Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Desecrations Disrespect Faith and Tradition

As a member of the board for the Georgetown University Muslim Students Association, I feel particularly disturbed by the recent acts of vandalism discovered on our campus. The destructive nature of these actions do not simply undermine the social and religious harmony that is the mark of our Georgetown community; they come as a rude awakening, pointing out that we have a long way to go in combating prejudices of all kinds on this campus and beyond.

As a Muslim, I believe in tolerating views that I may not necessarily share and in the value of dialogue and the peaceful exchange of ideas. In keeping with the example of Mohammed, the Last Prophet in Islam, I recall the importance of respect and love for all when he said, “An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.”

Being a Muslim means that I can proudly reiterate my religion’s profound respect for diverse backgrounds on the principle of common humanity that we all share. As the Qur’an reminds us: “O mankind! We created you from a single [pair] of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other [not that ye may despise each other]. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is [he who is] the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted [with all things].”

The repeated defacement of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima is thus unacceptable. Although statues in Islam are signs of idolatry, I am deeply offended by the disrespect for religious symbols and the disrespect for the great religious figure that the statue memorializes. The mother of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, is one of the most revered women in my Muslim faith. In the Qur’an, Allah declares her having the highest status amongst all women, and the 19th chapter, “Maryam,” is dedicated to her story. She is a model of righteousness, chastity and devotion to God. The repeated defacement of the Blessed Mother’s statue offends us all deeply, as do all other acts of vandalism and desecration of religious symbols. I feel that there is no room for such disrespectful behavior in our community.

Worse still, the discovery of the Nazi symbol on campus has brought to light an act of pure hatred which sought to divide our community. Let us all stand together to denounce these acts of aggression and let us bring harmony and mutual respect back to Georgetown.

The inherent equality of mankind, regardless of race, gender, religious or political affiliation, is embedded in all the Abrahamic faiths. Being Muslim, I have a profound respect for people of diverse backgrounds and views; I feel that I have much to learn from them, as they provide me with unique insights on the views that I already hold and, in some circumstances, modify or correct them for the better. I believe that we humans were meant by God to live in close collaboration with one another to work for the common goal of peace on Earth and salvation in the hereafter.

As God states in the Qur’an, “And if your Lord had so willed, He could surely have made mankind one nation” (Qur’an 11:118). Clearly, binding us into one homogeneous community would have been an easy task for God, but what makes our world interesting and worth living in is its heterogeneity and plurality – which, unfortunately, some of us take for granted and even loathe.

I am shocked by this blatant, unrestrained religious intolerance and racism a few individuals harbor and have publicly displayed. Whether these acts of vandalism were carried out consciously, with a malicious intent to spread hate, or not, they challenge the message of unity and love that humans were meant to uphold and propagate.

While I cherish the free speech Georgetown provides, the ill will possessed by these acts of vandalism defy the very driving force behind free speech – the creation of an environment of respect for all. Speech that incites hatred and espouses discrimination and bigotry has no place on our campus. I urge all to work toward fostering unity, harmony and open-mindedness in the Georgetown community by condemning the recent acts of vandalism. Above all, I ask that we all exhibit in our daily lives a profound respect and appreciation for people from all walks of life.

Usman Liaqat is a sophomore in the College and vice president of the Muslim Students Association.

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