Allahu Akbar

It is well into the late night /early morning in Iran, hundreds of thousands still fill the streets and alley ways of the nation's capitol. Chant's of the phrase "god is great" fill the dark air, echo off of buildings and resonate with a people's frustration and hope.

For most in the west, there is a mixture of emotion when we hear the words "Allahu Akbar", and unfortunately none of those emotions are positive. For years, through social stigma, media, and our own limited understanding we have come to associate the phrase with radical Islam in the worst caricature of fear possible, witnessing it only in the context of violence, ignorance and hate. We heard it first in 1979, during the Iranian Hostage Crisis, which has since shadowed our entire perception of the region and Islamic faith in general. Over the years we have continued to hear the mantra, in association with acts of horrific inhumanity, and continue to hear the chant of misguided disciples even today in Iraq and Afghanistan. But these represent a rouge minority faction of Islam, twisting and perverting their faith as an excuse to perpetrate violence and progress what is ultimately a political agenda.
Now we see ordinary citizens of Iran, fed up with theocratic despotism shrouded behind a thin veil of democracy, taking to their streets in protest of a government that has suppressed human rights and used Islam as an arm to grasp for lofty political aspirations. They chant the words "Allahu Akbar" into the dry night air, asking for god to give them strength, and reminding their leaders that no President, Ayatollah or government for that matter, is above god. It is not a battle cry, it is a prayer and a plea in this context, and it has historically been the mantra of those who rose up against tyrants, dictators and oppressive forces throughout Islamic history. As time goes on, perhaps the we as Americans can identify with a people's plight for freedom, and respect them for standing up for that freedom. In the end, the number of Muslims in this world that want peace, security and prosperity, far out number those that pander and subscribe to extremist theocratic dogma.