Islam and America, Three Years After 9/11

Far from being incompatible, Islamic values and American values are very similar, says a Muslim leader.


11/12/2005 11:59:55 PM

As salaamu alaikum, I am a Muslim attending college. We have a class called Islam in the West I am attending. I want to ask a question to see how people respond, here is the question. Do you think the Islamic revival in the world needs American aid and leadership of any sort?


02/15/2005 11:48:01 PM

Interesting article about Arabia, but the Saudi regime ain't representative of an authentic Islamic society. While most everyone's ideals of dialogue and open discourse are good, the reality is radically more brutal: America is a global empire that will use any tactic to retain and maintain primacy. No amount of human rights or political ideals kept America from supporting bloody dictators for decades, including when these dictators or military regimes murdered 10s of 1000s of their own people. Talk between people is good, but govts invading, overthrowing, exploiting, killing can never be ignored.


02/13/2005 01:31:30 PM

Pt 1 excerpt from article found on Yahoo News: [Saudi Morality Police See Red Over Valentine Roses Sun Feb 13, 6:22 AM ET By Dominic Evans RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's morality police are on the scent of illicit red roses as part of a clampdown on would-be St Valentine's lovers in the strict Muslim kingdom. The Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, Saudi Arabia's powerful religious vigilantes, have banned shops from selling any red flowers in the run-up to February 14. Florists say the move is part of an annual campaign by the committee -- whose members are known as "mutawwaeen" or volunteers -- to prevent Saudis marking a festival they believe flouts their austere doctrine of "Wahhabi" Islam.]


02/13/2005 01:31:12 PM

Pt 2 [***** Valentine's Day (news - web sites), or the "Feast of Love" in Arabic, is beyond the pale in a country where women must cover themselves from head to toe in public and be accompanied by a male guardian. ***** Despite the prohibition, demand for the banned roses has been strong and unofficial business was booming, Ahmed said. ***** The government-funded mutawwaeen patrol the streets of Saudi Arabia, particularly Riyadh in the Wahhabi heartland, ensuring women are covered and five daily Muslim prayers are observed.] DON’T think for one second that there aren’t plenty of christian fundamentalists in this country who would love to be the equivalent of the ‘mutawwaeen’.


02/13/2005 09:01:20 AM

For that matter, what does the Bible say about those who deny the divinity of Jesus?


02/12/2005 09:46:16 AM

GenEric7C what dose the koran say to do to non belivers?


02/09/2005 08:25:40 PM

I don't think that there is a problem between Islam and the US. I think that the problem in the Middle East, as here, is a bunch of loud-mouthed demagogues posing as real leaders. The Koran does not stand for hatred and violence...and the US Constitution does not stand for world domination. The leaders on both sides are at fault for inflaming the problems, for suppressing solutions, and for, in general be obstructive to decency and goodness being established in our society and around the world.


02/06/2005 10:33:27 AM

Can you tell me what religion is GOD? What religion did NOAH belong? What religion did Abraham belong. Here is what there religion was, to do the will of GOD. Your religion is what seperates you from the truth. ONE GOD created all. From Abraham to Abraham Lincoln. ONE GOD of justice to make just men out of you.


02/04/2005 02:28:47 AM

Ok, Just stepped in from a long absense. I like the thoughts of the author of this article. My fondest wish is that idealogy, promulgated by Sayyid Qutb, becomes irrelevant in this world. I don't know what it will take, but the elections in Iraq and Afghanistan are a step in the right direction. I believe in the separation of powers and societies that tolerate a broad spectrum of beliefs and ideas. However, I draw the line where one belief or ideology declares that murder and terror are the necessary means to survive. It may seem that the Arab world and the American are looking at the mirrored reflections of themselves, but truth be known, we are all human and deserving of dignity.


02/04/2005 02:28:34 AM

(Part 2) Qutb poisoned many a young mind in his world with the idea that America on its own is inherently evil -- the logical result of 1700 years of Christianized civilization. The differences are these America seeks to do business largely for its own benefit. People get hurt, people get killed in the process, but it is not deliberate except when a real enemy is concerned. Qutb's ideology puts innocents among the guilty and says they are all guilty -- kill them all, anyway you can. They are no better than wild animals. His criticisms of Western civilization may have some validity, but his conclusions are the worst of evils. May his works rot and may only the most nebbish of scholars find mere passing interests in them.


02/03/2005 09:54:21 AM

Usama, I couldn't agree with you more. Americans need to realize that the U.S. government has an abysmal record of backing hated dictatorial regimes in the Arab world in particular. They also need to realize that their own demand for cheap oil is at the heart of the problem. Big oil pumps money into the political machine which returns the favor by keeping the oil flowing via corrupt, money-hungry regimes like the Saudi royal family or the former Shah Pahlevi in Iran. "Why do they hate us?" Because you constantly throw your weight around, and your greed and consumerism results in many Arab societies being kept under the boots of tyrannical regimes. The fact that Americans don't know this, or don't care, is NOT an excuse.


02/03/2005 01:37:42 AM

That's why globalization is in effect Americanization. Let's face reality: the Muslim world has served as a colonial bastion for Europe and America's energy needs- support dictators, get cheap oil, have those uberrich Muslim elite to invest in America.


02/03/2005 01:28:44 AM

I am somewhat disappointed in Rauf's interview. The Muslim world has endured on avg 100 years of European colonialism + 50 yrs of authoritarian dictatorships supported by America/Europe. MORE Western intervention is not the solution. Economic cooperation? Is Walmart and local Muslim retail stores on equal footing to shape 'economic ties'? Are the financial foundations of dictatorial regimes sound bases for economic ties?


02/02/2005 08:50:34 PM

Bismalla Nir Rahman Nir Raheem If I recall correctly, the Eastern Christian world has only had "democracy"(little of it is in fact democratic) for a decade or so now, and yet, I see no one equating the Eastern Church with Totalitarianism(as such would be wrong). AlhamduIlah


02/02/2005 02:55:32 PM

As for whether or not Iraq will remain a democracy when the U.S. pulls out... I think that depends. If a majority of Iraqis decide they want an Islamic state, and they enact one, then that is their right as a free society. I think for so many Americans, a country is not thought of as a democracy unless it agrees lock, stock, and barrel with American policies. I've heard France called "communist" more since the Iraq war began than I care to count. One cannot force democracy on a people at the point of a gun. If the Iraqis want it (which i think they do, then they will keep it. If they don't want it, they won't. In the end, it's their choice. But whatever they do, their decision is not THE decision demanded by Islam.


02/02/2005 02:50:53 PM

Dancin', Many governments in Islamic countries (ie, Saudi comes to mind) seem to have used Islam to divert public attention from governmental corruption and hegemony. The Saudi royal family invokes Islam when they point fingers at Israel or America, but they themselves live lives void of many of the most important things Prophet Muhammad talked about. In this sense, Islam has been used as a political power tool. But let's not forget that from the Council of Nicea in (help me Orthodox...) 325 to the Enlightenment, European governments used Christianity like a sledge hammer too. The population was manipulated through the Church, and a similar scenario is at work in parts of the Islamic world. Yet to say Christianity is incompatible with democracy because of this history is wrong. And it is just as wrong to say this of Islam, because we can see in front of us examples of Islamic democracies (Turkey, the Palestinian society, and many of the central Asian states.)


02/02/2005 02:42:25 PM

I am not speaking of a diluting of Islam hoped for by people like Daniel Pipes (Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, a great American Islamic leader, took an online test on Pipes' website to see if he was a "good Muslim," and he failed). Many neocons would love to see Islam reject many of its values that conflict with the neoconservative drive to subjugate the world to America's economic imperialism. They'd also like to see all world religions change to the point that some interpretations of Christianity have, namely, that they'd get behind the neoconservative agenda in the name of God. We must be clear that when we talk about reform in Islam and its expression in the Islamic world, we are not talking about making Islam a lackey, a cultural vehicle to voice Americanism. Rather, we must support the changes in Islam that come from within as Muslims themselves rediscover the values of tolerance and freedom inherent in their religion.


02/02/2005 02:37:19 PM

Hi Orthodox, You ask a good question, as to whether or not the "current strains of Islamic thinking" are inherently anti-democratic. I would submit two points. First, that there are multiple strains of thought in Islam, and some very encouraging ones currently. I am talking about approaches to Islam through which intellectual vigor and human rights are very important, as they were in Islamic Spain. There is real development happening, and below are some GREAT sites at which one can see that change is occurring. That this type of thought is growing is encouraging. Below are links to the sites of progressive muslim thinkers like Khaled abou El Fadl, Omid Safi, Asma Gull Hasan and Imam Rauf.


02/02/2005 02:36:23 PM

Do you think for one minute after the United States pulls out, that this country will remain a democracy. I pray it will, but I have my doubts. I have read the hadiths and the Koran. Tell me why Islam is different in the East, as it is in the West?


02/02/2005 12:53:59 PM

Hi YairbenAvraham, The fact that the "first ever openly free election in the Arab world" occurred in 2005 more supports that refutes the statement that Islam and democracy don't mix. I completely agree with you that this need not be the case. Turkey has had a decent track record of representational government and should serve as a model, along with Iraq and the Palestinians. The question rather is this: Are Islamic countries (like communist countries) invariably repressive and dictatorial? Is there something inherent in the current strains of Islamic thinking that would always lead to one party rule, and would new modes of Islamic theology (like the changes in Europe during the reformation) be necessary to correct this?


02/02/2005 09:39:11 AM

Making blanket statments like, "Islam and democracy don't mix" is foolish. For one thing, the fact that the Palestinians have just carried out the first ever openly free election in the Arab world (interesting that this was done by a population without a state; how much easier could it be in Egypt or Saudi?). The process was called open and democratic by Europe and the U.S. alike. So democracy and Islam CAN coexist. The only thing that making blanket statements to the contrary does is give opponents of democracy in the region an excuse to continue their hegemonic control. It also makes it easier for Americans to dismiss Muslims in general and Arabs in particular as ignorant, backward, crazy, violent, etc. And in a way this serves the interests of the current administration. It's easier to cheer the bombing and the starvation and deaths of 100,000 Iraqis in the last 18 months if they are all so incapable of carrying out a legitimate democracy because they are Muslim.


02/02/2005 09:28:28 AM

Dancin's knowledge of Islam is clearly based upon what evangelicals like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell have spewed into the American media. These people wear their ignorance on their sleeves. As Amir pointed out below, Allah, via the Prophet Muhammad, clearly commanded the young Muslim community to defend itself after the Hijrah. Read Dancin. Stop getting your info on Islam from American NeoCons or American media, who know nothing about Islam. Look, you wouldn't want National Public Radio defining your religion for you, so quit letting Bill O'Reilly and Daniel Pipes define Islam. And by the way, the Sudan crisis has nothing to do with Islam; Muslims in Darfur are being killed too, not just Christians. Muslims are killing Muslims there, just as Christians killed Christians in the 20th century (remember World Wars I and II?)


02/02/2005 02:02:50 AM

imdancin: Did you actually mean Quran 47:4 (rather than 47:1,3,5)? Also, perhaps consider comparing the text with Deuteronomy 20:10-13. May peace be upon you.


02/01/2005 09:40:35 PM

I get the impression Rauf is to Islam as Wallis is to Evangelicalism; the kind of guy you wish the whole religion consisted of and you hope much of it does.


02/01/2005 08:49:04 PM

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02/01/2005 06:11:35 PM

You look at the conflicts around the globe and Islam is involved. Quran: "Slay them wherever you find them" "When you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield strike off their heads and, when you have laid them low, bind your captives firmly. 47:1:, 3,5) "Soon shall We cast terror into hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority: their abode will be the Fire:and evil is the home of the wrong-doers." 3:15 If you read the Hadiths ...over and over they recount in horrible detail as to how jihad against infidels was to be carried out....they dont talk of metaphysical battles or spiritual struggles but bloody war. This Holy War is a religious duty because of the universalism of the Muslim mission and the obligation to convert everybody by persuasion or by force. You see this happening all over the world. It will come to America. We are slowly starting to turn our backs.


02/01/2005 06:11:27 PM

After 9-11 not a single Arab Muslim state openly joined the United States brokered military coalition to side with America against terrorism. Why? that would be siding agaisnt the Koran. How can a world religion that stresses mercy and justice as their holy book teaches continue to ignore the vicious repeated Muslim terrorism in Israel agaisnt the Jews or far worse, genocidal slaughter in Sudan agaisnt millions of black Christians? Do Muslims ever wonder how their religion would play out if it is not policed?


02/01/2005 12:21:40 PM

clearly indicates in this interview. b'Shalom, Yair


02/01/2005 12:15:13 PM

Islamic Spain is an example of what can happen in Islamic society. As for the last 1500 years not showing compatability with democratic values and Islam, I submit that my people have suffered much less in the last 1500 years under muslim rulers than under Christian ones. Christians carried out the Crusades, Inquisitions, Pogroms, and the Holocaust. Jews have experiences spotty maltreatment by muslim regimes, but nothing like what we've experienced under Christian rulers. The actions of Islamic regimes in the 20th century can be attributed to a convulsive reaction to colonialism and its aftermath. There are things to fix currently, but it is grossly inaccurate to suggest that Islam isn't compatable with democracy.


02/01/2005 12:09:00 PM

Hi Dancin, I would boject to your last post. The Omayyid Caliphate in Spain was a shining example of tolerance and collaboration between Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Philosophy, Science, Literature, and the Arts (including the translation of Greek classics into Arabic, then to Latin, which made them available to Europeans and prompted the Renaissance) thrived and there was a mutual respect among the communities. While European Catholics were praying at the tombs of saints for restored eyesight 1,000 years ago, the surgeons of Cordoba were surgically removing cataracts. This growth of knowledge was precipitated by an environment in which Jews, Christians, and Muslims were able to pool collective wisdom to create a tolerant society.


02/01/2005 11:20:41 AM

Islam in the West is completely different from Islam in the Muslim dominated countries. Muslims in America enjoy all the benefits and privileges of freedom and democracy. They are protected and prevented from living sharia. Whats funny is that Muslims living in the United States reap the benefits available in a nation founded on biblical principles. In 1500 years or so Islamic history has yet to prove that democratic values and Islam can comfortably coexist. In the West Muslims enjoy numerous freedoms that are unimaginable for christians in almost all Muslim countries.


02/01/2005 11:16:01 AM

Religious leaders of Islamic countries by and large believe that if Islam is to be practiced CORRECTLY, all of society must submit to Islamic law. Sharia Law. This means that everyone in Islamic societies including non-Muslims msut either conform to Islamic laws, economic, politics, and customs or suffer heavy consequences. You examine the countries where Islam has gained political power, people of all rival religions are either wiped out or in the interest of tolerance permitted to exist as second class citizens. Now all countries are a bit different. Saudi, Pakistan and Afganistan sharia law is strict, in Quatar and Emirates its more lenient.


02/01/2005 05:28:45 AM

Lee-Max, Islam and democracy can co-exist,what you see by many Muslim countries today is not true Islam so people haven't got an idea what true Islam is about and it co-existing with democracy. We must remember the ideas of democracy were filtered by Muslims before Christians, Muslims looked at ancient Greek philosophies because power to the people is not something alien to Islam. It just so happens that during the crusades Christians encountered the learning which gave birth to the renaissance and democratic ideals in the West.


02/01/2005 02:16:29 AM

ravenwolfsmoon, The problem has never been Christianity co-existing within democracy... it has been here at the genesis of this country. Throwing out the codeword Christian Right is a attempt to demonize anyone who professes his/her faith in the public arena of dialogue. Some people wish Christians would slip back into their pews and shut the door behind them and not bother with politics. No one is forcing government state imposed religion just because someone his/her's personal beliefs.


02/01/2005 02:15:58 AM

ravenwolfsmoon, The problem has never been Christianity co-existing within democracy... it has been here at the genesis of this country. Throwing out the codeword Christian Right is a attempt to demonize anyone who professes his/her faith in the public arena of dialogue. Some people wish Christians would slip back into their pews and shut the door behind them and not bother with politics. No one is forcing government state imposed religion just because someone his/her's personal beliefs.


01/31/2005 04:09:00 PM

What I can't wait to see is how the author can "map" the ideals of the U.S. Constitution to Sharia.


01/31/2005 04:06:12 PM

Next I expect to hear that our founding fathers were Muslims. What’s brilliant about the United States system of government is separation of power. Not only the executive, legislative, judicial branches, but also the independence of the military from civilians, an independent media and press, an independent central bank. Golly now what sepration is missing. Separtion of the branches of gov't, thats ok. Independent media, that's a good thing. That's ok. A Central bank, that's ok. Unless of course they charge interest on loans. There is one separation that is missing..what can it be ? what can it be ?


01/31/2005 01:49:08 PM

Islam and democracy co-exist? I believe it might be possible but perhaps only in a perfect world. It's true that Islam and America have similar values; some good and some bad; the bad ones being vilifying other nations or peoples whom don't fit into their preferred worldview among others.


01/30/2005 11:20:32 PM

Heretic, so true.


01/30/2005 11:19:59 PM

The Koran teaches, the true religion with god is Islam. Islam aims for the most part to replace capitalism and democracy as the reigning world system...there are global aspirations here, the submission of the ENTIRE world to Sharia law a fascist system of dictates designed to control every single act of ALL, ALL individuals. I think Americans for the most part do not understand the true nature of the Islamic terrorists and what motivates them. Jihad is a religious duty, established in the koran and the traditions as a divine institution. The purpose of jihad, to advance Islam and repell evil from Muslims. and people talk about the exclusivity of Christianity. With Christianity you have a choice to believe or not to believe. There is no choice in Islam. At least not in a true Islamic country.


01/30/2005 06:18:47 PM

ravenwolfsmoon, that was a most excellent answer. I agree with you totally. Thanks for saying that. :)


01/29/2005 04:02:34 PM

Any religion can coexist within a democracy such as the USA, provided the practioners are willing to coexist with people of a different faith. The problems begin when people of one faith try to use the government to jam their beliefs down everyone's throat with the strong arm of the law. So one might just as well ask, "Can Christianity and democracy coexist?" This, of course, is a problem we now face in this country with the Christian Right.


01/29/2005 01:03:51 PM

Uhhh, haven't we seen enough examples throughout history to clearly show us that religion ought best be separated from politics/the state? I can think of no example of a religion-based state that embraces non-violence, protection of human rights, freedom of speech / thought and gender equality. Let’s get over it folks – states are best run as secular entities. Let each individual within the state decide his or her faith. Amen!


01/29/2005 12:29:08 PM

Islam and America is the proper dicotomy considering that while many Americans call themselves to be Christian, not nearly as many actually believe in, practice or understand the religion they claim. Muslims numbers are growing in America because of that fact. Salaam


01/29/2005 10:51:58 AM

Interesting that the two "sides" are identified as Islam (a religion) and America (a nation). If America really were what the fundamentalists keep mistakenly insisting it has been--a Christian nation--then the sides would have been Islam and Christianity. As America has always been a secular nation many of whose citizens happen to be Christian, the article is really about whether a religion that is practiced by a minority of the population can exist in a secular society in which the majority practice a different religion. Yes, of course it can exist--that is the essence of a secular society. What cannot be tolerated is fundamentalist attempts to introduce theocracy, and that applies to all religions, regardless of their numbers.


01/28/2005 11:46:23 PM

Jesus was radically inclusive... isn't part of "love your neighbor" the call to "love your Islamic neighbor as yourself"? peace to all.


01/28/2005 05:13:57 PM

OK, that goes to a point I was leaning toward in an earlier post; how do we define democracy? If we start in ancient Greece and look at modern European democracy, mainly parliamentary, how does modern American democracy stack up, especially with our softening secularism?


01/28/2005 05:03:19 PM

Lee Max, I think the author points that out when she says, "What they contend is a problem with the religion of Islam is really a problem with the mindset of people or governments of people in power." I think that we are seeing the same problem in the United States with President Bush. He proclaims to be Christian, and was elected by many because of his faith. But yet, I can't reconcile his choices with those of one who is a follower of Christ. I don't think that you can merge religion and politics. Things of the spirit don't seem to be compatible with things of politics. I think that if we could merge them, we'd see peace on earth. Instead, we have war.


01/28/2005 05:03:03 PM

"There was absolutely no excsue for the Crusades and the Inquisition. The difference is, of course, that Christianity got past that." Well.......almost....... Lee Max, I think you said the magic word, 'interpretation'. I take issue with interpretations which promote and justify oppression in all three of the Abrahamic religions, with any religion, for that matter.


01/28/2005 04:54:06 PM

Rabbit, I actually do own a version of the Koran, though I will not pretend to be an expert or well versed in it at all. I will take a closer look at it. However, I guess my concerns have less to deal with the "scriptual" part of Islam, as they do the "socio-political" reality of the religion as it exists today. By no means do I think that Islam, in its purest form, preaches hate. However, Islamic "law," which is an extremely selective interpretation of God's law, has bred fanatics and oppressive, medieval-like governments. So, how does one reconcile what the Koran says and what is actually going on in the Muslim world? I guess this is the main question-- and, as I say above, it is a socio-political question, not a question of religious differences in the strictest sense of the word.


01/28/2005 04:41:24 PM

If only all the Islamic countries in the world would accept Feisal Abdul Rauf's word on this: Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Egypt, Morocco, Libya, Northern Nigeria, the Maldives, Libya, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, etc. etc. I mean, how can a country claim religious freedom if it even denies the existance of non-Muslims within its borders (ex: the Maldives) or that encourages the murder of people who choose to leave the religion of Islam. I am not trying to incite religious hatred. But this is a reality that must be faced. Yes, Christendom DID commit heninous atrocities in the name of the Prince of Peace. There was absolutely no excsue for the Crusades and the Inquisition. The difference is, of course, that Christianity got past that. The Middle East and Southeast Asia haven't. Peace!


01/28/2005 04:15:25 PM

Lee Max, do you own a copy of the Q'uran? Might help. They're stocked in most of the major bookstore chains in America, or can be ordered online. From a non-judeo-christian-islamic, that is a non-Abrahamic perspective, there are more similarities than differences between the three. No suprise since they all grew from the same root. And where practitioners of any of them diverge from the messages of peace and universal human dignity central to each faith, they all suffer from the same fundamental flaws. I don't think America faces, in 'assimilating' Islam, near the challenge facing the EU. For example, I'm thinking of the recent prohibition on Islamic headscarves in French public schools.


01/28/2005 03:33:56 PM

Rahmaa: If so, than please prove me wrong. Perhaps I am just speaking out of ignorance.


01/28/2005 02:46:16 PM

rahhmaa, I'm a Christian, and I think of you as my spiritual sister. I hope that you think of me as your spiritual sister. I know that God is one in Spirit, and He loves us both. Maybe now that we're thinking of each other as being united in Spirit, maybe we can work together to bridge our differences and work for peace in the world. I know that Jesus would be crazy about that idea. How about Muhammad?


01/28/2005 01:34:01 PM

Lee, Islam does not equal Fascism. Islam also does not equal degradation of women. And as such, your little mathmatical equation falls apart.


01/28/2005 12:13:10 PM

Can fascism and democracy co-exist? Can the degradation of women and "freedom for all" co-exist? Of course not, which is why Islam and Democracy cannot co-exist.