Muslim Peace Fellowship

Rabia Terri Harris 3/19/2003


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Rabia Terri Harris
is coordinator of the Muslim Peace Fellowship.

In the Name of God, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful





There will be many among us who will be thinking now, "We failed." But we have not failed. The chance of convincing Pharaoh not to do what a Pharaoh does was slim from the outset. Nonetheless, the chance had to be pursued--and we have pursued it, nobly, not out of narrow self-interest, but hand in hand with the people of the world, all speaking with the voices of prophets.

Prophet Moses, peace be upon him, warned his Pharaoh nine times. When Pharaoh didn't listen, God sent curses. After each curse, Pharaoh had a moment's pause, a moment of reflection. Then he went back to doing what he had done before, curse or no curse. And the curses kept on coming.

Moses didn't send the curses upon the land of Egypt: Pharaoh brought them on himself. They afflicted all the Egyptians, and Pharaoh's heart was softened, momentarily, for the sake of his land and his people, after each one. But then it hardened right on up again.

It's hard to give up the pleasures and conveniences of power. After all, if there are any slaves, you might have to do a little bit of work yourself: you might have to build your houses a little smaller, you might have to build your cars so they burn a little less gas. And it's even harder to give up the conviction that you are right. Pharaoh was quite sure he had God in his pocket. After all, he was the ruler of the richest country in the world. He had the biggest army. He had all the national media singing his praises. Everybody around him told him he was divine. He was doing God's work. What more proof did anybody need?

This is a recipe, not just for cruelty and stupidity, but for national disaster.

The Egyptians didn't have any say about their government. We do. The state priesthood wants us to think we're helpless. We're not.

This war upon Iraq, which turns the United States of America into a patent aggressor, is the fourth great shadow to fall upon this nation in its brief history. We have committed many little sins, as all peoples do, but carry three that are profound. One is the brutal and cynical theft of this land we hold from its native guardians, together with its subsequent violation. The second is the institution of slavery, together with the malice that succeeded it. The third is the release of the atomic bomb. For none of these have we ever repented. To them we now add the towering arrogance of empire.

When a nation goes without repentance for a long time, its sins begin to mount. And then--whatever its virtues--the scales of divine justice begin to tip against it.

But we *are* this nation. And we *can* repent. We can refuse to participate any further in the business of destruction. We can work to undo all the corruptions in the earth in which our leaders have had a hand. There are many of us: we're not alone. We can do it together. And we can build more healing soundness--more humility, more solidarity, more love, more care, more virtue to balance the brokennesses that we can't yet fix.

We can also pray. We'd better.

Count the curses that have come upon us so far. If we're not up to nine yet, God willing we still have time.

Whatever we undertake, we have to remember this, now and forever. The methods of Pharaoh don't work.

Don't use them.

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Muslim Peace Fellowship

Rabia Harris, Coordinator,

The Muslim Peace Fellowship is part of the Fellowship of Reconciliation network