellow human being, an American citizen, yet only its proposal matters: to finally dare an unflinching and overdue planetary spiritual honesty.  The kind that any child understands and of which we all have the responsibility to walk in the mosques, churches, and temples of our ordinary lives.  Especially after 9/11.

At dusk years ago in Jerusalem, a television reporter and cameraman were walking back from an assignment down one of the narrow deserted side streets in the old Arab quarter.

Suddenly, a door in the corridor of buildings flew open out spilling light as an elderly Arab man strode out into the middle of the street screaming at everyone and no one.  Instinct prompted the cameraman to record the old man who ranted on for a few minutes and then strode back through his door slamming it shut.

ABC World News carried the incident as a sign-off piece on Easter weekend that year. Peter Jennings who had been ABC's Middle East Bureau Chief introduced it in his usual professional manner, yet with few words and a subtle winch of sadness in his last sentence, "It speaks for itself."  It certainly did, and we will get to its essence shortly.

Our Arab elder belongs in this article because you could accept or reject its suggested views based any number of biases towards me.  But he and billions of Muslims and non-Muslims alike speak the same language, the one each one of us can speak and hear, if we so choose: the simplicity of Truth itself -- that of the genuinely honest and Merciful kind.

This Truth knows of every swirling galaxy created and of every photon dancing in your eyes as you read this.  It also knows of all past and present beauty and viciousness of humankind within every community, culture, and religion, and yet It gently dismisses our fearful insistences on historical self importance. 

Truth can do this for it knows that your eyes, this planet, and the Universe are not the property of Islam, Christianity, Judaism,

or of any other religions, ideologies, cultures, or of our addictions to glorify or crucify others or ourselves.

It knows also that we can continue to incinerate trillions in global capital to fuel egotistical political and religious power struggles, terrorism, anti-terrorism, and war machines -- instead of to truly serve in Its name:

To peacefully honor our collective human and spiritual duty to feed, house and restore hope, dignity and opportunities to the hundreds of millions of disenfranchised people in the Middle East, Africa, and so many other places on our shared planet.

Our elder Arab friend had spoken of this in his own way: "All this killing for so long among the three religions of Ibrahim! But I ask you: When you get to heaven, do you really think the Divine will take sides?"

You may ridicule his childlike, grief stricken anger, but I dare you to argue with Truth:

"Not one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother what he desires for himself." Islam - 40 Hadith of An-Nawawi 13

"Do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets." Christianity - New Testament, Matthew 7:12

"What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor: that is the whole Torah. All the rest of it is commentary." Judaism - Talmud, Shabbat 31a

We can continue to cleverly violate Truth's utterly simple instructions, whether given to us through religions or anything and anyone else that speaks Its language.

Our varied mutual "holy wars" today are but more brutal divisive delusions of our fear fueled, Truth-deaf historical vanities. However one thing is certain:

The infinite genius of Truth will triumph one day for It is the ultimate power -- and the light within all genuine spiritual and human self-honesty, nobility and intelligence -- which graciously grant mercy, dignity and equality to all.

How much longer we choose to disgrace and war against such exquisitely vast, and yet practical earthly Compassion is entirely up to each of us.

So on which side are you?

The devious and prideful brutality of fearful divisions -- or the gently invincible and Most Merciful Truth?

Philip Steven Knight is an independent writer and multimedia content creator in the United States.

Illustration translation Information
Article and Illustration 2004 Philip Steven Knight  All rights reserved. 
Neither may be distributed or published without written author consent.

Middle East Truth

A Gentle Reminder


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