By Arooj ZahraPress_Partners_Web_09

Many Americans celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on June 26 that same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry, calling it a victory of love. Muslims living in the United States seem to be a bit skeptical about this ruling.

Sensing this, Iranian-American Professor Reza Aslan and The Daily Show correspondent Hasan Minhaj wrote an open letter to Muslim Americans regarding the gay marriages. They wrote:

“Many of you are scandalized by the ruling (we know because you keep tweeting about it), and many more of you are equally perturbed but have chosen to keep it to yourself. With all the rainbow-flag waving and self-congratulatory pats on the back this country is giving itself right now, you don’t need another reason for Americans to dislike you.”

I was invited to participate in a BBC World Radio show to discuss this letter with some other Muslims around the world. I personally think the letter made a lot of sense. Aslan and Minhaj did not ask Muslims to agree with the gay community; rather, they advised them to find common ground, since Muslims are already a minority in the U.S.

Instead of being a thin minority, why doesn’t everyone just give some space to fellow Muslims, rather than following a “with us or against us” point of view.

The problem comes when people try proving their support for gay marriages in the light of the Holy Quran. One participant at the BBC show said that the Quran is a book that contradicts itself and there is a room for gay marriages in Islam. I would think twice before saying something about our Holy Book. We should not claim that our point of view must have a place in Quran. First of all, one should not bring up the Holy Book if one is not an expert on Islam. Muslims who are in favor or against gay marriages can come up with several verses in the Quran that support their point of view, so let’s not go there.

One should not present his or her own ideas as something written in the Quran. There is a difference between what we believe and what is written in the book; that is why we seek guidance. Muslims believe it’s the word of Allah and He always knows better than us.

Secondly Muslims DO NOT have to accept gay marriages. It’s a democracy people in America are living in and everyone has a right to free expression. Why should Muslims be looked at differently when they disagree with gay community’s point of view? Isn’t this extremism when people pressurize Muslims to accept gay marriages or else be looked down upon? I know scores of Christians, Jews and other religious groups who don’t agree with the LGBT community but they are not being portrayed as narrow minded.

Being a religious minority in the U.S. is difficult. I have also experienced it during my five-month stay here and it gets more difficult if you are a Muslim. But look at the other side of the picture. Aslan cited a survey that found over 42 percent of Muslims living in the U.S. support gay Muslims.

I am against the generalization of any society or community. Unfortunately, Muslims all over the world often are generalized as narrow minded and “terrorist sympathizers.” One of the participants of the show raised a very important point that non-Muslims think that majority of the Muslims are like ISIS and we need to be extra careful. ISIS is a terrorist organization and they DO NOT represent Muslims and Islam. In fact they have nothing to do with our religion. Didier Francois, a French journalist who was held hostage by ISIS for over ten months, said on CNN, “There was never really discussion about texts … it was not a religious discussion. It was a political discussion. They didn’t even have the Quran.”

When Muslims do not generalize about Christians on the basis of an act of an individual (a white man killing blacks in a churches, for example) then they should also stop doing that with the Muslims. Not everyone in a society can be completely good or evil.

Another participant made an excellent point that non Muslims learn about our religion not through the Holy Quran but by our conduct. Muslims all over the world need to conduct themselves in a good way, according to the teachings of our religion as its just not a religion but a way of life.

We need to be very careful while choosing sides. As far as the gay marriage issue is concerned, being a Muslim in America can be tough and to actively participate at the community and the national level, Muslims must come together, find a common ground and forget about the differences. You don’t need to agree with other’s point of view but you can accept them as Muslims as long as they don’t hurt or abuse you.

We must learn to coexist; it’s the need of the hour. And it is not our duty to judge anyone on the basis of their way of life and beliefs, it’s the role of God. So let’s just leave it to Him.