The Emergent Islam I Want

I hate to admit it, but I don’t like going to mosques. Whether it’s the crudely written signs informing me … Continued

I hate to admit it, but I don’t like going to mosques. Whether it’s the crudely written signs informing me I must cover myself, or the awkward way men and women avoid each other, or the Friday preaching that is just so irrelevant to my life, I usually feel happiest when I’m walking out the door.

I long for a Muslim environment that is spiritually fresher, deeper, and, perhaps most importantly, untainted by a Saudi-style conservatism or bitterness over the war on terror. With a small but growing number of “emergent Christians” – and now “emergent Jews” – reinventing the very idea of religious communities, I have also begun to hope for the emergence of a post-modern, post-9/11 Muslim faith life.

Emerging Christians struggle with stale ways of “doing church” they say are left over from the 1950s, or even the beginning of the Reformation, wrote Sam Crum, pastor of The River, a small emerging congregation in Florida, in a Facebook discussion with me. Emerging congregations – including a number of Jewish ones – emphasize authenticity and deemphasize hierarchy; both of these qualities, coincidentally or not, overlap with the values of the Web 2.0 world, where everyone – not just the anointed, institutional leaders – are content creators.

At The River’s MySpace blog, a husband-and-wife team describe their earlier life in a mainstream evangelical congregation. “We oddly enough began to learn some bad habits of a duty-driven life and became very religious, hypocritical, and hungry for something more,” they write. “Although we had both come to know Jesus Christ, we were still trying to unlearn and deconstruct some religious systems that were not only damaging to our ministries, but to our marriage.”

My journey isn’t about Jesus, but I sure can relate. My husband and I also lived through a “duty-driven” period of near-fundamentalism, when we were immersed in Muslim communities that emphasized conformity to a particular interpretation of Islam. That interpretation was largely inspired by Salafism, the fundamentalist version of Islam that hails from Saudi Arabia.

We weren’t alone in this experience. “Anyone who coverted to Islam in the 1990s came under the spell of Salafism,” Muslim blogger and ex-Salafi Tariq Nelson told me recently.

After ardor comes burnout, and many Muslims, and converts in particular, don’t survive the transition. Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, now a Christian and conservative counter-terrorism expert, described his own journey out of a soul-numbing Salafism in his recent memoir, “My Year in Radical Islam.” Long-time convert Jeffery Lang has warned fellow Muslims for years that many converts and young people are leaving Islam; a recent report from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life suggests that for every person who joins the faith, another leaves – challenging the common assertion that Islam is the “fastest-growing religion” in the U.S.

For me, Islam has remained compelling for the same reasons that attracted me in the first place: the simplicity of God’s oneness, the effectiveness of daily prayer, the discipline of fasting, the compassion of charity, and the magnificence of pilgrimage – in short, the five pillars of Islam.

While fundamentalism was probably destined for a short stay in my own life, 9/11 made that transformation irreversible. Today I have an almost physical aversion to anything Muslim that smacks of Salafi fundamentalism. I am equally impatient with American Muslims’ insistence on their own victimhood at the hands of “the media,” as if suicide bombers and cartoon-rioters were somehow an invention of Fox News. The last time I attended Friday prayers at my mosque, I walked out half-way through when an Egyptian-born preacher lamented how hard it is to raise children with “Islamic values” instead of “Western values” – with the obvious implication that the former was good and the latter was bad.

So while emerging Christians gather around a narrative of dissatisfaction with status-quo church life, so I imagine American Muslims finally repudiating Salafism and all its trappings, realizing that fundamentalism can – and often has – lead down a dark road to hatred and violence. And while I’m re-imagining American Muslim life, I’d also like to order up a come-as-you-are, online-friendly, community experience where I can be myself and deepen my faith.

Yes, I know, it’s a too-tall order. Not because there aren’t other American Muslims dissatisfied with status-quo mosque life – in my experience there are many – but because, initially at least, the numbers may be small.

From my perch, however, I do see lights twinkling across the country, people like author Sumbul Ali-Karamali or media entrepreneur Shahed Amanullah or activist Saleemah Abdul Ghafur, and communal venues like TalkIslam.info or the Progressive Muslim Network in my own backyard of Washington D.C.

The emerging church movement came about because a bunch of regular folks got off their duffs and did something; that’s inspiring. The challenge for Muslims like myself is to create rather than just critique, and, hopefully, build a faith life we can live with.

Andrea Useem publishes the website www.ReligionWriter.com. A journalist, a graduate of Harvard Divinity School, and a Muslim, she is currently writing a booklet on religious congregations and Web 2.0 technologies for the Alban Institute’s Congregational Resource Guide.

Written by

  • Anonymous

    Another Western woman who converted to Islam because of marriage? Andrea is a German name.

  • rh

    MS Andrea,You can have any religion you want. You are welcome to worship your fearless leader Mr. Bushenstein. You can take fellow chosen Max Boot as your prophet and guide giving you a boot for guidance.As far as a subservient Islam the British tried it for more than a 100 years and it has not had any traction. The British established Ahmadiya movement in India (Head of Ahmediya ordered his followers to submit before British rule). The British established Mr. Bahai as a British lover in Iran.The ahmadiya movement has been squeezed out of Pakistan and back into London. The Bahai’s have been squeezed out of Iran and have their world headquarters in Israel (Muslims unable to stomach Bahai’s love of the west).MS Andrea you are welcome to join either the ahmediya or the Bahai where as a member of the chosen ms andrea could pick and choose her religion.Islam has stood for more than 1400 years whereas many andreas and their fellow chosen have come and gone.rh

  • littledolphin

    It is clear that the faith you are involved in does not satisfy you, or does not bring you comfort and complete happiness. Your remarks about entering and exiting the Mosque, your place of worship, are especially informative.I assume that these observations have some relation to how you feel about your faith and need little correction.Therefore the religious path you are currently on is not for you.Why you remain with this faith; why you tolerate subverting your soul to this affair; why you “go through the motions” at your place of worship, while actually feeling uncomfortable within its Sacred Walls, requires serious reflective thought. On the one hand we perhaps can say that your faith is letting you down. On the other hand we can say that you are letting your faith down. But there is another remark one can make, and it is this, although I am sure it can be said in a more comforting manner: We can say that you are spiritually juvenile.Reflecting on your remarks the third choice seems to fit your current state of spiritual affairs. I suggest you stop fingerpointing where the blame or problem lies with your spiritual dissatisfaction, as you have done in your article ( you mentioned the Saudie’s conservativism ). I suggest you start growing up and begin taking steps towards greater spiritual responsibility.Cut-and-pasting, swapping and selecting religious paths are currently the favourite past-times of many Americans. More disturbingly, Sacred Books are distorted or misinterpreted to satisfy the inventiveness and needs of the spiritual seeker, as your remarks imply.Unfortunately as a consequence of adopting these current “cut-and paste” religious paths any spiritual insight becomes grotesquely convoluted due to seekers comprehensive attempt to satisfy their subjectively-created, often unfounded, spiritually “incestuous” demands. Moral decay, via moral-relativism, obviously follows; and the seeker’s spiritual insight, to avoid the obvious innate paradoxes of adopting this malformed path of spiritual well-being, employs itself with deciding the next best thing to purchase on lay-away.

  • Mohsin Syed

    Salaam Andrea,What you wrote today in the Post is both well written and long overdue. As a Muslim in my late 20s born and raised in this wonderful country, I have found that most mosques do not play a positive role in teaching and encouraging faith while providing guidance on how to make positive contributions in our local communities. The beauty of Islam is in its flexibility and practicality, yet no one would know that after attending a typical Friday sermon. The great hurdle in addressing this issue is in finding like-minded communities and religious leaders who can sustain mosques of the type you and I desire. While I do believe there are many Muslims in this country who share our concerns, we need a new generation of religious leaders to emerge who transcend culture and adherence to particular strands of Islam. Such leadership can provide legitimacy to our concerns. Again – well said Andrea!

  • edward

    Dear Andrea,

  • Stuart

    I know that a lot of people have a meaningful experience with organized religion- for good or ill. But I don’t understand what utility progressives find in churches. Vapid ideas like the “oneness of god” and the “effectiveness” of prayer are meaningless and unqualified. I also don’t see the utility or point of “disciplined fasting”, why not just choose vegetarianism and do some good for the world? The “compassion of charity” is the only quantifiable idea I can relate to here. Charity arises from our human instinct for community- our village is only as good as its weakest citizen. There are many progressive causes that need our full attention and energy right now. Those causes don’t need the added burden of having helping hands righteously clasped shut in “prayer.”

  • Gretchen

    OK, I’m confused. There are many different forms of Islam – Sufi being the first one that comes to mind. Or when you convert in Islam, is it like fundamentalist Christianity, where they tell you lies about all the other sects?Personally, I’m an Orthodox Christian, but I became that after seeing lots of different faiths that I couldn’t embrace, and finally found home.

  • Steven T Abell

    As for building web-based religious communities: the American heathen reconstruction owes much of its success to the internet. There are many self-selecting groups of more-or-less compatible people, and it’s easy to disconnect from a group that’s not to your liking, especially if you’ve never actually met any of its members. If this sounds like both a good thing and a bad thing, you’re right.All this virtual networking builds a community that is part real, part illusory, and it’s important to keep that in mind. It also puts a premium on the experience when we actually meet, which is also a good thing and a bad thing. Sometimes we can weed out the flakes and the creeps before we have to actually shake their hands, but when we do meet new people face-to-face, the hope that they’ll be good people and an asset to the community is awfully strong. Managing this kind of community for stability and strength is a skill we’re still learning.

  • Daniel in the Lion’s Den

    Littledolphin said:”Cut-and-pasting, swapping and selecting religious paths are currently the favourite past-times of many Americans. More disturbingly, Sacred Books are distorted or misinterpreted to satisfy the inventiveness and needs of the spiritual seeker, as your remarks imply.”And what do you suggest? Mental conformity and servitude to theologies written by men, for political and military purposes? People are gradually getting the courage to stand up against this sort of thing, and not allow your self-righteous intimidation to compel them into blind paths of relgious zeal, which have only brought unending suffering and tragedy to the Chrisstian West, and to the people of Islam. It is amazing to me that so-called religious people have become so twisted in their thinking that “freedom of thought” is actually seen as bad and as a threat the them.

  • Tariq Nelson

    the poster above referred to as “rh” is displays exactly that type of judgmental attitude that Andrea does not like about coming to the mosque. How about a little concern and compassion instead of scathing criticism that implies that the person is being less than honest or faithful.

  • ali manji

    it’s heartening to read of a believer questioning islam; sadly, this is in essence forbidden by the koran and so by definition anyone who has the brains and courage to question will ultimately find themselves leaving islam. all that aside i must say that one thing that really irritates me about adherents to islam is their profession of “fasting.” my understanding of a fast is to not take food. islam’s version of fasting is to not take food from sunrise to sunset – leaving half the day in which to eat. this isn’t a fast – it’s a time shift. it’s dishonest to call it a fast and people who don’t know are left with the impression that somebody has made a sacrifice when in fact they haven’t.

  • lia

    It seems very sad to me that a person who expresses frustration that the practices of one particular branch of a religion do not adhere to the larger tenants of a religion is treated with such hostility. Is it not noble to hope that the followers of a religion will focus more on the basic foundation of that religion?RH —

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the excellent article… As an ecumenically-minded muslim, I agree wholeheartedly with the need for an ’emergent’ islam. thankfully, there are signs of this new development everywhere. international politics will be a stumbling block for some time to come, but progressive, ecumenical believers of all traditions are making gains in open societies around the world. this is a positive development that people of all beliefs should support and encourage.

  • Mtnman

    This was an interesting article which i found informative and telling. I too had an Islamic interest several years ago, due to a relationship with an Islamic woman, who espoused the Amaddiyah in Islam Movement that is now not tolerated and even persecuted in Pakistan. This was enough to tell me that I wanted no part of an intolerant and archaic Religion that does not allow any divergent lines of thought. Would God approve of persecution among his followers, of course not! Is there a true Islam? I do not believe so, there are too many sects. In addition, being raised in a largely tolerant Western religion, one with its own great traditions and dogmas, I could never change to a religious tradition so foreign to me and open to so many interpretations and that denigrates people, traditions, societies and women. I wonder why Women in general have not stood up and rebelled against the Imams and Governments that keep them down! Where is the outrage?

  • Kalukistan de la Kalakaleel

    Moshin writes: “The beauty of Islam is in its flexibility and practicality, yet no one would know that after attending a typical Friday sermon.”

  • Anonymous

    It is sad to see the passing of judgment on one’s character based on one written piece. Others are claiming that she is questioning Islam. How about questioning the personal agenda’s Muslim leaders have placed so conveniently with the preachings of Islam. This is not the religion, rather people in power twisting a powerful message to further their own agendas.It is also important to note the various translations when reading a non-Arabic version of the Quran, are these the true meaning or someone’s interpretation?To bring to light the spirituality and peace in Islam, may I remind of the literal meaning of the world, would be a true reflection of the religion to the world.

  • Tim

    The approach taken by Andrea is to pick and choose what she likes about Islam and discard what she does not like. A very common approach in todays postmodern society for members of all religions. In the case of Islam, it is necessary because that religion clearly says to kill the unbeliever and to cut off the hand of the thief and has many other middle ages sort of laws and commands. The cultural baggage that comes with Islam makes it in its pure form totally incompatible with the modern world.Picking and choosing and adding in elements of other religions you like is a way to make your own designer religion and it is called syncretism. Andrea is sanctioning syncretism. To not be syncretistic may appear old-fashioned so it is hip to be syncretistic and she is a hip, postmodern female who just thinks she is a Muslim.My suggestion is give up on changing Islam because the prophet made it clear that nothing he has written or said can ever, ever, be changed. You can make up your own version of Islam but those who control that religion, though they may be a minority (which is the case with most organization – the die hards control), are the fundamentalist. They have the historical and written justification for their beliefs and you, Andrea, do not.

  • Elric66

    Keep on longing because Islam is Islam, it cant change

  • Nouri

    I like the title the emergent Islam I WANT!Islam is not a way of life a la carte! When you look at Islam, you have to look at the bigger picture. You have to look why 1.6 billion people on planet earth are following this faith. You have also to say to yourself why is it the fastest growing religion in the world?Is Islam responsible for the actions of a tiny non significant minority of Muslims who for one reason or another were misguided into taking certain actions like 9/11 or committing atrocities in the name of the faith, the answer is NO.Things have to be put into prospective; it is if I am going to condemn Christianity for the actions of the Crusaders or those that committed the Holocaust or the slaughter of natives’ people from Red Indians to Aboriginals to segregating between Black and White as was the case in recent time in South Africa with its Apartheid system.Nor will I condemn Judaism for the actions of a minority of Zionists who misinterpret the Torah in order to satisfy their personal gains when Ultra Orthodox Rabbis stand against occupying the territories of others and the commitment of a Genocide and Apartheid against the Palestinians.Islam as any other divine faith calls for justice, tolerance, humility, helping the poor the needy and the weak and demands a stop to arrogance, sense of feeling superior and bullying. It helps the true Muslim in a peaceful way to fulfill his/her obligations from sunrise to sunset form the guidance of the Quran and the actions of the messenger of Islam, Mohamed (Peace be upon Him).It application depends on those that want to follow this way of life and what do they truly want from it, to take it as a whole or pick and chose what suits my temporary needs. The beauty in Islam is that you are not servant to a hierarchic figure such as the POPE and wait for his blessing; you have a direct line to God to be in touch with during your 5 daily prayers. You have five appointments a day to discuss your problems and your hopes and desires.Furthermore your salvation is not from Jesus or anyone else for this matter. You make you own salvation with your own actions. Therefore you have the responsibility to decide what sort of deed you want to commit. A deed that will benefit you in this life and the Hereafter and benefit your family, your community, your society and humanity at large or a deed that will put your selfish desires above any other consideration. Islam is based on logic, common sense and ability to differentiate right from wrong and to stand for the right path whatever the sacrifices may be as expressed by other messengers sent by God to fulfill this prophecy from the time of Adam to Noah to Abraham to Moses to David to Jesus to the last messenger Mohamed (Peace be upon them all), with one message a message of Peace and to worship none but the creator.THIS IS THE ISLAM I WANT. A PEACEFUL FAITH BASED ON 5 PILLARS and THAT ASSISTS THE NEEDY AND FIGHT AGAINST INJUSTICE & IGNORANCE IN ALL ITS FORMS. A FATIH THAT IS NOT BASED ON SPIRITUALITY ALONE BUT CONVEY OTHERS MESSAGES TOO FROM THE SOCIAL (FASTING) TO THE ECONOMICAL (GIVING ALMS) TO HUMANITY & UNITY (HAJJ) TO SUPPORTING SCIENCE (FROM ALGEBRA TO ASTRONOMY TO GARDENING TO ARCHITECTURE). ISLAM IS A FAITH WITH A WHOLESTIC APPROACH!

  • Anonymous

    Andrea Useem’s article is right on the money. Those posting the critical messages claiming “Islam is Islam and it cannot change” have little understanding of history or of the religion. Useem is right to point to the recent domination of Salafists over the world of islam (fuelled in largepart by oil wealth and exploiting populations victimized and angered by colonialism). She should also have pointed out the malleability of Hadith – a body of ambiguous religious texts used by fundamentalists and political rejectionists to justify whatever they want – from terrorism to tyranny to chauvism. I’m a muslim who has read the Quran, believes in the Quran and the Prophet and finds a beautiful ecumenical faith at peace with human existence. In my experience, those politically charged rejectionist Muslims place more stock in the Hadith – an ambiguous body of virtually authorless texts – than in the Quran – the one text Muslims should believe to be the word of God. Thank you again, Andrea.

  • Arif

    As a revert myself; born with a clean slate, then Muslim, then back to a very clean slate. I don’t understand what converts to islam find worth hanging on to? To understand your problem you have to understand and comprehend the history of Islam’s creation; it’s foundation is war. Mohammed built his religion fighting the Jews and the pagans. He did not build the kaaba, he snatched it from the pagans. The prophets that Islam is so proud of were all Jews. The book Mohammed authored is gibberish based upon the Jewish scripture. After his first rich wife dies he is 49, she is the only one who keeps him in check. After she dies, he goes on a woman rampage. He marries 13 women between 49 and 63. Along the way he has several concubines. Some of his wives he acquires violently, one of his brides was a child. He loves no one, not any of his wives, history documents he had a “favorite” wife. Among his violent bride acquisitions one worth mentioning is Kinana’s wife Safiya, 17 years old he was 60. He (Mohammed) kills her husband, father, and her people and then has sex with her. Mohammed does not wait the prescribed four months and 10 nights. Kinana her husband was tortured and killed before he “acquires” this bride. Also worth mentioning is his marriage to his sons wife. He finds her attractive and the son divorces her only for Mohammed to marry Zainab wife of Zayed.He (mohammed) eliminates the Jews and Christians in systematic ethnic cleansing. Prophet fights violent wars with violent endings for his “enemies”, He beheaded the men and the pubescent boys and enslaved the women and children. In the battle of the trench he eliminates the Jewish tribe of Quraizya and beheads 800 Jews! Can you imagine a prophet overseeing the beheading of 800 people? How many days does it take to behead that many people with a sward as your beheading tool?Now you might ask what all this has to do with today’s Islam, well everything. A religion that is born out of violence and conflict can only beget violence. Islam is about Jiahd; the Fighting kind. Post 9/11 Muslims in the West and especially in the US are in retreat, denial, what to do? How to “fight” back? Jihad, the other kind, ranting and complaining, blaming. How can Mohammed’s followers know anything else? Islam only thrives in conflict; it instinctively creates turmoil in any peaceful environment.Arif

  • Daniel in the Lion’s Den

    NouriNothing stays the same; everything changes; that is the nature of life. Islam will change too. It must change. In fact, it is changing now. Anything that makes you afraid of a human being’s inner will to think and believe freely is not good, and is in fact corrosive and toxic upon the humanity and upon the world.The days of cloistered and shelted Islam are over. Muslims are merely part of the crowd, now, of the many. Nothing, but nothing, will ever change that.

  • Elric66

    “Nothing stays the same; everything changes; that is the nature of life. Islam will change too. It must change. In fact, it is changing now.” It can not change unless you think Muslims are ok with changing the word of Allah. If anything, Islam is getting back to its basic roots and foundations. Thats why the rise of Islamic terrorism and Islamic government getting more traditional in Islamic laws.

  • Elric66

    Very well said Arif

  • VICTORIA

    ms useem is reacting against the authoritarian salafi fundamentality that has repelled so many- Islam is a preligion of moderation, it has no heiarchy to crystallize and ossify into a static entity- while christian ethos have centered on individual salvation- and love, and the higher natures of man- it leaves those same seekers unprotected and vulnerable to the very real negative impulses of the lower nature of men- islam is the religion of social justice- and as nouri stated- is a holistic religion- it takes into account that we do not live in an ideal world- but one where the strong are not always the good- ignoring the ‘bad’ leads one to be delusional- o- and someone commented that fasting is only not eating half of the day- on average, a person is awake 16 hours a day- and the fast lasts for a full month-

  • Anonymous

    eric and arif -the best way to address problems in the muslim world is not to launch rhetorical attacks on progressive muslims. deal with realities that need to be addressed – work to better international public health, education, economic opportunity in the underpriviledged corners of the world. Fix problems! Unless of course all you want to do is continue to argue on online message boards endlessly about personal beliefs you will not succeed in changing. its your call.

  • Nouri

    I am not worried at all about Islam, its future and its prosperity whether those encouraging Islamophobia or those hating this faith like it or not. With Islam, warmongers, Neocons and Zionists will not be able to suck the blood of innocent victims or continue with their exploitations without being exposed for everyone to see even if certain media tries hard to block it. Their bad intentions will be always exposed by the Creator who will stand to their ill advised plans that consist of conquering the World (They call it Globalisation!!) for the benefit of a tiny minority as is the case in the USA where the top 1% of the population control 50% of the country’s wealth at a time when ordinary citizens cannot pay their mortgages and are asked to give more and more to subsidise those with an obscene lifestyle and who are making loses in areas like the banking sector. The Creator will be always there to guide those with good intentions in their hearts and who sincerely want to help humanity in a just manner. This band of people will always stand up against what is unfairly gained via corruption, bribes, intimidation, harassement as is the case with the Iraqi Oil that belongs to Iraqis not the Neocons and their Cabals who are ready to pay visit to the Church on a Sunday whilst their hands are full of innocent blood from Iraqis to US military personnel that are being used and abused like mercenaries for the service of the likes of Blackwater, Halliburton and certain Oil Companies with no Fear of God in their hearts.MYTHS, LIES, DISTORTIONS, RUMOURS, NONSENSE AGAINST ISLAM WILL BE EXPOSED AND TRUTH WILL PREVAIL. I AM SURE THERE IS A CREATOR WHO IS CAPABLE TO DEFEND HIS KINGDOM FROM LOW CREATURES THAT MAY THINK THAT THEY HAVE AN IQ TO DECEIVE BUT NOT FOR LONG!

  • Anonymous

    I am not worried at all about Islam, its future and its prosperity whether those encouraging Islamophobia or those hating this faith like it or not. With Islam, warmongers, Neocons and Zionists will not be able to suck the blood of innocent victims or continue with their exploitations without being exposed for everyone to see even if certain media tries hard to block it. Their bad intentions will be always exposed by the Creator who will stand to their ill advised plans that consist of conquering the World (They call it Globalisation!!) for the benefit of a tiny minority as is the case in the USA where the top 1% of the population control 50% of the country’s wealth at a time when ordinary citizens cannot pay their mortgages and are asked to give more and more to subsidise those with an obscene lifestyle and who are making loses in areas like the banking sector. The Creator will be always there to guide those with good intentions in their hearts and who sincerely want to help humanity in a just manner. This band of people will always stand up against what is unfairly gained via corruption, bribes, intimidation, harassement as is the case with the Iraqi Oil that belongs to Iraqis not the Neocons and their Cabals who are ready to pay visit to the Church on a Sunday whilst their hands are full of innocent blood from Iraqis to US military personnel that are being used and abused like mercenaries for the service of the likes of Blackwater, Halliburton and certain Oil Companies with no Fear of God in their hearts.MYTHS, LIES, DISTORTIONS, RUMOURS, NONSENSE AGAINST ISLAM WILL BE EXPOSED AND TRUTH WILL PREVAIL. I AM SURE THERE IS A CREATOR WHO IS CAPABLE TO DEFEND HIS KINGDOM FROM LOW CREATURES THAT MAY THINK THAT THEY HAVE AN IQ TO DECEIVE BUT NOT FOR LONG!

  • Daniel in the Lion’s Den

    Eric66 said”It can not change unless you think Muslims are ok with changing the word of Allah.”Ready or not, it’s changing. And there is nothing that anyone can do or say to stop this change from happening.Man’s religious practices are merely the fashions of custom and culture, as changeable as the clothes we wear.It is your illusion to suppose that there is such a thing in man’s understanding as the “unchangeing word of Allah.” It is your illusion to suppose, that each individual Muslim does not have an inner will, impervious to the externmal imposition of “correct” belief, and thought control.This antiquated way of relgious expression simply cannot hold up in a modern world.

  • VICTORIA

    that’s true anon- so much for stereotypes- i opt for a more reasoned and truly deeply respectful interchange

  • Thank you

    Thank you for this article Andrea. I agree!”I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit.” -Kahlil Gibran

  • yoyo

    The 9/11 terrorist attacks, and the Madrid and London bombings, are acts as typical of religion as falling on your knees and praying to the great invisible Skygod.The Muslim hordes spreading the faith by the word and by the sword, or Catholics torturing and burning those who could not believe in the Skygod, are hard to ignore,when contemplating how sweet religion is.I personally have found there is life after religion, a better, more rational life, where one no longer need suffer the headaches of cognitive dissonance from believing the unbelievable.Better to put ancient myths behind us, and just be happy with the awesome reality of everyday life.

  • Mohd. A. E. Ahmed

    Real Islam is open, loving, tolerant as preached by the Prophet. He was radical in that time, when he proclaimed under God’s eye women are equal to men, heaven lies under a mother’r feet, killing of one human being is like killing a humanity. All his examples are contrary to the Salified Islam preached today by the few Fundamentalists. This kind of extremism, hate, injustice & intolerance is not only akin to Islam, but it is also akin Christanity, Judaism, Hinduism,

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Mohd. A. E. Ahmed, Victoria and all other Muslims out There, Time for the weekly survey/poll about Islam:Do you believe in:1. In “pretty/ugly wingie”/paranormal thingies?3. That Sunnis are superior to Shiites in all aspects of life? 4. That Islam is perfect and the koran inherently condones no sin even though the 24/7 800 year-old feud between Sunnis and Shiites give significant credence that suicides, assassinations, maiming, and murder are condoned by the koran?5. That having multiple wives also gives significant credence to the sins of lust and polygamy?6. That the condoned treatment of these wives gives credence that the koran allows the sins of anger and greed? 7. That Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s book, Infidel, is her autobiography and that in the paperback issue, p. 47 the statement:”Some of the Saudi women in our neighborhood were regularly beaten by their husbands. You could hear them at night. Their screams resounded across the courtyards. “No! Please! By Allah!” is the truth?????

  • Ibrahim Mahfouz

    Ms.Useem argues for the reformation of Islam in the same manner that Christians had.

  • Elric66

    The problem is in the Islamic text and the examples of Mo-bomb-ed.

  • Elric66

    Ibrahim Mahfouz, You are so right. These people call for reform but are in denial of what Islam really is. You cant reform something if you wont say whats wrong with it. Never mind the fact thats its impossible to reform because the Qur’an is suppose to be the word of Allah. They are suggesting Muslims reform what Allah said. They also dont understand Islam isnt a religion per say. It is but its a political structure, a race (ummah) and a culture all wrapped into one.

  • Elric66

    Nouri, How did I lie? If you say Im lying than you are saying the Qur’an, ahadiths, and siras are lies. Sell your taqiyya elsewhere.

  • Elric66

    “Real Islam is open, loving, tolerant as preached by the Prophet.”Really? So why the need for dhimmi laws? Why the needs for apostasy laws? Why did Mo have people assassinated that offended him? Why does the Qur’an say a woman is worth half as much as a man? Why the need to marry 17 women including a 6 year old girl?

  • SNH

    Ms Useem and people like them want a cup-cake version of Islam.In the name of reform they actually want an Islam that meets their desires and political needs. Masquerading as reformists, their real goal is to change the Quran and repudiate the Hadith. The is the same thing that the Christians have done to their religion.

  • Somali

    The Terrorist They Call “president” Is The Enemy Of Humanity!!This woman may think she is Muslim, but she IS NOT even Muslim. so her views are irrelevant to me. The thing I hate the most is to ENDURE a lecture about My religion from some IGNORANT, ARROGANt stupid person whose only qualification for lecturing me comes from GETTING the white man’s approval to publish their drivel on WAPO!! If you are NOT Muslim don’t talk to me about my religion!!!

  • Daniel in the Lion’s Den

    SomaliShe’s Muslim; get over it.

  • Elric66

    If she wants reform in Islam, she really isnt a Muslim. Get over it.

  • Tariq Nelson

    The responses from some of Andrea’s (and mine) “coreligionists” are extremely intolerant and narrow minded

  • Elric66

    Why Tariq? Because we are honest about what Islam is?

  • Elric66

    I believe Mo-bomb-ed was a pedophile because he married a 6 yr old girl

  • Tariq Nelson

    Actually Elric I was talking about the Muslims.Coreligionist = one that shares a religion with you

  • convert’s opinion

    Peace be ever upon you Andrea as you are indeed a God-send.For those of us who read enough to recognize the beauty of Islam and then had to deal with the sickinging deceit and lies of theISNA/CAIR/MSA/MAS/MWL Salafist, you are a beautiful voice rising above a horrid stream of debris. Where have you been Andrea? We value your reasonable and compassionate voice and hope to hear much more from you. Keep the faith and speak out your truth clear and strong.Islam is so much more than the treacherous have made of it. That deep spiritual well is brim full and ready to finally cleanse the dross of the past few tragic years. Andrea…we have great need of a voice like yours. Speak out strong and speak out clear…we are with you girl!

  • Providence Candlelight

    Hear, hear.PC

  • Elric66

    My mistake Tariq

  • Elric66

    “For those of us who read enough to recognize the beauty of Islam” What beauty? Islam brings nothing but misery.

  • DAN78

    Reform? The only real solution is to swallow it whole, or to jettison the whole shebang; half measures won’t do.With revealed religion, either you believe in the tenets of said religion and its underlying notions about the supernatural and the place of humanity in relation to “God”, or you don’t, your belief in the tenets of said religion is metaphor, akin to the way a fan of fantasy novels may “believe” in trolls, jinn, and pixies, or a fan of sci-fi may “believe” in alien races and civilizations. (See Shelby Spong for an example…if you don’t believe in the major tenets of Christianity, why continue the charade of calling yourself Christian?)If this is the trend of the future (which I doubt it is, especially in Islam, which above all religions is opposed to change, reform, or textual criticism), expect to see the major religions become something more akin to clubs, political parties, or strictly social groups compared to what they are now.If religion is to persist, (which undoubtedly it will, for better or worse, more than likely the latter), I’d rather see it become this, something the celebrates humanity, rather than focusing on ancient beliefs and customs of desert warlords and nomads, and their various beliefs about life after death, how we should dress, what we should eat, etc. Why groups like Muslims, Catholics, and other think that fasting or mumbling to yourself (while kneeling in church or prostrating yourself on a rug facing Mecca) makes you a better person or the world a better place is beyond me.

  • UNBIASED OBSERVER

    Somali,

  • convert’s opinion

    Posted on July 23, 2008 21:10 Elric66: What beauty? Islam brings nothing but miseryIn the sublime moments of prayer, there is beauty. In recognizing the sacredness of every living being, there is beauty. In the knowledge that this magnificent beauty is beyond our full comprehension, there is beauty. In moments when we recognize our mutual condition of humanity, in frailty and in strength, there is beauty. In moments when we realize that we are all just human beings trying to understand our existential reality and in this this we strive and stumble together, there is beauty.We don’t have to be perfect or right all the time…we merely have to strive with a sincere heart to understand what is true and what is meaningful to our future growth. Even in this awkward struggle, there is beauty.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Somali,Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former Somalian, has written her autobiography, i.e. Infidel. Read about her experience with Islam, her female circumcision, the threats on her life and the assassination of her friend Theo van Gogh. Her story reinforces all the violence and backwardness of Islam.

  • Anonymous

    Andrea Useem does a wonderful job showing that Muslim come from all backgrounds and a range of viewpoints – this is a strength of Islam, regardless of what hardliners say. Her article shows that when you strip modern politics away from the faith, there is something beautifully plural and universal underneath.Ive noticed two main categories of critics on this particular message board 1. People with an anti-Islamic agenda, excited to highlight everything ever negative ever connected to the faith2. Religious Muslims sensitive to any deviation from the dominant understanding of Islam as it exists today. I would say to the Islamophobes that they do no service to humanity or world peace by hammering a faith and its adherents endlessly. You are driving wedges and sowing dischord. Evil deeds have been committed in the name of all religions. For those that care about human rights and world peace, the key is to persuade others to care. Not to attack, demonize or de-humanize. To the religiously conservative Muslims who take issue with ‘progressive Islam.’ Please have no fear. The truth stands out from falsehood. Lets not judge any person who stands willing to compete in good deeds. Lets do God’s good work for all people and let Allah (swt) judge us in the end.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Anon, Anon, Anon,The koran vitiates all that you say is good about Islam. The book needs to be deleted and a new version published without the violence towards women, the polygamy, the warmongering and the paranormal/mythical/hallucination events and “personages” to incluce the “pretty/ugly wingie thingies. The new book should also have references where the passages were taken from.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Make that “to include the pretty, wingie thingies”.

  • Montedoro

    “Emergent Christianity” and “emergent Judaism” are both possible, but “emergent Islam” is impossible. It is impossible because it necessarily involves rejection of portions of the Koran and the Hadith — and such rejection, as is well known, is blasphemy and apostasy — and is punishable by death according to Islamic law. Ms. Aseem erroneously thinks that the Islamic fundamentalism she despises is limited to Saudi Arabian salafism or wahhabism. But this is false. The Iranian shiites are no different. The Muslim Brotherhood is no different. The followers of Abul Maududi are no different. The root of the problem is right in the Koran and the Hadith, both of which are considered sacred, sacrosanct and untouchable. With all due respect, Ms. Aseem, have you ever read the Koran and the Hadith? Islam is much, much more than the notion of the oneness of God or the rituals which attracted you to Islam. The fact is that jihad to spread Islam throughout the world and to force everyone to submit to the Shariah is part and parcel of Islam. The “five pillars” of Islam, the rituals, are meaningless without the plan to organize all of society (“complete way of life”) and to make Islam supreme in the world.

  • Anonymous

    Allow United States and Britain to control all the oil wealth in Islamic countries,next day Islam will become the most tolerant religion . When Bin laden fought Russians he was called mujahideen by American president,but when he started fighting his own masters[Americans],he became the most wanted terrorist. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and fail to notice the plank in your own? [ Bible]

  • sanjay

    The real issue is equality of sexes and yet nobody dares talk about it.Most religions have now conceded some degree of equality between man and woman, while Islam is violently against it. In India, there is a whole movement lead by orthodox muslims which is about the Muslim personal law, basically a means to keep four or more wives.The basic reason for violence in Muslim countries too can be traced to this imbalance. Now in any society with hundred men and a hundred women, if the top powerful and the richest ten percent were to keep four wives and the next ten percent keep three wives and then the next ten, two each, then there would be an acute imbalance of women available for seventy percent of men. Almost only 10% of the women available for 70% men.Now what do these 70% do? Either they end up converting women from other religions to Islam or remaining bachelors or…. becoming jehadis.As simple as that. A million studies sponsored by various think tanks will not get this truth. But it is so apparent….So it is just fitting that in this new world, Islam, Muslim countries and all the nations of the world should pour in money for educating women in Muslim countries. And this would be great for humantiy. Especially for Muslim women. After all it cannot be fun to live in a harem as the fifteenth wife of Osama…

  • Dale

    Oh how I wish there were more Muslims like Andrea. But Alas, the “True” Muslims will threaten and kill anyone who gets in their goal of world domination. I have grave doubts about the possibility that the majority of Muslims will throw away the the Koran,the writings of Mohammad and Shaira law, These writings and the people who believe them are what is wrong with the Islamic religion. Hoping they will give up their belief in these sacred writings is like Christians throwing away the bible. Neither would be who they profess to be.Ain’t gonna happen!But I believe in miracles and will continue to pray for the conversion of Islam to a peaceful religion.

  • mo

    islam is unchangeable.the 2 source of true islam,QURAN and SUNNA will never ever change because:1-QURAN is the word of the creator allmighty god that is above changeing ,changeing or modeficationing or alternning or none containing is a serious sign of deficencey ,god allmighty is not never not deficent ,if you see any sign of deficencey in the creation please come forword,people with 2 eyes 2 ears can easily see it in the universe .2-human beings whethere they muslims or none muslim are the subject of changeing ,alternating ,up and down ,sound mentality or insanity ,in other word deficencey is humanism and humanism is deficencey ,people with 2 eyes 2 ears can easily look at the universe and see it.3-how to approach islam?4-it is imposible for the creator who created all this perfect universe to be unable or weak or deficent or dizzy or forgetable or not on time ,those are the characteristic of you and me the unchangeable humanism that will remain till the grave hole .5-mankind need to read and when reading we humanbeings need to read in the name of the creator allmighty god who created and fashoined .6-the changeing in the universe is always toward what is right not to what is false and bad this is life it doesnot favoir no body nor discriminate against no body., the ink is allready dried upon this unchangeable truth long long long time ago and to come .7-as my respected sister nouri said befor ,islam(QURAN and SUNNA) is not a la chart islam. (QURAN and SUNNA)is to be approached with humbleness with a receiving hands ,the receiving hands of the deficent humanbeing who his/her life and death is entirely is in the upper giving hands of the creator allmighty god.

  • Anonymous

    To control a democracy,it is becoming more vital to control the media. 1.Ben H.Bagdikian The new media monopoly,Beacon press,Boston

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Mo, Mo, Mo,Still suffering from the Three B Syndrome I see. Being Bred, Born and Brainwashed in Islam is tough. But there is always the Five Step Program for Deprogramming Islam that has been quite successful. We have provided it to you before, Time to use it!!!!

  • Anwar

    For islam to reform, Muslims must be honest about Islam and admit to some of the falsehoods and inequities that the Quran, the hadiths and the sirat offer.1) let us admit that the Quran is a book written by humans and therefore not the word of Allah for all times.2) Let us admit that while Muhammad was a great man in many ways, he was not a prophet of Allah and made many bad blunders and committed many evil acts that included murder, child molestation, robbery and slave mongering. Christians have admitted to the non-divinity of Jesus but Christianity has thrived since that admission.3) Let us fully liberate our women and bring them out of the lower class status that Islam bestows on them.4) Let us allow apostasy without imposing the Islamic law of death for apostates . Then those who do not wish to be Muslims will leave and islam will be better for their departure.

  • Elric66

    If Islam is such a great, tolerant and peaceful religion, why the need for dhimmi and apostasy laws. So far no Islam apologists will answer that.

  • Nouman Farooqui

    Women are not required or obligated to attend a Mosque. If Andrea doesn’t care for the Mosque why does she go there?

  • Anonymous

    Islam (Submission) today is like a precious jewel that is buried under piles upon piles of man-made innovations. Our aim must be to purge these innovations by upholding the Qur’an and nothing but the Qur’an alone, and present the jewel of true Submission to the world.

  • Elric66

    “Quran cuts across geographic and linguistic and cultural barriers and unite all people of the world”Really? The Sunnis and Shi’ites cant even get along. LOL

  • lia

    Why are people unable to believe that Islam cannot reform just because the Quran has some sections that seem outdated? Has anyone read the Bible lately?The Bible, when taken literally, has just as many examples of violence and inequallity as the Quran. There are even examples of old men marrying young girls and men having multiple wives. However, over the years, Christianity (as practiced by most Christians) is a peaceful and loving religion.Is it, therefore, so impossible to think that Islam (as practiced by MOST Muslims) could also be a peaceful and loving religion?There are extremists and fundamentalists in every religion. There have always been people who have done horrible things in the name of God, Allah, etc. I hope that people will remember that the existence of these people who commit horrible acts does not mean that the religion they follow truly condones or encourages such acts.If the only Muslims you are familiar with are suicide bombers and terrorists that you see on TV, Ms. Useem’s article should serve as proof to you that there are others who are just like any other American.

  • Ibrahim Mahfouz

    Mo says:”the allmighty creator that created all this perfect universe SPEAKS and his word is perfect, if you have any proof that the creator god does not speaks please come forward.”Yes God speaks, but not through a book that is riddled with contradictions. A book replete with scientific heresis, historical blunders, mathematical mistakes, grammatical errors and ethical fallacies.

  • Anonymous

    Jesus said:

  • Bob Walts

    I believe man has the free agency to worship anyway he wants or needs to show reverence/devotion/respect to GOD.I will not allow any human to dictate to me or to my fellow Americans what to believe, when to believe, or how to believe, I will fight for my rights and the rights of others to make their own choice. Free agency is a gift from GOD the Eternal Father.AMERICANS STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS –

  • Elric66

    If thats all you have on Jesus then you are pathetic. Mo married a 6 year old girl which the effects are still being felt in the Islamic world. Nice try chuckles. Id quote Sure 9 verse 29 but for some reason, this blog blocks it. Look it up and then I can show how that verse has set up Islamic oppression towards non Muslims to this day unlike your Jesus verse which Id like you to show how Christians use it in a violent oppressive way like jihadists around the world use the Qur’an to kill and maim. Also still havent found one apologist to explain why a peaceful tolerant Islam would have apostasy and dhimmi laws.

  • Observer

    Anonymous wrote:“Jesus said:Moi:

  • Asim, San Antonio

    Andrea,1// There is absolutely no hirearchy in Islam-there are jurists or doctors of law-Faqih’s but no clergy of any sort;a Muslim prays directly to God any where any time any place-always preferably with a group for obvious reasons.2// The so called “Saudi Salfisim” is not at all the benchmark of Islamic religious practice to follow:for example Wahhabism with which the corrupt AL Saud allied themselves with as their Esperit de corps(as per Ibn Khaldoun)imposed by force its brand of Islam on the whole of Arabia starting in the 18th century;in Hijaz where Mecca,Medina and Jeddah are,there prevailed a very gentle and mild Shafi Islam until the unfortunate advent of the tribe of Saud whose only priority is political power and not the interest of Islam.This saud tribe of some ten thousand “princes” monoploize political power and own and operate Arabia as a piece of real estate-there is no distinction between their personal bank accounts and the public treasery which they plunder as a matter of decleared policy;this tribe even stamped its name on Arabia:saudi Arabia. Did the Prophet do such a shameful thing??? No.No.There is such a fundamentel difference btween Islam as practiced in its pure form as was by the Prophet and his companions and this corrupt tribalism of al saud-the Prophet stated clearly that tribalism stinks and should be done away with.If the saudis were to follow true Islam they would dethrone themselves-it is political power and the use of Salafism they want every one else to conform to so they look authentic and orthodox-the tribe of al saud itself does not even follow it-it’s for the masses to follow. AL Saud are guardians of their wealth and power and the guardians of Islam. A few years back I atttended the friday prayers in a mosque in Raiyad and the preacher spent the whole sermon on the virtues of growing a beard because the Salaf did!!! Being clean shaven I was supposed to feel guilty and as if I had broken one of the five pillares of Islam.Of course I don’t deny nor contest the right of any one to grow a beard-but is Islam alll about beards!!! Of course the preacher would not dare to highlight the coruupation of his masters.3// There are four sources of Islamic law:the Quran,the Sunnah, Consesus,Analogy and the latter two are based on and drived by Ijtihad which is an ongoing process of reinterpretaion of the divine law to suit new times,circustances and palces-a corner stone in Shariah which shows its built-in flexibility.The Quran and the Sunnah can not be reformed-they can be reinterpreted as an on going process.Each generation of Muslims should work towards that end:even the Prophet stated that “The were will emerge a scholar or a leading reforemr at the turn of every century to renew your faith-meaning Sahriah for you-meaning the Muslim faithful.”The mecahnism for renweal is there and it’s instituionalized-and it’s the responsibility of Muslims to employ it-the life of the Prophet is the example par excellence to follow:the values never change,for example, piety,honesty,charity,compassion and of course the five pillars etc…circumstance do change. I am amazed to see some Mulsims insisting on using SEWAK to brush their teeth in the 21st century because the Prophet cleaned his teeth that way 14 centuries ago!!! But there were no tooth brushes in 7th century Arabia or any where else for that matter. The Prophet rode a camel then-am absoultely confident that if he were with us today he would be a jet-sitter.Generations of Muslims throughout history made substantail contributions to human civilization in all spheres of life:high culture and siences because they were inovative and creative for their age and circumstances-we can do that for our age and yet be unequivoaclly true to our faith.Let me give an eaxmple:the great and inovative second Caliph Omar suspended the application of the penal code which dicatated the chopping of the hand of a thief because Islam is very stringent about the protection of private property-because a sevre famine had struck down-and yet that code is Quranic. The great jurist AL Sahifi,the founder of one of the fourth schools of law was practicng interpretation of the law in Iraq in the 8th century,when he moved to Egypt and changed many of his Fatwas because he said a Fatwa changes with time and place-what suits saudi does not neccessairly suit New York-without comprmising the fundamnetals of Islam. The mecahnism for reform is there-it is us Muslims that are lacking in initiative and lagging behind the Shariah itself and its built-in tools especially Ijtihad.Even a leading scholar like Dr.Yousef Qradwai issued a Fatwa that a Muslim woman feeling her pesonal security threatened in the US immediately after 9/11 can shed off her head cover which is perscribed by the Quran.Muslims in America and Europe have Islamic Councils to refer to on issues such as Salafism. In some places like saudi, women wear Niqab-covering the face-which has absolutely nothing to do with Islam or the Quran at all-so do American Muslim women have to do the same?? No.No.It was very recently that a saudi precaher on the well-known and respectable TV cahnnel Aqra was preaching that women should cover their faces-Niqab-outside the home without basing his position on or quoting the Quran or the Sunnah and when women who perforemd the Haj with Prophet-pbuh-did so with uncovered faces.It is the heavy cultural baggage that we Mulsims carry around that we have to deal with and shed off and not Islam or the Quran.3// Andera:I don’t believe that Christian or Jewish reform expierences are relevant here to our Islamic experinece-it is a different ballgame altogether which is too detailed to discuss on this froum.

  • Elric66

    All that and Asim couldnt answer my simple question, just more taqiyya.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    As noted previously by the Observer, this is way off topic but:Jesus’ passage …..”He that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Matt 10: 37 etc. was according to many contemporary historical Jesus exegetes, said by said Jesus.Very odd passage so why?As per Professor JD Crossan, an On-Faith panelist,”Crossan [Historical Jesus, 299-302] discusses Jesus opposition to the patriarchal family. He observes: The strife is not between believers and non-believers but quite simply, and as it says, between the generations and in both directions. Jesus will tear the hierarchical or patriarchal family in two along the axis of domination and subordination. Second, and even more significant, is that the division imagined cuts across sex and gender. (p. 300)”From the Jesus Seminarians in their book:”The Five Gospels : This saying, which must have been offensive to Jesus’ audience when he first enunciated it, has suffered the fate of other harsh sayings in the tradition. Matthew softens it by making the love of family subordinate to the love of Jesus. But Luke and Thomas retain the rigorous form: hatred of family is a condition of discipleship.Jesus is therefore confronting the social structures that governed society at their core For Jesus, family ties faded into insignificance in relation to God’s imperial rule, which he regarded as the fundamental claim on human loyalty. (p. 353)”Continue, however, to remind yourself that this “simple preacher man” was not god and he was speaking to the history of the moment. We need to speak to our significantly more evolved history when reviewing such passages. And as per Professor Bruce Chilton (in Rabbi Jesus), if indeed Jesus was a mamzer and therefore suffered from being an outcast from his family, then passages such as Matt 10:37 would reflect said background.

  • Ibrahim

    The real problem is that some Muslims want to take the easy from Islam, but leave out the things that are not “hip” and “cool” in western society, like covering themselves properly (this goes for both men and women). The problem is, if you accept that the Quran is the word of God, then the entire book is his law. God knows what is better for you than you do, for he is our Creator. So when you say, I love the prayers, but not covering up, you are picking and choosing which of Gods commands to follow.What you want is an Islam that is apologetic and changes itself to fit in with Western society. But Islam is the religion of God, and it is better for you than man made ideologies and cultures.Unfortunately people don’t understand this, and it weakens our religion, and it allows the same repercussions that happened to Gods other religions; you begin to change the laws and guidelines set down by Allah and replace them, and soon, the religion is not the religion God sent to us for salvation. Allah said that there are some things that you dislike, but they are good for you, and some things you like, but they are bad for you, and He knows best.

  • Bethel Bennett

    I had no idea Muslims could criticize their faith–only in America. Are you sure your name hasn’t been written down in someone’s little black book?Andrea, you do have courage.

  • Elric66

    Bethel, Just that you are amazed that she could criticize Islam should tell you about Islam. But dont worry, the UN is going to make it a crime to criticize Islam soon enough. Thats should tell you something too.

  • Anonymous

    I have recently been examining all the known superstitions of the world, and do not find in our particular superstition (Christianity) one redeeming feature. They are all alike, founded upon fables and mythologies.Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Dr Woods.

  • Elric66

    Well if a letter by Thomas Jefferson said so it must be true. Ill go by the perspective prophets. Jesus was a man of compassion, love and peace. Mo-bomb-ed was a war monger, slave owner, and a pedophile.

  • Daniel in the Lion’s Den

    Ibrahim said:You may call it covering yourself properly. I would call it obsessive-compulsive prudishness, when you are ashamed of your own body, and I would call it being a self-righteous busy-body “old lady” when it comes to judging what other people wear.

  • Elric66

    Daniel, You dont see its a problem when people cover themselves so completely you cant identify who the individual is?

  • Duderino

    Andrea is making some important points which I have encountered myself at mosques. I think it is a function of the fact that mosques in this country are by and large controlled by first generation immigrants. The result is, to varying extents depending on mosque, a conflation of the culture of the immigrants in question with religion. That’s why in many instances you have Pakistani mosques and Arab mosques and African-American mosques, though some mosques, particularly in very urban areas, hew better to the Islamic ideal of Muslims of all races working and worshipping together. I believe things will change as second and third generation Muslim Americans intermarry, blurring the ethnic boundaries, and grow as a community and settle on their own indigenous interpretations of the Qur’an and the Sunnah, adapted to the new and unique circumstances of life in a Western society.As a side point to the more reasonable commenters on these message boards, I would recommend ignoring those commenters who revel in making silly, poorly informed generalizations about Islam and Muslims. Refuting their poorly conceived notions about Islam is not especially difficult, but it is nonetheless pointless, because they will NEVER listen to you. There are people for whom rational discourse is well beyond their capabilities. Better to discuss the article’s topic, which is essentially about the development of American Islam, and report the more troublesome posters (both the radical Muslim simpletons and the Eurocentric yahoos) if they insist on using the message board as a venue for trying to transmit their silly, radical beliefs.

  • Elric66

    Duderino, Im still waiting for an answer as why a “peaceful” and “tolerant” Islam would require dhimmi and apostasy laws. Come on and shut me up by answering it. You cant. You rather dismiss us without backing anything up. Its ok. Thats what losers do in a debate.

  • Duderino

    Ok Elric, just this once, because this topic is not as clear cut as you seem to think it is, but a fairly simple one to learn about, which you do not seem to have taken the time to do.The Qur’anic basis for laws on apostasy are disputed, with 2:217 being used as the relevant verse. You can look it up and read it yourself. It’s difficult to conceive of the relevance of this verse to apostasy, and there are plenty of scholars who agree (see Hallaq). All justifications are derived from hadith, from which a justification for any course of action in any circumstance can be justified. Therein lies the danger of hadith – very few clerics know the science of assessing hadith authenticity and using them appropriately, which was worked out many centuries ago and is being readdressed by Turkish scholars as we speak. Furthermore, there is disagreement with the laws on apostasy in both Sunni and Shi’a jurisprudence, with some scholars saying there is no punishment for apostasy (see Goma’a and Montazeri). These scholars are in the minority, but that does not make them wrong. The majority of southern whites and their preachers believed the Bible told them slavery was the desired state that God intended for black folks. The minority of abolitionists disagreed. These sorts of views represented the majority until the 1950’s. That does not mean they are correct or have anything to Christianity.For every evidence of intolerance you can generate about Islam, there are dozens of counterexamples generated by credible Muslim scholars. You just have to take the time to look.

  • Elric66

    You didnt mention anything about Dhimmi laws.

  • Elric66

    Interesting you mentioned slavery when Mo-bomb-ed took slaves as he went a jihading across the Middle East.

  • AMH

    Convert says:Unbelievable! Forget about the faults of those Muslim organizations that you often badmouth. They most likely know more about Islam than you do. What beauty do you find in the subjugation and enslavement of women? What beauty you see in humiliating, marginalizing and oppressing minorities? Do you see beauty in fighting and killing and being killed in fighting those who believe differently than yourself? Where is the beauty in any of that?

  • Elric66

    AMH, That is the beauty of Islam for Muslims.

  • Observer

    Duderino says:This is from someone who believes that the Creator is the author of a book

  • Lee

    Well, all journeys begin with a single step. Simply walk away from your present mosque, and go start your own. Mohammed did this, and so can you. Find other like-minded people, and go into a new community of similar believers. Mosques exist all around the world as small communities that grow into larger ones. It is not as easy as staying with an established mosque, but it can be done, first by meeting in people’s houses, then in rented buildings, and then in your own building.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Duderino, Duderino, Duderino,Ayaan Hirsi Ali looked and found Islam to be severely flawed. Ditto for Sir Salman Rushdie. And what did they get for looking, threats on their lives which continue today.Suggestion: Read Ayaan Hirsi Ali book and then see if think Islam is such a peaceful religion. Or maybe you cannot buy said book in the country you live in. Hmmm, I wonder why that is??

  • Elric66

    Lee, The way of Mo was to spread Islam by the sword

  • Elric66

    Cry me a river Kaleem

  • Nouri

    Kaleem Kawaja: BRAVO! AN EXCELLENT WELL ARTICULATED ARTICLE 🙂

  • Emad M.Shurrab

    I read your article “The emergent Islam I want”. First of all I am quite surprised at starting your article saying ” I do not like going to mosques” and you seem upset that ” men and women are avoiding each other’s” on Friday prayer’s gathering. First,no one is forcing you to go to the mosque.Second,it is quite strange that you expect men and women to mix wth each others when being in Mousques, and should not “avoiding each other’s”. In Islam it is forbidden for men and women to mingle with each others in social gatherings or in any public event; while all Muslims arround the world respect that.Thus,you are not entitled to scrutinize Muslims according to your western secular liberal tastes and values, rather you should respect the teachings and the moral conduct of the Islam that is clear and straightforward to all beleivers of the faith whether they are originally-born Muslims or new converts. Your description of “Salafi” Islam and “fundamentalism” as if Islam is a multi types of beliefs or that Islam is exported commodity made in Saudi Arabia or “Wahabi Islam”, this is unfortunately a superficial naive stereotyping image of Islam propagated by Zionism and its western Media machine and reiterated by bloggers like yourself. First, there is no such thing as Wahabi Islam or Slafi Islam. Islam gets its teachings and moral values from two honered sources they are: the Glorious Quran and the Sunnah teachings or interpretations of the prophet Mohammed. A good Muslim has to be a fundumentalist and should not be ashamed of such description, fundamentalist Muslim is deeply and sincerely attached to the moral Islamic values and honorably applies it in his moral conduct and behaviors.

  • Christine

    You have to be completely ignorant of Islam which means “Submit” and Muslim meaning “one who submits” to call for an “emergent Islam”. The Muslim you are looking for would be considered an absolute apostate, forsaking their Sharia Law and their faith altogether. You can not be a Muslim and not follow the book. You are asking Muslims to invent a new religion altogether-it would no longer be Islam. Islam is Islam. You can not change or take away from the book. They can not live in harmony with non-Muslims. They are required to bring their neighbors under subjugation through conversion, taxes, slavery, or death. That is Islam. Why don’t you say what you mean-which is that you hope Islam will convert to another more peaceful faith? Your fantasy is dangerous to our security and way of life. Fantasy and reality can not agree or meet.

  • Christine

    You have to be completely ignorant of Islam which means “Submit” and Muslim meaning “one who submits” to call for an “emergent Islam”. The Muslim you are looking for would be considered an absolute apostate, forsaking their Sharia Law and their faith altogether. You can not be a Muslim and not follow the book. You are asking Muslims to invent a new religion altogether-it would no longer be Islam. Islam is Islam. You can not change or take away from the book. They can not live in harmony with non-Muslims. They are required to bring their neighbors under subjugation through conversion, taxes, slavery, or death. That is Islam. Why don’t you say what you mean-which is that you hope Islam will convert to another more peaceful faith? Your fantasy is dangerous to our security and way of life. Fantasy and reality can not agree or meet.

  • Christine

    You have to be completely ignorant of Islam which means “Submit” and Muslim meaning “one who submits” to call for an “emergent Islam”. The Muslim you are looking for would be considered an absolute apostate, forsaking their Sharia Law and their faith altogether. You can not be a Muslim and not follow the book. You are asking Muslims to invent a new religion altogether-it would no longer be Islam. Islam is Islam. You can not change or take away from the book. They can not live in harmony with non-Muslims. They are required to bring their neighbors under subjugation through conversion, taxes, slavery, or death. That is Islam. Why don’t you say what you mean-which is that you hope Islam will convert to another more peaceful faith? Your fantasy is dangerous to our security and way of life. Fantasy and reality can not agree or meet.

  • Elric66

    Amen Christine

  • Anonymous

    Ultimately, apocalyptic belief is a function of faith – that luminous inner conviction that needs no recourse to evidence. It is customary to pose against immovable faith the engines of reason, but in this instance I would prefer that delightful human impulse – curiosity, the hallmark of mental freedom. Organized religion has always had – and I put this mildly – a troubled relationship with curiosity. Islam’s distrust, at least in the past two hundred years, is best expressed by it’s attitude to those whose faith falls away, to apostates who are drawn to other religions or to none at all.And yet it is curiosity, scientific curiosity, that has delivered us genuine, testable knowledge of the world and contributed to our understanding of our place within it and of our nature and condition. This knowledge has a beauty of its own, and it can be terrifying. We are barely beginning to grasp the implications of what we have recently learned.I draw here from a Stephen Pinker essay on his ideal of a university: Among other things we have learnedthat our planet is a minute speck in an inconceivably vast cosmos; that Ian McEwan. “End of The World Blues.”

  • Kaleem Kawaja

    Andrea Useem’s said column reflects the views of those people in the West who are really not in favour of observant religions; they think of religions as if they are philosophies like Communism. They do not like uncomfortable discipline on their lifestyles. But to satisfy their need for sprituality they turn to some religion. And they start having conflicts with the elements of discipline that all major religions require. Islam and Hinduism are still very much Eastern religions; whereas Christianity and Judaism are Western religions. The ethos of the Western society is so much more freewheeling and indulgent of all kinds of behavioural liberties, is very different from the ethos of the Eastern society. Thus we see that sharp divergence in the points of views of Muslims & Hindus on one hand and Christians & Jews on the other hand. Thus Western converts to Islam and also Hinduism feel the uncomfortable restraint of the Eastern ethos and do not like it. That is what a lot of these converts in Western countries from other religion to Islam find it hard to observe. At the same time many converts to Islam in US are so fed up with the permissiveness and dilution of discipline in today’s real time Western Christian and Jewish orders and institutions, that they admire Islam’s rather demanding discipline.

  • Kaleem Kawaja

    Andrea Useem’s said column reflects the views of those people in the West who are really not in favour of observant religions; they think of religions as if they are philosophies like Communism. They do not like uncomfortable discipline on their lifestyles. But to satisfy their need for sprituality they turn to some religion. And they start having conflicts with the elements of discipline that all major religions require. Islam and Hinduism are still very much Eastern religions; whereas Christianity and Judaism are Western religions. The ethos of the Western society is so much more freewheeling and indulgent of all kinds of behavioural liberties, is very different from the ethos of the Eastern society. Thus we see that sharp divergence in the points of views of Muslims & Hindus on one hand and Christians & Jews on the other hand. Thus Western converts to Islam and also Hinduism feel the uncomfortable restraint of the Eastern ethos and do not like it. That is what a lot of these converts in Western countries from other religion to Islam find it hard to observe. At the same time many converts to Islam in US are so fed up with the permissiveness and dilution of discipline in today’s real time Western Christian and Jewish orders and institutions, that they admire Islam’s rather demanding discipline.

  • Duderino

    I don’t understand why these sorts of articles always bring out the crazies. You folks have plenty of your own websites where you can wow people with your complete lack of knowledge of religion, history, and pretty much anything that involves reading something besides a comic book or crappy periodical – the great sources of expert knowledge.Awards (with associated performances):Elric66:Award for Best Imitation of a 12 year old (unless you are a child, in which case I retract my award) – Mo-bomb-ed? I try to imagine a non-retarded grown-up saying that, and it’s actually pretty hard.Christine:The Grimace-inducing Stupidity and Arrogance Award – You, who are not a Muslim, know what Islam is – not the columnist, who is an actual Muslim. She doesn’t know what it is. Of course not.Concerned Christian Now Liberated:The “I prefer reading trash to actual books” Award – There are THOUSANDS of books by Muslims, in English, about Islam. But your source is one of the dozen or so books by disgruntled former Muslims – by a woman who is no longer Muslim and is completely shunned by her community. Perhaps I should learn about Catholicism from men who were buggered by dirty pederast priests as little boys, at the systematic expense of any other source of knowledge about Catholicism. That would make a lot of sense. What would NOT make sense would be learning about Catholicism from a Catholic who hasn’t been involved in some sort of perverse buggery.Observer:The I Don’t Like Thinking About Things Award – A.) It has been widely agreed among actual Muslims, for 1200 years or more, that the Qur’an is an ALLEGORY. Go to m-w.com if you need to look up the meaning of that word. Just as “Animal Farm” is not about bizarre talking animals bothering each other on some weird farm, a significant portion of the stories in the Qur’an are ALLEGORICAL. And just as “Animal Farm” cannot be understood without the historical context of socialism, neither can the Qur’an be understood without a detailed understanding of history and particularly the intra-Muslim debates concerning the meaning of the less straightforward passages. Which you do not have, nor, I suspect, will ever have.Encore: the short list of peaceful Western Judeo-Christian accomplishments that humanity will look for divine inspiration for centuries:- Erased via systematic persecution Jewish and Muslim culture from Spain. Side note: most of those Jews that went to North Africa to live among Muslims, forming the largest Jewish community in the world – for almost 500 years. The rest, who mostly went to Holland, were exterminated both culturally and physically this time, during WWII – by Christians. Again.Wait a minute! Those things aren’t peaceful! Well, it’s quite clear from the above unprecedented actions that white Christians are unique in their capacity for violence, a capacity that is clearly cultural and possibly genetic. I can only conclude that honkey Christians must be bloodthirsty zombie murderers, because I can’t imagine a human being would do ANY of those things.

  • Shabana

    There is only one type of Islam, the fundamental type. Try talking to any Muslim about the veil, or the rule of having a male relative responsible for you, you will hear it is because Islam respects women, unlike the West. (They have a funny way of showing it). The cartoon riots, the suicide bombings and Taliban are the direct result of Islam as preached and practiced from the time of the Prophet. Better to realize what you are getting into if you plan on converting to Islam. Buyer’s remorse, don’t express it. Leave at your own peril. So sad…

  • Observer

    Duderino tells me:Below is a definition of an allegory: 1.a representation of an abstract or spiritual meaning through concrete or material forms; figurative treatment of one subject under the guise of another.Moi:

  • Anonymous

    In England, until the fourteenth century, the Christian Bible was considered the preserve of the priestly classes. The Vulgate was a Latin translation by Saint Jerome, read and interpreted only by the clergy, as the Church deliberately discouraged common people from reading vernacular bibles. In fact, it was a crime to possess a vernacular bible.In the centuries that followed, however, the efforts of men who challenged the Church, and the invention of the printing press, made the Bible available in plain English, to ordinary men and women.If Christianity evolved, why can’t Islam evolved?The same text can be interpreted many ways, thus one interpretation is NOT cast in stone, as some here have claimed. The science of interpretation is called ijtihad and has many worthy advocates.As for the assumption that an advocate of Islamic modernism has strayed from the 5 pillars, THAT is just Wahhabi/Salafi propaganda. Many modernists are devout Muslims who honor the discipline and rituals of Islam faithfully.And for those who don’t think that a Salafi/Wahhabi brand of Islam has infected North American Masjids, you obviously haven’t been here or are greatly out of touch with reality.

  • sanjay

    The real issue is equality of sexes and yet nobody dares talk about it.Most religions have now conceded some degree of equality between man and woman, while Islam is violently against it. In India, there is a whole movement lead by orthodox muslims which is about the Muslim personal law, basically a means to keep four or more wives.The basic reason for violence in Muslim countries too can be traced to this imbalance. Now in any society with hundred men and a hundred women, if the top powerful and the richest ten percent were to keep four wives and the next ten percent keep three wives and then the next ten, two each, then there would be an acute imbalance of women available for seventy percent of men. Almost only 10% of the women available for 70% men.Now what do these 70% do? Either they end up converting women from other religions to Islam or remaining bachelors or…. becoming jehadis.THE JEHADIS KEEP DREAMING THAT THEY WILL GET to Have SOME SEX with HOURIS in Paradise and they blow themselves to achieve martydom, by killing all non believers…As simple as that. A million studies sponsored by various think tanks will not get this truth. But it is so apparent….So it is just fitting that in this new world, Islam, Muslim countries and all the nations of the world should pour in money for educating women in Muslim countries. And this would be great for humantiy. Especially for Muslim women. After all it cannot be fun to live in a harem as the fifteenth wife of Osama…

  • sanjay

    The real issue is equality of sexes and yet nobody dares talk about it.Most religions have now conceded some degree of equality between man and woman, while Islam is violently against it. In India, there is a whole movement lead by orthodox muslims which is about the Muslim personal law, basically a means to keep four or more wives.The basic reason for violence in Muslim countries too can be traced to this imbalance. Now in any society with hundred men and a hundred women, if the top powerful and the richest ten percent were to keep four wives and the next ten percent keep three wives and then the next ten, two each, then there would be an acute imbalance of women available for seventy percent of men. Almost only 10% of the women available for 70% men.Now what do these 70% do? Either they end up converting women from other religions to Islam or remaining bachelors or…. becoming jehadis.THE JEHADIS KEEP DREAMING THAT THEY WILL GET to Have SOME SEX with HOURIS in Paradise and they blow themselves to achieve martydom, by killing all non believers…As simple as that. A million studies sponsored by various think tanks will not get this truth. But it is so apparent….So it is just fitting that in this new world, Islam, Muslim countries and all the nations of the world should pour in money for educating women in Muslim countries. And this would be great for humantiy. Especially for Muslim women. After all it cannot be fun to live in a harem as the fifteenth wife of Osama…

  • Anonymous

    This is the rationalization with which a young modern Muslim woman living in a Western country came to accept as normal polygamy in Islam. Men need a lot of sex. They will look for sex outside marriage if the wife does not permit polygamy.It is better for the husband to marry more than one woman than for him to have many secret lovers.If a man looks for sex outside marriage because the wife does not allow polygamy the wife must be prepared for the husband to contract STD which he would then pass on to her.Women are not sexually available when the wife is pregnant. So it is necessary for him to have more than one wife to ensure he does not need to look for sex outside marriage.When women get older, men look for younger women to have sex with, so it is better if he marries one with the consent of the older wife.And to the question if it was all fair to the first wife – the answer: Allah wants it that way, so who are we to ask?!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Neo

    It is good to know that some within the Islamic community question the intolerance and bigotry of the mainstream version of Islam. It is also good to know that there are some people who wish to change this.Unfortunately, I have read the Koran and Hadith and, with great regret, learned that this intolerance and bigotry has a basis in scripture. Polygamy, male dominance, religious intolerance, opposition to free speech and many other features of mainstream Islam that I find repugnant all have textual basis in the Koran and Hadith.This Surah is one of the many examples of the teachings of the Koran that are pretty clear and cannot be interpreted in any different way——————-Surah 4:34Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. Surely God is high, supreme.———————That the Koran explicitly states that men are superior to women, and allows beating women as one of the ways to “discipline” them is unforgivable. Similar intolerant texts abound in the Koran. It is for that reason that I believe that reformation of the religion is hard, if not impossible.

  • Anonymous

    “Surah 4:34Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other, and because they spend their wealth to maintain them. Good women are obedient. They guard their unseen parts because God has guarded them. As for those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them and send them to beds apart and beat them. Then if they obey you, take no further action against them. Surely God is high, supreme”Wouldn’y uou know it, written by a man to suit their selfish needs. Men are selfish……they will lie and tell you anything to get what they want out of you.

  • NEO

    I wouldn’t make a general statement about men from that statement. What I can do, is judge the man who wrote it, the founder of Islam, and the religion to which he is a “prophet”.It is true that men, over history, have tried to control women using philosophy and religion. But Surah 4:34 is the only case in which men are given the divine right to beat women. It is disgusting and repugnant beyond belief. The Koran contains numerous other Surahs about polygamy,jihad,religious intolerance etc. It is for this reason that I think the religion is un-reformable. It is with great regret I say this because a reform of Islam along the lines of the article would solve a lot of problems.

  • Elric66

    Neo, Islam cant be reformed because the Qur’an is the word of Allah and can not be reformed by man. This is why Islam is still stuck in the 7th century.

  • Anonymous

    Western women marry rich Muslim men and convert to please their husbands.

  • Anonymous

    It is more common for women to marry for materialistic reasons. Men tend to marry for sexual pleasure.

  • Anonymous

    Getting a visa to live permanently in a Western country is also a strong incentive for Muslim men to marry women from the West.

  • NEO

    I forgot to mention the following1) Your prohpet called women “naqisat ack wa deen” i.e. has less intelligence and religion (presumably when compared to men).2) Your prophet also said that hell mosly contains women.3) Your Koran sanctions the rape of female prisoners of war in Surah 4:24 “And forbidden to you are wedded wives of other people except those who have fallen in your hands (as prisoners of war)”.Get the picture?

  • Jesus Said

    To all Emergents:Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

  • Anthony

    So, is it true? Is ignorance bliss? Because some of y’all seem to be very devoted to your misconceptions. You must enjoy them.Wa’salaam

  • Elric66

    Really Anthony? Why does Islam require Dhimmi laws? No Muslim or apologist has answered that simple question.

  • Anonymous

    “Anthony: Wa’salaam”You are so right Anthony. They are but fooling themselves and no one else. During this age of information, people can check any misconception about Islam by just googling it and doing their own independent analysis away from hate and Islamophobia.Above all, you are asked to use your common sense and take notes of faith that calls for peace, humility, helping the poor and the needy and supporting justice and is implementation.ISLAM IS HERE TO STAY BECAUSE IT IS A UNIVERSAL WAY OF LIFE THAT BELONGS TO THE ALLMIGHTY CREATOR AND WHO WANT TO SEE IT BENEFIT ALL CITIZENS OF THE WORLD WHETHER THEY ARE FROM THE NORTH OR THE SOUTH, EAST OR WEST.

  • NEO

    🙂 I have a copy of the Koran and several books of Hadith. I also own some tafasir books. I do not speak out of ignorance, but knowledge. You fail to address the verses that call for polygamy, domestic violence, intolerance and bigotry that I pointed out below.Aparently we cannot point out these hateful verses without being called ignorant or islamophobes. The points I raised in this discussion are from your own Koran, Hadith and jurisprudence. Don’t blame me if you do not like them. PS: I have provided references from the Koran to some of my statements. If you like, I can cite references from either the Hadith or the Koran for each of the points I make.

  • Rory

    This is a refreshingly personal and unprocessed article for a forum that has an “The Advance of Islam” section. It is comforting to know that there are indeed moderate Muslims out there that are uncomfortable with the radicalism in the Saudi strains of Islam – and that don’t blame the media for portraying it, rather than the people actually committing the violence in its name.

  • Elric66

    Why do Muslims and apologists keep avoiding the question on dhimmi laws in Islam?

  • Elric66

    Anonymous, Yes, we have seen Islam’s “benefit” in Dafur, on 9-11, on 3-11, during the Motoon riots, during the murders of people like Van Gough, during the nightly car-b-q’s in France, during the legal jihad’s like what Geert wilder is going through etc

  • Anonymous

    “Elric66: Yes, we have seen Islam’s “benefit” in Dafur, on 9-11, on 3-11, during the Motoon riots, during the murders of people like Van Gough, during the nightly car-b-q’s in France, during the legal jihad’s like what Geert wilder is going through etc”WOW as if the ones that are living in Darfur are not Muslims! As for the other criminal acts, let me remind you that Islam is practised by 1.6 billion Muslims and there will always be a anon significant tiny minority that will not adhere to the ethics of the faith and are Muslims in Names only.I mean if we take the millions (remind me was it 5, 10, 15 , 20, 25, 30 million or more including the Russians) of people that were slaughtered in Europe during the first and second World Wars, were these acts committed by Muslims too? And were these violent acts committed against civilians in their thousands or in their millions? Thank God Muslims have nothing to do with it! Do I have also to remind you about Nagazaki and Hiroshima and the innocent civilians Japanese that have to pay the price without any discrimination between children, women, eldery and youngsters. What about recently when no WMDs were found in Iraq and the country was turn into a mess with hundred of thousands of civilians paying the price for the obscene greed of the Neocons and their allies who want to help themselves to OIL that doesnt belong to them in the first place. These so called Christians do not care about their own military personnel, let alone the Iraqis civilians who lived thousands of miles away from the US shores and yet represent a security danger to Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush with their fictional WMDs.NOW LET US COMPARE THESE 2 TYPE OF VIOLENCE, THEIR FREQUENCY, NUMBER OF DEATHS THAT THEY CAUSED AND HOW LONG THEY LASTED FOR AND THEIR EFFECTS ON LOCAL COMMUNITIES FROM IRAQ TO LEBANNON TO SOMALIA TO PALESTINE!

  • Neo

    Anonymous,You are sadly mistaken. WWI and WWII were not religiously inspired wars, neither where the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (which, BTW, occurred within the context of WWII). While these wars were horrific and the death toll beyond imagination, they where not fought in the name of a religion. Rather they where part of a secular struggle for power. The ideologies that were responsible for some of the worst atrocities, for example Nazism, are deplored to this very day.On the other hand, Muslims commit their atrocities in the name of Islam. They publicly and proudly proclaim that they are acting in accordance to their religious duty of Jihad. They cite verses from the Koran and Hadith to support their claims and Imams all over the Muslim world provide justifications for their vile actions.In the name of Islam and Jihad (using verses from the Koran and Hadith), Muslim terrorists have proudly claimed their responsibilities for 9/11, the Madrid bombings, the London bombings, the Beslan Massacre, the attempted attacks on Fort Dix, the Heathrow bomb threats, the Scotland car bombings and hundreds of other acts of terror the world over. Notice the difference here; unlike the world wars, and other conflicts, these vile people commit their crimes in the name of Islam. Their justification is that they are bringing Jihad to Jews and Christians. The driving motivation for their attacks is Islam. Therefore, like Nazism, I abhor it. These people explicitly quote certain verses from the Koran and Hadith to justify their actions. In order to determine the truth of this, I bough a copy of the Koran and some Hadith books and read them for myself. Unfortunately, I find their claims correct. All of their actions can be justified based on Islamic scripture. Likewise, when Muslim zealots murdered Van Gough for his films, or threaten Greet Wilder, or pronounce the death sentence on Salman Rushdie for his novel, or imprison and ask for the death of a school teacher because she allowed her students to name a teddy bear Mohammed, or sentence a Saudi rape victim to lashes for allowing herself to be raped, or sentence an Afghan to death for leaving Islam, or cut of peoples hands in the name of the barbaric shariah law, or deny religious minorities their basic rights, they do so in the name of Islam. They boldly state that they have the right to commit these atrocities because their religion tells them to do this. Christians are more numerous than Muslims, yet for the last several decades we have not heard about so many atrocities committed in the name of Christianity. Yes, we have had Christians commit atrocities, but they never claim divine inspiration for their actions. The number of murderous crimes committed by Muslims, IN THE NAME OF ISLAM, is out of proportion to any other religion. I hope you get the point.

  • Elric66

    Where is this land you call “Palestine”

  • Elric66

    Neo, Bravo. These apologists cant or are unwilling to comprehend the difference. If they really want to put it in context, how many people died over the “Piss Christ Art Exhibit”? That is context. These apologists cant do that so they attempt strawman arguments.

  • Elric66

    “WOW as if the ones that are living in Darfur are not Muslims!” The ones committing the genocide are Muslims. Make you feel proud?

  • Anonymous

    It is annoying when Muslims continue to blame everything done by Western secular governments or European colonialists on Christianity. Times without number they have been advised to provide examples of violence in the life of Jesus or any teaching in the New Testament by Jesus or His disciples which advocates violence. There is no Scriptural basis for any violence done by Christians.Time and again it has been pointed out that all but one of Jesus’ disciples were marytred for their faith. For the first three hundred years, until Emperor Constantine accepted Christianity, Christians were persecuted by Roman rulers. Many of them were killed.

  • NEO

    Elric66,You are absolutely right. Nobody died and no property was damaged in the “Piss Christ Art Exhibit” nor in any of the other cases where Christian symbols where used in an inappropriate manner. However, many died and a lot of property damage occurred when Mohammed was depicted in a cartoon.Nobody sentenced Dan Brown to death when he wrote his anti-Christian novels, while Salman Rushdie fears for his life because he wrote a book that contains a reference to an incident in Islam’s history that they do not like.The difference is quite clear for anybody with some sense; Islam breeds intolerance. The brainwashed can choose to ignore this at their own peril.

  • harold zeller

    If one reads the words of Noah, Daniel, and Job you will see that just Noah and 4 others were left after the flood. If you study the book of Daniel, just Daniel and 4 others were left after Nebuchadnezzar works. If you read the book of Job, you will see what Satan did after the LORD gave Satan all the power that Job had, just Job and the 4 who escaped to tell Job of the works of Satan. I ask you wise men, who is the perfect man, the one who shows mercy and saves with the power he has in his possession, or the one who destroys with the power that is in their hand. It was said the LORD gave Solomon peace on all sides, but he did not get peace from within his own house. Your worst enemy is the one’s you love. Who seeks the good in someone and builds them up, who seeks the sins and to try bring them down. David wrote “That thy beloved may be delivered; save with thy right hand, and hear me.” Solomon wrote “That thy beloved may be delivered: save with thy right hand, and answer me.” Look at the works of Joshua, “he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings” You will find that so called Christians believe that they are blessed of god but in reality the are cursed. This is what god creates “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.” “And God created great whales” Jacob climbed the ladder to the heaven of god and he saw what was there. If “darkness was upon the face” and Jonah was in the belly of the whale and that was hell, you will realized all that god creates is death and hell. Look at the words of Job. Study what Moses wrote. What were the works of Samuel, Saul, David, and Solomon. Job said “he would shew thee the secrets of wisdom, that they are double” Does Job try to save just himself. Look at the power of Noah, Nebuchadnezzar, and Satan. Remember all the blessings the LORD gave to Abraham and Isaac were given to Jacob. All the blessings that Jacob said of Joseph fell upon the face of Jacob. Joseph was the stone of Israel. Now I ask you wise men who is the Rock. Job said “he would shew thee the secrets of wisdom, that they are double” Look “And Joshua said unto all the people, Behold, this stone shall be a witness unto us; for it hath heard all the words of the Lord which he spake unto us” Jacob is the face of the earth, Moses is over all that are on the face of the earth, Solomon is the light of Jerusalem. “And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.”Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah.For thy mercy is great above the heavens: and thy truth reacheth unto the clouds.And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law.“he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings”For thou hast said, My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in thine eyes.“My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in thine eyes”And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.Then Daniel went to his house, and made the thing known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions:Thou, O king, sawest, and behold a great image. This great image, whose brightness was excellent, stood before thee; and the form thereof was terrible.There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.Then said the Lord unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no.“I will rain bread from heaven for you”Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.“I will give you rain in due season”But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven:“drinketh water of the rain of heaven”The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow.“the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season”Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.“My doctrine shall drop as the rain”

  • Dawn Goddess

    I don’t know why but I thought I was reading – a man’s words – then there was a spark of hope. But in reading that he is indeed a she – I am less hopeful. Women are already at a disadvantage from birth in the Islamic community – please save the Prophet freed the women 1400 years ago – line – as there is evidence that before Islam the women of the Middle East had significantly more freedom. The writer talks about reforming the church – but the truth is many have left the church – and almost as many have created their own – personalised individual belief system – and are richer for it. In the Islamic world a person would be killed or imprisoned for this.For many non-Muslims Muhammad was a bit of a scary character – and not Jesus-like at all – in many respects he was virtually the opposite. It seems the duty of a good Muslim is to make excuses for this – as well as to convince others of the same. Jesus was a Jew – and for Christians he allowed the stricter Biblical laws to be taken in their spirit rather than their letter. Muslims claim their religion and Prophet follows Christianity – but it is clear that Islam never got this distinction, they never got Jesus. Jesus was a Jew – and so Christianity was moderation of Judaism – but Muhammad was a Quraysh – his father and his father’s father’s religion was centered around the Kaaba – for 700 years before the event of Islam – they keepers of the Kaaba at Mecca. Which means that Islam’s roots cannot be in Judaism as is claimed. At the Kaaba, also the pre-Islamic name of the Quraysh religion – Allah was worshipped, but not Allah alone, there were his three daughters Allat, Manat and al-Uzza (Sura 53:19), also known as cranes, Trinity Goddesses or even the Three Old Ladies – who coincidently are still officially the protectors of the Kaaba in Mecca today. If Muhammad’s father’s religion had its origins in the Kaaba in Mecca – then the Biblical chronology had to be added later. Since the written language wasn’t fully developed in the Arabia – of Muhammad’s time – then the next best place for this to happen was in Syria – under the Syrian Umayyad. Syria best of all would have understood that if this religion were to survive in the Judeo Christian world – it could not have its roots in the Kaaba religion – therefore likely and wisely predicted that it was better to adopt or integrate the Biblical stories and Prophets into the Islamic story and Koran. By tagging on to the two greatest religion of the time – Islam was instantly given a validity that it would not have had purely as a product of the Kaaba.One might wonder – that besides the sword – how Islam spread so quickly in the region. Besides being able to pass itself off as a legitimate extension of the bible – there was another thing often over looked – and that was the Goddesses. The daughters of Allah were already worshipped by the Syrians – some say that the Goddesses were imported from that region down to southern Arabia – so now there is this new religion with Judeo/Christian Kudos – where instead of worshipping the daughters/cranes you now worship the father Allah alone.By the time Syria was riding out to take North Africa or any part of the Roman Empire they could get – this was not enough time to change hundreds of years of the religious practice of worshipping many Gods – down to just one – it is likely that they probably did not care that much – but with this Islamic army they could finally realise their ambitions to take Rome but not for Islam. The Syrians/Damascus went from worshipping the daughters of Allah to Allah himself – this is not a big change. And it was only after they took southern Rome – up to Spain and they settled down as leaders – that they began to translate and organise the Islamic text which was written in Old Arabic – which few could read – into the modern Syrian Arabic language that the Koran was first written and likely is still written in today. Along with the organising of the Koran (and likely seriously restructuring) into a readable text – they came up with the five pillars of Islam – ordered everyone in their new Roman colony to speak Arabic (Syrian style) – and with a new presentable (Koran) book in hand – offered everyone a chance to take up Islam as their personal religion (or pay the Jizya) – with changing the coins to Arabic – they finally erased all traces of the former rulers – the Byzantines – throughout their new Kingdom. Islam was at its greatest then because the Syrians ruled it – the Arabs would never quite rule it the same way again – the law and not its spirit is still in full force across the Islamic world and keeps its people enslaved.

  • Concerned The Christian Now Liberated

    Harold, Harold, Harold,I see your are still thumping the bible. Now back to reality:The Flaws and Errors in Judaism and Christianity:1. Abraham founder/father of three major religions was either the embellishment of the lives of three different men or a mythical character as was mythical Moses, the “Tablet-Man” who talked to burning bushes and made much magic in Egypt. Many of the 1.5 million Conservative Jews and many of their rabbis have relegated Abraham to the myth pile along with most if not all the OT. Current crisis:Realization that the Jews are not god’s chosen people. 2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a mamzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). Analyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, On Faith panelists) via the NT and related documents have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus’ sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects. The 30% of the NT that is “authentic Jesus” like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus’ case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hittites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics. earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html For added “pizzazz”, Catholic/Christian theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the “pew people” to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the “filicider”. Current crises:Pedophiliac priests, atonement theology and original sin/limbo!!!!3. Luther, Calvin, Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley et al, founders of Christian-based religions, also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of “pretty wingie thingie” visits and “prophecies” for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immaculate conceptions).Current crises: Adulterous preachers, “propheteering/ profiteering” evangelicals, atonement theology and people like Harold Zeller

  • Elric66

    Islam is a world crisis

  • Johnathan Pollard the Spy

    “Omar”:Why should a lair like u hide behind the name of one the most noble men ever lived on the face of this earth:Omar Ibn Al Khatab, the liberator of Jerusalem from the Byzantines.

  • Anonymous

    To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never, to forget. ARUNDHATI ROY

  • Elric66

    Muslims cant even liberate themselves, let alone anyone else.

  • Elric66

    Proof of what?

  • Anonymous

    TO MAKE IT EASIER FOR ALL THOSE ISLAM HATERS, WHAT ABOUT BLAMING ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING ON ISLAM.1) To make it easier accuses Muslims of ignorance and lying.YOU ARE NOT ISLAMOPHOBIC, YOU ARE NOT A HATTER OF ISLAM, YOU ARE JUST A PASSIONATE CITIZEN WHO WOULD LOVE TO PROTECT HUMANITY FROM THIS BARBARIC VIOLENT REVOLTING DARK FAITH WHO IS HERE TO HUMILIATE US ALL! GOOD LUCK GULLIBLE! 🙂

  • harold zeller

    And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran.Moreover the Philistines had yet war again with Israel; and David went down, and his servants with him, and fought against the Philistines: and David waxed faint.Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said,Howbeit I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand: but I will make him prince all the days of his life for David my servant’s sake, whom I chose, because he kept my commandments and my statutes:Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall:If ye forsake the Lord, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.So Jacob came to Luz, which is in the land of Canaan, that is, Bethel, he and all the people that were with him.And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already.And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, when Ehud was dead.Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine; Ephraim also is the strength of mine head; Judah is my lawgiver;Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi.And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the Lord your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it:And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.Therefore the kinsman said unto Boaz, Buy it for thee. So he drew off his shoe.So the Lord saved Israel that day: and the battle passed over unto Bethaven.Hear, ye children, the instruction of a father, and attend to know understanding.And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.This thy stature is like to a palm tree, and thy breasts to clusters of grapes.Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel.And the Lord said, I have pardoned according to thy word:For the Lord had said of them, They shall surely die in the wilderness. And there was not left a man of them, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.And told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob’s heart fainted, for he believed them not.

  • AMH

    Anonymous of July 25, 11:31 AM recycles the following claims :“Islam is Peace: Muslims did not commit the Crusaders, the Inquisition, the Holocaust, First and Second World Wars, did not nuke hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians, did not force convert to Christianity the whole of south America, did not enslave millions of Africans and did not invade any place on false pretenses.As to the Holocaust and World Wars, the Muslims were and are too weak and fragmented to defeat Israel let alone engage in a World War. Turkey who was ruling all of the Arab countries was knocked out early in that conflict. 2. Muslims did not commit the Crusades?3.The Muslims did not commit an Inquisition?4. Islam did not enslave the Africans?

  • Anonymous

    Islam is a political religion and Christianity is not. Compare the life of the founders. Simple.Mohammad received his first revelation in 610 AD. He met with stiff resistance from the Meccans for twelve years and had managed to convert only about 550 people in twelve years. In 622 AD he fled to Medina and established a political rule. Muslim era begins with the flight to Medina and establishment of political rule. In the next ten years, until his death in 632 AD, Mohammad conquered all of Arabia as a military commander. He wanted submission to Allah as God and to him as political and religious leader and judge in all disputes. Jews do not mention the name of any prophet in their prayers to God. Jews do not look to the life of prophets as perfect and worthy of imitation. They obey the commands spoken by God through the prophets. Muslims on the other hand mention Mohammad every single time they pray to Allah, make it a point to emphasize that he is the last prophet, and they consider Mohammad’s life as perfect and to be imitated.

  • Anonymous

    It can be said that Muslims treat Mohammad like god just like Christians treat Jesus, although angel Gabriel is supposed to have brought revelations to Mohammad. God spoke to the Jewish prophets, not angels. Jesus did not speak of any angel who brought Him revelations. He said that He was doing the will the virgin birth of Jesus but do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God. It is a paradox to accept the virgin birth and yet deny the divinity of Jesus.Mohammad should have brought the Bible to the Arabs. The angel Gabriel who appeared to Virgin Mary to announce that she was to become the mother of Jesus, the Son of God, could have not told Mohammad anything else but to proclaim Jesus to the Arabs.

  • Anonymous

    Muslims accept the virgin birth of Jesus but do not accept Him as Son of God. A paradox. For virgin birth reflects divinity. The Quran refers to Jesus as the Messiah who was born of the virgin Mary.

  • Anonymous

    Only those who have never read the Bible or understood it could convert to Islam. It is necessary to read the Bible to fully understand the Biblical persons mentioned in the Quran, just as it necessary to read the Old Testament to fully understand the New Testament.For Muslims it shou

  • Anonymous

    Only those who have never read the Bible or understood it could convert to Islam. It is necessary to read the Bible to fully understand the Biblical persons mentioned in the Quran, just as it necessary to read the Old Testament to fully understand the New Testament.For Muslims it should be —Book I – The Old TestamentBook II – The New TestamentBook III – The QuranJust as the New Testament refers to the Old Testament to explain the role of Jesus as Messiah, so too should Islam give references from the Old and New Testaments to explain Mohammad’s role as a prophet.

  • Anonymous

    Since Islam is a political religion, answers to conflicts in the political arena should be sought in politics. “Just War” in self defense as answer to Islamic Jihad that cannot be resolved by political means. Jesus said that His kingdom was not of this world and one must give God what belongs to God and Caesar what belongs to Caesar. So responding to political Islam would be the responsibility of Caesar.

  • general public surgeon

    cure for hot flashes and excessive sweats.the unchangeing law of life says,