Salaam Alaykum rahmatu’Allaahi wa Barakato, or may the peace and blessing of God almighty be upon you. I hope that this letter reaches you in the best of Iman.
Please let me introduce myself even though you had been my Facebook friend since 2012. My name is Steven Pearce, I am an American Muslim from Redding, CA. I became a Muslim in 1997, so I have been Muslim for 18 years. I am a Sunni Muslim that follows the Malaki Madhab. However I do believe that religious rulings from different Madhabs might be more appropriate for different situations.
I have had the pleasure of studying under some of the top Muslim scholars in the world. I hold several ijazats (degrees) on various Islamic subjects. I also have the distinction of being the only American student of a program through the Grand Zaytuna Mosque. The Grand Zaytuna Mosque’s university program is an extension of the Grand Qarawiyyin Mosque in Fez, Morocco, which is the oldest university on Earth. In fact it was a Muslim woman, Fatima al-Fihri, whom started this university which is still in operation today. They are the first mosque which started a degree (ijazat) program in the world.
The reason that I started this letter by saying salaam alaykum is because this has always been the way of the Prophets. Even Prophet Issa (Jesus) used this term. The Prophet of Islam, Muhammad ibn Abdullallaah said that, “You cannot be a believer until you wish love on your neighbor. You cannot wish love on your neighbor until you wish peace on your neighbor. You cannot wish peace on your neighbor unless you say salaam alaykum, so say salaam alaykum to everyone”.
This brings me to the character of our Prophet. When people insulted him he did not yell at them or tell them to go to hell. He dealt with them at their level. He was very soft in his character. He would massage peoples’ hearts.
An example of this is when a Jewish lady had once came to him and complained. She was very angry and yelling with him. She demanded that he held her hand and put food in her mouth. He was very soft with this woman and she became Muslim.
There is also the known story of a Muslim man that used to always drop trash and dung in front of the Prophet’s house. Since this was a daily occurrence and the man missed one day dropping trash in front of the Prophet’s house, the Prophet asked about him. When the Prophet found out that his Jewish neighbor was sick he went and visited him. Then he got herbs and medicine for the man and helped him get back to health. As a result, this man became a Muslim.
The reason that I am writing you is because you had told me that you knew better about Islam than I do. You said you have studied extensively by yourself for over 12 years. What is interesting is that the scholars have said one must study with a scholar when studying Islam. Even when studying the Qur’an. They say that how the Qur’an will lead you on the right path, it can also lead you astray.
People will read in it what they want due to their preconceived notions.
I know that you messaged me and mocked me by saying that you have over one-million readers and that nobody reads me. I do have a few readers, nothing on that level. However, I will say that I feel very concerned that so many people will blindly follow someone like you that uses hate and fear to attract followers. I would rather have a few thousand readers that believe in peace and love instead of a million readers driven by irrational fear due to their lack of tolerance for people that share different beliefs.
I am not your enemy. If we ever had a chance to talk you would see that we are both avid Constitutionalists. I believe wholeheartedly in the First Amendment. I believe in the freedom of religion. You say that you believe in this as well, and I am sure you do, but it is for anyone who is not a Muslim. This can be seen through your comments demanding for 109 passaged to be removed from the Qur’an. You have also stated that every Muslim who believes in the Qur’an or the Sunnah is a radical.
You have used this fear-mongering to build a business empire. It is well known that your shooting range was floundering until you declared it to be ‘Muslim Free’. You did not want to train future ‘Jihadis’ at your shooting range. However, there are plenty of white supremacist types that use your range.
That is fine, you do not need to allow us to use your facilities even though this is in direct violation of federal law. It brings back memories of a time in your home state of Texas where there used to be signs that said, “Color served in the rear”. Also, Texas has a reputation of being the most racist state in the country. Any Google search will show this due to their being the most white supremacist groups in the country. However I think per-capita Mississippi is much worse.
My brother faced similar discrimination in Lubbock, TX in the 1980’s. He was stationed at the USAF base. My brother and his Mexican-American wife went to the Dairy Queen in Lubbock where they refused to serve them because they told him that they do not serve ‘mixed couples’. So a pattern of discrimination does exist in Texas.
You were brought up in this type of culture so you do not know any better.
You claim to be a patriot, but I am a patriot also. Imagine, I was in an Arab country, Tunisia, with a gigantic American flag out every time the USA was playing in the World Cup, whether it was FIFA or FIBA. I would wear an American flag watch and cap as well. That is a true patriot, someone who will fly an American flag in an Arab Muslim country.
Guess what? Nobody harmed me or threatened me. People wanted to take pictures with me.
A patriot should believe on the premises of what his nation was founded upon. Freedom of religion is a sacred right. This should be for everyone. We should be against intolerance and discrimination. Intolerance and discrimination leads to animosity and radicalization. It is the hate that hate made.
I want you to think about a few things. Imagine, we have fliers that we give inside our mosques telling us to combat terrorism and to be against ISIS and al-Qaeda. They warn us about the Khawarij which is the group behind the Sunni terrorism. The fliers also tell us that if we come across these terrorist types that we should turn them in to the authorities.
I would be more than happy to supply you with a PDF of these fliers.
We do not acknowledge the Khawarij as Muslims and consider these groups enemies of Islam. They adhere to an ideology completely foreign to me.
So while we are trying to self-police the mosques, we have people like you that question our patriotism, say that we adhere to an ideology that does not fit into the American culture; that we fail to assimilate. This is disheartening to a community that is doubly under attack because our religion has been hijacked and is being defined by groups like ISIS which the media uses to demonize us. This demonization leads to our dehumanization which allows for the USA to come into the Muslim world and create wars to control the oil trade.
Also you are creating more terrorists. There are many young Muslims that face discrimination daily due to inflammatory rhetoric. Muslims do not feel safe. ISIS has a slick social media marketing campaign used to attract more people to commit terrorist acts. They will use your videos speaking about a ‘Muslim Free’ zone to tell these youth, “See, we told you, it is a war against Islam. They will never accept us. They are training to kill you.”
You said that you studied Islam for 12 years. Then you should know about the First Hadith which has been traditionally taught in all four Madhabs. The first Hadith, which has the strongest Isnad or chain of narration in all Hadiths says this, “Show mercy to all of Mankind, like Allaah has shown is mercy to you. Allaah withholds his mercy to those that do not show mercy to other, so show mercy to all of mankind”.
There have been a few narratives in this open letter using the word ‘Mankind’. Notice that the showing of love, peace, and mercy extends to all of mankind, not just your fellow Muslim. The Prophet said that, “If any Muslim harms a non-Muslim even by his spoken word, that he will have me to talk to on the Day of Judgment”.