President Trump, like his predecessors before him, has discovered the potent language of religious tolerance and interfaith unity when discussing Islam, as he demonstrated in his speech in Saudi Arabia to leaders of some 50 Muslim nations. But unlike previous presidents, he has not linked that rhetoric with recognition of the large, vibrant Muslim community in the United States.
As a historian who has studied efforts in the past to build acceptance of religious pluralism in the United States, I am concerned by Trump’s departure from historical precedent.
Can a message of tolerance to Islam abroad be persuasive without a corresponding affirmation of American Muslims at home?
In his widely anticipated remarks on Islam and terrorism, Trump avoided many of the missteps his critics feared. He notably abandoned the harsh rhetoric that characterized descriptions of Islam during his 2016 campaign. Trump has set aside his insistence on the use of the phrase “radical Islamic terrorism.” He has also rejected the broad generalizations of Islam that marked his demand for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslim immigration because their hatred was “beyond comprehension.”
[Bashing Muslims helped Trump win. Now he needs the Muslim world to help fix his image.]
With the exception of one apparent reference to “Islamic terror” — present in his spoken words but not in the written text of the speech — Trump struck a tolerant, inclusive tone. In his declaration that he was “not here to lecture” was the promise that the United States would not tell others “how to worship.”
More notable than the language of tolerance was Trump’s new emphasis on interfaith commonality. He declared the campaign against terrorism not “a battle between different faiths” but rather a fight that encompassed them all. He noted that a terrorist who “falsely invokes the name of God” should be considered “an insult to every person of faith.”
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE WASHINGTON POST
Trump gave his speech in Saudi Arabia, where he ditched his hard-line rhetoric from the 2016 election campaign and instead called Islam “one of the world’s great faiths.”
Here’s what experts in three Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East thought of the speech.
Former Jordanian Justice Minister Ibrahim Aljazy said Trump’s shift in tone towards Muslims was notable.
But Aljazy said that Jordanians and others in the Muslim world had hoped Trump would deliver clearer answers on American policy in the region.
“I would not call it a constructive tone since that people in the region, particularly Jordanians, are looking for a more clear approach to the Israeli policies and an end to settlements, which may pave the way for a true two-state solution and end of occupation,” he said.
“Referencing ‘Islamic’ terrorist organizations only will not be appreciated by the vast majority of people in the region when other forces are carrying out acts of aggression, especially as Arabs and Muslims are the prime victims of these organizations,” he said.
Trump also failed to acknowledge the importance of democracy and the rule of law in putting an end to the root causes of terrorism, Aljazy said.
No American president in modern times has disparaged Islam as much as Donald Trump. From the attempted visa ban on Muslim-majority countries to his campaign claims that “Islam hates us” to his Islamaphobic advisers, the president’s record of hostility is well documented.
So his first overseas trip as president is something of a paradox, with a first stop in Saudi Arabia — a major force in the Sunni Arab world —- that includes meetings with members of the royal family, a summit meeting with other Arab leaders and a major speech on Sunday.
Does that mean Mr. Trump has changed his stripes? Given his casual approach to the truth and his malleable belief system, it’s impossible to know his true views on Islam. What we do know is that he needs all the help he can get from Muslim countries to fight the Islamic State. If he uses the speech and the trip to set a new tone with the Muslim world, that would be greatly in America’s interest.
The Saudis, who came to loathe President Barack Obama, are falling over themselves to turn the page. Mr. Trump’s decision to visit Saudi Arabia “lays to rest the notion that America is anti-Muslim,” the Saudi foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, told reporters early this month, ignoring the fact that the real issue is not whether America is anti-Muslim but whether Mr. Trump is. It was he, after all, who stoked xenophobic fires to win the election.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES
As controversy rages about President Donald Trump’s travel ban, critics have pointed out that the seven predominantly Muslim countries whose citizens have been barred have one thing in common – they are not among the places where the tycoon does business.
The executive order Mr Trump signed blocks entry for the next 90 days to travellers from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen but excluded from the list are several wealthier Muslim majority countries where the Trump Organisation has business interest, including Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Turkey, the UAE, Egypt and Indonesia.
It appeared to be business as usual for Mr Trump and the Saudis yesterday, with the President pictured on the phone with the King of Saudi Arabia as hundreds of thousands of people took part in spontaneous protests against the ban.
Mr Trump has said he has handed over management of his vast real estate empire, licensing and merchandising business over to his adult sons to avoid potential conflicts of interest with his role as President.
But critics said his business interests should have been handed over to a blind trust rather to avoid the possibility of Mr Trump being kept abreast of their performance.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE INDEPENDENT
JIDDA, Saudi Arabia — It is incumbent upon every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so to travel to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Islam’s holiest site, at least once in his or her lifetime. The annual pilgrimage is known as the hajj, and it is one of the five pillars of Islam, prescribed in the Quran:
And proclaim to mankind the hajj. They will come to you on foot, on very lean camel, they will come from every deep and distant mountain highway.
This year, 1437 according to the Islamic calendar, I am making my first hajj. I will be joining two million Muslims from around the world — though the writer Abu Muneer Ismail Davids joked that it may feel more like 10 million people. During the hajj, we must not swear, cut our hair or nails, have sex or crush a plant.
I will be chronicling my journey for The New York Times and on social media. To better follow along, here’s a glossary of terms, names and places that help explain the rites and rituals Muslims will participate in during the six days of the hajj, which begins Saturday.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES
JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia – Amna Fatani knows she wants a brilliant career and a life different from that of Saudi women of her mother’s generation who married early, usually to a husband not of their own choosing.
The 27-year-old, studying for her master’s degree at Georgetown University in Washington and hoping to someday become Saudi Arabia’s first female labor minister, is part of a growing number of Saudi women choosing to remain single through their 20s and into their 30s as they pursue other ambitions.
The trend has ruffled ultraconservatives who see it as an affront to the very foundations of the kingdom, where strict interpretations of Islam and rigid tribal codes have long dictated the terms of marriage.
“My friends and I have reached a point (where) we’re very specific about what we want,” she said. “I need someone who trusts that if I need to do something, I can make the decision to ask for help or choose to do it alone.”
Saudi women stand at the center of a societal pivot between the kingdom’s push for greater women’s education and rights to work, and laws that give men final say over their lives.
As the country mourns the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz last week, the future of women’s rights in Saudi Arabia is unclear. At times Abdullah appeared to favor expanded rights for women, even allowing them to vote in local elections. But where his successor stands on the issue isn’t known. What is certain is that current laws are strict and limiting.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE DETROIT FREE PRESS
Sofana Dahlan is both a lawyer and the Founder and CEO of Tashkeil, a Saudi Arabia-based social enterprise that incubates and promotes creative entrepreneurs. In her talk, Sofana talks about the identity and capabilities. She also talks about being able to take bold choices and having the courge to change her self and things around her. With her daughter in mind, she explains the obstacles and social barriers that women face. She urges women from all over the world to overcome hardships and define their own identities based on what they want for themselves, rather than what society may want for them.
FULL ARTICLE FROM BOLDTALKS