No One “Hijacked” Islam – Part 2

The Orientalist defines the Oriental.  This is but one way the late Palestinian-American activist and scholar Edward Said described the relationship of power and domination between the West (the Occident) and the East (the Orient); the Westerner (the Orientalist) and the Easterner (the Oriental).  Orientalism is still at work today as White supremacy defines the Muslim, the Arab, the Iranian, the South Asian, the African, the Asian, the Latino, the Native-American, the “Other.”

In my original post (part 1) in November of 2009, I critiqued the way Muslims and non-Muslims alike tried to defend Islam after the shooting at Fort Hood.  Though well-intentioned, many made the mistake of using a very problematic phrase:  “Islam has been hijacked.”  The extremists, they say, are the ones who made it worse for all Muslims.  The terrorists took over the religion of Islam and the only way to save the faith is if “moderate Muslims” take it back.

The problem with this narrative is that it functions to (1) justify stereotyping and demonization of Islam, (2) hold the vast majority of Muslims responsible for “properly” representing their faith, and (3) dismiss the racist double-standards that exist in our society, such as never asking a White Christian to answer for atrocities orchestrated by other White Christians, but always demanding a Muslim to do so.  The label “moderate Muslim” is not only assigned to us by the dominant White supremacist culture, but it also represents the way racist and oppressive systems define who we are.  When we use the term “moderate Muslim,” we internalize the West’s simplified categorization of Muslims.  As Hoda of “The Ruh of Brown Folks” described during an online discussion, “Muslims can be neatly divided into polarizing categories of ‘moderate’ (read: Uncle Tom Muslims who are friendly to US foreign policy and law enforcement officials) and ‘radical/extreme’ (which lumps everyone else together).”

Similarly, the phrase “Islam has been hijacked” implies that militant extremists represent the majority of Muslims when, in fact, they do not.  It also serves as a way to corner Muslims into exhaustively condemning and apologizing for crimes and murders committed by other people.  Imagine if someone approached a White person and asked, “Why haven’t you condemned the White supremacist who opened fire at the Holocaust Museum in New York?  Are you an anti-Semite?”  Muslims are asked such ridiculous questions, along with “Do you support Al-Qaida?  Are you a terrorist sympathizer?  Why don’t you condemn Hamas or Hezbollah or the Taliban?”

These questions are asked because Muslims are viewed in a suspicious light.  These questions are asked because in the minds of many non-Muslim Americans, Muslims are not welcome here.  Last year’s Washington Post poll revealed that 48% of Americans have an unfavorable opinion of Islam.  While there are those who dismiss the disturbance of these numbers, the anti-Muslim rallies and rhetoric surrounding the incorrectly titled “Ground Zero Mosque”  are just a couple of examples of how rising Islamophobia surfaces in the United States.

But it doesn’t stop at hate speech.  Wednesday’s hate crime in New York where a 21 year-old non-Muslim White male, Michael Enright, repeatedly stabbed a Muslim cab driver after asking him, “Are you a Muslim?” reveals the danger of Islamophobia and how worse it’s becoming.  In light of this recent event, our time to constantly stress on why young White males are not being racially profiled is long overdue.  We should also  heavily emphasize on how “moderate White people”are not expected to condemn or answer for Enright’s attempted murder.  And while we’re at it, let’s mention the White man who flew his plane into an IRS building, as well as the White Christian militia group that plotted to assassinate police officers.

What of Timothy McVeigh, the Crusader language of Blackwater, and even the religious justification George W. Bush used to invade Iraq?  When was the last time you heard someone say “Christianity was hijacked”?  Or, what about the JDL (Jewish Defense League) former Chairman, Irv Rubin, and group member, Earl Krugel, who were arrested 3 months after 9/11 for planning bomb attacks on a Mosque in California and on the office of Arab-American US representative Darrell Issa?  Did anyone say “Judaism was hijacked” by these extremists?

The reality is that the phrase “Islam has been hijacked” is a product of White supremacy.  It is the dominant culture’s way of speaking for us, imposing its definition of  Muslims/Islam upon us, and implanting the idea that we are, indeed, inferior, inadequate, and subhuman.  Once we internalize the racist and hateful messages and start using them, the idea becomes normalized and spreads.  We have to unplug ourselves from the oppressive system and start defining ourselves.  Islamophobia, for instance, does not exist because a small number of Muslim extremist militants carried out attacks and atrocities.  Islamophobia exists because White supremacist culture does not make a distinction between the vast majority of Muslims and the small minority of violent extremists.  As I pointed out in this post, White Christians are not treated as spokespersons for their entire race or religion whenever members within their communities carry out acts of terrorism.

If others do not say “Christianity was hijacked,” or “Judaism was hijacked” or “Hinduism was hijacked,” then why are we, the 1.5 billion Muslims, expected to say that about our religion?  Like any religious group, Muslims need to challenge the problems within their community, but it doesn’t mean they have to conform to how others label us.  It doesn’t mean that we should ignore the double-standards of the dominant culture and never speak out against the demonization of Islam and Muslims.

The idea that a small group of people can take control of our religion is absurd and completely denies the voice that we as a majority have.  With that said, as the vast majority, let’s make it loud and clear:  No one hijacked Islam.

60 thoughts on “No One “Hijacked” Islam – Part 2

  1. So, what IS Islam and what is the correct way of following it?

    I really also don’t think race has anything to do with it. There are plenty of Copts and Arab Christians who would argue that Islam is the problem and they certainly wouldn’t qualify as “white.”

    Besides, there is nothing supremacist about trying to describe how one group of people differs from another. There is nothing supremacist about trying to define ones enemies: Islamists, Muslim “extremists,” Islamic fundamentalists, etc.

    What is arguably supremacist, however, is the Islamic ideology that regards the whole world as a mosque, made holy and pure for Islamic conquest and domination under shari’a. And this idea is nothing new considering it was put into immortality by Muhammad himself.

    This has to do with scriptural interpretation and traditional doctrines.

    I really would like a “moderate” Muslim to tell me why the Taliban’s interpretation of Islam is wrong. Or Hezbollah’s interpretation. Or that of Al Shabaab, Hamas, Hezbollah, Hizb-ut-Tahir, Islam4UK, Revolution Muslim, the Muslim Brotherhood, etc. etc. etc.

    • Natassia,

      Wow. So, you generalize and vilify the religion of Islam and then ask if someone can engage in a dialogue with you. If you think Muslims just want to take over the world, then you’re certainly brave enough to leave a comment here, aren’t you?

      In any case, I will say that (1) race *does* have a lot to do with this because Islam has been so racialized, especially after 9/11. The hate crimes and discriminatory acts against Muslims and those who are *perceived to be Muslim* (this includes Sikhs, Hindus, Arab Christians, and other non-Muslim South Asians, Middle-Easterners, Latinos, etc.) indicate how mainstream Western society associates certain racial features with the terms “Muslim” and “Islam.”

      White supremacist culture does not stereotype White non-Muslims because it identifies with those who share the same racial and religious background. When a White person commits a horrible atrocity, such as Timothy McVeigh did, White Christians are not treated as spokespersons for their entire race and religion nor are they expected to answer for his actions. When a Muslim does it, however, the entire religion of Islam is put on trial and the majority of the Muslim population is viewed in a suspicious light.

      Behaving like you’re an expert on Islam is quite condescending and insulting. I suggest that if you’re genuinely interested in learning, please refrain from demonizing and stereotyping Islam and Muslims. In order to engage in inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue, it’s important for you to put your prejudices aside and open yourself to learning. If you can’t do that, then there is no point in continuing this discussion.

      If you really want to learn more about Islam and what Muslims really believe, then I strongly recommend Sumbul Ali-Karamali’s book, “The Muslim Next Door.” It’s scholarly, conversational, and funny. You’ll definitely enjoy it!

      • Wow. So, you generalize and vilify the religion of Islam and then ask if someone can engage in a dialogue with you. If you think Muslims just want to take over the world, then you’re certainly brave enough to leave a comment here, aren’t you?

        Calling something “supremacist” is vilifying? If so, why? Do I think all Muslims want to take over the world? No. I simply cannot make such a generalization about 1.2 billion people. However, the ideology itself is obviously supremacist considering the history, scriptures, and traditions…regardless of what modern-day reformists are attempting to do with it. Unfortunately there is a growing movement of activist Muslims in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and even in the West, who would like to see non-Muslim countries become Islamic states. Can we all at least agree on that simple fact?

        In any case, I will say that (1) race *does* have a lot to do with this because Islam has been so racialized, especially after 9/11. The hate crimes and discriminatory acts against Muslims and those who are *perceived to be Muslim* (this includes Sikhs, Hindus, Arab Christians, and other non-Muslim South Asians, Middle-Easterners, Latinos, etc.) indicate how mainstream Western society associates certain racial features with the terms “Muslim” and “Islam.”

        Religious hate crimes are STILL disproportionately committed against Jews than any other religious group. Discrimination occurs across the board, and discriminatory acts are not necessarily illegal or even wrong. We discriminate every day…and oftentimes it has nothing to do with race but rather behavior and manner of speaking.

        But, there were less than 5,000 hate crimes committed in 2008. 300 million Americans, 5,000 “hate crimes.” Sorry if I’m not impressed with this hate crime boogeyman that Muslims and other “minorities” are complaining about.

        Islam originated in the Middle East and became very dominant in Africa and southeast Asia. This being REALITY, someone who has immigrated from a predominantly Muslim area (like Somalia, Pakistan, Jordan, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc.) is very likely going to be a Muslim. But it also greatly depends on how someone dresses (whether in Islamic-appearing apparel or more Western-style clothing). Americans don’t typically assume a Latino is a Muslim. Why? Because Roman Catholicism is the main religion of Latin America. I wonder if Middle Easterners typically assume a white American is a Christian…. :)

        White supremacist culture does not stereotype White non-Muslims because it identifies with those who share the same racial and religious background.

        No, they typically hate white Catholics as well…not to mention Jews (who oftentimes are categorized as whites by the government.)

        When a White person commits a horrible atrocity, such as Timothy McVeigh did, White Christians are not treated as spokespersons for their entire race and religion nor are they expected to answer for his actions. When a Muslim does it, however, the entire religion of Islam is put on trial and the majority of the Muslim population is viewed in a suspicious light.

        Number 1, McVeigh was an admitted agnostic.
        Number 2, he was an anarchist.

        Once upon a time, white people were not held responsible for the sins of their fathers or brothers. Therefore, they were not required to answer for someone else’s actions just because they had the same skin color. Since what McVeigh did had nothing to do with Christianity and everything to do with hatred of the government, most people capable of rational thinking did not expect Christians to answer for McVeigh’s actions.

        Behaving like you’re an expert on Islam is quite condescending and insulting. I suggest that if you’re genuinely interested in learning, please refrain from demonizing and stereotyping Islam and Muslims. In order to engage in inter-faith and inter-cultural dialogue, it’s important for you to put your prejudices aside and open yourself to learning. If you can’t do that, then there is no point in continuing this discussion.

        I am no expert on Islam, but I do trust the actual experts: the imams, the ancient Islamic scholars whose tafseer are still widely-accepted as authoritative, and the religious leaders in Islamic countries who actually practice Islam the way it was practiced 1400 years ago, albeit with better technology.

        If you really want to learn more about Islam and what Muslims really believe, then I strongly recommend Sumbul Ali-Karamali’s book, “The Muslim Next Door.” It’s scholarly, conversational, and funny. You’ll definitely enjoy it!

        I learned everything I needed to know the minute I found out there was something called the “Sunnah.” I was formally introduced to Islam by a Submitter. I began investigating the religion and corresponding with this man because I was seriously thinking about converting. And then I learned that Submitters were widely considered to be heretics…and then I learned why–they don’t follow the Sunnah. They don’t believe in any of it. They are Quran-only Muslims who do not respect the traditions and teachings of Islamic scholars and clerics.

        That’s when I really dug into the scriptures and history of Islam and its prophet. And no, I have never read a Robert Spencer book (although I have attended a conference where he spoke, and I do visit his blog on occasion.) I have, however, read most of the Quran and many ahadith. I have also explored the Tafsir Ibn Kathir and other Quranic commentaries. I also enjoy perusing Islam Question and Answer… :)

        http://islamqa.com/en

        But you’re right. I’m no expert. Just an ignorant kafir incapable of learning about the “true” Islam…wherever it is hiding. I think there is only one Islam…but people simply choose how far they want to go with it.

        But who gets to decide what is “too far”?

      • Natassia,

        It doesn’t seem like you came here to have a respectful dialogue. It seems like you’re more interested in vilifying Islam and bullying Muslims around. You try to justify your hatred for Islam by saying you cannot generalize about Muslims. Well, do you have any Muslim friends? I think you should make some Muslim friends in order to understand how your insults towards Islam is also an insult to them. I grew up in a non-Muslim area, so I have a lot of close friends who are non-Muslim. Have you attended any inter-faith events? I think you should because it just seems like you’re hell-bent on painting Islam as the enemy.

        It’s also funny how you say you cannot generalize about Muslims, but then go ahead and making a generalizing statement like: “there is a growing movement of activist Muslims in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and even in the West, who would like to see non-Muslim countries become Islamic states.” That comment of yours clearly indicates that you have no Muslim friends. Sad.

        When I mentioned hate crimes against Muslims, you say, “Religious hate crimes are STILL disproportionately committed against Jews than any other religious group.”

        I see. So, according to you, Jews are more important than Muslims. Or rather, the hate crimes committed against Jews makes it “ok” for Muslims to be victimized in hate crimes? Are you watching the news? Did you hear about the Muslim cab driver who was recently stabbed after being asked if he was Muslim? I mentioned it in my post. By the way, CAIR speaks out against all forms of bigotry, including anti-Semitic bigotry. You should watch this clip of a Muslim saving a Jew on a subway. Listen to the Jewish woman at the end and how she hopes this clip will change the way people see each other. I hope it makes you think beyond your stereotypes:

        You wrote: “Americans don’t typically assume a Latino is a Muslim.”

        Hm, you obviously ever heard of Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian man who was shot and killed by London police. He was mistaken to be Muslim. Also, anti-Latino hate crimes are on the rise in the US. Nice try to dodge that fact:

        http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/08/26-7

        Timothy McVeigh was part of the Christian Identity Movement. But don’t worry, no one here is generalizing about all Christians to be terrorists or that Christianity teaches violence. I have a lot of good Christian friends and I know their faith, like Islam, teaches Love, peace, and respect. :)

        You wrote: “I am no expert on Islam.” Thanks for admitting that! The next step would be to talk to an expert on Islam. If you aren’t going to listen to what we have to say, then there is only so much I can do. Plus, this blog is not about having theological debates or arguing with people who aren’t interested in the slightest to learn. If you don’t want to learn, then there is no purpose in continuing this conversation.

        Like I said, read “The Muslim Next Door” by Sumbul Ali-Karamali. But you must be receptive to the fact that your prejudices are irrational and wrong (and they are wrong). Rather than vilifying Muslims and Islam, try to get to know some Muslims, go visit their Mosques, visit their communities, visit their homes. My parents are always hospitable to family friends, not just on Islamic holidays, but on non-Muslim holidays, too. Most of us are very welcoming people.

        Stop seeing us as the enemy. We could be friends, you know. :)

    • “I really also don’t think race has anything to do with it. There are plenty of Copts and Arab Christians who would argue that Islam is the problem and they certainly wouldn’t qualify as “white.”

      Race is a highly salient factor in this. I certainly disagree with you. I am taking my information from scholarly anthropological sources such as a group of studies that were done on American Muslims. The book “Being and Belonging: Muslims in the United States Since 9/11″ edited by anthropologist Katherine Ewing has a collection of ethnographies one of which is a comparative study on Arab Muslims and Arab Christians in Michigan. It was shown that Arab Christians face many of the same discriminatory acts of violence as their Muslim linguistic counterparts. It is fairly readable (opposed to highly technical) so I would recommend it.

      anthrogeek10

      • anthro–

        Race is secondary to the belief.

        I think what I’m getting at is that the BELIEF (Islam) is what people have a problem with, and since Islam has been growing in American due to the influx of Muslim immigrants (who are of many different races and ethnicities, but predominantly non-white), it is easy to assume that if someone looks a certain way (coming from an Islamic country) then it is highly likely that they are Muslim.

        It is easy to assume that if someone looks Latino, then he is a Catholic, and if he looks Jewish than he is a Jew ;), and if he looks Arab, then he is a Muslim, and if he looks like a [white] redneck, then he is a Protestant.

        But these are generalizations.

        Is it all race-based? No, since it’s not race that people are mad about but the ideology. It is just as easy to assume that an American black man from Georgia is a Southern Baptist as it is to assume that a black man with a Somali accent living in Dearborn, Michigan is a Muslim. Religions are oftentimes regional.

      • Natassia,

        What is a Muslim supposed to look like? What are Arabs supposed to look like? You do realize that there are a lot of Arab countries in the world, right? Not all of them speak with the same dialect. They’re not a homogeneous group and neither are Muslims.

        Christian Arabs were protesting against the Islamic Center in New York, but then the White people in the crowd heard them speak Arabic and shouted at them, “Get out!” The Arabs said, “We’re Christian,” but they were still shouted at. Even though they were Christian, they were still victims of Islamophobia. Because Islamophobia is hatred and fear of Muslims. What these ignorant fools did was link “Arab” with “Islam.”

        That’s pretty pathetic. But there is no distinct look for how Arabs should look. There is a lot of genetic diversity wherever you go. Run a search on Justin Abdelkader. He’s an Arab-American ice hockey player and he is light-skinned (and you can find plenty of light-skinned Arabs in Lebanon and Syria, and elsewhere).

        Islampohobia is a racial issue because Islam itself has been racialized. Sikhs, Hindus, and other non-Muslim South Asians, Arabs, and Latinos have been victims of hate crimes, vandalism, discriminatory acts, and even murders. Just because they were mistaken to be Muslim.

        Do the research, the incident reports and statistics are all there.

      • “Christian Arabs were protesting against the Islamic Center in New York, but then the White people in the crowd heard them speak Arabic and shouted at them, “Get out!” The Arabs said, “We’re Christian,” but they were still shouted at. Even though they were Christian, they were still victims of Islamophobia. Because Islamophobia is hatred and fear of Muslims. What these ignorant fools did was link “Arab” with “Islam.””

        The above is exactly what I mean when I say race is a salient factor in Islamiphobia. I remember when I went into the pita fast food place at my uni. This place makes the best falafel btw. :-) Anyhow, the owner, who is an Egyptian woman said, “Oh, Egypt but I am Christian ok?” to my question of her origins because I love learning about other cultures (Obviously, anthropologist to be!). I said to that fear based response, “Look, I do not care what religion you are, I respect you for your humanness and love learning about other cultures, including Egyptian.”. She was in shock I think. lol

        I took my information from viable, quality anthropological sources and have some personal examples of the saliency of race in this whole Islamiphobia mess……

        anthrogeek10

  2. You said this with intelligence and grace.
    Job well done on this essay. I am deeply sorry that my fellow white citizens have caused my fellow Muslims such pain……

    anthrogeek10

    • Thanks for your comment! And no, you don’t have to apologize. You didn’t do those things just like the vast majority of Muslims aren’t responsible for the 9/11 attacks. No need to say sorry. :)

      • Ok–I am still ashamed regardless.

        Your right, I still do not understand why contemporary Muslims outside of the “terroist network” for lack of a better phrase (its Friday, what can I say..lol) are faced with having to apologize. Like you said, I (meaning me) am not a KKK member (my parents raised me better than that) and I will not apologize to people of color, homosexuals or Jews for their evil ways…..

        anthrogeek10 (who is about to have leftover spinach and garlic pasta…)

  3. M A.H says:

    I quite agree with you that it’s completely inaccurate to say these charmers have hijacked Islam. We should be more brave in declaring the truth; that these people are NOT Muslims, they contradict every single rule and etiquette of our faith. They are not extremists, they are just plain, certifiably crazy.
    However, the factors that drive them into this violent madness are interesting and worth exploring…

    • unsettledsoul says:

      Reza Aslan would say they are Muslims, they claim to be Muslim therefore they are Muslim, but we shouldn’t let that change the way we view Islam or Muslims, because every religion has it’s crazy people. Right now Muslims are just the ones being put on the spot.

      Trust me, if every time a man robbed a bank, we said what religion he is, there would be reports of Christians going plain insane in the world. But that doesn’t happen to Christians, only Muslims.

      These men did not hijack Islam, and unfortunately, yes, technically they are Muslims. But so what? That is my point, I guess. Why do we have to feel ashamed or talk to non-Muslims about how these terrorists are “not Muslims?” They are screaming about how they are doing this for Islam, no? Christians are doing HORRIBLE things right now, only difference is their religion isn’t announced when they are caught.

      I don’t think it makes sense to say these guys are not Muslim. What do you think?

      • unsettledsoul says:

        Just a side note: Muslims in America are the least population in prisons, involved in criminal activity, and the least population with a criminal record.

        Food for thought.

      • unsettledsoul says:

        I apologize for the wealth of comments, lol..

        Last one, another side note:

        If liberal Muslims HATE when conservatives say we are “not Muslim,” how can we possibly turn around and do the same thing by saying these guys are not Muslims?

        I think anyone who tells me they are Muslim, is a Muslim, that is what Islam is, no?

        I’m not going to let Islamophobia, or a handful of terrorist assholes, dicate for me what my beliefs should be. If someone says they are Muslim, they are Muslim. Unfortunately a socially prejudice society is making us feel like we must disown any Muslim who does bad things, but we have to see the bigger picture.

      • LOL! I meant it. Choose wisely my friend. Make sure she will be your friend for life. Make sure she is educationally on par with you so those intellectual discussions keep you interested in one another. Just a little advice from an “old lady”. :-)

        I was married to a Pakistani man for a while. The other wife in Pakistan got in the way slightly…..

        Anyhow….learned to cook amazing food and still make Pakistani food to this day.

        anthrogeek (who is doing archaeology today)

      • lol, thanks for the advice. I believe in Soul Mates and I have faith I’ll find the right person, insha’Allah.

        Sorry to hear about your experience. :( I can’t imagine. God has good things in store for all of us. As Rumi says, “Don’t grieve, anything you lose comes ’round in another form.”

        That’s awesome you cook Pakistani food! :) I’ll send this comment now before I start thinking more about food while I’m fasting, hehe.

  4. Faith says:

    Jazakallah for this wonderful post! For a very long time I have felt the exact sentiment that you have expressed in your post. It is a very tiresome game to constantly have defend being a Muslim to people both in RL and online. I have gotten to a point where I don’t even engage in a lot of conversations about Islam with non-Muslims because I get so tired of explaining every little nuance about Islam and still having people ask “Do you support Al-Qaeda?” “Do you support Shariah?” *sigh* It would be so nice if people didn’t otherize Islam and simply saw Muslims as human beings trying to be a part of humanity. Thanks again for this insightful post.

    • I understand your frustration. I’m not Muslim, but I can see how annoying and tiresome it is. I remember speaking to a young Muslim woman and she told me a guy just came up to her asked “do you support terrorism?” What made it so bad is that he didn’t even stay around long enough for her to answer.

      I don’t know what’s wrong with people. *sigh*

  5. “Why haven’t you condemned the White supremacist who opened fire at the Holocaust Museum in New York? Are you an anti-Semite?”

    Exactly – it’s like when they asked Imam Rauf to denounce Hamas and Hizbollah, as if they would ever ask a white public figure to denounce the KKK or IRA. It’s ridiculous, and what’s worse is that they just don’t see the blatant double standards.

    While it’s admirable that Said’s arguments are constantly being confirmed, I think it’s also pretty sad.

  6. Great Post!
    I was about to jump in after reading the first comment. But you handled it very well. You are certainly much more articulated than me.
    Good Job!..keep it up! :)

  7. Admin Note: Your comment was deleted because it does not fit within the comment moderation guidelines. It is quite odd that you admit to not being an expert on Islam, but then call it an ideology that “actively seeks the destruction of my way-of-life and the deaths of my fellow countrymen.” Apparently, you think Muslims can’t be American, too. It is sheer arrogance to speak for a community that is not yours. If you were genuinely interested in establishing positive relations with Muslims, we would have been having a more respectful conversation. I have spoken to many non-Muslims about Islam before and I’ve had enough experience to tell who is truly interested in learning and who simply just wants to vilify Islam.

    If you think Islam is evil, then why are you here? Why are you commenting? Do you have nothing better to do than vilify another person’s religion on the blogosphere? The vast majority of Muslims do not believe Islam is evil and if you don’t want to believe that, then that’s on you. Coming here and not even listening to what I’m saying just shows you don’t want to listen to Muslims. You don’t care about what we think. You only care about how YOU want to perceive us. That is something you need to fix on your own. There is simply nothing I can do for you. When someone is close-minded and keeps repeating the same remarks over and over again, it’s not worth the time and energy. I will say Islam is not evil, you will persist in saying it is. What’s the point in talking then? I don’t like cyclical debates, do you?

    I do hope that you find good Muslim friends and when you do, I know you will realize how close-minded you were. Islam is a beautiful faith and you don’t have to be Muslim to see that. Peace.

    • Very weak, Jehanzeb.

      I think the fact that I exposed your blatant use of ad hominem in a discussion that was supposed to be “respectful dialogue” about the merits of my statements rather than my personality and character was a bit too much for you to handle.

      • Right. And there isn’t anything ad hominem about accusing someone of wanting to destroy your way-of-life and your fellow “countrymen”? Nice effort at trying to turn the tables and make yourself look like the victim.

        Your turning down an offer of friendship speaks loud enough. Usually people respond positively to that, but you said, “I’m not the one supporting an ideology whose followers actively seek the destruction of my way-of-life and the deaths of my fellow countrymen.”

        That’s pretty pathetic. And don’t worry, I can handle your ignorance. I just don’t want to waste time writing back to someone who simply wants to demonize Islam.

        Peace.

  8. Reading comprehension not your strong point?

    I said you support an ideology [ie ISLAM] WHOSE FOLLOWERS [ie Taliban, al-Qaeda, etc.] actively seek the destruction of my way-of-life [as spelled out in the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence] and the deaths of my fellow countrymen [as evidenced by attacks on non-threatening US embassies, naval ships, airplanes, skyscrapers, an unarmed military base on US soil, etc].

    The self-described mujahideen of al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab, and other MUSLIM groups like them are actively seeking to harm non-Muslims around the globe. They hate “the West” and especially the United States. Perhaps the only country they hate more than the U.S. is Israel.

    And all you can say is that they’re not Muslims? Or are they? That was my whole point of commenting on your blog in the first place.

    I want to know why al-Qaeda is not justified in attacking non-Muslim nations they perceive to be a threat to Islam.

    • Islam is not an ideology, it is a religion, a way of life. And the whole point of this post was to say the majority of Muslims do not have anything to do with the Taliban or Al-Qaeda. And why do you keep Otherizing Muslim-Americans? Are we not your fellow “countrymen”? You know Muslims died on 9/11 too, right?

      You wrote: “I want to know why al-Qaeda is not justified in attacking non-Muslim nations they perceive to be a threat to Islam.”

      While I’d Love to sit here and read you books like “The Muslim Next Door,” I do have other priorities in life. I recommend that book, along with “Who Speaks for Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think” by Dalia Mogahed and John L. Esposito. Only 7% of the 10 most populous Muslim majority countries actually believed the 9/11 attacks were justified. And among that 7%, they cited their hatred towards the US stemming from their disagreement with US foreign policy. The Qur’an or Hadith was not even cited among this sample.

      But it’s ridiculous that I even have to answer those questions because, like I said in my post, Muslims should not be expected to answer for crimes that other people committed. It’s like asking every White person to apologize for the atrocities carried out by White people. It’s absurd and irrational. Like I said, if you don’t want to listen to what we have to say, then there is only so much we can do.

    • And implying that I support the Taliban is pretty insulting and pathetic. I suggest you read the other posts on my blog. I’m sure the Taliban would Love my posts on ending gender segregation in Mosques.

  9. I said you support an ideology [ie ISLAM] WHOSE FOLLOWERS [ie Taliban, al-Qaeda, etc.] actively seek the destruction of my way-of-life [as spelled out in the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence] and the deaths of my fellow countrymen [as evidenced by attacks on non-threatening US embassies, naval ships, airplanes, skyscrapers, an unarmed military base on US soil, etc].

    Typical of ignorant people like yourself. And why the hell would you say you’re not an expert on Islam and then turn around and spout this nonsense?

    The self-described mujahideen of al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab, and other MUSLIM groups like them are actively seeking to harm non-Muslims around the globe. They hate “the West” and especially the United States. Perhaps the only country they hate more than the U.S. is Israel.

    I bet you don’t actually take the time to actually learn why there are people who “hate” the West. And no, it has nothing to do with our so-called way of life or our freedoms. But I guess it’s easier to believe that then to actually think. So go back to watching things like Faux News.

    Man people are effing unbelievable. I’m sorry you have to put up with so much crap Jehanzeb. :( She actually believes you support the Taliban?

  10. This post is another tour de force!

    I would disagree that “moderate Muslim” is always understood as an Uncle Tom, but it is something that certain political movements, ideologues in the US use that way.

    One of my Moroccan friends told me that one of the things she found odd in conversations with Canadians during her year of study here (about 2005-6) was always being asked if she were an “observant Muslim”. She didn’t know what it meant even until I explained that it was used by analogy with Christian religions, eg “Are you an observant Catholic” ie one who attends mass regularly, takes holy communion, prays, follows the teachings of the Church/Pope etc.

    The irony is of course, what do you do with the information that someone is or is not an “observant Muslim”. Does that imply extremism not just in belief but in the use of violence? Does it imply greater adherence to the Muslim beliefs in peace, tolerance, and forgiveness?

    I had “highly observant” Muslims (highly knowledgeable, and prayed 5 times a day no matter what and where, held to Islamic ethics in behaviour and treatment of others, etc) as students, then friends, and they assured me that the more serious and knowledgeable about their beliefs and their faith in Islam, would be the most likely to be respectful of others. They certainly were.

    Most likely my Moroccan friend’s dialogues stemmed from race, because according to her and much to my surprise people would still most often confuse Morocco with Monaco! Also she is currently unemployed in Paris, despite having an exceptionally prestige Masters degree in business, relevent work experience, and applying assiduously. She thinks her “qatari face” as she calls it, stops her from getting the 2nd interview. She is fully fluent in French (went to French schools in Morocco and 6 years uni in France) and dresses like a Parisian.

    So yes, race has a lot to do with it. Just ask my Hindu friend who has some of the most enlightening stories about how brown people are treated in even a cosmopolitan liberal city–“Go home terrorist” and egging being one example.

    Al Qaeda, and the Taliban etc should be labelled for what they are: political movements which use violence and assymetrical warfare, including terrorism to advance their political agenda.

  11. @ Jehanzeb

    You are being pedantic. Some definitions of ideology as provided by the Merriam-Webster dictionary are as follows: a systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture; a manner or the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture; the integrated assertions, theories and aims that constitute a sociopolitical program.

    Islam is a sociopolitical ideology cloaked in religious terminology.

    Muslims share the same religion as the Taliban and Al-Qaeda who claim that the very reason they are engaging in jihad is because of a perceived threat against Islam by non-Muslims.

    In one paragraph I can explain why the KKK’s (or any other supremacist group) philosophies are not in line with Christianity. And you cannot do the same to explain why Al Qaeda’s or the Taliban’s philosophies are not in line with Islam?

    You are supporting an ideology that fuels aggressive jihad against non-Muslims–Islam. I am not asking you to answer for the actions of the Taliban. I am asking you to explain why you’d support such an ideology in the first place. Of course, now you are claiming that the Taliban and Al Qaeda are not Muslims (since what they follow is not really Islam), so I don’t really understand what you’re complaining about.

    You first claimed that I want you to answer for the actions of other Muslims, but now you claim that what they believe is not Islam, and yet you don’t want to explain why this is so because it would require an entire book?

    Please.

    A child could see through this.

    (I’m ignoring comments from other readers because I simply don’t have the time or interest for them.)

    • Natassia,

      Wow thanks for telling me what my own religion is. For someone who claims to not be an expert on Islam, you certainly seem to behave like one. It’s nice to have someone tell me what my religion is.

      I explained why the Taliban and Al-Qaeda are not in line with mainstream Islam. You should read my post again. And read “The Muslim Next Door” and “Who Speaks for Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think?” It’s getting fun repeating myself.

      You seem to think you know everything about Islam, lol. So why are you asking me questions?

      • Natassia–too bad you are ignoring comments from other readers. Jehanzeb has an intelligent and knowledgeable readership. I always enjoy the comments of his regular, sane readers.

        Islam is a religion. Its adherents are Muslims. Jehanzeb is a Muslim.

        Al-Qaeda and the Taliban hold a “sociopolitical ideology cloaked in religious terminology”. Jehanzeb does not support either.

        The above could be amalgamated in one paragraph, but make for easier reading split in 2.

        And yes, Jehanzeb can speak eloquently for himself. He has often far more tolerance for this sort of “discussion” than I do. Bless him.

  12. “And yes, Jehanzeb can speak eloquently for himself. He has often far more tolerance for this sort of “discussion” than I do. Bless him”.

    I agree with you Chiara!
    I do not have the tolerance for this either.

    anthrogeek10

    • What’s annoying is that when you don’t respond to stupid and ignorant comments, it’s perceived as “having no answer”, “backing down” or them being “proven to be right.”
      When you do respond, they manage to turn it into a full-fledged fight, with them ignoring your comments and building upon their own as if it’s a one-sided bull-fight that only one person comes out of alive.
      Ugh.

  13. Sufism World says:

    This is a good post to read, as well as the comments – since it gives you an understanding of a problem from both sides. Who is right and who is wrong is not the objective I believe, but rather understanding the perception of each other – this is the biggest learning curve here.

  14. Fiqah says:

    I go away for a coupla weeks, and look! You’ve got a whole new troll! AWWWWW!

    I kid. Excellent post, Jehanzeb. And kudos for your patience. I just delete comments at this point. Too many Tea Partiers hanging around. *shrugs* Anywho, have you seen this site? It’s pretty neat, albeit depressing.

    http://www.islamophobia-watch.com/

  15. Whoa what happened to this blog… It’s all professional now. :)

    Jehanzeb you have so much more stamina than I do for the attempt to deconstruct closed, circular, Glenn-Beck-conferred pseudo-logic.

  16. Jehanzeb
    You have the patience of a saint. I’d have cut “Natassia” a long time ago… but the fact that you engaged with her and gave her space to stage her tired arguments created an interesting supplement to your post. Out of curiosity I clicked over to see her blog and it is pathetic. If anything her writing here was better than anything she has managed to generate for herself. She should thank you.

  17. Jehanzeb,
    I adore Edward Said’s insights and have barely found them wrong, at least untill today. I agree – again- with your opinion that no one has hijacked Islam as you explained and I find myself repeating my old comment on part 1. What has been hijacked is some people’s mentality who knows nothing about what Islam/Muslims except from media outlets that spread stereotypes and misconseptions before and after 9/11.

    Of course, everybody is free to think and believe in what he/she wants yet this isn’t the problem; the problem is about arguing for the sake of arguing not a discussion that can lead for something at the end. This is a perfect example for my opinion is represented in the comments of some people in your post.

  18. Richard Cox says:

    For the record, Christians, like Muslims, *are* asked to defend their religion when people do awful things in the name of Christianity. They’re seldom asked by other Christians for the same reason that Muslims aren’t asked those questions by fellow Muslims, and to that extent the questioning may be less visible in a majority-Christian culture.

    Nevertheless, Christians in the US are routinely asked to comment on the actions and opinions of other Christians (hint: the term “Christian fundamentalist” is rarely intended as a compliment), and this is entirely appropriate. Not surprisingly, their responses are the same: “it wasn’t me, they aren’t real Christians, they don’t represent the majority,” and so on.

    White people in countries with predominantly non-white populations could quite reasonably be expected to repudiate the actions of the KKK and other white supremacist groups, just as Americans overseas could expect to be asked whether or not they support American foreign policy. All of this has more to do with the dynamics of majority-minority relations in general than it does with singling out Muslims or any other particular group.

    While I realize that taking offense at honest inquiry has been distilled to a science in some quarters, I’m not sure what purpose it serves.

    • Please. It is not the same. Not at all. Don’t pull a flying carpet fallacy either.

      Look at all these attacks from white people against Muslims and Sikhs in the past two weeks. Do you really think the United States will start passing laws that will profile and discriminate against white Christians?

      Come on now.

      • Richard Cox says:

        Spare me the “flying carpet fallacy” line of discussion. I was born and raised as a racial minority in a country other than the US, and am neither a Muslim nor a Christian. I know exactly what it’s like to have people make assumptions about me based on the color of my skin, and frankly don’t see the use in taking offense at honest curiosity. Your mileage may vary.

        I am curious about the laws you’re referring to that explicitly condone the profiling of Muslims. Would you point me to them, or to a post you’ve written that documents their contents?

      • Spare you the flying carpet fallacy “line of discussion”? Oh really? My “mileage may vary”? You write a condescending comment and then expect me to engage in a conversation with you?

        Wow.

        If you want to learn about those laws, you need to be doing the research yourself. It is not my responsibility to “point” you to them, especially after you give me this, “spare me the flying carpet fallacy line of discussion, I can say whatever I want.”

        Read the comment policy.

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