And, it is a very good question. In fact, it has a very good answer:
They Are... we just don't hear about it.
Recently, a group of 38 Muslim scholars, clerics, and government officials sent a letter to Pope Benedict XVI concerning his controversial remarks on Islam. Immediatly after the Pope's remarks, the world press delighted to cover riots and protests across the Muslim World as they happened. Now, when Muslim authorities release a moderate and articulate assertion that Islam is for peace... did it get any coverage? Did we get any Alerts on CNN or Fox or MSNBC? Actually, no. Al-Jazeera covered it and UPI put out a wire report. The Christian Science Monitor was the only paper I can find to publish any real discussion of this letter. That's how I found out about it (and everybody I've talked to since then has said: "Really?")
In contrast, if Bin Laden or Al-Zarqawi's replacement hopped on TV and screamed: "Death to the Infidels", how much coverage would that get?
The following comes from a Press Release on Islamica Magazine's website:
Open Letter to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI by 38 Leading Muslim Scholars and Leaders.
In an unprecedented move, an open letter signed by 38 leading Muslim religious scholars and leaders around the world was sent to Pope Benedict XVI on Oct. 12, 2006. The letter, which is the outcome of a joint effort, was signed by top religious authorities such as Shaykh Ali Jumu‘ah (the Grand Mufti of Egypt), Shakyh Abdullah bin Bayyah (former Vice President of Mauritania, and leading religious scholar), and Shaykh Sa‘id Ramadan Al-Buti (from Syria), in addition to the Grand Muftis of Russia, Bosnia, Croatia, Kosovo, Slovenia, Istanbul, Uzbekistan, and Oman, as well as leading figures from the Shi‘a community such as Ayatollah Muhammad Ali Taskhiri of Iran. The letter was also signed by HRH Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal of Jordan and by Muslim scholars in the West such as Shaykh Hamza Yusuf from California, Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr of George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and Professor Tim Winter of the University of Cambridge.
All the eight schools of thought and jurisprudence in Islam are represented by the signatories, including a woman scholar. In this respect the letter is unique in the history of interfaith relations.
For those of you who aren't up on the "Who's Who of Muslim Scholars"... that is a REALLY impressive list of people. In fact, I don't think you could put together a more authoritative group of people to speak for the Muslim majority. The release continues:
The letter was sent, in a spirit of goodwill, to respond to some of the remarks made by the Pope during his lecture at the University of Regensburg on Sept. 12, 2006. The letter tackles the main substantive issues raised in his treatment of a debate between the medieval Emperor Manuel II Paleologus and an “educated Persian”, including reason and faith; forced conversion; “jihad” vs. “holy war”; and the relationship between Christianity and Islam. They engage the Pope on an intellectual level concerning these crucial topics—which go well beyond the controversial quotation of the emperor—pointing out what they see as mistakes and oversimplifications in the Pope’s own remarks about Islamic belief and practice.
The Muslim signatories appreciate the Pope's personal expression of sorrow at the Muslim reaction and his assurance that the words of the Byzantine emperor he quoted did not reflect his personal opinion. By following the Quranic precept of debating “in the fairest way”, they hope to reach out so as to increase mutual understanding, reestablish trust, calm the situation for the sake of peace, and preserve Muslim dignity.
Christianity and Islam make up more than half of humankind in an increasingly interconnected world, the letter states, and it is imperative that both sides share responsibility for peace and move the debate towards a frank and sincere dialogue of hearts and minds which furthers mutual understanding and respect between the two religious traditions. Indeed, the scholars point out, both religions teach what Christianity calls “the two greatest commandments”. The commandment that “the Lord our God is one Lord” and that we shall love Him with all we are is enshrined in the first testimony of faith in Islam, “There is no god but God.” The second commandment “to love thy neighbor as thyself” is also found in the words of the Prophet, “None of you believes until he desires for his neighbor (in another version, his brother) what he desires for himself.” The signatories also point out the positive contacts the Vatican has had with the Islamic world in the past, with a hope that they will continue and even grow in the future.
The letter speaks of the prevailing views of things like "Jihad" (which is NOT a "holy war") and the relationship between Christians and Muslims. In fact, I think just about everybody should read the letter itself.
The full text of the letter can be found here in PDF form. I strongly recommend you read it. You will learn a lot about Islam.
I am very frustrated to know that this letter never hit the press. It was largely ignored. I guess it wasn't sensational enough. Nobody is screaming for our destruction. Nobody is calling us infidels. This is a group of distinguished men and women who assert that Islam and Christianity can get along.
What more important message could we be hearing these days?
I know this post is long-winded. But, I hope you will send it on to your friends. There should be an E-mail button below. More people need to understand about what I have long known to be real Islam.
That is all.