We have two powerful tools with which to bridge the chasm separating the United States from the Muslim world: faith in the basic goodness of humanity and trust in the power of sincerity and dialogue to overcome differences with our fellow human beings.Imam Rauf has it exactly wrong: what's wrong with man is not that we lack faith in the basic goodness of humanity. Perhaps it is solely a Christian perspective - which would at least belie the statement that this faith defines the Abrahamic ethic - but part of our major problem as moderns is not that we think too little of our own goodness, but that we think too highly of it. But I don't think it's solely Christian, as the very Jewish prophet Jeremiah pointed out 2700 years ago, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
This faith and this trust are taught by all the Abrahamic traditions. They define the Abrahamic ethic, which lies at the core of our American Declaration of Independence, and America needs to rely more heavily on them, as do our fellow actors on the stage of history.
The first truth is that only God can know it. The second truth is that only God can fix it. It's not, of course, that we can do no good, that we can show no mercy, that we can never live in peace - of course we can do these things. We were created to do them. But the history of mankind, the wars and the evils which we have done, illustrate that while we were created to do good things, we do them far less than we do things that are not good. "Let us build a name for ourselves" is the heartcry, not just of modern man, but of all mankind going right back to Babel. Whether we choose to call it original sin or human depravity makes no difference - whatever it is is the most obvious thread connecting the great things Man recognizes in Man. Why was Alexander great? Because he subjected an entire empire to the Greeks? Good things came of it - or rather God used it for good*- but Alexander's murderous rampage came about for the glory of Alexander, not God. What of Julius Caesar, often recognized as the greatest man of the ancient world? He slaughtered the Gauls and the Helvetians to sell children into slavery to cover his bar tab. What of the "God, gold, and glory" for which the Spaniard conquered? It is hard to argue that those reasons are in the correct order. In fact, they are in exactly the wrong order. Great men - Christians and Muslims and Atheists and Shintos - have always built great kingdoms atop the mangled bodies of the weak, and they have done it for themselves most of all. Little men build little kingdoms, and they do it for themselves as well.
But this is the reason why, while I have said elsewhere that Islam is evil - by which I mean it does not conform to God's word or wishes and is thus His enemy - it is of little use saying the Muslim is evil. Of course he is, he's human like me. His human heart is the same desperately wicked one that beats in my chest. My mistake is not in recognizing the evil of his acts, but in ignoring the same desires in myself. Islam is presently in a murderous rampage for what it considers truth, but it was not long ago that Christianity was in a murderous rampage for truth, as often as not against other Christians. Also as often as not, those internicene crusades were of mixed motives - the mixture of truth and self formed an alloy that was stronger than either, because it could hide the selfishness and excuse its evil. And while I think that only Christians, through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, can overcome it, I would be a fool to think we usually do. Paul himself asked who would rescue him from "the body of this death," in which sin and evil dwelt and which was constantly pulling him to do what he knew was wrong. Perhaps as only Christians can overcome it, it is we who have the most responsibility to do so. It is the most knowledgeable servant who is beaten with the most stripes, for to whom more is given, more is of him required.
Does this mean, as one commenter asked, we have to sit by while evil overtakes the land? Of course not. I need to live for the good, and I need to fight for the good. While I may be called on to die (and I must do so gladly, and believe God will give me that power) I may also be called on to kill** for the good. I may be called on to kill a Muslim (I may even be called on to kill a Christian), but I must not hate him even as I kill him. I may have to pull the trigger or open the bomb bay door, but I must not enjoy seeing his body parts fly. I must not collect his fingers as trophies of my own prowess. My hope for the Muslim is not that he be killed, but that he be converted, that he recognize the evil in himself as the Christian is called on to recognize the evil in himself. That he call out to Jesus Christ who died for the Muslim's hatred and wrath and selfishness, just as he paid the penalty for mine. That he receive from God the Spirit of Truth - in short, that he replace his loyalty for Allah with a loyalty to the true God.
If he will not, then we are enemies, because our loyalties are given to enemies, and my loyalties will not change even if my enemy would kill me for it. But my God says that I must love my enemy until that day when my God puts all enemies under his feet.
* For example, I would argue that the fact that the Greek language was spoken in large swaths of the Roman world was crucial to the spread of the Gospel.
** "Thou shall not murder," the command says, not that I must never kill.