Every Time I Hear a Mass Shooter Wasn’t Muslim, I Feel Relief

171004_POL_Relief-ShooterNotMuslim.jpg.CROP.promo-xlarge2The first thing I felt Monday morning was grief. The slow trickle of news about another mass shooting can feel like just the next chapter in a long national assault on helpless victims, but it’s important we focus our energy on the victims whose experience in Las Vegas on Sunday night is new. Right now, I’m thinking about them and everyone else who has experienced this horror. My heart is broken.

The second thing I felt Monday was relief. That’s what I always feel when I learn a mass shooter wasn’t Muslim.

I wish, like many other Muslims I know, that my mind didn’t immediately arrive at “Oh God, was it a Muslim terrorist?” That’s a terrible way to think. But I don’t just feel that way because I don’t want my community to be forced to confront false associations. I’ve learned Americans have more pointed, sobering conversations about the root causes of this violence when they’re forced to confront a perpetrator they can’t so easily separate from themselves.

I know what will happen as soon as I hear a Muslim-sounding name connected to a shooting on the news. There’s question of accountability: Why didn’t “moderate Muslims” do more to stop it? What could I have done in New York to stop the Muslim shooter in Florida? Or California? If the shooter was born in America, the question then turns to the parents: Should they ever have been allowed to come here?

That’s how it went down after Omar Mateen was identified as the shooter in the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando in June 2016, until Sunday the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. Within hours, reports chased down his immigration status and his connections with foreign terror groups, and a New York Times writer declared it the worst act of terrorism on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001. By the following Monday, then-candidate Donald Trump had also seized on Mateen’s religion and national origin, bragging on Twitter “for being right on radical Islamic terrorism.” He added, in an angry, rambling speech, “The only reason the killer was in America in the first place was because we allowed his family to come here.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM SLATE

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A Sinner in Mecca review – Islam, homosexuality and the hope of tolerance

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Parvez Sharma is a proud gay Muslim whose first film, A Jihad For Love, was the first ever made about Islam and homosexuality. It made him the subject of death threats throughout the Arab world.

“Immense faith had brought me here,” he writes. “I was obeying my highest calling as a Muslim.”

Somehow, the name on his Indian passport did not set off any alarm bells. The result is the first book about the Hajj from a gay perspective, written by a man with a deep knowledge of Islamic history. This pilgrimage is the centerpiece of his book, and he recounts it with courage and fierce emotion.

Part of Sharma’s compulsion to find his spiritual salvation at Mecca was a need to prove to himself that despite his sexual orientation, he was still holy enough to be worthy of this journey. It was far from a casual decision. As a child, a medical issue prevented him from having the required circumcision. To reduce one major risk during his pilgrimage, when he would be forced to wear an ihram, two seamless pieces of white cloth with no underwear, he had to have the operation as an adult.

He writes: “In my nightmares, my ihram would fall off in Mecca, subjecting unsuspecting pilgrims to my un-Muslim penis.” His grandfather had told him how after the partition of India and Pakistan, his two best friends were stripped and identified as Muslim by their genitals. They were then hacked to death.

Sharma’s struggle to reconcile his faith with his sexual orientation leads him on a search for the essential humanity of the prophet Muhammad. “Scholars learn to question faith,” he writes, “while believers just accept it. My adult self seemed to possess both abilities.”

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE GUARDIAN (UK)

The five most feared buzzwords associated with Islam in the West, and what they really mean

We need to change the way we talk about extremism to strip the alt-right of its audience, which has been brainwashed into thinking my faith is synonymous with terrorism.

jakarta-istiqual-mosqueThe post-9/11 era has been rife with Islamophobia, populism and the growing support for the far-right across Europe and the US – most notably in recent years.

Hostility and discrimination against Muslims in the UK has peaked, resulting in 1,260 hate crimes in the year up to March 2017. A culture of fear, capitalised on by so-called terrorism experts and pundits, has created a vehicle for all types of extremists to target anything associated with Islam. Here are some of the most commonly misused buzzwords.

1. Islam

When most people hear the words “Islam” or “Muslim”, their mind conjures up images of brown bearded men, burqa-clad women, Isis, Al-Qaeda, and all manner of other stereotypes. A Google image search will confirm these preconceptions, but there are 1.3 million Muslims in the world: we don’t all look the same or hold the same views.

The word “Islam” originates from the Arabic root word salaam, which translates as “peace”. For Muslims, Islam is not a political ideology but a way of life which involves adhering to the five tenets of faith: belief in God, fasting during Ramadan, making pilgrimage, giving to charity and praying five times a day.

Muslims are not a homogenous entity; they come in many forms, including different Islamic philosophies and difference levels of observance. Many Muslims believe that prophet Muhammed is a direct descendant of Abraham through Ismail, and that Islam has many parallels with the Judeo-Christian tradition. Islam should not be viewed in isolation, it is as much a part of our society as any other faith.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE INDEPENDENT 

U.S. Muslims are religiously observant, but open to multiple interpretations of Islam

FT_17.08.23_islam_interpret_ledeFor American Muslims, being highly religious does not necessarily translate into acceptance of traditional notions of Islam. While many U.S. Muslims say they attend mosque and pray regularly, sizable shares also say that there is more than one way to interpret their religion and that traditional understandings of Islam need to be reinterpreted to address the issues of today.

By some conventional measures, U.S. Muslims are as religious as – or more religious than – many Americans who belong to other faith groups. Four-in-ten (43%) Muslim Americans say they attend mosque at least once a week, including 18% who say they attend more than once a week, according to a 2017 Pew Research Center survey. An additional 32% say they attend once or twice a month, or a few times a year. These attendance levels are comparable to those of U.S. Christians, 47% of whom say they attend services weekly or more, and greater than the 14% of American Jews who say the same.

A majority also say that they pray at least some or all of the salah, or ritual prayers required of Muslims five times per day. Among all U.S. Muslims, fully 42% say they pray all five salah daily, while 17% pray at least some of the salah every day. A quarter say they pray less often, and just 15% say they never pray.

And nearly two-thirds of U.S. Muslims (65%) say that religion is very important in their lives, similar to the share of U.S. Christians who say the same (68%), and higher than the share of U.S. Jews who say this (31%). An additional 22% of Muslims say that religion is somewhat important in their lives, while fewer say that religion is not too or not at all important to them.

FULL ARTICLE FROM PEW RESEARCH 

The Muslim Jesus provides common ground for Christianity, Islam

Iraqi man carrying cross and Quran attends Mass  in BaghdadAs the country sits transfixed with one of the strangest, divisive and most unpredictable presidencies in the history of the United States, lost in the madness has been the increase in Islamophobia since Donald Trump was elected president.

Islamophobia, defined as “unfounded hostility towards Muslims and therefore fear or dislike of all or most Muslims” has become frighteningly commonplace in the U.S. and this hatred and misinformation has found fertile soil in the past eight months of the Trump presidency.

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The Council on American-Islamic Relations has documented 451 incidents that stemmed from anti-Muslim bias between April 1 and June 30, 2017, 15 percent of which were acts of violence against Muslims. This represents a 91 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes during that time compared to the same time period in 2016.

These crimes occur in a conducive environment. A Pew Research Center survey in 2017 rated Muslims at 48 degrees, the lowest on a 0-100 “feeling thermometer” out of nine religious groups in the United States, two points lower than atheists. Particularly negative feelings towards Muslims were harbored by Republicans and those who were Republican-leaning.

The irony here is that most Americans really have no idea what is in the Quran, the Muslim equivalent of the Bible, beyond the mostly negative and out of context soundbites they hear on talk radio, cable TV or the internet. They have no idea that the three monotheistic religions that follow the same Abrahamic tradition, namely that Abraham was the first prophet of God, are Judaism, Christianity and yes, the third sibling, Islam.

All three religions were born in the Middle East and are inextricably linked to each another. While Christianity was born from within the Jewish tradition, Islam developed from both Christianity and Judaism. In fact, Islam sees itself as the culmination of the Abrahamic faiths, the final revelation by God in the monotheistic tradition.

The Quran specifically protects Jews and Christians as Peoples of the Book, the “Book” meaning revelations from God to Jews and Christians which gives them a spiritual connection to Islam.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER 

Commentary: Have questions about Islam? Let’s talk about them

newsEngin.19474449_rbb-True-Islam-2Courage is facing fear head on. One does not have to go through heroic situations to show courage; it can be found in the simple everyday actions. In this day and age, when the words “Islam” and “terrorism” have unfortunately become synonymous, I had a unique opportunity to talk to a group of women who wanted to learn about the truth of Islam directly from a Muslim.

Despite their understandable reservations and possible fear, they took the first step of starting a dialogue instead of being passive and believing in what they were told. I am thankful to them — not only for making me feel welcomed, but allowing me to feel as an equal part of the society.

I am an immigrant from Pakistan and a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, a sect of Islam that has faced religious persecution for decades by its own countrymen. I grew up with fear of being judged and verbally abused because of my religious beliefs. In recent years, all those feelings have become all too familiar again as the media focuses only on the actions of some Muslim countries’ unjustifiable political agendas and label it as the Islamic way of life.

By receiving the invitation from St. John’s Presbyterian Church bible study group, I was not only honored, but my faith in the general American public was restored. I was treated with utmost respect and love and was asked genuine questions to help remove the misconceptions regarding Islam. I was given the chance to explain various aspects of our lives, which follow the true teachings of Islam.

We talked about jihad, which now is commonly perceived as the license to kill in the name of spreading the religion. The literal meaning of jihad is “struggle,” which is first applied in self-reformation. Only after that, when one becomes a portrayal of a true Muslim, he or she can spread the teachings of Islamic faith through his or her way of life and dialogue. I had the opportunity to discuss the rights of women, education, marriage and many other aspects of life as per Islamic teachings. It was no surprise that we found our religions to be quite similar. We follow the same guidelines to live a meaningful life in love and peace, which eventually lead us to finding God.

FULL ARTICLE FROM MY STATESMAN 

‘Advancement of Islamic Agenda For America’ Sign Posted Outside Michigan Mosque Is A Digital Fake

A sign reading “Advancement of Islamic Agenda for America” being posted outside a Michigan mosque is a digital fabrication. The photograph of a sign bearing an ominous threat from the group is a fake. There is no truth behind the image displaying a sign which bore a serious and ominous threat from the group “Advancement of Islamic Agenda for America.” Where did this originate?

Snopes reported that the photograph has been identified in social media postings as belonging to a mosque or some other Islam-associated administrative building in Michigan. The sign reads “Advancement of Islamic Agenda for America.”

The fake sign then advertises to viewers that organization’s ominous threat “AMERICA WE WILL KILL YOU ALL AND NOTHING YOU CAN DO TO STOP IT,” bracketed by invocations of the exaltation “ALLAH BE PRAISED.” However, the sign nor the organization is real.

FULL ARTICLE FROM BUSINESS 2 COMMUNITY