On October 3, I went to a seminar at the University of Missouri held by Amer Ahmed. Amer “serves as Director of Intercultural Teaching (DIT) and Faculty Development at University of Massachusetts Amherst” (umass.edu).
- Islam: The Basics
- Islam & Christianity
- The “Muslim Ban”
These are the concepts that stuck out to me the most during the discussion:
1. Muslim children are heavily bullied and the bullying is increasing.
A child? Look at this from both sides– the bully and the victim. Children pick up on everything and they cannot fully comprehend everything they are hearing/seeing. They take little bits and pieces and turn it into their reality. We need to talk to our children directly. This is what’s important. Developing the minds of kids. They are the future.
- Hate crimes against Muslims: 584% increase from 2016
2. Muslims believe in free-will
This means it is breaking the rules of the Quran to force someone into being Muslim. Think on this for a minute… There are 5 layers of meaning to everything in the Quran. If the 1st layer is the only layer read you are not getting the whole, accurate message. *Context matters!
Example from the Bible: Leviticus 20:9 If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death.
What I’m saying is you can’t just pull out a line from the Quran, Bible, etc and say that is what this religion “is about”. You often see terrorist groups do this to justify their actions.
3. Jihad = Holy War = Holy Struggle
- Greater Jihad = Spiritual Interpretation
- Lesser Jihad = Physical Interpretation
The word, Jihad, is constantly manipulated to fit specific political agendas. Similar to reading just the 1st layer of the Quran being read and the meaning being manipulated.
4. Not all Arabs are Muslims
The portion of Muslims that are Arab? 18-20%. Most of Northwest China is Muslim, which started because of the silk route.
5. The line between religion & culture can be blurry
For example. China has Arabic writing on their mosque in the shape of a dragon to incorporate their culture into their religion. However, people practicing Islam in Saudi Arabia would not transform Arabic writing in the same way.
This is a non-violent example, however, saying all Muslims are violent is 1) stereotyping and 2) not looking at the impact of culture and context. It’s literally like saying: all Pitbulls bite people.
6. The “Muslim Ban”
Fun Fact: None of the countries on the list have committed a terrorist attack in the USA. (Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, with dual nationals included in the ban)
However, Saudi Arabia has and they are not on the list because of our “good” relationship with them. So what’s the ban really about??
Egalitarianism (we’re all equal) is central to the Muslim faith
Gentleness, self-sacrifice and generosity are the exclusive possession of no one race or religion.