WASHINGTON - While many politicians sharpened their pens to attack the American Muslim community after 9/11, representatives of other faiths jumped to defend Islam, making a remarkable shift of interfaith relations on the twelfth anniversary of the attacks.
The Muslim community has experienced this textraordinary outreach of friendship and compassion from so many faith leaders, especially in the Jewish and Christian communities, Dr. Ingrid Mattson, the former President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), told Gen Connect website on Wednesday, September 11.
They started standing up for us and on behalf of us and then beside us. What happened was this amazing transformation from simply wanting to help us get through a difficult time to becoming friends and saying, what can we do together?'
I think we're much stronger than we were before September 11, the author of The Story of the Qur'an: Its History and Place in Muslim Life, and several articles examining the relationship between Islamic law and society, gender and interfaith relations, added.
Twelve years ago, interfaith dialogue was tense.
Unexpectedly, the 9/11 attacks came to improve the situation drastically, despite some initial trepidation.
Dr. Mattson remembers how other faiths jumped to defend Islam, building a friendship based on mutual benefit and making interfaith relations much stronger than they were prior to the September 11 attacks.
The US marks the 9/11 anniversary today.
American Muslims in Oklahoma and Virginia are planning special peace rally and prayer service to mark the tragic attacks which put Islam and Muslims under the pinch of Islamophobia and prejudice.
Despite improvement in interfaith relations, US Muslims were still facing several challenges to their faith, including the misinterpretation of the Noble Qur'an.
The biggest misconception is that people say Well because Muslims understand the Quran to be the literal word of God, then they take everything literally', and that's not true, Dr. Mattson said.
Muslims - like Christians and Jews - have an interpretive tradition which we read those verses and reinterpret them for our life today.
Some principles and values are timeless and others really deal with the seventh-century reality, she added
Dr. Mattson is currently the London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies at Huron University College at the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada.
She was previously a professor of Islamic Studies, founder of the Islamic Chaplaincy Program and director of the MacDonald Center for Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary.
Though there are no official estimates, the US is home to from 7-8 million Muslims.
An earlier Gallup poll found that the majority of Americans Muslims are loyal to their country and optimistic about their future in the United States.
Since the 9/11 attacks on the United States, many Muslims have complained of facing discrimination and stereotypes in the society because of their Islamic attires or identities.