Islamic da’wa, or proselytization, proceeds apace in the United States. The Islamic Center of Milwaukee is having an open house, and the Journal Sentinel (thanks to Mackie) chips in with a helpful editorial, “Violence is not a religion,” explaining why no one should connect global violence perpetrated in the name of Islam with Islam:
The last time an Osama bin Laden tape showed up for our viewing displeasure, the terrorist spoke of a “crusade against Islam.” Unfortunately, U.S. polls are showing that Americans misunderstand Islam on such a scale that this bogus claim is allowed more fertile ground to sprout than should be available.
That’s why Milwaukeeans should avail themselves of a special opportunity Saturday. They should visit the Islamic Center of Milwaukee for an open house that will include a tour, question-and-answer sessions and information about a religion that shares some of the same roots as Judaism and Christianity.
Journal Sentinel reporter Tom Heinen wrote on Monday of the invitation to the public from the Islamic Center. The article also contained some disquieting revelations.
A Washington Post-ABC News poll in early March showed negative views of Islam have grown and that many Americans believe that Islam encourages violence against non-Muslims. An independent poll by the Council on American-Islamic Relations last month had one in four Americans believing that Islam is a religion of hatred and violence, Heinen wrote.
I have written many times about this here and elsewhere. In brief, once again, Americans didn’t pluck that notion out of thin air, or evolve it from their natural bigotry, racism, and intolerance. There are so many Muslims who act daily upon the proposition that Islam encourages violence against non-Muslims, it’s hard to escape the idea that maybe they’re not as completely discredited by the texts of Islam as many would have us believe.
This is especially true since an actual look at tghe Qur’an shows that it does teach warfare against Jews and Christians (9:29) and contains numerous exhortations to violence: 2:190-193, 8:12, 9:111, 47:4, and many, many others.
Such slanted U.S. views on Islam inform not only Muslim perceptions of this country but also provide cover to U.S. policy decisions not necessarily in the country’s interest. The view that the jihadists who perpetrated the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks were concretely and operationally tied to Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, for instance. We suspect that this falsehood would not have been so believable had perceptions about Islam been on firmer and more accurate ground and there wasn’t such a temptation to lump all Arabs and Muslims into one pile.
The Journal Sentinel should check into recent revelations that suggest that maybe it is those who assumed that there was no such link who were acting upon their prejudices.
Many of those blowing up themselves and others in Iraq and elsewhere are indeed citing their faith and the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed for this lunacy. And it’s important to understand what these people believe their faith says that compels such action. A visit to the open house could help.
It could indeed, if the people in the Islamic Center were willing to discuss the jihad verses I cited above and many others, and explain how exactly the mujahedin are misusing them. But since I think it likely that the Islamic Center knows very well that all the madhahib, the schools of Islamic jurisprudence, teach that Muslims must wage war against unbelievers in order to establish the Islamic social order, I doubt they will discuss these verses in any comprehensive or helpful way.
Othman Atta, a Milwaukee attorney and president of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee, explains it this way: “There are people who are going to act in the name of their faith, and they will claim that the actions are based on their faith, but if people have a (true) frame of reference about that faith, they could judge whether those actions are truly based on it.”
For instance, he said, some said they based their support for apartheid in South Africa or for the Ku Klux Klan in the United States on their Christian beliefs. But a fuller understanding of Christianity instantly dispels the claim.
How, Atta asks, would Christians like to be judged, for instance, on the actions of the Rev. Fred Phelps of Kansas and his followers, who make pests of themselves at military funerals to say that the Iraq war dead deserve what they got because of U.S. tolerance of gays?
Othman Atta should provide evidence of what mainstream Christian church, sect or denomination has ever held to the views of the KKK or Fred Phelps. Then he should provide evidence of any mainstream Islamic sect that does not teach that jihad and the subjugation of unbelievers as part of Islam.
Let us suggest that misperceptions abound precisely because so does much ignorance. The only real antidote is education, and that’s what the Islamic Center is offering.
Some might call it education. I don’t.
Meanwhile, it’s Discover Islam Week at Towson University (thanks to Mullah), and the da’wa has a decidely new agey tinge: participants can attend presentations (tonight!) on “Spirituality and Energy Healing, Prophetic Medicines, and Quranic Foundations to Holistic Healing.” Wednesday there were “Henna Tattoos by Henna Artist Naima Shoukat.”
But I’m most sorry that I missed Monday night’s presentation, “Islam, Religion, and Modernization.”
A dinner and presentation on the alteration of scriptures over time by humans, the relationship between culture and religion, how Islam fits the cultures and times until the end of time (not vice versa), and why God, in his infinite wisdom and knowledge, needs no human to correct him.
In this, the MSA at Towson U seems much more forthright than the Islamic Center of Milwaukee. God needs no human to correct him: i.e., Islam cannot and should not be reformed. In other words, Islamic law, Sharia, is perfect and immutable. I doubt that anyone was on hand Monday night to unpack the implications of that idea for women and religious minorities — more’s the pity.