In the Quran, God says that the human race was created through one couple to teach that we are all one family and that God has evolved humanity into many cultures and peoples so as to encourage us to know and understand each other; not hate each other. the Quran teaches that in religion there should be no compulsion. The Quran also has passages hostile to othe religions, but so does the Hebrew Bible and the Christian “New Testament.” (“Allah” is simply the Arabic word for what in English is “God,” just as “Dieu” is in French, “Elohim” in Hebrew, etc.)
Far from being anathema to the majority of human beings, islam is the religion of 1.5 billion people. Christianity has a far bloodier record than Islam. It was Christians, not Muslims, who carried out the Holocaust, and although there were over the centuries some Muslim pogroms against Jews there were far more pogroms, Inquisitional burnings-at-the-stake, etc by Christians than by Muslims. In a thousand years of European history, the only time Jews, Christians and Muslims lived in peace and friendship with each other was under Muslim rule in Andalusia. The Christian recoquest of Spain climaxed with the expulsion of Jews and Musllims in 1492 and the Inquisition thereafter. Beginning in 1492, Christianity carried out genocide against the indigenous peoples of the Americas.
There are millions of peace-committed Muslims in the US, and the Muslim American Society, Cordoba House (the founders of the Park 51 Muslim-rooted cultural center in Lower Manhattan) CAIR (the Council on American Islamic Relations) and other American Muslim organizations have repeatedly denounced terrorism. That record of commitment to peace and dialogue is available on the websites of all those organizations, and in their own behavior as well.
Shalom, salaam, peace —
Rabbi Arthur Waskow
Director, The Shalom Center