Category Archives: Muslims

American Stupidity

I’ve indicated that I’ll be voting for Barack Obama for President. No, I don’t think he’s the best thing since sliced bread or anything, but his views are more in line with mine than John McCain’s are.

But then, stuff happens that tend to solidify my support for Obama, in this case two e-mails from the same person who works in my building Friday afternoon. One was titled “American Stupidity?” and starts off:

A lot of Americans have become so insulated from reality that they imagine that America can suffer defeat without any inconvenience to themselves.
Pause a moment, reflect back.
These events are actual events from history.
They really happened!!!
Do you remember?
1. 1968 Bobby Kennedy was shot and killed by a Muslim male extremist.

It continues on noting events from the Munich Olympics killings to the death of Daniel Pearl, all done by…you guessed it, “Muslim male extremists.”
Then there’s a pro-profiling rant, followed by:

According to The Book of Revelations (sic):
The Anti-Christ will be a man, in his 40’s, of MUSLIM descent, who will deceive the nations with persuasive language, and have a MASSIVE Christ-like appeal….the prophecy says that people will flock to him and he will promise false hope and world peace, and when he is in power, he will destroy everything.

As Snopes notes, such a description is false on at least two levels. The Book of Revelation (singular) has no such description, and it could not be describing a Muslim man since The Book was written more than 400 YEARS BEFORE ISLAM!

And Now:
For the award winning Act of Stupidity Of all times the People of America want to elect, to the most Powerful position on the face of the Planet — The Presidency of the United states of America .. A Male of Muslim descent who is the most extremely liberal Senator in Congress (in other words an extremist) and in his 40’s.

Have the American People completely lost their Minds, or just their Power of Reason ???
I’m sorry but I refuse to take a chance on the ‘unknown’ candidate Obama…
As the writer of the award winning story ‘Forest Gump’ so aptly put it,’Stupid Is As Stupid Does’

This combination of xenophobic fear-mongering, mixed with a bastardization of my Christian faith, really infuriated me. I became desperately desirous to provide a list of a dozen non-Muslims (James Earl Ray, Ted Bundy, the Columbine kids, Timothy McVeigh, et al) who either killed a major figure or committed multiple slayings in the last four decades, but I resisted. Instead, I wrote back: “Obama is not a Muslim”. Then I quickly get a SECOND e-mail:

This one had the usual blather “proving” Obama was a Muslim (disputed by Snopes here, and “ALSO, keep in mind that when he was sworn into office he DID NOT use the Holy Bible, but instead the Koran. (Snopes addresses that here.)

I suppose the worse thing about this is the fact that the e-mailer considers herself a Christian. Her reason for voting for W. and for now supporting Sarah Palin has to do with their “Christian values”. Well, in my lectionary for this past week, one reading was from Exodus 20, the Ten Commandments. Verse 16: “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.” In an electronic age, one’s neighbor is just about everyone.

Now, add to the mix the shocking revelation (chortle) that race actually matters to the American voter, and it’s all mads me a little bit cranky, but also even more likely to vote for Obama than I was before.

So thanks, LJ. Your e-mails have brought me much clarity, but possibly not the conclusion you sought. Oh, and please stop spreading lies.

"The Trouble with Islam Today"

I love librarians. They have such interesting people at their conferences. I was flicking through the channels a couple months ago and hit upon the American Libraries Association conference held in late June airing on one of the C-SPAN networks.

Specifically, I was watching a dynamic woman named Irshad Manji who seems to have created a firestorm with her speeches and books, including The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith. It was interesting to see a strong Muslim woman staying within the faith, yet noting its shortcomings.

Rather than trying to recreate her points, I’ll link to a blog report here from a “conservative” librarian, and this post, to give you a flavor of the talk.

At the end, she gave this five-minute recitation, from memory, of a poem from Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Oompah Loompahs declaring the evils of television, a short excerpt of which you can see here and/or here.

One of the things I found on Ms. Manji’s MySpace page is the notion of ijtihad.

What is ijtihad?

Ijtihad (pronounced “ij-tee-had”) is Islam’s lost tradition of independent thinking. In the early centuries of Islam, thanks to the spirit of ijtihad, 135 schools of thought thrived. Inspired by ijtihad, Muslims gave the world inventions from the astrolabe to the university. So much of we consider “western” pop culture came from Muslims: the guitar, mocha coffee, even the ultra-Spanish expression “Ole!” (which has its root in the Arabic word for God, “Allah”).

What happened to ijtihad?

Toward the end of the 11th century, the “gates of ijtihad” were closed for entirely political reasons. During this time, the Muslim empire from Iraq in the east to Spain in the west was going through a series of internal upheavals. Dissident denominations were popping up and declaring their own runaway governments, which posed a threat to the main Muslim leader — the caliph. Based in Baghdad, the caliph cracked down and closed ranks. Remember those 135 schools of thought mentioned above? They were deliberately reduced to four pretty conservative schools of thought. This led to a rigid reading of the Koran as well as to a series of legal opinions — fatwas — that scholars could no longer overturn or even question, but could now only imitate. To this very day, imitation of medieval norms has trumped innovation in Islam. It’s time to revive ijtihad to update Islam for the 21st century. That’s why we’ve created Project Ijtihad.

A couple thoughts came to mind when reading that:
* Yes, Islam is more diverse than some people have been telling us
* There are some forms of Christianity that seems to have been captured by politics that could do with some “ijtihad”

I haven’t read Irshad Manji’s book yet, but if it is as dynamic as she is as a speaker, it should be fascinating.
Conversely, Ann Colter has made me an offer I can refuse:
Here is how to tick off a liberal…just subscribe to Human Events today! (And you’ll receive a FREE copy of The Truth About Muhammad – a $27.95 value.)