Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Mosque in Morgantown


I wanted to encourage Baha'i Thought readers to check out a PBS documentary that will be airing on Monday, June 15th called The Mosque in Morgantown. Here's a little information from the PBS website about this highly relevant documentary:

Morgantown, West Virginia, is a university town of 30,000 nestled in the Appalachian Mountains—and the site of a brewing battle within the local mosque.

Journalist Asra Nomani glimpsed Islamic extremism up close when her dear friend and former Wall Street Journal colleague Daniel Pearl was murdered in Pakistan. When she returns home to West Virginia to raise her son, she believes she sees warning signs at the local mosque: exclusionism against women, intolerance toward non-believers, and suspicion of the West. Her resulting campaign against perceived extremism in the Islamic Center of Morgantown brings a storm of media attention, unexpectedly pitting her against the mosque’s moderates. (Read more about it here)

Baha'u'llah had this to say about religious fanaticism:

Gird up the loins of your endeavor, O people of Baha, that haply the tumult of religious dissension and strife that agitateth the peoples of the earth may be stilled, that every trace of it may be completely obliterated. For the love of God, and them that serve Him, arise to aid this sublime and momentous Revelation. Religious fanaticism and hatred are a world-devouring fire, whose violence none can quench. The Hand of Divine power can, alone, deliver mankind from this desolating affliction.
(Baha'u'llah, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 13)

Promoting the consciousness of the oneness of religion is an important means of countering religious extremism in all its forms. In its letter addressed to the religious leaders of the world, the Universal House of Justice offered this sobering warning:

"With every day that passes, danger grows that the rising fires of religious prejudice will ignite a worldwide conflagration the consequences of which are unthinkable. Such a danger civil government, unaided, cannot overcome. Nor should we delude ourselves that appeals for mutual tolerance can alone hope to extinguish animosities that claim to possess Divine sanction. The crisis calls on religious leadership for a break with the past as decisive as those that opened the way for society to address equally corrosive prejudices of race, gender and nation. Whatever justification exists for exercising influence in matters of conscience lies in serving the well-being of humankind. At this greatest turning point in the history of civilization, the demands of such service could not be more clear. “The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable”, Bahá’u’lláh urges, 'unless and until its unity is firmly established.'" (Read the entire message here)