No different than any Americans, York County Muslims are “sickened” and “appalled” by the Islamic State radicals in Syria and Iraq who are committing violent atrocities and urging violence against westerners around the world.
Members of Rock Hill’s Masjid Al-Salam – “Mosque of Peace” – which opened a year ago this week, say the radicals – who call themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – are not practicing the religion of Islam.
“What these ISIS people are doing over there is not Islam, it is terrorism,” said Abdul Khanani, a Muslim who has lived in Rock Hill for decades. “It is horrible.”
U.S.-led airstrikes Monday and Tuesday – coordinated with five Arab countries – are necessary to combat the Islamic State and its networks, Khanani said.
“Those terrorists over there should be dealt with swiftly,” he said.
ISIS is just another group of radicals acting in the name of Islam who are not practicing Islam, said Jumah Moore, a Rock Hill native who was instrumental in helping the Islamic Center of South Carolina build its Rock Hill mosque.
Many Muslims in Rock Hill met recently to discuss and denounce ISIS extremists who are killing people of many faiths – beheading American journalists and aid workers, slaughtering those who refuse to adopt their radical ways.
“These people cannot be Muslims; they are killers,” said Moore, executive director of the Islamic Center. “They are crazy and doing the opposite of the religious practices that we have.”
Islam denounces violence, said Moore and Jasiri Makadara, a spokesman for the Rock Hill mosque, but the ISIS terrorists are killing people of many religions in both Iraq and Syria – including Muslims. Violence in eastern Syria and western Iraq has outraged area Muslims who have worked for years to gain the trust and respect of their neighbors in Rock Hill and York County.
“What these people are doing is unacceptable to any person of any religion, and we as Muslims are appalled and sickened by it,” Makadara said. “They are totally and utterly devoid of Islam. They are teaching hate and violence and killing.
“There is no place in Islam for it, and no place in the world for it.”
Muslims in York County have had to work in the public eye for more than a decade to try to dispel notions that their religion – practiced by more than a billion people worldwide – fosters anything other than fellowship and community. Ever since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks committed by fanatical Islamists, area Muslims have worked to make sure that the local community knows that they abhor such violence.
At Holy Islamville, a village of 200-plus Muslims northeast of York who have lived peacefully for three decades, residents have repeatedly invited public officials, law enforcement, reporters and the public to functions that have included religious ceremonies and social gatherings.
Ali Rashid, a founding elder at Islamville, has coordinated ecumenical events with The Oratory, a Roman Catholic congregation in Rock Hill, and several Protestant churches.
No other religious group is expected to repeatedly prove its American-ness or its patriotism, but many area Muslims are cognizant that ISIS extremist killers – who recruit fringe fanatics in the name of an Islamic State that does not exist – bring about public scrutiny.
“We are Americans and always stand with America against terrorism and violence,” Rashid said. “We know, and we believe as all Americans do, that there is no place for killing in humanity.”
Muslims spent five years building the Masjid Al-Salam to serve hundreds of locals and scores of Winthrop University faithful who are living in Rock Hill while attending college. During construction and since its opening, mosque leaders have invited religious, political and law enforcement leaders to visit.
“We, like any house of worship, are interested in community and the spiritual part of life that is so important to all of us,” said Makadara, the mosque spokesman. “There is no place in Islam for ISIS. They are not Muslims. They are killers.”