• Susan Seligson

    Susan Seligson has written for many publications and websites, including the New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, the Boston Globe, Yankee, Outside, Redbook, the Times of London, Salon.com, Radar.com, and Nerve.com. Profile

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There are 14 comments on Muslims Embraced at BU, Bothered by Social Media

  1. No one should be prejudiced against, but no one’s ideas should be immune to scrutiny. The fact of the matter is that many of the ideas present in Islam are decidedly bad and that reformation in that religion will not occur until we shine it under the light and ridicule the bad ideas in it. All religions are bad, this is one of the worst. But alas in this day and age all those who hold any sort of contempt of Islam is immediately labeled as an unread and insensitive bigot. Detaching the role of Islam in jihadist extremism is an incredibly dangerous idea and if you have any sense you must resist the ridiculous movement of granting Islam immunity to ridicule.

    1. Under what qualifications are you allowed to determine that Islam is “the worst”? Where is the factual data, a study, substantial evidence that directly shows “Islam” as the ultimate malevolent religion. When (and if) you can pull out actual facts maybe you’ll have an actual platform to justify that outlandish remark.

      The irony of this situation is that so many people fail to understand that Islam is based widely off of the teachings of Christianity and Judaism. So if we’re going to deem one religion as “bad” then we need to group them all together.

      That will only open another can of worms.

      What is determined as bad or good is subject to an individual’s personal opinion. If you want believe that Islam is bad then fine you are more than welcome to that opinion. But using that statement as a way to discriminate against a whole population who follow a belief that you may not either fully comprehend or blatantly refuse to try to comprehend is unfair.

      Why should a Muslim be subject scrutiny, prejudice, and bigotry based off of sensationalized propaganda that has no actual facts?

      Crusaders and missionaries almost destroyed the fabric of several continents the biggest example is Africa which till this day is still working through the aftermath of years of colonization and slavery that was heavily influenced by Christian doctrine.
      Yet I would never deem Christianity as a “bad” religion or the worst of its kind.

      The point I’m trying to make here is that there IS a distinct line between “jihadist extremist terrorists” and “practicing Muslims” that people are continuously refusing to recognize. If people really explored and researched what Islam was about from all spectrums the good and the bad you’d see that the fundamental basis of the religion speaks out severely against acts of violence and the barbaric behavior of those who claim to be fighting a “holy war”. In fact their religious agenda is so far removed from Islam that it’s actually considered a grave and serious sin.

      We most definitely need to address terrorism and extremism at all fronts. But using Islam as the scapegoat makes us no better than the criminals we are trying to defeat.

      1. I don’t think it is relevant, or at least urgent, to address which religion is the worst.

        However, your approach to good/bad being subjective is too simplistic and seems to be appropriate not for a social critique but for literature, philosophy, and so on. We know what is good and what is bad at the scale of society by simply differentiating between pro-social and anti-social behaviors. If a behavior does more harm than good to society as a whole, it is bad in the scale of society.

        Some people do discriminate, but (this is, of course, very anecdotal) I’ve found that most who hold this opinion (my own which is similar to OP’s) make the distinction between the religion, Islam, and its followers, muslims, clear.

        The religion is evil: I’m sorry, there is doubt about it. So is Christianity, etc. Yes, they have good qualities, we all know that. Yes, that doesn’t mean all followers adhere to those evil qualities (in fact, most of them don’t); those that are not ignorant know that.

        But for the religion? I can’t put it better than this:

        “Here is my challenge. Let someone name one ethical statement made, or one ethical action performed, by a believer that could not have been uttered or done by a nonbeliever. And here is my second challenge. Can any reader of this [challenge] think of a wicked statement made, or an evil action performed, precisely because of religious faith?” -Christopher Hitchens

        To finish, some quotes from the Koran: http://www.truthdig.com/images/diguploads/verses.html

        The Bible has its own disgusting verses. Think about the Crusades. Extremist Christians still exist, and they have to be addressed too. But Islam seems a more global threat, at present.

        I am not implying that Islam by itself is the causal factor: no evidence for this, but it seems that a mix of the religion, socioeconomic circumstances, being dealt a bad hand, genes….all contribute. We must acknowledge, at least, that Islam is more anti-social than pro-social (even if Muslims are not!!!!!!!!!) and so is Christianity, Judaism….

  2. I appreciate and support Muslim Americans and I respect their values. I wish them peace, and I will vote against any presidential candidate whose ignorance and prejudice offends them. I invite others who share these sentiments to join me in speaking up.

    1. “Here is my challenge. Let someone name one ethical statement made, or one ethical action performed, by a believer that could not have been uttered or done by a nonbeliever. And here is my second challenge. Can any reader of this [challenge] think of a wicked statement made, or an evil action performed, precisely because of religious faith?” -Christopher Hitchens

      Now just turn those challenges upside down and you will get same answer. Just remember Soviet Union etc. ….

  3. As usual, Susan Seligson has expertly summarized that important Medical Campus discussion. An open exchange of opinions is a healthy treatment of such a topical national issue.
    Lack of knowledge of the basic principles of Islam – which are common to those of Judaism and Christianity – is due to the paucity of explanations by properly schooled religious leaders. What average Americans see are people dressed differently and speak an unfamiliar language that worship Allah. No one has ever conveyed to them that Allah, in the Arabic word for God, the same creator who sent messengers to humanity, starting with Abraham through Moses, Jesus and Mohamed. The message of Islam conveyed by God clearly states: “No compulsion in religion” and instructs adherents to respect and deal kindly with the “people of the book,” meaning Jews and Christians, who have had previously received and recorded messages from God in books.
    Islam is also lenient regarding prayer times. The only required group prayer is once a week, at noon on Fridays. That is no different from Saturday or Sunday services of Judaism and Christianity. I have learned such principles from teachings and personal behavior of my father. He was a distinguished professor of islam and Islamic Jurisprudence at Azhar University in Cairo, with students from around the world. During my childhood years in Egypt, he once arrived late from work on a day that we gathered for a celebration. When he said that he would go pray first as we waited, my mother asked “why did’nt pray at the Azhar Mosque; it was right bellow your office?’ He answered: “They do not pay me a salary to pray; I pray on my own time.” Thus, it is not a necessity to request special prayer spaces and off time at work. One of my colleagues – a geologist from Egypt – used to just close her office at BU for a few minutes to perform her day’s prayers.
    Let us excuse our colleagues and friends who fear Islam at this uncertain time. They still remember the demise of the World Trade Center by the acts of a bunch of crazed Muslim youth. There is no way for them to separate Islam from the criminal actions of another bunch of misguided and vicious young men with guns – who roam the desert plain between Iraq and Syria in the name of Islam.
    It is best to concentrate on how to rid ourselves of the scourge of ignorance and make sure that Islam is properly represented and better understood. The starting point is open discussion, just as happened at the Medical Campus, the fair reporting on it by BU Today, as well as the positive and negative comments on the topic. All comments are welcome, as they add to our understanding of the complex issue.

    1. What a different world this would be if all contributions to a debate showed the same intelligence and graciousness as these words from Professor El-Baz.

  4. The purpose of the conversation was to provide an avenue for individuals to come together and discuss a topic of relevant interest in order to remove misconceptions and misunderstandings that have arisen from a lack of knowledge and/or misinformation. All with a final goal to better understand one another, and in turn to commit to building an even more respectful and unified community.

    What is important in the context of such conversations is the spirit with which we enter them. When we focus our attention on differences and finding fault, then we will assuredly find them, and when we seek out similarities and points of unity to build off of, then those too we will surely find.

    As has been mentioned before, a clear distinction should be made between the actions of a very small subset of individuals claiming belief in a religion with the fundamental teachings of the religion itself.

    As we review history there is no denying that science and religion have been the two fundamental systems of knowledge that have driven the advancement of humankind. One system concerned with the study of the material universe, and the other with the spiritual life of man. By the same token, it is clear and undeniable that both have been misappropriated throughout history, and thus been the cause of much suffering and pain.

    It is for us to delve into the fundamentals of both of these systems of knowledge, to seek to understand their methods, their respective realms of function, the contributions to humankind each has made, and to gain a knowledge of how they have been misused in the past so that we can work together as a unified human race to advance society both materially and spiritually.

  5. Peace… misconceptions about Islam/ Muslims lead to bias, even the unconscious bias mentioned in the article. Misconceptions lead to misperceptions causing Islamaphobia. This isn’t a theological statement. Those under the impression that Islam and thereby Muslims is/are “decidedly bad” get such impressions from the fringe that are dirtying up the name of Islam – terrorists SUPPOSEDLY acting in the name of this religion, honour killings SUPPOSEDLY condoned by this religion, the taking of child brides or pedophilia SUPPOSEDLY embraced by the Prophet (Peace be upon him) of Islam and followed by people SUPPOSEDLY of this religion, the tyranny of women SUPPOSEDLY encouraged by Islam.
    Does Islam / Do Muslims teach and preach hate? Does the religion and its adherents support warmongering? SUPPOSITIONS such as those above must be addressed to shine a factual light on the reality of what my religion is all about. All of the above has no place in Islam. Those sub-humans claiming to act in the name of Islam or to be following the Quran while contemplating or carrying out such acts are not of us and should be likened to those KKK members or evil slave masters who claimed to act in the name of Christianity and the Bible. Can the same distinction be afforded to Islam and the Quran? Please know that Muslims revere Jesus (Peace be upon him) and his mother Mary is one of the most prominent women in Islam. We revere Moses (Peace be upon him) and make no distinction between any of the messengers. We believe in all revealed scriptures (Torah, Injeel (Gospel) and Psalms). Verses from the Quran that confuse the general public can be explained when read within context (most notably the one about killing all infidels). This is in a chapter speaking on a past war. The Quran has entry after entry reminding us of the importance of restraint and forgiveness. We are a religion of Peace. If given the platform to speak by the media, the general public would be aware of our disdain toward the innocent lives taken. If media reports weren’t so skewed, the general public would know that more Muslims are dying at the hands of terrorists than non-Muslims (and this is in no way minimizing any loss of life). Islam afforded rights to women over 1400 years ago before the suffrage movement where women in U.S. would not be accepted by educational institutions, couldn’t drive at a point in history, had no rights etc. It is obvious that those abusing their power in the middle east and tyranizing women give the awful impression that Islam supports such acts; WRONG. No where in this religion is one able to marry, let alone, consumate with a child. Female circumsission is not taught. Honour killings are not taught. Murder is not taught. These are perversions being perpetrated by evil people. I understand the general public’s confusion, but this is not the religion of Islam. I am willing to field questions from RECEPTIVE people as best I can. It will take some time to give a response as I can’t answer on company time, but I will do my best (nas@bu.edu). I am a Muslim first, before I am female, brown-skinned or black, a mother, a grandmother and before I am American. This is does not minimize my gender, my race more family responsibilities or the just American ideals that I support and uphold. What is a Muslim? Being Muslim is a way of life… submitting your will to the Creator by being grateful to Him, remembering Him through prayer, practicing restraint through inner jihad and fasting, giving charity to Muslims and non-Muslims alike, wanting for your neighbor and fellow human, regardless of race/religion/gender or political standing, what I want for myself. Making pilgrimage, and remaining modest (you know, similar to dress as the nun’s habit or the respect shown when visiting the Pope or Vatican). All of that guides me to be a better female a better mother/grandmother, employee, and American. It is a way of living knowing I have to answer for my wrongs. The soul is given a natural inclination as to right and wrong behaviour.

  6. As an American Soldier who came here as a young S.E. Asian refugee nearly 40 years ago, I can still feel the sting of racism and prejudice I endured as a child growing up in the Midwest. So, I completely empathize with the pain and anxiety Muslim Americans are suffering now as our country trudges through our second decade of war with Islamic terrorism and its collateral effect on Muslims worldwide.

    As a Soldier and Christian, I will continue to fight for your freedom to practice your religion as well as pray for you with the love of Christ as your community goes through this difficult time. I hope that your efforts to dialogue bear fruit.

    However, I am sadden to see the blatant intellectual and theological dishonesty that Muslims engage in when it comes to presenting Islam for public consumption. Since 9/11, Muslim Americans have been denying the other 3/4 of Islam that terrorists have embraced fervently. Western Muslims have been consistently presenting Islam as a cuddly kitten and it is anything but that if we are intellectually honest with each other.

    When I returned from a two year deployment to Iraq, I made it a point to understand Islam and took an course with Dr. Cesar Farrah at the University of Minnesota. He taught me that Islam is not just a religion, but also an all encompassing political, judicial, and social system. Without all of it’s components, it would no longer be Islam. Secondly, insistence that Islam means peace and is peaceful is also deceptive. Since it’s inception and ascendancy, Islam has been plagued with theologically sanctioned violence to this very day.

    I also learned from study and analysis of the Haddith and Sunnah that Mohammed

    -was not considered a prophet, but just a messenger
    -engaged in revenge murders against his political opponents and critics
    -planned and engaged in caravan piracy
    -sanctioned rape of captive women
    -demanded 10% of war booty
    -declared that the last day will not come until Muslims kill all the Jews

    The list goes on and on and on….

    When mainstream Muslims deny these historical facts and theological tenets by accusing the likes of ISIS of distorting your religion, it is blatant deception and intellectual dishonesty. What ISIS is doing now in the name of Islam isn’t a distortion of your religion, but strict adherence to it as defined by Mohammed.

    With that said, I am relieved that the rest of the Muslim world are only marginal Muslims. So, long as you continue to practice your religion peacefully, I will always fight for your right to do so. However, the unrelenting campaign of deception and dishonesty about your religion for mass consumption makes me and other critical thinkers doubt your motives.

    1. Greetings… Did Jesus teach Caucasians to lynch, enslave, rape and dehumanize others? Are 3/4 or even 1/4 of those following Christianity / Bible, those calling themselves Christians, supporters of that terror that was the law of the land? I know the answer to be a resounding NO. Without a doubt, NOPE. I, as a non-marginal Muslim, know without a doubt that all those evil acts carried out in the name of Christianity, Jesus and the Bible were distortions. Jesus was peaceful and G-d fearing! That is not what KKK or slavery made him out to be though.
      You “know” the religion of Islam because a professor taught it to you? Because you are a soldier? You are on the outside looking in. The distortion you see is from those marginal/ fringe terrorists calling themselves Muslim. They are at the margins because they have been allowed to associate themselves with our religion by way of calling themselves “Islamic State” and claiming allegiance to the Quran and shouting Allahu Akbar. etc. We want them erased! They are not of us! What you “learnt” regarding Islam and feel yourself qualified to state as the “true” Islam is distorted. If you want to be qualified to speak on what this religion is, you must go to the source, which isn’t a professor, ISIS, the media or an Imam. It is the Quran in its totality; not portions removed and put forth out of context to try to prove a point. The Quran – the most read Book in all of history. If this Book were really evil, if this religion sanctioned rape, revenge murders and killing of Jews or any human, there would be so much more unrest in this world. The Quran is read by millions of practicing Muslims, cover-to-cover, once every year during Ramadan. Oft-recited during five daily prayers. Again, Muslims are being killed in greater numbers than non-Muslims, though media slants it differently. We know these evil terrorists aren’t acting in the name of our religion or our Prophet. We will not give up our religion because it is a religion of peace and ISIS contradicts everything Islam represents. We see ISIS is conditioning the public to believe that you all think you “know” this religion based on a few lectures/courses/seminars/tours in the MidEast, ISIS and the media. How wrong you are. I say this all as humbly as possible; there is nothing marginal, radical or evil about Islam/ Muslims. I am not a marginal Muslim.

  7. The thing about Muslims in the USA is that a lot of them are successful and often become Doctors. Becoming a Doctor is something highly sought after for Muslims and encouraged by their parents. And yet we have Donald Trump attempting to ban Muslims from coming to USA. People come here for opportunity and not to commit terrorist acts. If you look at crime and mass shootings committed by non-muslims in USA in recent times, you will be shocked. It is rare to hear of a Muslim causing harm to Americans. If anything Muslims are grateful to be part of a prospering nation.

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