This is no surprise to me, as I have several I’m fortunate to call friends, but there’s a great story in the HuffPost today about the growing numbers of American Muslims who are truly forging a path forward, one that goes against the stereotypes many Americans have regarding Muslims:
At first, the devout Muslims who gathered in a Washington, D.C., conference center seemed like they could have come from any mosque. There were women in headscarves and bearded men who quoted the Quran.
But something was different. While mingling over hors d’oeuvres, they discussed how to change Islam’s future. A woman spoke about fighting terrorism; she had married outside the Islamic faith, which is forbidden for a Muslim woman. A Pakistani man mentioned his plans to meet friends for drinks, despite the faith’s ban on alcohol.
In a corner of the room, an imam in a long gray tunic counseled a young Muslim with a vexing spiritual conflict: being gay and Muslim. The imam, also gay and in a relationship, could easily sympathize with the youth’s difficulties.
They’re taking bold steps, reinterpreting Islamic norms and re-examining taboos. While far from accepted by mainstream clerics, these worshippers feel that the future of the religion lies not solely with tradition but with them. Women are leading congregations in prayer, gay imams are performing Islamic marriages, and men and women are praying side by side.
This is an important point, but one that often gets lost:
“What’s taking place in Islam in America right now is what happened before in other religions,” says John Esposito, a professor of Islamic studies at Georgetown University.
And American Christians, as a whole, aren’t as far as long as American Jews are on these issues. There is a simply a path of progress that starts when religious belief exists in a diverse society such as the United States. Later in the piece, one topic is addressed that should sound familiar to TWO readers of various faiths:
“The vast majority of American Muslims believe in an Islam that is so different from the people that represent us,” Zonneveld says. “It’s like if you had an Orthodox Jewish rabbi representing all American Jews.”
Or Tony Perkins or Porno Pete pretending to represent “Christians.” Laughable, of course, but they get away with it. Read the whole piece, and introduce yourselves to a community of American Muslims that deserves our support.