Motala: Learn about Islam and Muslims

“An American Muslim Learns to Fly — into buildings.”

Phrases like this one, found scribbled on an Islamic Awareness Week (IAW) flyer, aren’t uncommon in post-September 11 America. But at a place like Yale, where tolerance and political correctness generally reign, I find this declaration particularly shocking.

It’s not that I have never encountered intolerance of my religion or aversion to the color of my skin, but I found the statement carelessly scrawled on the IAW flyer particularly troubling because it occurred at the first American institution which to awarded a Ph.D, a university that preaches academic exploration and intellectual awakening. I didn’t expect miseducation and ignorance to extend to the hallowed halls of this Ivy League school.

The majority of Yalies have been warm and understanding. From my six suitemates to members of Yale University Dining Services, the people I have met here have been open and inquisitive about my religious practices.

But I have been surprised by the dearth of knowledge about everyday Muslims in the Yale community. While some of us can explain the intricacies of Islamic politics worldwide, and others are nearly fluent in Arabic, I have come across very few who understand Islam in its everyday context. Perhaps it is because I went to a diverse high school, where hijaabis numbered in the double digits (whereas Yale has only four scarved undergraduates), but I find this specific ignorance astounding.

I don’t believe that the Yale community chooses to be unconscious of its Muslim compatriots; instead, many of us are afraid to ask questions. From my own experience, the most intriguing questions I hear from my friends begin: “This may be a stupid question, but…”

I’ll be honest: I want to hear more stupid questions. They’re the ones that aren’t answered by Wikipedia or an Intro to Islam class. Ask me about Islam’s take on women’s rights or jihad or the Taliban and I’ll tell you. Or ask me about Islam’s take on alcohol or sex or homosexuality and I’ll tell you that, too. I’d rather set the record straight than accept your strange misconceptions about what I do. (Yes, I actually chose to wear this thing on my head and yes, being sober at your party can be rather painful.) But, please, ask away.

Why should we care? What should compel the average art major or hockey player to ask questions or learn more about Islam? What makes Muslims different from any other marginalized minority?

The reality of a post-September 11 world is that buzzwords like “jihad” have become household terms. But before we can discuss O’Reilly’s position on martyrdom in Islam or America’s policies in the Middle East, we need to ensure that we have an accurate understanding of these concepts. Jihad, for those who don’t know, does not mean “holy war,” as most may recognize it; rather, it means “struggle,” and does not have a strictly violent connotation.

As students of a premier educational institution, particularly one that produces world leaders and heads of state, we owe it to ourselves to learn. Because if we don’t, who will? How can we complain that 36 percent of the American public hasn’t heard enough to form an impression about Islam, as a 2006 CBS News Poll found, if we can’t distinguish between a scarved South African Muslim woman and an orthodox Jewish woman? (This confusion, believe it or not, happened to me last week.)

It’s up to us, then, to take advantage of the plethora of outside-the-classroom educational opportunities this campus has to offer, such as this week’s IAW lineup. Events such as these are invaluable to the community. They fill a void of communication between oft-stereotyped groups — whether they are LGBT, African-American or Muslim – and the wider Yale community.

As a wise president once said, “Our patchwork heritage is strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth.”

Let us embrace this diversity, here on campus, before we move on to the greater community. Let us live up to the foundational tolerance of this institution. For God, for country and for Yale.

Tasnim Motala is a freshman in Morse College and a member of the Islamic Awareness Week Council

of the Muslim Students Association.

Comments

  • Reality over PC

    As an atheist, I have a general dislike for all religions and cults, whether it be the Catholic church or the Wiccans. But in terms of intolerance and backwardness, Islam definitely takes the cake. Just look at the history and present state of societies where this religion is practiced.

  • Hieronymus

    "An American Muslim Learns to Fly — into buildings."

    What an idiotic statement. The 9/11 perpetrators were not Americans.

    Okay, I'll bite: What is Islam's take on homosexuality?

    Also, which takes precedence:

    Al-Qur'an, e.g., Sura 4:20-21, which calls for Muslims to "hurt" homosexuals)

    or

    Hadith, which prescribes for either a fahishah (abomination) or a zina (fornication) the same legal punishment, e.g.:
    "If you find anybody committing the act of the People of Lot (i.e. sodomy), then kill the one doing it and the one with whom it is done."
    or
    "Stone the upper and the lower [i.e. the "top" and the "bottom," i.e., both Sodomites]."
    or simply the more nebulous
    "kill whoever commits the act of the people of Lot"?

    More generally (and this is not directed toward the author), how does a campus that celebrates homosexuality reconcile its dedication to "tolerance" with Islam's stance on homosexual love? Does the advancement of "diversity" extend to the apparently opposed positions of the LBGT co-op and Islam?

    Conversely, how do Muslims respond to gender-neutral housing or the concept of "transgender" persons generally?

    Serious questions; I look forward to your honest response.

  • roflcopter

    this is disingenuous. One of the major categories of jihad is 'jihad as-sayf' or jihad by the sword.

    This is what is frustrating about discussion of Islam. I openly acknowledge that I am not a literalist.

    But too many Muslims who do NOT follow 2:191 (fighting the eternal struggle against unbelievers) try to defend the Koran by saying that it doesn't say what it says. It plainly tells Muslims to be in constant conflict with non-Muslims.

    Deuteronomy 13:6-10 suggests that we should put all non-Jews to death. But the Jews I know have generally acknowledged that the passage is obsolete, rather than attempting to defend it.

  • roflcopter

    And did Obama suddenly become "a wise president"?

  • Hieronymus

    Thought experiment: Imagine two male lovers (or, heck, male spouses, since that is now legal in CT) jointly enroll in the Yale-in-Egypt program (which is clearly within Dar al-Islam), what action, if any, would Islam demand if, say, four other male Muslim Yalies who were also enrolled in the program witnessed through an open dorm-room door the two aforementioned married male lovers expressing their love for one other?

    Follow-on: What should Yale's policy be in this matter?

    Just wondering…

  • Hassan

    Stupid question: how do we know the number of scarved undergraduates at Yale?

  • Hassan

    Oh, another stupid question: who (or what) is an "everyday Muslim at Yale."

  • John

    To #1

    You might not believe in God, but He certainly believes in you.

  • yale2011

    @1, What you said really saddens me… I'm not sure how anything can be more intolerant than attacking the core identity of a person. I would guess you consider yourself open-minded… Did you even consider taking the author up on her request, to learn about why her faith is important to her?

    As a Christian, I welcome Islamic Awareness week and am thrilled MSA is putting this on. Thanks for your piece Tasnim! :)

  • Yalie '11

    To #1,

    I share some of your feelings, but your judgment is not quite fair. Much of the what you would call "intolerance and backwardness" common in Muslim societies is a matter of lack of development or education, or is a more general cultural issue. As an atheist, I like to be more specific about what it is I reject about religion, and I fear your comment is more hostile than constructive. This editorial is a sophisticated, grounded argument against this kind of ignorant generalization.

  • Michael S.

    Speaking of intolerance and misunderstanding, look up Islam in a dictionary.

    In addition, the views of a freshman lacks any maturity or life experience to be of value.

  • asian yale alum

    to #2: you should read the work of Muslim Scott Siraj al-Haqq Kugle. and too many other Muslims scholars to name. maybe you should take the advise of the author and not assume you know everything about islam or muslims.

    i always find it amusing how people who're not even muslim need to tell muslims what they believe in. i mean, really?

    and the education of yalies continues…

    (good job MSA for putting on these events! they're needed in this day and age where, unfortunately, ignorance and bigotry still exist!)

  • Merriam Webster. Accessed 4/2/09

    Is·lam
    Function:
    noun
    Etymology:
    Arabic islām submission (to the will of God)

    1: the religious faith of Muslims including belief in Allah as the sole deity and in Muhammad as his prophet
    2 a: the civilization erected upon Islamic faith b: the group of modern nations in which Islam is the dominant religion

  • KV

    Tasnim,

    Yale was a university founded for rich white people, with a history of rich white people. Fair enough, there's probably not enough awareness of the breadth of the Muslim experience - but I think that really applies to almost anyone anywhere, even in the Muslim world. Heck, I grew up in Turkey and I couldn't have told you if it was Sunni until a couple of years ago! So relax a little. Yale IS a generally tolerant campus. Mix with non-Muslims and something's bound to rub off on them.

    @11

    What a thoughtless thing to say. Going by your use of the term "freshmen," I'd guess you're, what, maybe 3 years older than Tasnim? The value and depth of your opinions depends on what experiences you've had, not how long you've lived. By all means take issue with her opinions, but you can't expect to be considered intelligent when you make assumptions about Tasnim's "maturity" and the value of her opinions on the basis of a number.

  • 09yalie

    Hieronymous: "how does a campus that celebrates homosexuality reconcile its dedication to "tolerance" with Islam's stance on homosexual love?"

    how does a campus that celebrates homosexuality reconcile its dedication to tolerance with Christianity's stance on homosexual love? Judaism's stance? who cares what Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc. has to say on the subject? what matters is what Christians, Muslims, Jews, etc. have to say on it.

  • Hieronymus

    @#12: The author asked for questions; I offered some. You read far too much into my post: I did not "tell Muslims what they believe," I asked.

    To #15: So far as I know, no Christian- or Jewish-majority nations stones homosexuals to death or throw them from cliffs.

    Your last two sentences belie the political differences between Judeo-Christian nations and the nations of Islam, given that Al-Qur'an is, in addition to being a book of sacred law, is a book of profane, societal, and everyday law.

    I still look forward to a response, perhaps from the author, to my perfectly reasonable and possible thought question.

  • Hieronymus

    @15

    See, it's like this: secular law and morality are separate in Christian-majority countries, and they have secular governments. Islam considers law and morality as synonymous: law (shariah) and government is based on Islamic principles as dictated by Al-Qur'an.

    How this plays out in societies is that Christian-majority nations have become more "tolerant" over time (Renaissance, Reformation, Enlightenment, etc.); how? Because Christian-majority nations generally (perhaps exclusive of Vatican City, but I really don't know) separate Church and State.

    Islam, on the other hand, seeks *unity* of Church and State, hence there is not nor will be any movement towards "tolerance."

    Here's an example of the practical implications: if you are a non-smoker and somebody smokes in your presence, you can either:

    1. ignore it or move away, or
    2. grumble at the smoker,
    3. shout at him,
    4. hit him,
    5. kill him,
    6. kill him, his family and anyone else who you might associate with him and his filthy practices; indeed, if that's the way they want it, his entire culture will be left smoking…

    Your post confuses the Judeo-Christian support and furtherance of "individual rights" with Islam's monumentalism.

    Does it have to be this way? No. Turkey did quite well (for a while) as a secular nation, although Islamism is on the rise there. But Turkey, by its exception, proves the rule.

    As for individual Muslims (esp. here in the US): I have no beef; indeed, emigrating to the US shows most to be generally secularized (i.e., more concerned with "The American Dream" than "The Great Satan").

    This is in contrast with the Muslim emigrants to Europe who seek not individual achievement but group welfare. (Also, it speaks well that, in the U.S., if you say you are an American, well, you pretty much are; in France, Algerian Muslims will NEVER be French: not them, not their children, not their children's children. This separatism is part of the whole looting, burning, jihading problem in Parisian slums. But I digress).

    Tangentially: this is why it pains me that Yale has abandoned Western Civ. Without the philosophical underpinnings, individual (human) rights are not worth the paper on which they are written. That's why we (e.g., Bush) can't "plant" democracy: the seeds fall on stony ground.

    Have I mentioned that, given I was invited to ask, I look forward to answers to my questions posted in #2 and, more especially, #5?

  • ivorytower

    This is a pointless discussion. Once again I am frustrated by the utter myopia and closed-mindedness of so-called liberals at Yale.

    Islam should not have to ideologically "justify" itself to anyone. Especially those presumptuous enough to comment on its principles with any shred of authority while lacking any serious scholarship on the subject.

    If anybody took some time to seriously study the faith, and no I don't mean reading two chapters of Ibn Taymiyya on the internet, it would be apparent that it is the ultimate intellectual religion. The creed is simple, but the philosophy is complex and nuanced.

    If you have questions about Islam, read the Qur'an. But don't just do a Google search and take one verse. Read the entire chapter. Read the interpretation. Read the prophetic narrations in regard to the topic. Read the scholarly opinions of the four major schools of thought.

    Stop being lazy. You go to Yale, I expected more from you.

    The problem today is that Muslims are too ignorant about their own faith, so don't ask a Muslim, they probably don't know. On one hand you get apologetics saying the headscarf is only a choice (no, it's actually not, it is required) and on the other hand you get the extremists equating Jihad to a pillar of Islam.

    Ignorance abounds…

    Good article, Tasnim. Our only hope is education.

  • Hieronymus

    While we wait for YDN editors to update the list, here is another note to ponder.

    What made Jesus' way different from the Romans? An example: Blasphemy vs. The Right to Free Speech. T

    Most of the titles attributed to Jesus were actually political titles over which Roman authorities claimed a monopoly. "Son of God," for example, was reserved for the Emperor Augustus, adopted son of the allegedly divine Julius Caesar. "King of the Jews" was reserved for Herod Antipas, Rome's handpicked tetrarch of Galilee. If crowds of Jewish citizens started calling an itinerant preacher by these names, Roman officials might want to reassert their turf. Current-day American officials (in their Christian-inspired nation) do not have that option.

    One might also point out how Christianity began the drive toward the individual eclipsing the state.

    How does this relate to, e.g., Islam?

    Blasphemy is punishable by death in Islam. I won't append a list of the standard "villagers stone local cleric who dropped his qur'an" news stories, but will point to the recent UN resolution: "Combating the Defamation of Religion" (passed in '99, but non-binding at the time).

    The updated (and binding) resolution on the docket, if adopted, would technically make it illegal in the US to speak against Islam in any way that could offend the sensitivities of practitioners (such as I am undoubtedly doing now), effectively trumping the First Amendment (already weak on college campuses, to include Yale's).

    How does this play out already, i.e., prior to passage of the resolution? Some examples:

    Britain, 2008: three men were charged for plotting to kill the publisher of the novel "The Jewel of Medina," which gives a fictional account of the Prophet Muhammad and his child bride. Nevertheless, the book has been prohibited from being published, as it may "incite violence."

    Afghanistan, 2008: a student is on death row for downloading an article about the role of women in Islam.

    The Sudan, 2007: A British teacher was sentenced to 15 days in jail for "offending Islam" by allowing students to name the class teddy-bear "Muhammad."

    Egypt, 2007: an Internet blogger was sentenced to four years in prison for writing a post that critical of Islam.

    And, of course, Netherlands, 2004: Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was murdered after the release of his documentary highlighting the abuse of Muslim women. Followed by

    Britain, 2008: Dutch MP Geert Wilders, invited to the House of Lords to show his movie "Fitna" and participate in a debate about freedom of speech, is denied entry at Heathrow for "threatening community harmony." He returned to the Netherlands where he faces charges for "inciting hatred."

    [Anyone seen the film? Care to comment? I mean, we are not talking "P*ss Christ" here...]

    So, another question (and please answer post #5 first): How does Islam square with the First Amendment? Should Yale students be allowed to question the validity of Al-Qur'an? Should we be allowed to take a "Koran as Literature" class? Should we be allowed to name our teddy bears "Mohammed?" Should Britain's bus billboard brouhaha be allowed to modify Dawkins' text from "There is Probably No God" to "There is Probably No Allah?" If yes, then how about "Allah is a Figment?" If yes, then how about "Mohammed was a fraud?"

    I look forward to your answers.

  • Hieronymus

    Really, I apologize for posting so much, but updates are slow today (and I have no classes today).

    @18
    You state "If you have questions… read the Qur'an." Then you praise the author for a "good article."

    But the author herself states that she isn't after "scholarship" but "everyday" Islam. And as for questions, she *invited* me to do so!

    She specifically stated: "I want to hear more stupid questions… Ask me about Islam’s take on… homosexuality and I’ll tell you that, too."

    So: I asked. That's all.

  • Sheikh Zubeir

    Ha! Allah, Yahweh, Buddha, Vishnu -- all the same: I don't care a fig for figments.

  • Anonymous

    Hieronymus-

    If you really want to open a dialogue between yourself and the author, you might be better off e-mailing her. Hard copies of the YDN usually give contact info, and the website usually has a more privacy friendly contact option.

  • Hieronymus

    @22
    That's it? A public call for questions is answered with a call for private dialogue?

    Weak.

    BTW: After rounding up 20 homosexuals, MOroccan officials stated "the government regards homosexuality as contrary to social values and Islam."

    In Iraq: "Six gay men murdered in Iraqi slum."
    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/articles/2005-11893.html

    So much for unfettered discussion. Ask a few simple, honest questions, get met with hostility or silence.

    Allahu akbar indeed.

  • Anonymous

    Some people prefer not to engage in debate on internet message boards with people who don't use their real names. Yes, she wants people to ask her questions, but there's a lot to be said for speaking face to face, or at least with someone who is required to take responsibility for his ideas by putting his name on them. There are those who would argue that demanding that the author respond to comments made anonymously is "weak" and that taking responsibility for your ideas is strongly preferred. You're asking good questions, but the internet is a dangerous place, and this isn't really the appropriate forum for you and she to have this conversation.

  • That's a good one

    I love it when authors discuss themselves in the third person.

    I also love how groups pick and choose their topics of assault, preferring to go after the weak (like frats) over the strong.

    I guess everyone's just afraid.

  • Hieronymus

    No problem, Tasnim. I can understand how were you or anyone else in the Muslim Students Association to answer my simple questions you could stand to lose support from those fellow-travelers that reflexively root for the so-called marginalized groups.

    I *am* surprised, however, that no Muslim on campus had the integrity and religious faith to deliver an honest answer--or even any answer at all.

    Your silence speaks volumes.

    Thanks; it's what I needed to hear.

  • roflcopter

    is anonymous speech an integral part (despite what McCain and Feingold think) of free speech?

  • A Branfordian

    Agreed about the bells. Once a week would be fine. That way the carilloneurs could spend the week learning new songs so we wouldn't have to listen to the same stuff all the time. And maybe it would be better.

  • Fawstin, Bosch

    That Islam *must* be misrepresented by Muslims in order to appear at all appealing to non-Muslims speaks volumes, and its purpose is to make Islam appear harmless until it's too late.

    And the enemy's major weapon against us is us. From our multiculturalism which the unicultural enemy exploits, to our crippling political correctness which "protects" us from the truth we need to know and act upon, to our irrational tolerance of the intolerant.

    Another weapon the enemy uses against us is that the majority of Muslims are Muslims in name only, and the false perception that they themselves represent Islam makes Islam look good. But they do not embody Islam, they are not its true, consistent practitioners. They are hacks when it comes to doing their Islamic duty as the Koran demands of them.

    And then there are those who are moderately Islamic, but who advertise themselves as "Moderate Muslims," who have hijacked the normatively immoderate Islam, not by thoroughly repudiating the inherent violence within Islam, but by merely mouthing the words "Islam means peace," and allowing our desire to believe it to do the rest.
    --
    A big part of the self-reputation of many Muslims living in the West, mainly those who were born and raised here [perhaps, you know, like the author], is that they're good and decent human beings by virtue of Islam. But in reality, these "Muslims" reject Islamic values and embrace Western ones, whether they admit it to themselves or not.

    They have the luxury to credit Islam without having to suffer under Islam, under its life-suffocating Sharia Law. And "their" Islam, their "version" of Islam, is sometimes fancifully referred to as "American Islam," as if there exists such an entity apart from Islam itself. As if Islam is dynamic enough to have all kinds of different versions existing simultaneously in the world, while maintaining some sort of cohesion.

    This is the kind of dangerous nonsense that allows Islam into our culture as if it were just another part of the melting pot that can be integrated. [At this moment, I can't help but think of just one of the many threats in the Koran, one where there are to be pots of scalding water poured over the heads of Infidels who are suffering in hell for all eternity for not believing Mohammed's lies. Ch. 44: verse: 43.]
    These Muslims in Name Only (MINOs) have been naturally edified by a culture that is completely foreign to the one they derive from. But it was not a conscious decision to move away from Islamic values and embrace non-Islamic ones. That process was as natural as can be by virtue of simply being exposed to them. They've taken their natural adoption of non-Muslim values for granted and they've unfairly attributed these values and the virtues that come from them to Islam itself, making Islam look good by association.

    A good Muslim, by our standards, is a bad Muslim by Islamic standards.

    http://fawstin.blogspot.com/

  • George Orwell

    "If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."
    -George Orwell

    "He who dares not offend cannot be honest."
    -Thomas Paine

    "No stronger retrograde force exists in the world."
    -Winston Churchill (on Islam)

  • Anonymous

    #1 FTW. There is no reason to accept or respect any religion. To the kid who said that #1's comment "saddened" him, no one cares about your feelings, child.

  • yale

    People wonder where this hate comes from -- even as they attack the identity of an entire group of people.

    However astute your intellectualized "points" may be, you are certainly not speaking out of love. and that, my friends, is what we need. 1 Corinthians 13.1-3

  • Absurd

    Want to know why someone would post anonymously on a message board about islam? Have you ever heard of fatwa?????

  • To #1

    #1, While I agree with your statements, uttering them is thoroughly unproductive. Muslims and Christians hate atheists even more than each other, and as you can see, all you have done is unite the Christians with the Muslims against you. The order of the day is divide and conquer. Let's provoke the Muslim/Christian clash. Then we can finish off the jokers left standing.

  • yalie

    to Fawstin and Hieronymous: do you guys ever stop and think about how you take the same interpretation of islam as the radical takfiris whom you condemn?

    if you bothered to understand the 13 or so centuries of Islamic social and political thought, you'd realize what a diverse and dynamic religion it is. ijtihad and ikhtilaf are integral parts of fiqh. not to mention how the concepts of maslaha, maqasid ash-sharia, qiyas, etc. all allow for a broad range of interpretive discourse on any number of questions. And that's just orthodox sunni Islam. what about the shiites, the multitudes of sufi brotherhoods, the zaidis, the ismailis? what about all the syncretizations of local cultural practices?

    the point is that Islam is not monolithic. but instead you choose to attack a straw man--the orientalist caricature of a scary, illiberal, and primitive Islam.

    by the way, for every nasty, out of context quote you cite from the qur'an, i can counter with a nasty, out of context quote from any other religious text. let's agree not to play that stupid game.

    finally, a political point: you are sorely mistaken to argue that Muslim-majority countries don't have traditions of secularism. read up on guys like Bourguiba or Nasser. in fact, most Muslim countries today are run by secular governments. there are even many ulama who don't consider Iran or Saudi Arabia "islamic states."

    i'm not an expert on Christianity, but you have to demonstrate that the secularism we observe in Christian-majority states is actually caused by something intrinsic to Christianity. otherwise, you're drawing causation where there is merely correlation.

  • Hieronymus

    *sigh*

    So much inference. #34 writes:
    "do you guys ever stop and think about how you take the same interpretation of islam as the radical takfiris whom you condemn?"

    Please show where I condemned takfiris? I thought I asked a simple question. (BTW: you could have answered it).

    Please hold for the obligatory "I am WAY smarter/studied/steeped & stewed than you" spiel:
    "if you bothered to understand the 13 or so centuries of Islamic social and political thought, you'd realize what a diverse and dynamic religion it is. ijtihad and ikhtilaf are integral parts of fiqh. not to mention how the concepts of maslaha, maqasid ash-sharia, qiyas,[blah, blah, blah] [you would be as hip as I am!]"

    "by the way, for every nasty, out of context quote you cite from the qur'an, i can counter with a nasty, out of context quote from any other religious text."

    That may be, but Jewish and Christian governments don't seem to, uh, *act* upon them (you know, like, stoning gays), whereas one can simply peruse YouTube for actual video footage of government-sanctioned Islamists acting upon your (incorrectly supposed) "out of context" (correctly supposed) "nasty" qur'anic/hadithic imperatives.

    That would be the difference between academic inquiry and "the street."

    So: you go ahead and cite your academic findings, and I will go ahead and counter with current footage of modern day religious adherence.

    As for your comment re: Western Civ's mere "correlation" with achievement, it once again points to Yale's abrogation of its mission.

    But you knew all that. And, given how much you know, why don't you take a stab at answering my question posed in #5? I am not being a wise guy--I do not know--but am quite interested in--the answer.

  • Y09

    @ #34

    There you go with the disingenuousness again. You've probably traveled to the Arab Muslim world before. You know that Fawstin and Hieronymous's descriptions of Islam fit the bill for almost everyone except the secular rich (i.e. the people who send their kids to school in the West). You know that every second taxi you get into is just playing the Koran. You see the numbers of niqabis - a number that has been increasing in recent years! There are exceptions to this but the face of Islam today is at its core against almost all of the principals we consider Western, and will admit as much. This description does not really work for Turkey and probably doesn't for many Indian Muslims but from Morocco to Pakistan, there are no countries that are remotely secular in anything but name and a few religious practices. Underneath the government - regardless of if it is Islamic or "secular" (like Tunisia) - is a society that is at its core anti-Western and, well, scary.

    The question is not what it is, but how to react to it. And #31 is right - this board is probably not reacting to it in the correct way. That said, the MSA crowd should know that we know the truth about how their religion is practiced in most places as much as they do.

  • Muzammil Siddiqi

    In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

    The Scholars Answer:

    Muslim jurists hold different opinions concerning the punishment for this abominable practice. Should it be the same as the punishment for fornication, or should both the active and passive participants be put to death? While such punishments may seem cruel, they have been suggested to maintain the purity of the Islamic society and to keep it clean of perverted elements.

    Sheikh Muhammad Saleh Al-Munajjid, a prominent Saudi scholar and lecturer:
    "Islam emphatically forbids this deed [homosexual sex] and prescribes a severe punishment for it in this world and the next. How could it be otherwise, when the Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings be upon him) said: 'Whoever you find committing the sin of the people of Lut, kill them, both the one who does it and the one to whom it is done.' (At-Tirmidhi: 1376) That is, if it is done with consent."

    Other scholars of Islam, such as Malik, Ash-Shafi'i, Ahmad and Ishaaq said that (the person guilty of this crime) should be stoned, whether he is married or unmarried.

    There is no doubt that this act, which goes against the pure human nature created by Allah, by making men content with men and women with women, destroying families, adversely affecting the birth rate, causing the spread of killer diseases, harming the innocent when children are raped, and generally spreading corruption on earth, should be uprooted and stamped out."

    Verily, the punishment here is the burning of both homosexuals (the actor and acted upon) or stoning them with rocks till death because Allah Most High stoned the people of Lut after demolishing their village.

    The eminent Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, adds:
    "Almighty Allah has prohibited illegal sexual intercourse and homosexuality and all means that lead to either of them. This perverted act is a reversal of the natural order, a corruption of man's sexuality, and a crime against the rights of females."

    It is because of all these things that Almighty Allah prohibited homosexuality.

    Even according to Al-Fatiha, every major school of Islamic legal thought considers sex between two men a violation of Islamic law. Muslims need to take precautions against these deviants and not to give them any opportunity to mix with and corrupt their children. We should have deep repugnance to their acts and we must remind and warn them. Those who insist on this lifestyle, consider it legitimate and feel 'gay pride', we should not associate with them and should not take them as friends.

    Almighty Allah knows best.

    Salaam

  • MINO?

    #28: You are absolutely correct that, "A good Muslim, by our standards, is a bad Muslim by Islamic standards." However, I am a Muslim from Turkey and I consider myself an everyday person, ergo I am an "everyday Muslim." Maybe I am not a "good" Muslim by some standards, but I am one nevertheless, and I am ok with the fact that I don't fit into that rigid mold. I don't want to fit into that mold at all. And expecting people of one faith to fit into some cookie cutter is not right, whether this is infraction is committed by those inside or outside of the religion.

  • yalie

    hey hieronymous, if you want to shut down debate by celebrating your own ignorance of the religion you seem to despise so much, then go right ahead.

    if you want to blame every crazy act of bigotry in the Muslim world on Islam, then I can blame every sodomy law and hate crime against gays (e.g. Matthew Shepard) on Christianity. not to mention the West's acts of slavery, colonialism, and genocide, all of which were justified with the Bible.

  • Hieronymus

    Slavery still exists RIGHT NOW: in Muslim areas.
    Genocide is ongoing RIGHT NOW: in Muslim areas.
    Colonialism? More subtle now, but definitely ongoing RIGHT NOW (France, UK, Switzerland, others).

    Citing Matt Shepard was interesting: thanks for pointing out the difference between individual crimes and collective action, which may help explain why even where Christians do not "approve" of, e.g., homosexuality (and are you implying that Mr. Shepard's killers were Christian? Or motivated by Christianity?), their governments do not pass laws demanding that homosexuals be stoned, burned, or thrown from cliffs. Thanks for the tip!

    BTW, yalie: Mr. Siddiqi seems to have given a fairly comprehensive answer to #5--can you?

  • Amistad Project

    The slave trade of African blacks as practiced by the Western nations is well-known. However, it must be recognized that historically, this crime against humanity was an invention of the Arab-Muslim world. It was the Arabs, Berbers, Turks, and Persians, who originated this infamous practice long before the Europeans began the African slave trade. For one thousand years, they were trading in African people, from the 7th to the 16th centuries. They resumed the practice from the 19th to the 20th--and 21st--centuries, long after the Western nations had abolished this trade.

    Almost 200 years after the British outlawed the slave trade in 1807, slave raids and the sale of slaves in Muslim markets continues in countries such as the Sudan.

    The slave trade remained legal in Saudi Arabia until 1962, when under international pressure it was finally abolished. (In Mauritania, slavery was "officially" outlawed only in 1980.) However, there are persistent, credible reports, that slavery persists in Saudi Arabia, and even that slaves from Sudan are ending up in Saudi Arabia.

    Recently, a former slave from the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, Mende Nazer, had her autobiography: "Slave: My True Story" published. Mende was captured in 1992, she was first a slave to a rich Arab family in Khartoum, and then in 2002 to a Sudanese diplomat in London, from whom she escaped and sought political asylum.

    Slaves in large numbers still suffer in Pakistan, Kuwait, Mauritania, the Sudan, Niger, Djibouti, and many other Islamic nations. Scattered "incidents" of slavery at the hands of Muslim masters have been recorded worldwide.