CAIRO – Condemning anti-US violent protests as contradicting with Islam’s peaceful message, America’s imams urged US Muslim community to serve as online ambassadors for their country and tell world Muslims about positive aspects of American society.
"Why don't we become ambassadors of peace and understanding about America?” Imam Muhammad Abdul Azeez asked his 500 worshippers during an impassioned sermon at SALAM Islamic Center near American River College, the Sacramento Bee reported on Saturday, September 15.
“There is a lot of good here,” he added.
The imam added that as American Muslims have chosen to raise their children in the United States, it is time to show the world the positive aspects of American society.
"Just a few clicks on Facebook and Twitter is all it will take," Azeez added.
The imam calls for outreach followed violent protests which engulfed several Arab and Muslim counties over a US-made film insulting Prophet Muhammad.
Titled “Innocence of Muslims”, the film, set in the modern era, shows an Egyptian Coptic Christian fleeing from an angry Muslim mob. Egyptian police looked on while the mob smashed up a clinic where a Christian doctor worked.
The film was posted on YouTube in June but drew attention last week when an Egyptian-American Copt produced a trailer in an Arabic-language blog post and e-mail newsletter publicizing the movie.
The movie was promoted by US pastor Terry Jones, who angered Muslims in 2010 with plans to burn the Noble Qur’an.
Jones called the film a "satirical" movie on the life of the Muslim Prophet, saying he showed a promotional video trailer after staging a symbolic "trial" of the Prophet.
In Egypt, one of the largest, longest-lasting protests took place, leaving at least 224 people injured, including six officers and 18 soldiers. Security forces have arrested 23 violent protestors.
Five protesters were killed in Yemen, while one was killed in Lebanon.
Protestors also attacked the US consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi, an attack that left the US ambassador and three other diplomats dead.
Expressing disgust and heartache over the film, the Muslim congregation also expressed profound sadness and outrage at the murders of the US ambassador to Libya along with 10 Libyans defending the embassy.
"The heinous murder of an honest man, an activist at heart, will impact our lives for months and years to come," Azeez said.
"The actions of a few Muslims put all our lives in jeopardy."
US Muslim imams rejected the protesters’ attacks against US embassies, saying it contradicts with the teachings of Islam.
When people mock, curse or belittle one's beliefs, "what Allah expects you to do in the short term is absolutely nothing, be patient, persevere and let it go," Azeez said.
"Leave until they start talking about something else and calm down, then reach out to people and change one heart at a time."
The imam added that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) was subjected to many attacks and mockery in his lifetime and used eloquence and wisdom to win over his critics.
"Unfortunately that guidance is not being observed – if people only followed in the footsteps of the man they are trying to defend, the world would be a better place," he said.
Seeing increasing protests, leaders of more than a dozen Minnesota Muslim groups signed a statement condemning the violence.
"American Muslims, both frustrated by the misrepresentation of their faith by the attackers, and hurt as Americans for being attacked, have loudly condemned the attacks in unison," read a statement from Islamic Resource Group, a local Muslim speakers bureau.
Muslims at a north Minneapolis mosque in Twin Cities also rebuffed the anti-Islam defamatory film.
"We're totally against mocking any of the prophets or messengers," El-Sawaf, president of the board of the Islamic Community Center of Minnesota, told Star Tribune.
El-Sawaf also rejected the murder and violence the anti-Islam film has unleashed.
"These are emotional reactions to what is going on [in the Muslim world]. It is not part of the teaching of Islam," he said.
"We're totally against such a thing."
El-Sawaf, who's also taught Islamic studies at the Islamic University in Minnesota, said Islam teaches that "false lies" should not be spread about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and other prophets in the Muslim faith.
"These are the chosen people by a mighty God to lead and to teach and to bring people to righteousness and follow God's teaching," he said.
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