Neither racism nor the violence that results from it can be justified. However, the acceptance of anti-Semitic prejudices among Muslims should be attributed to political and social rather than religious factors. Without the colonial subjugation of the Arab world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the spread of anti-Semitic thought, both there and in other Islamic countries, is almost unthinkable.
Holy books are what people make of them: after all, even the word of God needs to be understood and interpreted. The same applies to anti-Jewish statements in the Koran. Today, it isn’t just so-called critics of Islam who describe them as anti-Semitic; Muslim hate-preachers too like to quote them. In the field of traditional Koranic exegesis, this is a new kind of misuse.
For over a thousand years, Muslims have worked hard to make their word of God applicable as a moral and legal doctrine. Scholars claimed the exclusive right to interpret it. While this process wasn’t democratic, it guaranteed that extreme, isolated interpretations stood little chance.
Verses calling for violence against Jews, for example, are embedded in reports about historical events. When the Prophet emigrated from Mecca to Medina in 622, he formed an alliance with the local population, which included some Jewish tribes. It is said that when these tribes broke the contract, Mohammed and his followers took revenge. Hatred of Jews in the early Islamic tradition sprang from the precarious position of the Muslim community, which was in competition with social adversaries. When seen this way, it was clearly associated with a specific situation.
“Muslim-Jewish relations are thought to be in conflict but this study shows that they are in a state of cooperation. This is the first definitive study of its kind to quantify that, with cooperation and dialogue between the two groups, we are stronger together.”
— Rabbi Marc Schneier, President of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding
The more that American Jews and Muslims interact with each other, the more likely they are to see the two faiths as more similar than different, a comprehensive study of Muslim-Jewish relations in America has found.
Fifty-four percent of Jews and 65 percent of Muslims surveyed in a poll for the Foundation of Ethnic Understanding responded that “Judaism and Islam are more similar to each other than they are different.” Jews who had frequent exposure to Muslims said Islam is more inclusive, more evolving and more modern than those who were exposed more infrequently.
“I’m here to say that our religion is for peace. Islam is for peace . . . Most people don’t care about religion. They care about peace.” — Ahmad Bilal
Ahmad Bilal, Faiez Ahmad and Luqman Munir couldn’t have been better positioned to talk about being Muslims than the cultural crossroads of Fourth Avenue and Pine Street in downtown Seattle on Saturday.
The trio, all members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, took part in the organization’s “Meet a Muslim Day,” an effort in cities around the country to dispel myths about Islam and put a human face on a population that’s been the subject of stereotypes, public suspicion and in extreme cases, threats and violence.
For three hours on a showery Saturday, the men stood among the throngs of tourists and St. Patrick’s Day parade spectators at a corner of Fourth and Pine with a sign that read, “I am a Muslim: Ask me anything.”
Placing U.S. national security in the hands of people who think America’s diversity is a “weakness” is dangerous. It is false.
People of every religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, and age pouring into the streets and airports to defend the rights of their fellow Americans over the past few weeks proved the opposite is true — American diversity is a strength, and so is the American commitment to ideals of justice and equality.
In 2011, I was hired, straight out of college, to work at the White House and eventually the National Security Council. My job there was to promote and protect the best of what my country stands for. I am a hijab-wearing Muslim woman — I was the only hijabi in the West Wing — and the Obama administration always made me feel welcome and included.
Like most of my fellow American Muslims, I spent much of 2016 watching with consternation as Donald Trump vilified our community. Despite this — or because of it — I thought I should try to stay on the NSC staff during the Trump Administration, in order to give the new president and his aides a more nuanced view of Islam, and of America’s Muslim citizens.
“We shall not be deterred by threats and fines. We have always said that everything can be solved at the negotiating table, and through dialogue and mutual respect rather than by force.”
Law enforcement authorities in Israel’s Lod city, located 9.3 miles southeast of Tel Aviv, fined a Palestinian imam for making an Islamic call to prayer through a loudspeaker at a local mosque, according to reports. Authorities said that the action violated the anti-noise law in the Shnir area of the mixed Arab-Jewish city.
Mahmoud Alfar, the spiritual leader of the mosque, said he did not get any formal notice related to the fine but officials told him that it will be mailed to him, according to a Haaretz report on Monday. He will have to pay 750 shekels (US$ 194) as fine. Alfar’s brother Sheikh Adel Alfar told the Israeli newspaper that this was the first time the city fined an imam for noise caused by the call to prayer.
The Israeli parliament is mulling a controversial anti-noise legislation, dubbed the “muezzin law.” Muezzin refers to man who calls Muslims to prayer from the minaret of mosque, mostly using loudspeakers. Knesset proposed the bill on November 13 and said that it would restrict the use of loudspeakers at mosques in the country to tackle noise. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supported the bill, which was criticized by Muslims, Jewish and Christian communities.
The events in Abu Dis came a day after a number of Israeli settlers from the illegal settlement of Pisgat Zeev protested in front of the house of Israeli Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barakat over the “noise pollution” caused by the Muslim call to prayer.
Israeli authorities reportedly banned the Muslim call to dawn prayer from being made from three mosques in the Jerusalem district town of Abu Dis today, according to local sources.
Lawyer Bassam Bahr, head of a local committee in Abu Dis, told Ma’an that Israeli forces raided the town just before the dawn prayer this morning.
According to Bahr, Israeli forces raided the Al-Rahman, Al-Taybeh and Al-Jamia mosques in the town, and informed the muezzins, the men responsible for the call to prayer — also known as the athan, which is broadcast five times a day from mosques — that the call for dawn prayer through the loudspeakers was banned.
Bahr added that the forces did not provide any reason for the ban, and also prevented locals living in the eastern part of the town from reaching the Salah Al-Din mosque for dawn prayers.
On Saturday, October 29, 2016, local area leaders and concerned citizens gathered at Town Hall Seattle for an event, Islam in the Public Square, to examine the dynamics that have led to the gap in understanding about Islam in America. We discussed the many issues clouding the image of Islam and Muslims in America, sought to build understanding and tolerance across ethnic and faith lines, and looked into ways all of us can confront and overcome the misunderstandings and fears that divide us. Together, as one Seattle community, we explored ways to work together for peace and justice.
Our humble thanks to the many people and organizations whose contributions of time, effort, and resources made this event such a success.
Below are the events, with links to transcripts, video, and photos.
Samuel Huntington’s article “The Clash of Civilizations?” appeared in the Summer 1993 issue of Foreign Affairs, where it immediately attracted a surprising amount of attention and reaction. Because the article was intended to supply Americans with an original thesis about “a new phase” in world politics after the end of the cold war, Huntington’s terms of argument seemed compellingly large, bold, even visionary. He very clearly had his eye on rivals in the policy-making ranks, theorists such as Francis Fukuyama and his “end of history” ideas, as well as the legions who had celebrated the onset of globalism, tribalism and the dissipation of the state. But they, he allowed, had understood only some aspects of this new period. He was about to announce the “crucial, indeed a central, aspect” of what “global politics is likely to be in the coming years.” Unhesitatingly he pressed on:
“It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.”
Most of the argument in the pages that followed relied on a vague notion of something Huntington called “civilization identity” and “the interactions among seven or eight [sic] major civilizations,” of which the conflict between two of them, Islam and the West, gets the lion’s share of his attention. In this belligerent kind of thought, he relies heavily on a 1990 article by the veteran Orientalist Bernard Lewis, whose ideological colors are manifest in its title, “The Roots of Muslim Rage.” In both articles, the personification of enormous entities called “the West” and “Islam” is recklessly affirmed, as if hugely complicated matters like identity and culture existed in a cartoonlike world where Popeye and Bluto bash each other mercilessly, with one always more virtuous pugilist getting the upper hand over his adversary. Certainly neither Huntington nor Lewis has much time to spare for the internal dynamics and plurality of every civilization, or for the fact that the major contest in most modern cultures concerns the definition or interpretation of each culture, or for the unattractive possibility that a great deal of demagogy and downright ignorance is involved in presuming to speak for a whole religion or civilization. No, the West is the West, and Islam Islam.