The parable of the good Samaritan is a didactic story told by Jesus in Luke 10:25-37 about a traveler who was stripped of clothing, beaten, and left half dead alongside the road. A priest and then a Levite came by, but both avoided the man. Finally, a Samaritan came by, bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine, put him on his own donkey, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, with all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
On May 26, at the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, two teenage girls — a black 16-year-old and her 17-year-old Muslim friend, wearing a hijab, boarded a downtown train in Portland, Ore. A man got on at a later stop and immediately launched into a racial and religious tirade at the girls “shouting that Muslims should die.”
Three good Samaritans stepped in to protect the frightened girls. The heroes, Ricky John Best, 53, a 23-year Army veteran, and Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, 23, were stabbed to death and Micah David-Cole Fletcher, 21, was seriously wounded. Jeremy J. Christian, 35, was arrested on suspicion of aggravated murder and attempted murder.
The three Samaritans were angels walking among us. They acted like the Bible Samaritan. They saw a wrong and tried to right it, witnessed hate and bigotry and tried to stop it, and were the voice for the voiceless terrorized targeted youth. They were the best in all of us, we mourn their loss, and honor their heroism.
Sadly, the Samaritans’ brave acts of love and selflessness were soon forgotten.
Timed during Ramadan, dozens of anti-Muslim marches were held on June 10 across the country sponsored by ACT for America, the nation’s largest anti-Muslim hate group. These marches have been disingenuously branded “March Against Sharia” and explicitly target Muslims to instigate hate and division.
ACT has a long history of promoting policies at the federal and state levels intended to manufacture fear of Muslims.
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Sharia literally means “a well-trodden path to water,” the source of all life, representing the Path to God, as given by God, the Originator of all life. For Muslims, Sharia establishes the patterns believers should follow in worshipping God: prayers, charity, fasting and pilgrimage. Non-Muslims follow the religious laws of their own faith.
We are a secular nation, and the U.S. Constitution is the law of the land for all. Using the banner of Sharia is just a failed attempt to spread deliberate misinformation, and misinterpretation to foster hate and fear of Muslims and Islam.
We must combat the ideology of hate right here at home that maligns, attacks innocent Americans, their faith, and their houses of worship under the deliberate disguise of the so-called anti-Sharia banner.
Violent religious extremists, mass murderers, terrorist people/groups who attacked in the U.S., London, Paris, Manchester, Tehran and across the globe are our collective enemies. Their acts of extreme violence have nothing to do with religion. They deliberately misused and abused Islam. They are outlaws. Their ideology of hate and mayhem kill more Muslims globally each day.
We honor the memory of the three Oregon Samaritans by standing together, countering hateful speech, and acts with a positive message of love and solidarity that reflects the bedrock of American values of unity, pluralism and liberty for all.
It is poignant to recall the following words of two giant peacemakers who lived through similar tumultuous times.
“When we see others as the enemy, we risk becoming what we hate. When we oppress others, we end up oppressing ourselves. All of our humanity is dependent upon recognizing the humanity in others.” Desmond Tutu
“All the religions of the world, while they may differ in other respects, unitedly proclaim that nothing lives in this world but Truth.” Mohandas Gandhi
• Shams Ghoneim is coordinator for the Muslim Public Affairs of Iowa