Muslins say that they are people whose greeting is "Peace" : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Muslims dispel myths Say they are 'people whose greeting is peace'

By TARA DOOLEY Copyright 2001 Houston Chronicle Religion Writer

Though the crowd was thinner than usual for Friday afternoon prayers, hundreds of worshippers at the Islamic Society of Greater Houston's central mosque were encouraged to dispel misinformation about Islam and demonstrate its true teachings of peace and mercy.

"We are a people whose greeting is `peace,' " said Alaa Sallam, who delivered the Friday afternoon sermon at the eastside mosque. "You cannot sit at home and say `It is not my problem.' If you are truly a Muslim, you have to take initiative."

"Take pride in your identity," Sallam said. "Let people see you as a good representative of Islam."

Sallam's remarks came in the wake of terrorist attacks Tuesday on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and as federal authorities investigated exiled Saudi Osama bin Laden as the mastermind behind the crimes.

In the days following the attacks, local Muslim-Americans have been concerned about backlash. A mosque in Denton was firebombed and another in Irving had shots fired at it. Threats against individual Arab-Americans and mosques have been reported throughout the United States.

In Houston, leaders of the Islamic society's five main mosques met to discuss security in the next days, said the group's president, Sayeed Siddiqui. Extra officers were hired for the prayer service at the central mosque.

Though the Islamic society leadership has collected at least one report of verbal harassment against individuals here, Siddiqui said he has heard of no violent acts.

"The (Houston) community is more aware and conscious about Muslims now," he said, pointing out that Muslims are involved in the political and social institutions of the city.

Those who came to pray at the mosque Friday said they did not have security concerns -- not then.

"The first day I was looking around me and that was a very bad feeling," said Houston resident Sroor Asaduddin, who had come to the mosque to pray.

Some came to the central mosque so they could participate in an organized blood drive or contribute to the funds.

"I lie in bed and I see the plane going into the second building," Asaduddin said. "I don't think I will ever forget that."

In his sermon, Sallam encouraged worshippers to remain involved in the community.

Sallam told faithful Muslims to tell those around them that that Islam does not condone terrorism and that only a minority of extremists twist the teachings to serve political ends.

Instead, the Quran and readings on the life of Muhammad, the religion's main prophet, indicate that surprise attacks are expressly prohibited, Sallam said. Even in war, Muslims are prohibited from destroying the environment or taking innocent lives such as those of women, children or those in prayer.

"What happened on Tuesday set (the perception) of Islam backward in this country and the whole world for years to come," he said.

-- Rich Marsh (, September 15, 2001

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