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bubblyshades @ 07:56 pm: A dialog between Muslims and non-Muslims
Hi there,

I'm a college student interested in culture and bridging gaps between different communities. This semester I am taking a class called Islam Today, wherein we study and discuss issues in the Middle East and Islam. These issues include 9/11, women in Islam, the Middle East conflict, Arab culture, and so on.

One of my assignments is to interview Muslims and see what they think about the matters we discuss in class. I was wondering if anyone here would like to share your opinions with me? I am always looking to open my mind, and to advance my understanding of global events and issues and of different religions and cultures. I would appreciate any insight you have.


Below are some of my questions. I look forward to hearing your guys' thoughts.
1. Unfortunately, Islam is a widely and grossly misunderstood religion. How big a role do you think the (Western) media has in producing or reinforcing this gross misrepresentation?
2. What is your stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?
3. It is sometimes easy to confuse culture with religion. In Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to drive. Upon learning of this, many people would jump to the conclusion that Islam looks down on women, when in reality the religion teaches respect for them. How do you suggest breaking down the stereotype that Muslim women have no rights nor respect in their communities?
4. Certain countries have banned the hijab (France, Turkey). What is your opinion on this issue? Should women have the right to choose to wear the hijab? Do you think that freedom to wear a hijab is a relevant issue in Islam, considering other issues such as the Arab-Israeli conflict, go
5. Do you think 9/11 and the consequent War on Terrorism has affected the global ties between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities? If yes, how so?
6. Do you think peace in the Middle East is possible? However long it might take? Why or why not?
7. What are some major differences between progessive Muslims and conservative Muslims? In terms of beliefs and values.

Anything else you would like to add to the dialog is welcome. Thank you all.

Comments

[User Picture]
From:southernbrother
Date:March 30th, 2010 09:53 am (UTC)
(Link)
Ok here is my take on these questions...

1. Unfortunately, Islam is a widely and grossly misunderstood religion. How big a role do you think the (Western) media has in producing or reinforcing this gross misrepresentation?

The Western media, in my own opinion, has a great role to play in this. Anyone who has had access to other media outlets (for example right now I'm in pakistan so pakistani media for me) would know that very well. The only thing I see on CNN are idiots who claim to be experts who are promoting the misunderstandings that they have of islam. plus they only show you the bad and they break things up and show portions which are taken out of context.

2. What is your stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

There was no Israel, there was a Palestine. Palestinians lived there, the "Isrealis" were moved there. That land should go back to the people whose great great great grandparents are burried there. Plus its not a "palestinian" issue it is an Islamic issue at heart since that land is dear to us as Muslims. Christians, Jews and Muslims have lived there in peace before and they can again... but even when the UN acknowledges israeli war crimes and it does nothing about it, including the US sitting there silently, it seems terrorism is ok if its against muslims but not ok if its against anyone else... on that basis alone i have heard many people "justifying" (although I do not do that myslef) terrorist acts against western nations. they say "they do it to us and don't care so why should we?"

3. It is sometimes easy to confuse culture with religion. In Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to drive. Upon learning of this, many people would jump to the conclusion that Islam looks down on women, when in reality the religion teaches respect for them. How do you suggest breaking down the stereotype that Muslim women have no rights nor respect in their communities?

the line between culture and religion is very thin. every islamic nation has its own culture and there is nothing wrong with that. what's wrong is to judge another culture based on our own cultures. You say women aren't allowed to drive in saudi arabia and think its bad. maybe the cultural role of women there is different? let me give you a practical example.

In Pakistan (or saudi or most any muslim country) if a woman wears a skirt or shorts she would instantly be considered lewd and would probably be thought of as a prostitute. That's because in that culture, women don't do these kinds of things unless they are of that nature. Now if someone in pakistan was to tell me when he saw a woman in the US wearing a short skirt, "she is lewd and disgusting and most likely a prostitute." i would have to tell them not to judge another culture based on your cultural norms. That being because in the west it is socially and culturally acceptable for women to wear such clothing and has nothing to do with them being a prostitute or anything like that. even in the US a prostitute has a certain way of dress that distinguishes her from the average skirt and short wearing woman. ...

[User Picture]
From:southernbrother
Date:March 30th, 2010 09:55 am (UTC)

contd.

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again, if it is ok in your cultural for women to drive, for example, well what if in saudi arabia the culture is for women to not have to drive. in my own opinion there is nothing "Islamic" about it really because islam never puts that kind of limits on it. some people may try and justify it "islamically". However i think it is a cultural issue. For example a woman working in pakistan who is married would be sort of weird (things are changing here though). That is because it is the cultural responsibility of the husband to provide a comfortable life for her so that she doesn't have to exert any effort.

My main point here is that one culture should not judge the "correctness" or "properness" of another cultural based on cultural values alone. Even in the US cultural values change everyday and that is because there is no real "standard" for them. Muslims have a standard which is their religion, any cultural value which would directly conflict with a religious value would have to be thrown out as the prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, threw out cultural practices in his time which were based on pagan beliefs. other than that, each culture is different.

In the US, again since I am from the US that's why I'm citing examples from there, the age for a woman to give consent to sex is different from state to state. You don't see an agreed upon standard even in one nation like the US. In one state you're leagally having sex with a consenting individual while in another you would be considered a sexual predator. Islam gives us a standard and every culture can be different as long as it doesn't violate that standard.

[User Picture]
From:southernbrother
Date:March 30th, 2010 09:55 am (UTC)

contd....

(Link)
4. Certain countries have banned the hijab (France, Turkey). What is your opinion on this issue? Should women have the right to choose to wear the hijab? Do you think that freedom to wear a hijab is a relevant issue in Islam, considering other issues such as the Arab-Israeli conflict, go

Banning the Hijab is just a way for them to show their enemity and closed-mindedness and intolerance towards people with other beliefs. They are behaving in the manner which they claim Muslims behave. We are a very open people who are perfectly fine with living with other religious beliefs in our midsts. However these people are proving to be political jack-asses and nothing more. Turkey is trying to suck up to the EU just so they can be let in and is wanting to say, "Hey look we can be like you too!" However things in turkey are looking better now a days. The west has no grounds to talk about "islam not giving people or women their rights" when they are clearly violating the rights of their own citizens which THEY themselves have given them.

Also the hijab has nothing to do with the Arab-Israeli conflict, I don't know where that came from. But hijab is a must for every Muslim woman. If she doesn't know that, she hasn't read the Book of God which she claims to believe in. It is very clear in there and it is a command from our God.

Let me put it this way, if God communicated with you and told you to do something, would you say no? If He Himself spoke to you and said, "I want to you do such and such thing." You know that He is only going to tell you what is best for you and He is speaking to you Himself! This is the Quran. It is the word of God. If He tells us to do something, who are we to say no? And why on earth would we say no? Its a religious duty and an obligation. If a woman doesn't want to wear hijab, that's fine, don't wear it but she should never say "I have the right to not wear it." That is ridiculous because Islamically, you don't have the right to say NO to God... If you are saying NO just acknowledge that it is your own sin and mistake and do not say that God is wrong for obligating it.

Alhamdulillah, women now a days are choosing to wear the hijab anyways. There are even non-Muslim women who wear the hijab... i think one of them has a youtube channel as well.

5. Do you think 9/11 and the consequent War on Terrorism has affected the global ties between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities? If yes, how so?

Global ties between muslim and non-muslim countries were affected long before that my friend. this history goes back a long time. the west has always had an unfair policy towards muslim nations, in my opinion. that is why many people, and many of them non-muslims, spoke out after 9/11 and said this was the work of a flawed policy. if you back up an animal into a corner it will attack. its not a question of "right or wrong" because people don't think about that sort of stuff when they are reacting. if someone is dying of hunger, he will not think whether it is right or wrong to steal someone's food, he will just take it. anywho, these ties were affected LOOONG before.

[User Picture]
From:southernbrother
Date:March 30th, 2010 09:56 am (UTC)

contd..... phew

(Link)
6. Do you think peace in the Middle East is possible? However long it might take? Why or why not?

peace in the middle east is a worn out phrase. its not possible with the current political system because each country only cares about its own interests. the only way to achieve peace is to think about others and to sacrifice. and no country, especially not the western countries, have presented a good example for that type of behavior.

7. What are some major differences between progessive Muslims and conservative Muslims? In terms of beliefs and values.

"islam" is a noun that (religiously speaking) doesn't take adjectives. there is no such thing as "progressive islam" or "radical islam" or "modern islam." Islam means submission. So put those adjectives with submission and see if it makes any sense. It will no longer be "submission" if you radicalize it or modernize it... muslims however don't always live up to the standard of islam so they take adjectives. but progressive muslims usually means people who want to change islam which they have no right. Its God's words not theirs, why should they change it without His permission? The Quran says that Islam has been perfected for us, so for these people to propagate a "change" in any basic islamic principles, it is a call to a new religion and nothing more.

conservative muslims, unfortunately, is a term that usually is applied to the religious crowd who has no deep or at times proper understanding of Islam. Islam is a scholarly religion which consists of many sciences (i.e. science of quran, hadith, jurisprudence, inheritance, theology etc.)

Muslism who want to follow Islam shouldn't use adjectives in my opinion. We are Muslims and we follow the Quran and Sunnah (prophetic traditions) which is Islam. If anyone wants to change it and call it progession, we say no thanks. If anyone wants to radicalize it and call it conservatism we say no thanks. That is my personal opinion on that matter.

I hope that helps some. I hope you don't take anything I say to be a total representation of the muslim community, i'm just one out of billions. others may have their own opinions which may be better than mine. Allah knows best.
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