c. 2011 Religion News Service
Lately, Congress appears to be obsessed with Muslims.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., is holding hearings Tuesday (March 29) on “Protecting the Civil Rights of American Muslims,” and Chairman Peter King has announced a second set of hearings on “Radicalization in the American Muslim Community” in the House Homeland Security Committee, this set focusing on radicalization in prisons.
Although the word “Muslim” is the one getting the most media play, I believe these hearings are really about America, and whether we value the contributions of, and cooperation between, our many different communities.
Our founding fathers were emphatic on where they stood. When George Washington was asked about his preferred workers at Mount Vernon, he replied: “If they are good workmen, they may be from Asia, Africa or Europe; they may be Mahometans (Muslims), Jews, Christians of any sect, or they may be atheists.” For Washington, it wasn’t just about the principle of freedom, but the practicality that in a diverse nation, bigotry toward any community not only hurts that group, but weakens the nation.
As the leader of the Continental Army, the first truly national American institution, Washington took a strong stand against
c. 2011 Religion News Service
In The Smith Family Chronicles 1: Jane Smith Comes Out To Her Evangelical Father, Betty’s husband Bob kicked their daughter Jane out of their house. In The Smith Family Chronicles 2: “Is It Really God’s Will That I Live Alone?”, we saw that might not be the complete end of Jane’s life.)
In The Smith Family Chronicles 3: “You Will Not Take My Daughter From Me!” Betty shared with her husband how she felt about his reaction to Jane’s coming out (which compelled Bob to make a bold, if seriously erroneous assertion). In The Smith Family Chronicles 4: “Hello.
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The conflict in Murfreesboro, TN over whether or not to allow that town’s Muslim community to build a new mosque is much more than a test of our nation’s commitment to our Bill of Rights. How this matter is resolved could end up defining the very soul and future of America.
There was, from the beginning, a dualism that shaped our national character. We were, after all, a people who fought a revolution inspired by high-minded freedoms. And yet the republic we formed was born with the original sins of ethnic cleansing of indigenous peoples and slavery.
This conflict between our two personalities has shaped our
The expression “Islamophobia” to describe anti-Muslim hostility in Europe and North America is becoming increasingly common. Even though the use of this expression is still not quite as trendy as a Lady Gaga song, one can already find numerous books, articles and websites that expound on the phenomenon of “Islamophobia”. The views on “Islamophobia” are quite diverse, ranging from people on one end of the spectrum who do not believe that there is any significant anti-Muslim hostility in Europe and North America and no need for the term “Islamophobia”, to those on the other end of the spectrum who frequently invoke the term “Islamophobia” to describe perceived hostility towards Muslims or Islam.
During the last few months at least three books on the topic of “Islamophobia” have been published by academics and scholars: Islamophobia: The Ideological Campaign Against Muslims by Stephen Sheehi, Islamophobia by Chris Allen and Islamophobia: The Challenge of Pluralism in the 21st Century edited by John
What is Scripture? For the Muslim thinker Allama Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938), founding poet of the nation of Pakistan, the answer concerns science as well as the Quran, reason as well as faith, poetry as well as prophecy. In his influential book of philosophy and faith, ‘The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam,’ Iqbal called fellow Muslims to re-awaken both the rationality and the mysticism that is inherent in Quranic tradition. And that is the theme of this post: Iqbal’s account of the central place of empirical study in the scriptural tradition of Islam.
Iqbal teaches that, as demonstrated in the great Muslim civilization of the medieval and early modern periods, Quranic tradition places high value on the empirical study of the natural world as well as in prayerful devotion to the will of Allah. The word and will of Allah, the one God, creator of heaven and earth, were dictated to the Prophet Muhammad and preserved in the Arabic text of the
Conservative Evangelical Christian Bob Smith is having one intense day. First he reacted poorly when his daughter Jane revealed to him that she was someone very different than he thought.
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It isn’t a crime to practice Islam in the United States of America.
At least, not yet.
On Monday (March 14), Missouri state Rep. Don Wells introduced a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at blocking Sharia — the Islamic legal code — from being used in state courts. Another Missouri lawmaker introduced a bill to ban the use of any foreign laws in state courtrooms.
Wells said he introduced the Sharia ban out of concern that there is a global push to accept Islamic laws that he views as oppressive to women and as calling for violent punishment for minor offenses.
“I think it’s just absolutely a guarantee to my children and grandchildren that in the future they will live under the same laws that I grew up under,” Wells told The Associated Press.
Earlier this month, Tennessee lawmakers began consideration of a bill that would make the practice of Sharia law a felony. The bill was introduced by conservative legislators with ties to ongoing efforts to block the construction of an Islamic center near Ground Zero in New York City and the expansion of a mosque near Nashville.
Similar laws have been proposed in a dozen other states, including Oklahoma, where last November voters approved a constitutional amendment banning the use of Shariah law in state
One afternoon last year, as I was driving through Adliya in the northeastern corner of the island of Bahrain, I was surprised to find a man begging on the side of the street.
Adliya is a nice part of Bahrain – a Western part. Not far from the street I was on was the British Club and a shiny host of high rise apartments, of the sort ex-pats of all stripes live in. I had never seen a beggar in Bahrain, and I certainly wouldn’t have expected one to find his way to
Israel is facing a showdown with the national-religious messianic movement as international recognition of a Palestinian state moves closer.
In the Middle East’s chaotic reality it is difficult to gain wider historical perspectives, but it is necessary to do so in order to understand our ongoing reality. Netanyahu, very belatedly, has decided to confront the settlers on a limited scale, by dismantling a number of illegal settlements in the West-Bank. The settlers reacted violently. At some point an open conflict with the national-religious movement will be inevitable, because Israel will end the occupation either on its own initiative or through growing international
The recently held Congressional hearing about Muslims in America returns us to the question of whether “Islam is peace,” as President George W. Bush put it on September 17, 2001, or a religion that promotes hate and violence, as its critics allege. Both are wrong. Islam — like all other religions — can be read both
In the aftermath of the House hearing on American Muslims, Representative Keith Ellison appeared on HBO’s Real Time to further testify to the benign nature of Islam. Attempting to bring some glint of reality to the conversation, Bill Maher posed the following question:
The Congressmen rejected this description of the Qur’an as “absurd, ridiculous and untrue”– the result of taking certain passages “out of context.” When Maher asked how jihadists can justify their actions by reading these same passages in context, Ellison claimed that jihadists do nothing of the sort. Rather, they think in terms of “political grievances,” not religious doctrine, and those who oppose them have the true doctrine of Islam on their side.
It is not my purpose to defend the House hearing on American Muslims (which I did not get a chance to watch). But it is growing increasingly disconcerting to see moderate Muslims reflexively lie about the tenets of their
This is the last in a three-part series entitled “The Perspectives of a Former Fundamentalist Christian.” If you’re interested in reading the first two posts, here are the links:
As a Fundamentalist Christian, This I Was Taught to Believe – Part One
Perspectives of a Former Fundamentalist Christian – Part Two
In the last post, I indicated that many within the church have misinterpreted the meaning of John 14:6 where Jesus said, “I am the way … no man comes to the Father except through me.” There is another way to understand these words that is more in keeping with his understanding of himself and the human/divine connection that was his joy to know, just as it was for other spiritual masters.
Those who have a problem with the alternative understanding I described in the last post — which, not surprisingly, are almost exclusively fundamentalist Christians — usually ask another question of me: “Don’t your views of Jesus undermine his authority and that of the Bible?” And, my response is, “They do not for me. Do they for you?” If so, then you will likely disagree with all of my perspectives, cling to your beliefs, and so feel the need to vigorously defend your beliefs by whatever means possible. I understand this reaction, as I lived this way for decades myself.
As a former fundamentalist Christian, I felt the need to defend my beliefs almost
Were the three men wrapping themselves in leather straps and mumbling in a foreign language on this weekend’s Alaska Airlines Flight 241 a security threat or were they Orthodox Jews preparing to pray in their tefillin — amulets bound to the arm and head as part of traditional Jewish weekday prayer rituals? It was the latter, though the fact that the crew went into a high alert and locked down the flight deck for the duration of the flight, suggests that this is a story about security as well.
It’s not surprising that neither the crew, nor apparently anybody else, knew what was going on when the men began to put the small boxes attached with leather straps, on both their arms and foreheads. Although the ritual is rooted in the words of Deuteronomy 6:8, “Bind them as a sign upon your arm, and as a symbol on your forehead,” and was popular so early on that we have tefillin from the time of Jesus, it is unlikely that more than ten percent of Jews currently engage in this practice with any regularity.
That being the case, it’s just not something with which lots of people are going to be familiar. That, and the fact that one does look pretty odd while wearing
Quick question – which U.S. President was the first to hold Ramadan itfar dinners at the White House, celebrating the breaking of the fast with Muslims? Hint: That same President visited Mosques more than once during his administration.
Many FOX News viewers may assume that it’s President Obama. But, it was actually George W. Bush.
It’s no secret that VoteVets.org had a number of issues with President Bush, most notably his decision to go to war in Iraq, and how he waged the
Whether for political gain or public notoriety, anti-Muslim rhetoric and bigotry has become acceptable in political and civic discourse. Divisive Congressional hearings chaired by New York Congressman Peter King unfairly targeting American Muslims begin this week. These hearings legitimize anti-Muslim rhetoric by giving them a congressional stamp of approval. Increasingly, concerned Americans are stepping off the sidelines and eagerly seeking ways to push for a return to respectful and civil discourse rooted in the
The Disappearance of the Nightmare Arab How a Revolution of Hope Is Changing the Way Americans Look at Islam
Crossposted with TomDispatch.com
Since 2001, Americans have been living with a nightmare Arab, a Muslim monster threatening us to the core, chilling our souls with the cry, “God is great!” Yet after two months of world-historic protest and rebellion in streets and squares across the Arab world, we are finally waking up to another reality: that this was our bad dream, significantly a creation of our own fevered imaginations.
For years, vestigial colonial contempt for Arabs combined with rank prejudice against the Islamic religion, exacerbated by an obsession with oil, proved a blinding combination. Then 9/11 pulled its shroud across the sun. But like the night yielding to dawn, all of this now appears in a new light. Americans are seeing Arabs and Muslims as if for the first time, and we are, despite ourselves, impressed and
Have you ever taken one of those optical illusion tests where you can’t see the subject of a picture until someone points it out to you? Well, that happened in Egypt several months ago with what I call the “Raisin Factor.” Western travelers there were oblivious to the factor until it was pointed out, and then of course it was obvious.
The zabiba, or “raisin” is what Arabs call the spot on the foreheads of devout Muslims, usually men, who want to display their dedication to Islam. Because most Egyptians have light to dark brown skin, the marks may not stand out like they would on pink skin; but once you accustom your eye to see a darker patch in the center of the forehead, you find it everywhere in Egypt. Sometimes you simply see a little sooty spot, but other times a thickened plaque-like
As Long Island faith leaders from different religious traditions, we fear that Rep. Peter King’s (R-NY) congressional hearings about the “radicalization” of the Muslim community will demonize Muslim Americans, undermine interfaith dialogue and distract us from practical efforts to confront violent extremism.
We stand together with a broad spectrum of religious and secular leaders who believe that fighting terrorism does not require compromising our nation’s core values and highest ideals. In our experience volunteering and breaking bread with Muslims on Long Island, we are inspired by our neighbors’ commitment to worship in peace and pursue the American dream. We have visited mosques in an effort to understand our Muslim brothers and sisters’ beliefs and proud
When was the last time a Congressional committee decided to investigate Americans based on their religious affiliation? I thought I knew something about our nation’s history, but I admit I’m coming up empty on this one.
So it may well be that Rep. Peter King, a long-serving Long Island Republican, will treat us to something utterly new in American political life, with his hearings, beginning March 10, into the alleged “radicalization” he believes is taking place among the United States’ Muslims. King has discussed his plans for months, allowing plenty of time for worry and outrage to
In his new book, The Wrong War: Grit, Strategy, and the Way Out of Afghanistan, author Bing West, former Reagan Assistant Secretary of Defense, tries to pass as “innovative solutions” what are really nothing more than stale Pentagon paradigms that didn’t work in Vietnam – that West believes should supplant General David Petraeus’s counterinsurgency doctrine. West’s archaic solutions are highly unlikely to show anyone how to get out of Afghanistan; however, they do have quite the potential to pave a road to perpetual war.
While discussing the book on Thursday at a forum hosted by the World Affairs Council in Seattle, West would have been best served to relegate the dialogue’s scope to the recycled military tactics he sees as some magic elixir. Unfortunately for West, during the question and answer session he exposed ethnic and cultural prejudices and a Western Christian worldview that has been the crux of the problem in the region since the days of British colonialism.
When asked how the U.S. could win, West encapsulated the essence of his strategy by declaring the only way to defeat the Taliban was to “put them down in the earth” – a dictum unlikely to be incorporated into West Point counterinsurgency curriculum anytime soon.
West’s plan, in more detail, consists of reducing troop levels, cutting off development aid to the Afghans and focusing solely on killing the
Let me state quite directly: Islamophobia and those who promote it are a greater threat to the United States of America than Anwar al Awlaqi and his rag-tag team of terrorists.
On one level, al Awlaqi, from his cave hide-out in Yemen, can only prey off of alienation where it exists. Adopting the persona of a latter-day Malcolm X (though he seems not to have read the last chapters of the Autobiography or learned the lessons of Malcolm’s ultimate conversion), he appears street-smart, brash, self-assured and assertive — all of the assets needed to attract lost or wounded souls looking for certainty and an outlet for their rage. Like some parasites, al Awlaqi cannot create his own
There’s a lot not to like about next week’s Congressional hearings into “Islamic Radicalization,” but one of its’ most appalling aspects is the naked hypocrisy of the hearing’s chairman, Republican Peter King of New York.
Until now, Rep King has been best known for his very public support of the Irish Republican Army, which of course was internationally recognized as a terrorist organization. Despite the IRA’s long history of murder, violence and intimidation, King argued (until breaking with the group over it’s failure to support the US invasion of Iraq) that the IRA represented the “the legitimate voice of occupied Ireland.”
And frankly, we’re not mad at Rep King for that. By relentlessly lobbying for the IRA in Washington, Rep King created an environment where it was possible for the British government to finally sit down and talk with the IRA’s political wing, Sin Finn. Negotiations that ultimately led to a peaceful end to a decades old war and undoubtedly saved many lives.
Instead, our beef with Rep King is that while he was happy to operate within the grey areas of the IRA debate, when the conversation turned to Muslim Americans, his world view become black and
Grace, like love, is not a thing of the mind. It doesn’t act upon our demands but appears on its own, unannounced and unexpected. Grace is the benevolent loving sign that life is good again and that we have, for an instant, connected to our source.
One of my favorite poems on grace, entitled “The Sun Of Grace,” is from spiritual teacher and philosopher Sri