While the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful, the relationship of Islam to terrorism, including violence toward gays, mustn't be ignored, Nabeel Qureshi, a former Muslim who became a Christian says.
In a statement posted on his Facebook page, Qureshi offered these words in response to the massacre where 49 were reported murdered at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando:
"As we are clouded by agendas and struggling to react, two opposing positions are coming to the fore: 'Islam is a religion of peace and Mateen's actions therefore have nothing to do with Islam,' or 'Islam is inherently violent therefore we must see all Muslims as latent threats.'
"As an American and a former Muslim, my heart is torn by these two poles of rhetoric. Those who take the first position are endangering my country by overlooking the very real cause of Jihad, which are the teachings and history of Islam. Those who take the latter position are endangering my Muslim family and friends, loving and patriotic Muslims that are as innocent and American as the rest of us."
Emphasizing that he was "hurting beyond expression," Qureshi addressed this dichotomy and was quick to state that the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful and do not desire to harm Americans or gays. The Muslim community in Norfolk, Virginia where he was deeply rooted was one such community who have no ill feelings toward Americans or gays and among the thousands of Muslims he knew, he claimed that not one of them harbored violent tendencies. The mosque many of them attended included an open-armed diverse bunch of Sunnis, Shias, and others.
Qureshi further called for a sober understanding of the nature of the threat of radicalism. Muslims who take certain words of Mohammed at face-value as the Orlando killer Omar Mateen did, are often following the teachings of imams who preach the same thing. Muslims leaders who disseminate these messages in communities fuel this danger; an Islamic cleric who was well-known for teaching Islam's punishment for homosexuality just three months ago spoke at an Islamic Center 20 minutes away from the site of the mass shooting.
In the sayings of the prophet Mohammed (also called the Hadith), homosexual practice is harshly condemned. As Qureshi noted in that same Facebook statement, the Islamic religion has always held that gays must be executed. Several books of the Hadith include lists of punishments for specific sins. With reference to homosexual conduct, "If you find anyone doing as Lot's people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done." (Sunan Abu Daud 4447).
Nabeel Qureshi is also the author of Answering Jihad, a book that tackles the concept of Islamic "holy war" — what it means, what it entails, the rise of ISIS, and it's implications for modern societies grappling with philosophical and theological dilemmas about Islam, terrorism, and political freedoms in a pluralistic democracy.
How should Christians address such dilemmas and engage Muslim neighbors, including those who perpetrate atrocities like the recent ones in Orlando?
"My answer is simple: truth and love. This may sound trite or fanciful, but I am not advocating a whimsical or baseless love, which would never stand in the face of Jihad. I think we must respond with a love grounded in truth and self-sacrifice, reflecting the person and heart of Jesus Christ. We need to acknowledge the truth about Islam while holding that in tension with a respect and love for Muslims." Qureshi said.