Punish a Muslim Day apparently falls on 3rd April this year. No idea what day it was last year: it isn’t clear if it’s governed by the phases of the moon, like Easter, or fixed in the calendar, like Christmas. In celebration of the day, this letter was sent to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid MP:
It has also been sent to a number of Muslim Labour MPs and members of the public. The thing is, Sajid Javid is not himself a follower of any religion. Indeed, he is married to a practising Christian, and the only faith expressed in his home is Christianity. He is on record as saying: “I think we should recognise that Christianity is the religion of our country.” However, because he has brown skin and an Islamic-sounding name, someone has seen fit to send him this fan mail.
There is really only one way for Christians to respond to this manifest hate:
Not only Christians, of course, but this ought to be the response of all civilised people irrespective of their religious beliefs (or non-religious belief). But for the Christian above all the exhortation of Jesus is unequivocal:
Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Mt 22:35-40).
And in case there should be any doubt about who is your neighbour, please read Luke 10:29-37, which concludes:
Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
The only antidote to hate is love. The only remedy for Punish a Muslim Day is Love a Muslim Day. It is perfectly possible to engage in serious Islamic-Christian theological dialogue without desiring to butcher a Muslim or bomb a mosque. Indeed, those repugnant delinquents who desire to butcher and bomb are the only ones who merit any kind of punishment.
And yet Christians are exhorted to love them also:
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (Mt 5:44).
As Christians strive for moral perfection, the more we apprehend that love is the prophetic expression of our faith in the world. The ethic of Jesus transcends all that is self-regarding and all self-sustaining. There is no space for hate, vindictiveness, resentment or enmity: if we are to love our enemies as a matter of natural morality, we must surely find it within us to love our neighbour first. This is a divine standard which admits no compromise.
But don’t just read these words and assent to them in your mind or heart: act upon them. Please write to any of those Muslim/Asian MPs who have received a Punish a Muslim Day letter, and assure them of your support. Visit or drop a note into your local mosque, and wish their community well. Pop round to a Muslim neighbour; speak to a Muslim parent at the school gates; love them with the purpose of giving testimony to the world, that they may know who sent you.