Five myths about mosques

by

Edward E. Curtis IV, a professor at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, punctures a few misconceptions about mosques in an article in The Washington Post.

It includes this on sharia:

In Islam, sharia (“the Way” to God) theoretically governs every human act. But Muslims do not agree on what sharia says; there is no one sharia book of laws. Most mosques in America do not teach Islamic law for a simple reason: It’s too complicated for the average believer and even for some imams.

Islamic law includes not only the Koran and the Sunna (the traditions of the prophet Muhammad) but also great bodies of arcane legal rulings and pedantic scholarly interpretations. If mosques forced Islamic law upon their congregants, most Muslims would probably leave — just as most Christians might walk out of the pews if preachers gave sermons exclusively on Saint Augustine, canon law and Greek grammar. Instead, mosques study the Koran and the Sunna and how the principles and stories in those sacred texts apply to their everyday lives.

And this on the character of most American mosques:

There is a danger that as anti-Muslim prejudice increases — as it has recently in reaction to the proposed community center near Ground Zero — alienated young Muslims will turn away from the peaceful path advocated by their elders in America’s mosques. So far, that has not happened on a large scale.

Through their mosques, U.S. Muslims are embracing the community involvement that is a hallmark of the American experience. In this light, mosques should be welcomed as premier sites of American assimilation, not feared as incubators of terrorist indoctrination.

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Dä'ved Äyan | David Allen
Guest
Dä'ved Äyan | David Allen

The other thing to consider Robert is that there really are not radicalized forms of the other groups that you mention in comparison. There are no radicalized GLBTQ alternatives demanding the attention of GLBTQ folks, here or abroad.

The same goes for every other group you mention. And yet there are radicalized forms of some other groups you did not mention, two being white racists and Zionists. And they have agent agitators present in your general population looking for dissatisfied youth to recruit. And there are radicalized forms of Islam scattered throughout the world who have websites, as well as agent agitators seeking dissatisfied youth also to recruit.

So I think that the professor makes good sense. If the general US population starts stigmatizing Muslims, starts harassing and persecuting Muslims in various localities, as a nation you drive the moderating factors away and you leave dissatisfied Muslim youth disenfranchised and susceptible to radicalized Islam.

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Bill Ghrist
Guest
Bill Ghrist

For a more in depth understanding of what the professor is saying, I would recommend that you look at Krista Tippet's Speaking of Faith episode: Reflections of a Former Islamist Extremist., "British activist Ed Husain was seduced, at the age of 16, by revolutionary Islamist ideals that flourished at the heart of educated British culture. Yet he later shrank back from radicalism after coming close to a murder and watching people he loved become suicide bombers. He dug deeper into Islamic spirituality, and now offers a fresh and daring perspective on the way forward."

Read the transcript or listen to the produced program or, better yet, listen to the full, unedited interview.

An important point that Ed Husain makes in the interview is the difference between the British and American Islamic communities and why young, educated British Muslims are so much more susceptible to extremism than are American Muslims. He says that Muslims (and other immigrant communities) in Britain tend not to think of themselves as British, but remain culturally separate from the wider British community. On the other hand, American Muslims strongly identify themselves as Americans.

This is what is at stake if anti-Muslim prejudice gains the upper hand in the U.S. Not only do we risk alienating young, educated American Muslims and making them more susceptible to the type of Islamist Extremism that has flourished in Britain, but we may lose the American Muslim community's leadership in advancing a more modern, moderate Islam worldwide.

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Jim Naughton
Guest

Let me elaborate on that in a less flippant way. I think you are obviously smart enough to understand that the position of young Muslims and Latinos in our society is quite a bit different than the status of Episcopalians and Republicans, and that the more marginal a population feels, the less stake they perceive themselves to hold in our society, the more likely they are to act against that society. So I feel that these comparisons are not valid, and that you are baiting me.

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Jim Naughton
Guest

Robert, if that were a serious question, I'd try to answer it. But you are just playing word games.

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Robert Martin
Guest
Robert Martin

Jim, since the professor writes in light of the Ground Zero mosque, I note this passage from what you've quoted:

"There is a danger that as anti-Muslim prejudice increases -- as it has recently in reaction to the proposed community center near Ground Zero -- alienated young Muslims will turn away from the peaceful path advocated by their elders in America's mosques."

Amazing. Is the professor saying (1) that any opposition to Islam must be Muslim prejudice, and (2) that confronted with opposition, Muslims will turn violent??

Let's replace the word "Muslim" in that passage and review it:

--There is a danger that as anti-Episcopalian prejudice increases -- as it has recently in reaction to the proposed Episcopal church near Ground Zero -- alienated young Episcopalians will turn away from the peaceful path advocated by their elders in America's Hispanic centers.

--There is a danger that as anti-lesbigay prejudice increases -- as it has recently in reaction to the proposed community center near Ground Zero -- alienated young lesbigays will turn away from the peaceful path advocated by their elders in America's lesbigay centers.

--There is a danger that as anti-Republican prejudice increases -- as it has recently in reaction to the proposed Republican field office near Ground Zero -- alienated young Republicans will turn away from the peaceful path advocated by their elders in America's Republican field offices.

--There is a danger that as anti-Hispanic prejudice increases -- as it has recently in reaction to the proposed Hispanic center near Ground Zero -- alienated young Hispanics will turn away from the peaceful path advocated by their elders in America's Hispanic centers.

What can be the explanation for the professor's choice of words?

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