Commemorate 9/11 by Confronting Islamophobia

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Last week, Teaching Tolerance ran a post from an assistant principal in Illinois. Lamenting the recent spate of anti-Islamic incidents and the rising anti-Muslim rhetoric, she wrote:

I immediately wondered how to tackle this head-on as an educator. What would I say to my teachers about how to approach the subject in our history classes? How could I be a participant in a difficult conversation in which some of our Muslim students are directly affected?

In that short paragraph, she neatly summed up two excellent reasons to teach about Islam, one academic and one related to the welfare of her students.

But not everyone felt the same way. Comments revealed just how radioactive the subject of religion in general, and Islam in particular, has become. A fellow teacher asked if our blogger felt like she was “walking a minefield.” Others asserted that this was not a topic for classrooms. 

We disagree.

Not only is it a classroom topic, it’s one that must be addressed now, and urgently, as the nation pauses to remember the 9/11 attacks.

It should be taught now precisely because the rhetoric has gotten hotter, as we hear of Christian ministers staging Quran burnings and preaching anti-Muslim sermons at Ground Zero. What’s at stake is nothing less than the meaning of religious freedom. And students need to know that.

This week, we urge all educators to teach about Islam and to talk about Islamophobia. Name it. Call it out. Here’s how to respond if someone challenges you: 

  • It’s current events.
  • Teaching about religious freedom is part of civics.
  • Teaching students how to separate fact from opinion is an essential skill.
  • Teaching about religion is not the same as religious teaching.
  • The cultural contributions of religions are an integral part of world history and have an important place in English, art, music, and social studies classes.
  • Students need to understand the danger of religious intolerance.
  • Many of our students are Muslims. They feel threatened and unsafe.
  • It’s the right thing to do.

These Teaching Tolerance lessons offer something for every grade level:

Who Are the Arab Americans? In the aftermath of 9/11, this lesson helped students overcome misconceptions.

Intolerance and Hate use editorial cartoons to confront and examine stereotypes.

Building a Bridge of Understanding uses art to start a dialogue about Islam.

The School Holiday Calendar examines the holidays of various faiths and asks students to analyze a complex social problem.

The Resurgence of Hate takes a look back at the Ku Klux Klan and offers an opportunity to draw analogies to other instances of hate. 

Understanding Religious Clothing uses garments to compare religions and deepen understanding.  

Taking a Closer Look at Religions around the World offers a starting point for lessons on comparative religions.  

Keep it Academic suggests resources for integrating religion into the academic curriculum while maintaining neutrality.

Comments

Wanted to share this

Submitted by Julie Mushing on 8 September 2010 - 11:00am.

Wanted to share this commentary:

First Books Burned, Then People Killed
A Commentary by Warren J. Blumenfeld

As wisely and eloquently stated by English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton in his 1839 play, Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy, “the pen is mightier than the sword,” this adage holds that the written word is a powerful tool in the transmission of ideas. Why else would oppressive regimes and other insecure upholders of the status quo engage in censorship and book burning throughout the ages?

Book burnings consist of “ritual destruction by fire of books or other written materials carried out in a public context” (Holocaust Encyclopedia).

For example, Pope Gregory IX in 1239, in his quest to maintain the Catholic Church’s economic and ideological stranglehold, ordered all copies of the Jewish holy book, the Talmud confiscated, and one of his successors, Pope John XXI, commanded that the Talmud be burned on the eve of the Jewish Passover in 1322.

The Christian “reformer,” Martin Luther, in his 1526 treatise On the Jews and Their Lies, argued that “First, their synagogues should be set on fire.” Jewish prayer books should be destroyed and rabbis forbidden to preach. The homes of Jews should likewise be “smashed and destroyed” and their residents “put under one roof or in a stable like gypsies, to teach them they are not master in our land”. These “poisonous envenomed worms should be drafted into forced labor. The young and strong Jews and Jewesses should be given the flail, the ax, the hoe, the spade, the distaff, and the spindle and let them earn their bread by the sweat of their noses.”

As Luther’s dire pronouncement make perfectly clear, what begins as torching of books and other property eventually results in the denial of civil liberties, torture, and eventually murder of people scapegoated by the dominant social groups and by their governmental leaders.

This was certainly the case in Nazi Germany. In 1933, Nazi storm troopers invaded, ransacked, and closed The Institute for Sexual Sciences in Berlin, founded by Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, a Jewish and homosexual sexuality researcher. The Institute conducted early sexuality research, the precursor of the Indiana-based Kinsey Institute in the United States. Storm troopers carried away and torched over 10,000 volumes of books and research documents calling the Institute “an international center of the white-slave trade” and “an unparalleled breading ground of dirt and filth.”

Soon thereafter, Nazis and conservative university students throughout Germany invaded Jewish organizations, and public and school libraries and confiscated books they deemed “un-German.” The German Student Association, (Deutsche Studentenschaft) declared a national "Action against the Un-German Spirit.” On May 10, 1933, the students along with Nazi leaders set ablaze over 25,000 volumes in Berlin’s Opernplatz. Joseph Goebbels, the Reich Minister of Propaganda, “fired” up the crowd of over 40,000 sympathizers by declaring “No to decadence and moral corruption. Yes to decency and morality in family and state.”

Now we hear that Pastor Terry Jones of the misnamed Dove World Outreach Center, a non-denominational church in Gainesville, Florida, is calling for an “International Burn a Quran Day,” on September 11, the ninth anniversary of the attacks.

Talking to CNN’s Rick Sanchez, Jones declared: "We believe that Islam is of the devil, that it's causing billions of people to go to hell, it is a deceptive religion, it is a violent religion and that is proven many, many times." Jones is also the author of the book, Islam Is of the Devil.

This policy and proposed action are offensive to all of us who believe in religious liberty. To stereotype and scapegoat all followers of Islam for the events of 9/11 is as invalid as blaming all Christians for the despicable actions perpetrated by Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber who was a devout Christian.

I think it no mere overstatement to place Pastor Terry Jones’s proposed actions within the context of book burning through the centuries. For as Santayana reminds us: Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

We now have an opportunity to avoid the mistakes of the past by speaking out against the Islamophobia that surrounds us.

Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld, Associate Professor of Multicultural and International Curriculum Studies at Iowa State University. He is co-editor of Readings for Diversity and Social Justice and Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States.

Permission granted to forward or publish this commentary. Any editing must be cleared by the author: wblumen@iastate.edu

Dear Julie, Using such

Submitted by Matt P. on 10 September 2010 - 1:51pm.

Dear Julie,

Using such history proves only to be rhetoric unless it's presented objectively. The "gracious" Iowa State Professor does a wonderful job about bringing forth the apparent Christian agenda to impose its will and continue it's "stranglehold", yet neglects to mention acts of piracy that defined Islam during the times of the Barbary Wars, the raging civil wars that have plagued the African continent for millennia, or the poor relations of many of the Asian countries.

If you sincerely wanted to erase Islamophobia, which I agree should be eliminated, merely replacing one antagonist with another will accomplish nothing. Preaching about the need to vanquish ethnic stereotyping cannot be done by just switching around who is to blame, but rather, to validate the blame and move forwards towards conflict resolution. An apologist-based letter serves only to ionize the divide rather than bridge it.

What was all of that "don't judge a religion by a handful of people" stuff? You know, they say it all the time nowadays... ah yes - don't judge Islam based on the handful of terrorists. Kind of like redirecting the blame towards Christianity and the American because of one guy who's having a Quran fire....

First They Came for the

Submitted by Julie Mushing on 8 September 2010 - 12:20pm.

First They Came for the Communists
by Bishop Gene Robinson

http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2010/09/muslims_scapegoating.html

What is most disturbing about recent attacks by the political and religious right on Muslim Americans and their religion, Islam, is that it feels so depressingly familiar.

Christian and American conservative politicians and the religious right needed a new enemy that would mobilize their base in the 1990s when they were faced with the fall of the Soviet Union and the loss of “godless Communists” as the enemy of everything civilized. Televangelists needed a new “evil” to rail against—a threat dire enough to convince Social Security pensioners to send in their $5 and $10 checks and keep them on the air.

So gays became the new communists.

Jerry Falwell, head of the Moral Majority, and other religious right leaders deliberately determined that gays would be the new enemy. Their tactics are documented in a memoir, Stranger at the Gate, by Rev. Mel White, a former conservative who was Falwell’s ghost writer but lost his job after coming out as a gay man.

Rev. White writes:

During the 1990s, when the religious right shifted the focus of their fund-raising appeals from the 'evil communist empire' to the 'homosexual agenda for the destruction of America', I began collecting samples of their terrible lies against us. One of my early hate-mail 'treasures' was an emergency Jerry Falwell fund-raiser sent in an oversize envelope (five by fourteen inches) with a bold red banner across its face stating simply: 'Declaration of War…Official Notice'. Jerry Falwell was officially declaring war against gay and lesbian people.

Since that time we’ve seen this scapegoating’s devastating effects on the gay community. There’s been incitement of hate and discrimination to the enactment of the Defense of Marriage Act, active opposition to reforms such as the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and well-funded efforts to forestall marriage equality.

Now, however, it appears that gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people’s success in achieving equal rights in this country is impending and virtually assured. It makes me wonder, then, if a new “enemy” is now being chosen—Muslim Americans and Islam.

First, they came for the communists, then the gays—now the Muslims?

The search for scapegoats is as old as humankind. The word “scapegoat” itself comes from the ancient Hebrew practice of symbolically placing the sins of people onto a goat, and then sending that goat and its attendant sins into the wilderness on Yom Kippur, presumably to perish. Such a practice is always easier than taking responsibility for the sins that belong at home and making the behavioral changes necessary to undo them.

I’ve been searching for a rational explanation for the fierce and widespread opposition to the so-called Ground Zero Mosque, which is neither at Ground Zero nor principally a mosque. Combined with the outrageous tenacity with which many hold the clearly erroneous belief that President Barack Obama is himself secretly a Muslim, there has to be more here than political expediency.

I fear we are seeing the next mass target for scapegoating. Will the obsession with Muslims “too near” Ground Zero disappear with the midterm elections? Sadly, I think not. Have political operatives and religious right leaders decided that Muslim Americans and Islam are the next scapegoat? That they are a sure vehicle for getting conservative voters to the polls and for opening the wallets of religious right contributors?

I hate to get caught up in conspiracy theories, but the current hate speech against Muslims that portrays them as dangerous to America, our security, and values has the ring of intentionality to it that I cannot shake.

Demonizing all Muslims based on the irrational and despicable actions of violent extremists would be sad enough if it were only a domestic problem. But the fact is we are handing Al Qaeda the most effective recruitment tool they could ever hope for. We live in a wired world where mosque burnings, attacks on Muslim Americans, and hate speech against Muslims by national politicians and preachers are instantly seen by millions around the globe. These attacks serve to convince the Muslim world that despite America’s rhetoric, we really are waging war on Islam and we really do hate Muslims.

Americans of all stripes—religious and nonreligious—need to stand up for our fellow Americans who are Muslim. Embedded in the Bill of Rights is the right to practice our religion. Countless patriots have fought and died for this freedom. When religious freedom and tolerance is attacked for some, it is threatened for all. All of us must work tirelessly to undo the suspicion, hatred, and xenophobia directed toward our Muslim fellow citizens.

Bishop Gene Robinson is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.

I agree with your points

Submitted by Direct Debits on 9 September 2010 - 7:27am.

I agree with your points listed above. We have already gone through some religious wars and lost lots of friends and many other things which are not beyond to calculate. Now we have to take step to minimize the religious differences.

I have many friends who are

Submitted by Barbara Eickhoff on 10 September 2010 - 10:51am.

I have many friends who are either Christian, Jews or Muslims. We most certainly need tolerance.

About wars: Dwight Eisenhower warned us (as he left his office of the US presidency) about the military/industrial complex. Industries most certainly profit from wars,

We need to stop the LONGEST war the US has ever been in!

It is really hard to talk

Submitted by kisha briggs on 9 September 2010 - 10:11am.

It is really hard to talk about religion, especially in the case of 9/11. The article talks about seperating the facts and the fables , but how can this be done when everyone is telling the truth, or so they say. I consider myself very open minded but it is very hard to believe a goverment,the U.S, that has lied, stole,manulipulated, and hid there hands for decades.Who is to say that it was not an inside job. Remember our resources are gathered from the MEDIA.....

Turning Park51 Into a

Submitted by Julie Mushing on 10 September 2010 - 8:05am.

Turning Park51 Into a Teachable Moment - Resources!

Dear Colleagues,

Park51. Cordoba House. The "Ground Zero Mosque."

One controversy with many names. Whatever you call it, it's inescapable. It's in the news, it's in water-cooler conversations, it's around the dinner table.

And this fall it will be in schools, especially around the anniversary of 9/11. Tanenbaum arms you with the resources you need to turn this tension-filled topic into an enriching classroom experience. As educators, we know that tools for helping guide conversations around this volatile issue are important. Tanenbaum brings you those tools.

We've created fact sheets that provide accurate information and address misinformation, and a curriculum guide filled with exercises you can use and adapt to address difficult conflicts.

We hope you'll take a moment to download our Curriculum Guide 9/11 fact sheet Park51 fact sheet Opposition to Places of Worship fact sheet and Muslims in America fact sheet As well as to visit some of the helpful links we've gathered for you.

Our mission is to help create inclusive, inquisitive classrooms and students who are not afraid of difference. So please, let us know if you have any questions or need help using or adapting these materials. We'd also love to hear about how you use them and the outcome - send us an email, or leave a post in the forums.

Warm regards,
Mark E. Fowler
Director of Programs

Tanenbaum

 

 

I think ever since we elected

Submitted by carol eglsaer on 10 September 2010 - 11:46am.

I think ever since we elected an african american president the agendas of the white hate groups have been ignited .With right wing politicians working to defeat President Obama and fellow democrats in general in the next set of elections has added fuel to this fire. Anything that allows room for racial hate and intollerance of those different than ourselves needs to be addressed. I think your teaching tolerance curriculum and this latest effort are excellent resources for teachers, youth leaders and PARENTS to begin to address this hate agenda.Do you offer these to groups like Boys and Girls clubs and church youth group leaders? This would be another source that needs to be discussing these issues with young people. America is a metlting pot of nationalities and always have been. We need to be alert for racial hate comments in conversations with others or local newspapers as well and address them personally as this is an insult to what America should be.
Racial hate is just under the surface in American life and we need to be intollerant of any racial hate uprising that occurs. Thank you for the work that you do!!

Should we fail to teach the

Submitted by Greg Swanson on 12 September 2010 - 8:23pm.

Should we fail to teach the Quranic texts which require jihad and terror against non-believers? And that they informed the faith of the 9/11 attackers? How long should we act like Islam is the same thing as Lutheranism?

I work with 7th and 8th graders and this is a serious question! I have always loved my muslim friends the same as anybody else. It's the strange teachings of the Quran that I reject (out of basic humanity) and don't quite know how to deal with.

Let me know your thoughts.

thanks

Why don't you ask your Muslim

Submitted by Maureen Costello on 13 September 2010 - 9:37am.

Why don't you ask your Muslim friends how they would explain these passages in the Quran to your 7th and 8th graders? Ask them to visit your class and explain what their sacred text means to them? I think the most effective way to teach about Islam is to find out what mainstream Muslims believe.
I'm a little confused by your comment about Islam and Lutheranism. In fact, in many parts of the world, Islam is a lot like Lutheranism -- a mainstream belief that is practiced by a lot of people and which is far from violent. Islam is practiced worldwide by 1.5 billion people. If all of them subscribed to the beliefs you allude to, it would be a very different world than the one in which we actually live.
Analogy is also an excellent teaching tool. The Old Testament of the Bible includes some strong passages, too, that denounce non-believers and call for rather strict punishments for people who have sinned. Does that inform the behavior and beliefs of most Christians and Jews? Are there Christian extremists now and in the past who do not represent the majority?
A final issue, too, is that things tend to get lost in translation. Many Muslims see the Quranic verses you refer to as a call for struggle or striving, not holy war. Much as the New Testament of the Christian Bible calls for evangelism. It's not hard to see how that could be misinterpreted by others, is it?

Hi Maureen, your suggestion

Submitted by Greg Swanson on 13 September 2010 - 9:26pm.

Hi Maureen, your suggestion about inviting some of my muslim friends into class to explain extremist verses is a very, very good idea. In all of this, I am seeking to throw light on the most difficult parts of the topic, not because of the people involved, but because of the text itself. For example, the Quran teaches that apostates should be killed; that nonbelievers should be subjugated or attacked, and that it's ok to lightly beat your wife. In seeking to deal with each of these topics, I am putting my muslim friends "on the spot". And this can be a very powerful teaching point (in itself!). If I can find a willing candidate, I will proceed with your suggestion.

Regarding your next point, I don't know where you have traveled to discover that Lutheranism is like Islam. Aside from the fact that they may both be mainstream, there are very little similarities in purpose between the two doctrines.

The world we actually live in, is very different than maybe what we want it to be like. I have traveled, and I have seen that the principles in our constitution are not applied in other societies. Human rights are grounded in fundamental texts that a society decides on as foundational. In societies where Islam is in the majority, churches are prohibited (send me a picture of a church in Saudi Arabia, where 2 million christians live).

Next point: teaching by analogy. Brilliant suggestion, and one I love to use. But I cannot honestly employ this technique when the results are not equivalent. I cannot point to dozens of methodist car-bombers and presbyterian airline hijackers. They just don't exist. The biblical texts that inform modern day christians just don't have the same effect as quranic verses. Analogy allows us to explain things away as similar, when in fact they are not.

On your final issue of translation, I think that reading things in plain language is what most people do. Extreme verses from the Quran didn't get lost in translation. Most of the world (and young readers) read in plain language, and aren't seeking to understand texts on another, more symbolic level. There is a cause and effect relationship here that is a result of the text itself. Reading instructions in plain language and carrying them out is not extremism. It's cause and effect. It should be taught that way.

You have helped me though...mostly with your suggestion to bring in moderate muslims and actively discuss the most inflammatory verses. Many thanks Maureen. -Greg

Hello, I completely

Submitted by oula on 15 September 2010 - 10:37pm.

Hello, I completely understand why you think that is the case. However, I would just like to point out and suggest that it is better to study the teachings of the Quran before judging what it says from what people have to say about it or from what is just understood, or may I say, misunderstood! There is no religion on earth that asks for terror on non believers. If it was so you would have found everybody going crazy. It is just sad though that some people use it, or make the Quranic teachings an excuse to their doings. It is definately not acceptable in the religion itself if you really know more about it. It is a long topic to discuss, but from the name of religion, Islam means peace, and it is this that is what it stands for. Media is just what makes it look like the other way. Oh, one more thing, when trying to know the truth about the religion, learn about it from reliable Islamic sources and not just any source. I am definitely sure you will be happy from your search.

Hi Oula, I do agree with you

Submitted by Greg Swanson on 16 September 2010 - 9:24pm.

Hi Oula,

I do agree with you that "it is better to study the teachings of the Quran before judging"

So when I first started looking at the Koran back in college, I was shocked at what I found. Here's just a couple examples from the Koran that demand what is (in plain language) mass murder as part of the faith:

--Make war on them until idolatry is no more and Allah's religion reigns supreme - 8:39
--When the sacred months are over, slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. - 9:5
--Fight those who believe neither in God nor the Last Day, nor what has been forbidden by God and his messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, even if they are People of the Book, until they pay the tribute and have been humbled. - 9:29

so, Oula, if I am to believe what you are saying, these plain and easy-to-read verses are being "misunderstood" by the media or those that do not have a clear understanding of the religion. If you are right, then the more I study and seek to understand these verses, I will come up with a different, peaceful meaning.

I find that bizarre. 7th graders would too.

Hi Greg, I'm a Muslim and I

Submitted by Ahmad Idham on 12 February 2011 - 10:18am.

Hi Greg,

I'm a Muslim and I question your claim of having look at the Quran. Did you really ? It seems, more likely than not, that the verses you pick are cut and paste from certain websites OR you're being highly selective. HIGHLY.

Certainly, if you had looked at the Quran - meaning you actually read one cover to cover - then you certainly would not have missed these verses -

1. "There is no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from Error:" (2:256)

2. “And say: The Truth is from your Lord; so let him who please believe, and let him who please reject it." ( 18:29)

3. " If then they turn away, We have not sent you as a guard over them. Your duty is but to convey (the Message).” (26:48)

4. " Clear proofs have indeed come to you; from your Lord; so whoever sees, it is for his own good; and whoever is blind, it is to his own harm. And I am not a keeper over you.” ( 6:105 )

5. "If it had been thy Lord's will, they would all have believed,- all who are on earth! Will you then compel mankind, against their will, to believe ? " (10:99)

6. " “Invite (all) to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious. Your Lord knows best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.” (16:125).

7. "Allah does not forbid you that you show kindness and deal justly with those who did not fight you in your religion and did not drive you out from your homes.” (60: 8)

So what say you about them ?

With regards to the verses you quoted in your reply to Oula,

a ) When the sacred months are over, slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. - 9:5

Can you please quote me the verses before and after verse 5 from this Chapter and tell me exactly the context in which verse no. 5 exists ?

If you actually READ the Quran, how on earth can you miss the obvious context ?

The same goes for the other verses you quoted. You cut and paste and you dare insinuate that you've read the Quran through and through.

Just who are you trying to kid ?

Also, just how many non-Muslims did the Ottoman Turks have killed during their more than 400 years of rule over the Balkans ? And how about the Spanish Moors ? Are you saying that after ruling the Iberian Peninsula for over 800 years, they couldn't finish the job ? How about the Coptics in Egypt - please explain why after more than 1000 years under Muslim rule, they still exist today ? Same goes for the Maronites in Levant.

Neither historical facts nor the Quran support your claims.

Hi Ahmad, excellent response,

Submitted by Greg Swanson on 19 February 2011 - 12:56am.

Hi Ahmad, excellent response, and your challenges are fair. See my response inline:

Hi Greg,

I'm a Muslim and I question your claim of having look at the Quran. Did you really ? It seems, more likely than not, that the verses you pick are cut and paste from certain websites OR you're being highly selective. HIGHLY.

--->I have read sections and parts of the Koran over the years - never cover to cover. However, that does not mean I am allowed to comment on what I have read, or it's obvious affects on history and civilizations. The same goes for my reading of the bible.

Certainly, if you had looked at the Quran - meaning you actually read one cover to cover - then you certainly would not have missed these verses -

1. "There is no compulsion in religion. Truth stands out clear from Error:" (2:256)
2. “And say: The Truth is from your Lord; so let him who please believe, and let him who please reject it." ( 18:29)
3. " If then they turn away, We have not sent you as a guard over them. Your duty is but to convey (the Message).” (26:48)
4. " Clear proofs have indeed come to you; from your Lord; so whoever sees, it is for his own good; and whoever is blind, it is to his own harm. And I am not a keeper over you.” ( 6:105 )
5. "If it had been thy Lord's will, they would all have believed,- all who are on earth! Will you then compel mankind, against their will, to believe ? " (10:99)
6. " “Invite (all) to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious. Your Lord knows best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.” (16:125).
7. "Allah does not forbid you that you show kindness and deal justly with those who did not fight you in your religion and did not drive you out from your homes.” (60: 8)

So what say you about them ?

--> The problem is not with these verses. The problem is these verses don't maintain consistency of thought throughout the Koran. How is the student suppose to reconcile these peaceful, tolerant verses with the following verses (same book here Ahmad...)

--They long that ye should disbelieve even as they disbelieve ... take them and kill them wherever ye find them. 4:89
--Slay the idolaters wherever ye find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. 9:5
--The disbelievers are an open enemy to you. 4:101
--If they ... assail your religion, then fight the heads of disbelief. ...
--Fight them! Allah will chastise them at your hands, and He will lay them low and give you victory over them 9:12-14
--O ye to whom the Scriptures have been given! believe in what we have sent down confirmatory of the Scripture which is in your hands, ere we effface your features, and twist your head round backward, or curse you as we cursed the sabbath-breakers: and the command of God was carried into effect 4:50
--Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah. 9:29
--Fight those of the disbelievers who are near to you, and let them find harshness in you. 9:123

-->Notice Ahmad, I am bringing forward the problem with the Koran. It recommends peace and tolerance, while also commanding savage bloodshed and murder. So you can rightly cherry pick verses all day long and prove your point, just like I can. But this just proves that the Koran is not consistent from a rational perspective. It may make sense to the believer, or the faithful muslim who has grown up in it and built a thought-life around it. But for a long time people believed the world was flat, that didn't make it so. You can concede then, that even the most cursory of examinations, like I share above, reveals the Koran is not consistent in its idea that there "is no compulsion in religion".

With regards to the verses you quoted in your reply to Oula,

a ) When the sacred months are over, slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. - 9:5

Can you please quote me the verses before and after verse 5 from this Chapter and tell me exactly the context in which verse no. 5 exists ?

If you actually READ the Quran, how on earth can you miss the obvious context ?

-->Per your request, here they are:

--9:4 except to those idolaters who have honoured their treaties with you in every detail and aided none against you. With these keep faith, until their treaties have run their term. God loves the righteous.
--9:5 When the sacred months are over slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent and take to prayer and render the alms levy, allow them to go their way. God is forgiving and merciful.
--9:6 If an idolater seeks asylum with you, give him protection so that he may hear the Word of God, and then convey him to safety. For the idolaters are ignorant men.

-->I understand this context to be the early treaties that muslims made with non-muslims in the area they lived. If the non-muslims honored the treaties, they were allowed to live; if not, they were to be slaughtered. Would you agree with this? This makes you proud?

The same goes for the other verses you quoted. You cut and paste and you dare insinuate that you've read the Quran through and through.

-->Please refer me to where I insinuate that I have "read the Quran through and through". My exact reference to reading the Koran is this: 'I first started looking at the Koran back in college'. Help me understand Ahmad, how you derive several readings of the Koran from this statement.

Just who are you trying to kid ?

-->Nobody. The Koran frightens me. It should frighten any sane and reasonable human. It should be explained in plain fashion for what it teaches, and not as something that it is not. Your failure to include the other side of the Koran in your reply is incomplete and unfair. Let's be honest with each other. You have read the Koran much more than I. I do not doubt that. But you can't call me out as failing in my interpretation of what I have read. The Koran is far from just having a singular peaceful meaning. And you know it.

Also, just how many non-Muslims did the Ottoman Turks have killed during their more than 400 years of rule over the Balkans ? And how about the Spanish Moors ? Are you saying that after ruling the Iberian Peninsula for over 800 years, they couldn't finish the job ? How about the Coptics in Egypt - please explain why after more than 1000 years under Muslim rule, they still exist today ? Same goes for the Maronites in Levant.

-->This is a much more dangerous place for you to go Ahmad. You have a stronger leg in this discussion if you just stick to theology. However, if you want to drag 1400 years of Islamic slavery, subjugation, torture, outright murder, child rape (by Mohammed himself), your apologies for Islam will end up looking far worse. On 1 single point of your discussion, the Copts exist in Egypt through their own sheer persistence, despite the terror of their muslim oppressors. Do you maintain that this year's New Year's bombing of the coptic church had no motivations whatsoever from the Koran?

If you are unaware of these things Ahmad, then you are either a controlled subject of muslim media, or worse.

Neither historical facts nor the Quran support your claims.

-->both history and the Quran not only support me, they prove it. I don't make that claim with any relish Ahmad. I'm deeply saddened by it.

Just how do you disconnect

Submitted by John S on 4 January 2011 - 10:40pm.

Just how do you disconnect Islam from the body of law known as Shari'a? The two go hand in glove and are inseparable.

Of course we should not be

Submitted by Mark Miller on 13 September 2010 - 11:47am.

Of course we should not be Islamophobic. But let us also remember that, according to FBI Hate Crime statistics, there are TEN TIMES as many anti-Semitic hate crimes committed in the U.S. every year as anti-Islamic. Even taking in to account the fact that there are many more Jews in the U.S., there are close to FIVE TIMES as many anti-Semitic crimes. We must eliminate hated against ALL people.

I do not believe this should

Submitted by Tina on 16 September 2010 - 11:45pm.

I do not believe this should be taught in the classroom. If you were to teach about Christianity in the classroom, there would be a huge backlash from individuals wishing to follow the separation of Church and State. You cannot have a double standard in this area. It is unfair to those who follow a different faith that you are not willing to discuss. If you were to teach about all faiths, which is what I learned when growing up in Europe, you would be more fair in your approach, teach children about more of the world than just one or two small parts, and achieve your goal of educating them in religious diversity and freedoms.