City Life »
Leadership independent of religion
February 4, 2013
Editor’s note: Sam Wazan is a Charlotte-based author, speaker and incoming board member at Mecklenburg Ministries. He also serves as the programming chair of the Charlotte Cooperation Circle and member of the Comparative Religions Committee at Temple Beth El. Wazan was recently tapped by the United Nations affiliated, international interfaith nonprofit organization, United Religions Initiative (URI) to serve on their leadership council as a global trustee - one of only three in North America. He represents the first ever Muslim chosen from this region. According to URI’s founder and Executive Director, the Rev. Charles Gibbs, “Wazan represents the best of America’s ideals in his actions and his appointment should be cause for celebration.” Read Charlotte Viewpoint's interview with him, by Arts & Culture editor Jeff Jackson.
"Can you tell me if Obama is not a Muslim?" A well meaning lady asked me after my book talk and before the elections. She continued, "He must be. I believe he is. I have proof." Her tone suggested disenchantment with that reality, had Obama been one.
The next morning, I received an email from her. "... we were mesmerized by your program..." She also embedded a link of a video "proving" that Obama is a Muslim. I saw the video, and responded to her email.
Below is my modified response.
Thank you for sharing the video with me. I think that Obama clearly implemented basic negotiations and personal skills to engage Muslims on his terms, western and nonviolent terms.
In the video Obama credits Muslims with their benefit to the world. He assures them that he and we, in the USA, respect their proven history of making contributions to the world in various fields such as math, astronomy, and science. After doing so, he diplomatically makes the motion to impress upon them to engage in the world, peacefully. That is my take! Alternatively, by responding with violence, Obama will be dropping fertilizers of hate, and more children will grow up intent only on destroying the USA. Ghandi said it best, “An eye for an eye ends up making the whole world blind.”
As I mentioned in the talk yesterday—I am still feeling great about it—our presidents must continue to use Peace in the War & Peace equation. Personally speaking, my friend’s enemy is not my enemy. He/she will continue to be my friend; therefore, giving me the opportunity to repair bridges between my friend and his enemy. Relating to Muslims to engage them in dialogue makes not a Muslim.
America is a multi-faith nation. It won’t bother me if an American Buddhist, Hindu, or Jew runs it, if he/she has the best in mind for Americans and the world. The USA continues to exemplify not only tolerance for other religions, but also acceptance and respect. Obama’s victory, four years ago, showed the entire world the Americans' positive spirit. I wish the Arab and Persian world learn from us how to value humans above religious and ethnic differences. Had this been the case, we will live in a much more peaceful world, busy with making the air cleaner and inventing cures for chronic diseases. Even if Obama was/is a Muslim, which I don’t believe he is, I will not hold him in lower standing, just like I won’t myself for being one.
I like to remind you of what I said yesterday during our talk: The Middle East is riddled with crimes against humanity in the name of righteousness. In a region smaller than the United States of America, many faithful in states such as Iran for the Shiites, Saudi for the Sunni, Israel for the Jews, and Lebanon for, Oh! say Christians, Muslims, and Druze are not exactly demonstrating interfaith harmonic living. There, many leaders and citizens continue to prove to the world how they turned virtue in context to the culprit of daily massacres and violence. Please take notice how when they, the warring parties, tire from loss and destruction, they raise their eyes to Washington to save them from each other. Right now, I trust in our American spirit and humane leadership remaining resolute in bringing about peace.
I hope this helps. I will be grateful if you keep the channels open and you like to ask more questions in the future.
Finally, to the readers: Please know that I am grateful that the inquisitive and sincere information seeker, the lady, found me trustworthy. I related to her fears, and now I am engaged with her, for a better world.