Muslims in Charleston try to distance themselves from Isis

CHARLESTON, S.C.—The Muslim community in Charleston speaks out today. Donald Trump’s increasing poll numbers proves that statements like these might be resonating with Americans.

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on!” Trump stated. “We have no choice!”

Trump said this after the shootout by a husband and wife in San Bernardino, California killing 14 people and injuring 22.

Today, the Central Mosque of Charleston held a meeting and around 150 people were there. They invited people of all religions and backgrounds to come together, learn about Islam and ask questions of their Muslim neighbors. In the group there were Christians, Jews, Muslims and Atheists. This was a chance for the community to learn and ask questions.

One of the questions from the group—“Are the members of Isis Muslim?” Terrorist groups like Isis claim allegiance to the faith, but the leaders of the meeting today said the answer to that question is a strong, “no.” They said, the members of Isis are not Muslim.

“They are calling themselves Muslim, but they are not following the basic teaching of Islam,” said Shahid Husain, President of the Central Mosque of Charleston.

Husain is one of the organizers of today’s meeting educating people about Islam. He says he is saddened that in many cases, the word “Muslim” has become synonymous with the word “terrorist.” He wants to see that change.

“In Colorado, there was a shooting in an abortion clinic,” said Husain. “Nobody came and said ‘Christian terrorist.’ These are bad people. Bad people are bad people. Do not associate them with any religion. They are terrorists. Call them terrorists.”

Father Stan Gumuma, a Catholic monk from Mepkin Abbey in Monks Corner attended the event today. He said he wanted to come to show solidarity to the Muslim people in the community.

“Monks are basically reconciling people. That is the mission of the monastery. Right now there is real division between—if they’re Muslim—we’ve got to stay away from them and that is wrong. Muslims are people.”

Husain says Islam teaches peace and does not promote the actions of terrorists. In his congregation, he says if they see anything that resembles terrorism, they will be the first to report it because that kind of behavior does not belong.

“Every Muslim should come forward and do the same thing. Every mosque should come forward, every organization and say…hey, we’re going to kick these people out from here. We’re not going to keep these kinds of elements and this is not going to help. It’s going to hurt Islam. It’s going to hurt the Muslim and it’s going to hurt the country and we cannot live with these kinds of activities.”

He said that he thinks a lot of the misconceptions people have come from misinformation. He says people simply do not know about the Islamic faith or it’s teachings. He stated, it is their responsibility to educate the community, which is what they sought to do today. They have an open door policy and Husain encouraged anyone to come and ask questions.

This was the first meeting of its kind and they plan to have more. One of the board members at the Central Mosque of Charleston says they plan to have another inter-faith meeting next month. The mosque is at 1082 King Street Charleston, SC 29403.

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