The Cost of Compassion: Why Masajid Turn Their Backs

Justin Norman wrote a profound article on how most churches rejected his attempts to educate their congregations on the United States’s torture of detainees in the Global War on Terror. He listed the four most common objections, the bottom line of all of which was the financial health of the church institution.

Alas, it took many weeks of writing, traveling and dealing with countless iterations of the preceding arguments only to have somebody finally drop all the excuses and just say what so many were undoubtedly thinking: “I agree that Guantánamo should be closed, but if I allow you to speak to my congregation, we will lose attendance.” The honest rationale for not following Jesus all the way to the cross is the same today as it was before: The gods of purported safety, money and popularity are ultimately more appealing.

If you are Muslim, please read this article and substitute Muslim for Christian. Imagine the oppressed are some heretical sect of which you think little and the perpetrators share your ethnic identity. Or imagine the oppressed differ in gender or class and you perceive them to be less than you.

The following dialogue is reported between the Messenger of God ﷺ and some of his companions:

لَتَتْبَعُنَّ سَنَنَ مَنْ كَانَ قَبْلَكُمْ شِبْرًا شِبْرًا وَذِرَاعًا بِذِرَاعٍ حَتَّى لَوْ دَخَلُوا جُحْرَ ضَبٍّ تَبِعْتُمُوهُمْ قُلْنَا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ الْيَهُودُ وَالنَّصَارَى قَالَ فَمَنْ

You will follow the ways of those who came before you foot by foot and yard by yard and even if they go down a lizard’s hole, you will follow them. O Messenger of Allah, [do you mean] the Jews and Christians? He ﷺ replied: Whom else?

Unlike many people who use this text to advance interpretations which discourage Muslims from any practice of others, good or bad, we should use it to resist, however futilely, the corruption of our religious practices.

If this last part meant nothing to you, just forget it and focus on increasing compassion in your personal religious practice and, if possible, in any institutions over which you have influence.

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