Good Essay On Parts Two & Three
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TERM PAPER: HISTORY OF ISLAM
In part one of the term paper my position and understanding of Aslan’s book, No god but God, the idea that a misunderstanding of the original message of the religion is presented. One cannot ignore unpleasant practices of the modern fundamental Muslims that are drawing negative attention through their extremist behavior. To explore this concept further, this next section of the paper will use the views of five scholars who are experts in the study of Islam to support the conclusion that Islam is misrepresented in the current era of volatility among Muslims and the non-Muslim world.
The Media’s Representation
Yasser Khamees Ragab Aman, who wrote the article, Misrepresentation of the Arabs in the Western Media, discusses how Islam has been depicted in an incredibly negative manner primarily at the hands of western media. The article is valid in the argument for the way that Islam and Muslims are not what many people assume based on what we see reported about the Islamic terrorists that have commonly become ‘the face of Islam’ for the world. According to Aman, the world has come to associate Islam and the Arabic world either as rich oil suppliers or terrorists (Aman, 2005). The association of most Westerners, as well as Europeans, relates Islam as a religion focused on aggression and extremism. Instead of people understanding the true essence of Islam, the majority of non-Muslims are frightened by the depiction portrayed by the only real idea that they have about Islam through the media.
Along with the television and movie portrayal of Muslims, there are writers who have influenced the masses of people to view Islam negatively in books they have written on the religion. Many of these authors use deplorable stereotypes of Muslims to perpetuate the hatred of Islam (Aman, 2005). One can easily turn on the news or scroll through the Internet to find a story that is disparaging the religion based on the acts of extremists groups who are glorified in such a way that the public automatically envisions this version of Muslim life.
Figure 1: A picture showing members of terrorist group preparing to behead captured prisoner.
Images such as the one above are the common connection that many make to the Islam and the people, Muslims, who follow the Quran. The unfortunate reality of the misrepresentation of Islam is rampant and growing increasingly fast in the 21st century as strife with the Muslim world continues.
The next article to examine to further convince the reader of the problems surrounding Islam’s misinterpretation is written by Fabio Venturini. The article titled, Understanding the Complexity of Islamism, makes many excellent points with examples of how the religion of Islam continues to be misconstrued by so many throughout the world. A couple examples from the article are provided as proof of the lack of understanding that exists on the topic of Islam.
Figure 2: A cartoon depiction of the ‘stories’ of Islam based on what people think.
The cartoon image above provides a visual of how Islam is heavily misunderstood. Most of us Westerners think of the image of the skeleton holding the gun on the left when we hear any reference, to the religion of Islam. Venturini discusses that part of the issue of how the world views Islam is in skewed by the confusion of terms that are often used in the context of the subject. According to the article written by Venturini,
The first two terms which cause much confusion for the general public are ‘Muslim’ and Islamic’. While often used interchangeably, this is not always correct. A Muslim country might merely refer to a country in which the majority of the population are Muslim, while an Islamic state will refer to a state which bases its legitimacy upon Islam and is committed to upholding the values of Islam within its laws (Venturini, 2013).
It is easy to see that in conjunction with the overwhelming ignorance on the subject of Islam, along with the unfortunate terrorists acts of some Muslim extremists, the religion and its people are misinterpreted without justice.
Justification of Jihad
Often the violence and aggression associated with Islam is on the basis of Jihad. However, understanding the true meaning of Jihad may be beneficial to understand that what we think and what Islam teaches are two different scenarios.
Figures 3 and 4: On the left is an image of Prophet Muhammad’s definition of Jihad, and on the right is the commonly associated meaning of Jihad.
Next an interview of scholar Khaled Abou El Fadl was done in 2005 on the concept of Jihad. In the interview El Fadl clarifies that Jihad is not condoned for the senseless purpose of retaliation against or punishment of one’s enemy; however, “war is only permitted to liberate Muslims from tyranny or to defend them from attacks.” The clarification of many popular ideas behind Islam are clearly a deformation of the essence of the religion that was meant to teach people of an entirely different way of behavior other than the assumption that many have of Islam.
Roger Du Pasquier mentions how the majority of the West does not truly know Islam. He claims that Christians have always had the intent to wage war against Muslims and as the primary writers of texts written on the religion in the West and in Europe, the information is tainted by the writers who never meant to display the religion in its accuracy (Du Pasquier, 1992). The author also suggests that considering the similarity of Islam to Christianity and Judaism, it has lacked support and understanding because of the political and economic attention that the Islamic region has gained (Du Pasquier, 1992).
Figure 5: Chart displaying the role of Islam in Politics of these nations.
It is possible that this suggestion is also one to consider or justification of the destruction of the image of Islam in attempting to negate its ruler ship in the political arena. The problem could become big for many power players in the world if Islam was opening embraced in political arena.
The final piece of evidence to support the point of view on Islam as a misinterpreted and misunderstood religion is made through the discussion by Ghali Hassan. Hassan wrote an article called, Muslims Portrayed, which provides information on the implications post 9/11 on reasons to hate Muslims and Islam. Hassan believes the media made it their mission to destroy the image of Muslims disregarding the group as human. Instead after the attack on 9/11 it became easy to label Muslims as terrorists, refugees, and militants (Hassan, 2004). One can see massive propaganda behind the anti-Muslim movement.
Whatever the reasons, one cannot ignore that Aslan’s book No god but God, provides value for its version on the history of Islam. As a liberal Muslim American, the author, Aslan, is capable of understanding the complexities associated with the long-held beliefs of Americans against Muslims as being irrational monsters. It is the duty of the knowledgeable scholars to provide proper truthful facts about the religion of Islam and the practices of the Muslim people to the world in a new format.
In the last portion of the project on Reza Aslan’s book No god but God, the exploration of the history and current condition of Islam in the world was made through research. The initial phase focused only on the book, the second portion included researching several other scholars and their view to back up the viewpoint that I found to be true from Reza Aslan’s book. In this final part of the paper, I will take a compilation of all six scholars to form my own original ideas on this aspect of Islam as being misinterpreted by a large part of the world, the Western world in particular.
The common denominator of in the information gathered in my research of Islam is of the massive misconstruction of the religion by insiders and outsiders. The manipulation of Islam has created a controversial condition for the believers, as well as non-believers. In the following essay I will use evidence of facts that I acquired through my research on Islam to formulate a conclusion of my own on the topic of Islam and what I believe to be accurate about this aspect in the history of the religion.
Figure 6: Image showing the idea of ‘the untold story’ of Islam.
Aslan’s book No god but God, opened up an opportunity to discuss the untold history of Islam. In the current global environment in which we live, the relationship with the Islamic world and the Western world has been tumultuous. The images Americans and many Europeans have come to identify with Islam arises fear in those who know nothing about the religion, beyond what they have seen through news coverage or another method of media portrayal. Needless to say, hostility is present for Islam because of the assumed truths of what Muslims believe and how they plan to carry out their mission. A common assumption of the reason for the horrendous terrorist attacks by fundamental Muslim extremists is that they are told to do this for Allah. Many people think that the Quran is responsible for teaching a hateful and aggression mission to be waged against the enemy. The enemy would include all non-Muslims who do not practice Sharia law and who behave in a manner out of accordance with the teaching of Prophet Muhammad. Although many of these tales told may be correct, there is a point made by Aslan and the concepts also agree upon by the fellow scholars I researched, that a lot of this is a misinterpretation of what Islam originally and historically was and still is. Are nations of the world afraid of another Muslim conquest?
Figure 7: Map of Muslim conquest.
Those of us who are ignorant to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad and the history of Islam remain hesitant in our stance on what Islam really taught and teaches. Aslan’s book provided a much different glance into the beauty of the religion and its birth, without the infiltration of propaganda aimed against Islam. Islam has been misconstrued in its current condition that the media, writers, politicians, and many anti-Muslim advocates. It is my job as a scholar to take my knowledge and provide a fair assessment of my own. One cannot ignore that there has been a strong stigma against Islam causing a contentious condition for Muslims and other groups who are influenced by the relationship, or lack thereof, with the Islamic world.
Figure 8: If Islam equals peace, then why so much violence?
How can the name Islam mean peace yet teach such aggression and division among people for the sake of a religion? The question occurs throughout my study of Islam and the history that I learned through my reading Aslan’s book. Most of the scholars researched provided reasonably delivered the injustice that Islam has faced throughout the years to portray the Muslim people in a negative light. One of the primary culprits that even I can agree with in terms of the defamation of Islam would be at the hands of the media, the Western and European media in particular. It is unfortunate that the stories connected to Muslims are most often in conjunction with the next horrible terrorist attack. The stories that should be told are should be of the parts of Islam that are not shown. For a shift in the attitude of the world toward one of the largest world religions is necessary for the millions of Muslims who are not extremist, those who are not on a mission to suicide bomb an embassy.
Figure 8: Beautiful photograph of a mosque.
Figure 9: Pristine mosque in lit up in the night.
Images such as the ones above of mosques are not what automatically come to mind when we hear of Islam or the Arab world, but it is what the majority of the Islamic world is a part of, not fanatical suicide bombers as the media has the world believing. The original history of Islam has been vilified by the groups have decided to use portion of the religion for their selfish agenda. The Western anti-Muslim scholars and media are not helping the devoted Muslims who practice the original Islam to regain the peaceful position the religion claims to stand ford. This argument is valid in the consideration of all my findings of Islam.
The concluding thoughts from the report are that the history of Islam, the aspects that are not threatening and violent but show the dedication and beauty of the Quran’s message is what the media should begin sharing with the Western world to remove the hatred and fear conjured by years of reporting on Muslims in a way that makes the entire group seem as though they should be feared. Not all Muslims are out to conquer and destroy the world or to violently convert people of all other religions. Muslims are a dedicated people who have the love for God to pray up to five times per day in remembrance of their purpose and connection to Allah.
Figure 10: A little Muslim boy kneeling in prayer.
Images of the children and such as the one above are the ones media needs to work toward delivering. A shift in the world attitude toward Islam may help close the gap that is creating such turmoil for Muslims throughout the world. Blaming the masses for the destructive behavior and actions of a select few is an injustice to humanity. The people who have power, must consider that the delivery of information can destroy the quality of life for so many, as is the case with the innocent Muslims who are placed in a group with the murders who are behind the terrorist acts that are so commonly mentioned when discussing the Islamic religion and world. Aslan’s book and fellow scholars hope to see a more balanced approach to the universal relationship with our Muslim brothers and sister.
1.Aman, Y. (2005). Misrepresentation of the Arabs in western media. , (),Retrieved from
s_in_t e_Western_Media [accessed 09 April 2015].
2.Du Pasquier, R. (1992). Unveiling Islam. Cambridge, United Kingdom: The Islamic Texts Society.
3.El Fadl, K. A. (2005, October 27). Jihad gone wrong. Scholar of the
House.Retrieved from http://www.scholarofthehouse.org/jgowrinwikha.html [accessed 09 April 2015].
4.Figure 1- http://www.arabnews.com/news/708576 [accessed 09 April 2015].
Figure 2- http://www.cartoonmovement.com/cartoon/9986 [accessed 09 April 2015].
5.Figure 3- https://davies1608.wordpress.com/2014/08/23/jihad-al-nafs/ [accessed 09 April
6.Figure 4- http://catholicanalysis.org/2014/09/29/jihad-and-heresy/[accessed 09 April
7.Figure 5- http://www.pewglobal.org/2012/07/10/chapter-3-role-of-islam-in-
politics/[accessed 09 April 2015].
8.Figure 6- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam:_The_Untold_Story [accessed 09 April
9.Figure 7- http://www.historyguy.com/muslim_history.htm [accessed 09 April 2015]
10.Figure 8- http://the-levant.com/tag/islam/ [accessed 09 April 2015]
11.Figure 9- http://www.sampaikini.com/islam-mosque-wallpapers/ [accessed 09 April 2015]
12.Figure 10- https://www.ravenfoundation.org/tag/religion-2/page/2/[accessed 09 April
13.Hassan, G. (2004, July). Muslims portrayed. Daily News Headlind Digest, (), .
Retrieved from http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article6545.htm
14.Venturini, F. (2013, October). Understanding the complexity of Islamism. ,
(),Retrieved from http://www.e-ir.info/2013/10/31/understanding-the-complexity-of-islamism/ [accessed 09 April 2015].
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