I CONFESS... when I started putting this issue together I knew next to nothing about Islam. I may have only one friend whom I am aware is Muslim. My ignorance is embarrasing AND no excuse. I've learned quite a bit in my research and I am just scratching the surface. I commit to continue my learning, creating connections and speaking up when I witness anti-Muslim acts. Please join me!
LEARN! There are many resources to learn about Islam - The Islamic Network Group web site has lots of FAQs about all aspects of Islam. ING also offers lesson curriculums and teaching guides that require free registration on the site. Check it out HERE!
Take a Chance to Get to Know a Muslim
This is a lovely talk by Sarah Khan about reaching out and connecting with members of a culture who we are unfamiliar with and possibly fear.
Which of these statements are true?
1. Muslims live mostly in the Middle East. Not true - Most Muslims live in Asia. The four largest Muslim populations are in Indonesia, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. The Middle East contains about 20% of all Muslims.
2. Muslims and Islam are the main source of terrorism. Not true - In the US, terrorists are more often domestic-based, white, far-right extremists, acting alone. Less than 10% of all attacks are committed by terrorists with a "religious conviction." Globally, 73% of attacks are committed by citizens of that country.
3. Muslims are Arabs. Not true - Only about 20% of Muslims in the world are Arabs (see #1). However, about 93% of Arabs are adherents of Islam.
4. Islam oppresses women. Not true - In Islam, men and women are viewed as equals before God, assigned different roles and responsibilities. In some countries, women are oppressed by cultural practices which have nothing to do with Islamic law. Prevalence of abuse of women is not higher among Muslims than among non-Muslims.
5. Islam permits forced marriages. Not true - In Islam, both men and women have the right to choose or reject their potential spouse. Arranged marriages are cultural practices in certain areas and not restricted to Muslims.
6. Jihad is an offensive Holy War. Not true - Jihad is a common Arabic word meaning to strive or struggle. This applies to all ways of being in the cause of God, such as living justly, raising children responsibly, charitable giving and promoting social justice. Only when peaceful means have been exhausted does the Quran allow for carefully defined conditions of war.
7. Islam is hostile to the LGBTQ community. Not true - The worldwide Muslim community is extremely diverse. As with many religions, interpretation of scripture varies by nationality, generation, family upbringing and cultural influences. Inclusiveness is increasing as interpretation of sacred texts is shaped by Muhammad's own celebration of the diversity of Creation.
8. The media accurately portrays terrorism suspects. Not true - The Media again and again shows us stereotypical images of bearded jihadis, women in burqas, and white victims of terrorism, when, in fact, most terrorist attacks are characterized by just the opposite. Further, the Media does little to separate Islamic extremists from the mainstream of the world's 1.6 billion Muslims who have nothing to do with fanaticism.
9. Islam promotes martyrdom. Not true - The Quran prohibits killing oneself. Period. In classic belief, anyone who died a believer could be a considered a martyr.
10. Muslims don't speak out against terrorism. Not true - This is repeated frequently in the media and by western leaders, but is far from the truth. Leading Muslim groups and scholars constantly denounce extremism and refute radical teachings, but get little media representation. Many individuals and organizations worldwide promote anti-fundamentalist causes.
Based on interviews with Muslims around the world who make up a global community of writers, artists, doctors, educators and activists who are standing up for individual freedom, debate, creativity and compassion, the author presents a side of the Muslim world rarely presented in the Media.
A veteran of twenty years of human rights research and activism, Karima Bennoune draws on extensive fieldwork and interviews to illuminate the inspiring stories of those who represent one of the best hopes for ending fundamentalist oppression worldwide. Available on Amazon.
Did you know?...
• an estimated five to seven million Muslims live in North America
• there are currently more than 9,000 Muslims on active duty in the US military
• there are more than 2150 masjids (mosques) throughout the US and over 400 Islamic schools, three colleges, 400 associations, and over 200 publications
• European colonial vessels often enlisted Muslim crew, known for their expertise in maritime navigataion
• as many as 20% of slaves brought to the US from Africa were Muslims (before being forcibly converted to Christianity)
READ! We are approaching the holy month of Ramadan, a time for spiritual connection, additional prayer and fasting from sunrise to sunset. In this time when Islamophobia is on the rise, read this 2017 article on: