By MICHAEL S. BOS, ARABNEWS
IN September, attention will turn to the tenth anniversary of 9/11, and pundits will have their say about the significance of this tragic event.
The one thing on which all Americans will agree is that this was the day that transformed our understanding of Islam. Before 9/11, many Americans were blissfully ignorant about Islam. After 9/11, everyone had something to say about it. Unfortunately, much of it was based on half-truths and unsubstantiated claims that cast Islam’s past, present and future as one of violence. This has left us with the great need and challenge of reshaping our public understanding of Islam in America.
This work will require much more than the dissemination of accurate and fair information. Sadly, many people tend to consume or believe only that information which confirms their existing beliefs or opinions. So while information is an important and necessary part of the solution, this makes it incredibly difficult to change unfair characterizations through the spread of information alone, and it represents a potential impasse in effecting change.
However, two emerging trends highlight other factors that are key for real change. The first trend is represented in the growing number of evangelical Christian leaders who are committed to a rapprochement with Muslims. Just a cursory review of the number of evangelical Christian responses to “A Common Word” (www.acommonword.com), a letter written by a number of high-profile Muslim leaders that outlines common principles in the Muslim and Christian scriptures, evidences this. This is remarkable because not long ago it seemed as if evangelistic ambitions, for which this group was known, were equated with maligning the faith of others. Further, it would have been extremely difficult to find anyone from these ranks who would publicly support interfaith cooperation. READ MORE