Our people in Marawi rejected the violent ideology of ISIL / ISIS because we believe in the importance of love. We would be falling into their narrative if we cast them as representative of the faith of 1.6 billion people.
By Famidah Dirampaten
(Editor’s Note: Famidah Dirampaten is a candidate for the Master’s of Arts in Religious Studies at the Unification Theological Seminary and is currently based in Doha, Qatar. This is an excerpt of her speech on the Zoom forum Peace Amidst Diversity on July 14, 2021 sponsored by the UTS, the Universal Peace Federation, and the Filipino International Community of America. Here is the first of 2 parts.)
Bismillahi Rahman nir Rahim Wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh. Peace and blessings upon us all.
To begin with, I would like to extend my gratitude for this wonderful opportunity to participate in this event. This occasion is indeed a great venue to have series of exchange of ideas, thoughts and experiences from all of us. Those of us in this group have in mind and heart the goal of building a compassionate society.
Our world today faces an unusually wide series of challenges: covid19, Asian hate crimes, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, China’s repression of Uyghurs, Islamophobia on the rise in Europe, among others.
Perhaps there is none more pressing to us as Muslim Filipinos than that posed by the (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) ISIS, which is seeking to spread hate and violence in the Middle East and beyond.
Let me go back to the 2017 because it is something that’s personal to me. As the world confronted the ISIS challenge, we Filipinos play important roles.
In our place in Marawi City, my home town city in the southern part of the Philippines, the threat of ISIS and intolerance has been defeated by our government in October 2017.
Of course, the success of our local military would not have been possible without the help and support of western countries like the USA, Australia, and others.
In connection with that, I would like to share to you a story of courage and compassion from what happened in my place. My uncle, Datu Norodin Alonto Lucman, a cousin of my mom, was the one who saved the lives of our Christian brothers from the violence and killing of the ISIS who attacked our city.
It was on June 3, 2017 when Philippine troops were able to rescue 163 civilians trapped in Marawi City for 11 days, braving the odds and surviving harrowing experiences inside a conflict area. It was my uncle who protected and rescued the Christian residents and workers as the ISIS and extremist Maute Group tried to single out and remove the Christians from the Maranaos in order to kill them.
It was in the residential house of my uncle Norodin Alonto Lucman where the 71 residents took refuge under his care and protection. Almost half of them were Christians, including 13 Smart Communications contractual maintenance workers, 33 Dansalan Junior College teachers, women, and children – the youngest, just 2 months old.
Our people in Marawi rejected the violent ideology of ISIL / ISIS because we believe in the importance of love. Stories like these make us realize that there is still hope and compassion in our midst.
Some may still argue that Islam is a violent religion. After all, groups like ISIS use the Quran to justify their brutality. As a Muslim and as human being, I think we ought to do everything we can to stop a group like ISIS.
We would be falling into their narrative if we cast them as representative of the faith of 1.6 billion people.
The story of my uncle Norodin Alonto Lucman and other people who stood and protected their Christian brethren during that crucial time was because they chose courage and compassion over panic and prejudice.
At this challenging time of fear and bigotry, what will we choose? Will you choose to play it safe? Or will you follow those who say that we are better than these things?
I believe that although we speak different languages, although we have different cultures, traditions, and histories, we also have many similarities.
I believe that our faiths teach us similar values of pluralism and tolerance and religions teach us the virtues of love, compassion and mercy.
The Holy Quran commands Muslims to treat all people fairly. Islamic history provides many examples of toleration towards other faiths. Muhammad (PBUH), the last of Allah’s Messengers, preached and practiced tolerance and acceptance towards non-Muslims in every walk of life. # (To be continued.)