Category Archives: Ann’s personal blog

Ann’s personal blog about anything and everything on her mind EXCEPT publishing and books.

Muslims in the News

I totally understand about wanting our government to do everything in its power to keep us safe, and people have different ideas about how best to accomplish that.  My biggest concern with the immigration ban, border wall, denial of Syrian refugees, naming of Muslim majority countries (when North Korea, China, Russia are not similarly targeted) is that these actions are not making us safer at all, in fact the opposite. There is no way to make us perfectly safe. I believe the long-standing policies for vetting of immigrants and refugees have been adequate. They are certainly extensive, as you can read more about here. To stop accepting them at all, or make the standards that much more stringent I think would have the opposite of the desired effect. Policy developed out of fear is rarely good policy. Level heads think long-term about the consequences. Terrorism is a choice of last resort — one of people who feel they have no other option to make themselves heard, and who feel they have nothing to lose. For every one person we keep out who might have harmed us, I think we create 10 more who lose all hope for their future, all belief in an America that claims stands for the ideals of human rights and justice for all. To go back on our promises to translators that helped our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, to block the return of legitimate green card holders or intimidate them at the airport , to deny visa holders who have already been vetted — these things cause the world to look at us and judge us harshly, as hypocrites.

And yes, I get all bent out of shape when people denigrate Islam and try to present it as a religion of hate or violence, and probably react reflexively, and with too much emotion. That video you posted claimed it was “direct from a Muslim leader” and told what “THEY” want to do when, in fact, Imam Choudary was sentenced to prison in Britain last fall as a terrorist supporting ISIS. For understanding how a terrorist thinks, it is perhaps instructive. For understanding how “a Muslim leader,” in the generic sense, thinks: not at all. Pretending that extreme terrorists speak for “true” Islam (1.6 billion adherents globally) is no different that pretending the KKK or the Lord’s Resistance Army speak for “true” Christianity. As you are aware, I have studied Islam: read the whole Qur’an, explored the Hadith (the stories about the Prophet and how he lived and governed, with together with the Qur’an forms the basis for the Islam as a religion and way of life); and learned about the religion’s expression since it emerged in the 7th Century. But it’s not just academic for me. My best friends in my college department way back in the 70’s were a Thai Buddhist and an Egyptian Muslim. My PhD advisor was Muslim. I’ve worked with Muslims, Hindus, and Jews all my career—Physics and Engineering are just that way, very multicultural. Today Muslims are my classmates, the people I got out for pizza with after class, the people who let me cry on their shoulders when “real-life” encroaches on classroom. We have prayed together; attended each other’s churches, mosques and synagogues; and discovered genuine understanding and admiration of each other’s traditions. They are my friends and, in some cases, family-of-choice. What hurts or denigrates them hurts me too. I am no less a committed Christian for finding Judaism and Islam to be beautiful traditions filled with grace and wisdom (Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Humanism, and other traditions as well). Perhaps we are not all “right.” (Who really knows? The atheists could be.) But, I agree with the Qur’an on this one; God can sort it out on the other side. Instead of fighting each other, we would do better in this life trying to compete in doing good.