Twitter moves fast — with its steady stream of breaking news, sports chatter and hot takes — but sometimes it’s home to deeper, more nuanced debate.
Qasim Rashid, an American Muslim from Washington, D.C., was asked recently on Twitter to name the “Christian version of ISIS,” and his response has earned widespread praise.
Rashid is an author who has written three books, all that deal to some degree with persecution based on one’s faith, and who has helped launch a campaign aimed at uniting Muslims and non-Muslims.
He also believes in the power of dialogue as a means to bridge differences, so he chose to respond to the man who posed the question, listing a compendium of world events to show people and groups, not religions, cause death and atrocities.
His list included:
▪ 400 years of the trans-Atlantic slave trade
▪ The Crusades
▪ The death of approximately 100,000 in Uganda at the hands of the Lord’s Resistance Army
(Visit Rashid’s Facebook page to see more of the exchange.)
Rashid’s goal in making the private exchange public in a tweet was to show that “terrorism has no religion, and we cannot fall into this trap of legitimizing terrorism by blaming an entire world religion.”
Rashid, in a phone interview Tuesday, said the man’s reply revealed he had viewpoints characteristic of a white supremacist: He denied racism exists and asserted colonization and genocide perpetrated by predominantly white nations are justified to preserve cultural heritage.
His tweet of their exchange garnered tremendous support, with nearly 70,000 retweets as of this writing.
Many praised Rashid for his response, including Christian clergymen.
Rashid was compelled to refute the man’s claim that Islam represents violence, saying the world’s second-largest religion represents charity, care and compassion, as well as a duty to serve humanity. Raised Muslim, Rashid reaffirmed his faith in his early 20s.
He was asked by the man, who remains unidentified, why the Muslim holy book promotes terrorists.
“I said it doesn’t,” Rashid said. “There are people who misrepresent the Qu’ran, but the Qu’ran itself doesn’t produce any terrorists,” just as the Bible didn’t produce the Ku Klux Klan.
After the San Bernardino, Calif., attack, Rashid helped launch TrueIslam.com, which provides opportunities around the country for meetups between Muslims and non-Muslims, in which conversation is shared over coffee and cake.
Rashid hopes the conversations will help allay the terrorizing effect of ignorance.
“With ISIS, when they do something horrific, that fear and ignorance is a powerfully destructive combination,” Rashid said.
And it actually helps the extremists’ cause, he added.
“The goal of ISIS is to create a separation between Muslims and the West, to try to create a division,” he said. “When we have policies that even give the perception of advancing that (division), it becomes fodder for ISIS to say, ‘Look, we told you they hate you. Come to us.’ ”