Liberal Grace

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

My prayer for Muslims - their own Gandhi or MLK

If I had one prayer for Muslims it would be that they get their own MLK or Gandhi.

The Hindus have Gandhi and we Christians have Martin Luther King. Who do the Muslims have who is similar?

As a Christian pacifist I find it tremendously helpful having MLK as a role-model for non-violent change. As a human and a pacifist, I appreciate having Gandhi for the same reasons.

Critics of pacifism usually can't conceive that non-violent activism and passive-resistance are a powerful tool for change. But this is ignorance -- students of history know there is another way: the movements of Gandhi and MLK forced the British Empire and the Segregationist South to real change.

And not just politically and legally -- the moral authority of those two men changed the hearts of people that had been hardened by decades -- even centuries -- of repression and conflict.

In my observation, very few in the Muslim world can visualize the power of non-violence. The usual rationalization of suicide bombings and attacks on civilians is that the powerless oppressed have no other choice. Every human has the right to defend themselves, the reasoning goes, and the only weapons they have are their own desperate lives.

But MLK and Gandhi showed is that there is an alternative to violent self-defense. The availability of effective non-violent action makes it much harder to rationalize away violence.

Who am I praying for? A Muslim who:
* is a religious authority
* is politically brilliant
* is absolutely committed to non-violence.
* leads by example

In short, I'm praying for a Muslim MLK or Gandhi -- if he or she was a Palestinian, all the better. If the Palestinian conflict could be solved through non-violent, pacifistic action, I believe it would revolutionize this whole region for the better.

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