March 25, 2004

Islam: What is there to fear? by Chaplain James Yee

I thought that since Chaplain Yee's arrest, incarceration and eventual punishment occured because of some unfounded fear of Islam and Muslims, I would share an article that he wrote while down in Guantanamo entitled, "Islam: What is there to fear?"

The motto of West Point is Duty, Honor, Country. Duty is defined as choosing the harder right over the easier wrong. I'm very disappointed but unfortunately not surprised that the US Army chose the easier wrong in permanently damaging Chaplain Yee's reputation and effectively ending his military career instead of choosing the harder right and admitting that the whole case was a mistake and giving him the apology that he deserves.

But it appears that choosing the easier wrong is currently in vogue these days whether its Yee or WMD. Hey as long as it's a noble cause it's ok to lie to achieve the desired result. Well that's the argument that Machiavelli made.

This article originally appeared in Volume 3, Issue 9 of the Wire on Friday January 31, 2003. The Wire is the newspaper for the Joint Task Force Guantanamo

By CH (Capt.) Yee
Chaplain, Joint Task Force Guantanamo

Islam: What is there to fear? in the Chaplain's Corner

September 11th, the pending war on Iraq, and our own day to day experiences of the Joint Task Force Guantanamo mission have all contributed to the picture many of us as Americans have painted about Islam and Muslims. And now, this universal religion of more than one billion followers worldwide is scrutinized by a population that has little knowledge of its basic tenets and practices. It is with a fearful eye that Islam and its worshippers are now being examined with the notion that they have become our nation's greatest enemy. However, a truly objective look makes it quite clear that Islam is really nothing to be afraid of at all.

The meaning of the word Islam is "submission'' and "peace." For a Muslim, the goal of attaining inner peace is achieved as one strives towards "submitting" oneself completely to God. Six articles of faith and the five pillars of Islam begin the process of transforming a mere physiological heart into a spiritual one.

The six articles of the Islamic faith indicate what a Muslim believes. They consist of belief in: 1) One God The Almighty, All-Powerful, All-Knowing, All-Merciful, the Sole-Creator of all that exist; 2) The Angels - created by God to carry out various functions in service to Him, e.g., The Angel Gabriel's role was to bring divine revelation down to the Prophets; 3) The Divine Books - to include the Scrolls of Abraham, the Torah, the Psalms, the Gospels and the Qur'an; 4) The Messengers of God - to include Adam, Noah, Abraham, David, Joseph, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad; 5) The Last Day - being raise before God to account for one's belief and actions; 6) The Divine Decree - meaning all things happen according to His decision and not without His permission.

The five pillars of Islam which Muslims perform are: 1) Openly declare their belief in the Oneness of God and the finality of the Prophethood of Muhammad; 2) Prayer five times a day; 3) Give charity to the poor; 4) Fast during the month of Ramadan; and 5) Make a pilgrimage to Mecca, the holy city of Islam, at least once if able to do so.

This is Islam in the mainstream, and looking a bit deeper into the core of its values, one finds a religion that affirms God's justice and insists on man's moral responsibility. However, it's a shame that every group is plagued with a small minority that falls prey to the pitfalls of following its own interpretations and agendas; and thus darkening the reputation for the majority.

Yes, another terrorist attack or the possibility of hidden Iraqi weapons of mass destruction are enough to strike fear in the American people. But in reality, the majority of Muslims around the world from Indonesia to America are God-loving people. So why has it been so difficult for most in our society to distinguish these millions from the extreme fanatical minority? Why are we still afraid of Islam, the religion?

Answer: lack of knowledge and unfamiliarity with Islam and Muslims. In most cases, people have limited personal experiences with Muslims and know Islam only through references made towards Muslim extremism.

The strength of the nation we defend is our diversity, but not knowing each other only creates an obstacle keeping us from really coming together as one cohesive force. A verse from the Holy Qur'an reads: "O Mankind! (God) has created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may know and learn from one another. Verily the most honorable of you in the sight of God is the one who is most righteous." Practically speaking, this is as easy as smiling, and saying, "Hi, my name is ... " to a fellow JTF member who is Muslim. With almost certainty, your response will also be met with a smile and the words, "Hi, it's nice to meet you..."

Posted by Yahya at March 25, 2004 08:26 PM
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