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#761249 - 05/19/04 12:05 AM "For Me, America is Muslim"
John Andrew Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/24/03
Posts: 3041
Loc: Southern California
While this article is somewhat parochial in its content, I thought the introspection about his own religion, the importance of religion to the American culture and the centrality of the United States to the future of Islam by a prominent American Imam was interesting; so I thought I would share it.

From National Catholic Reporter:

Muslim chaplain sees value in crucifixes[/b]
By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Rome


Georgetown University’s Muslim chaplain has said that if the university were to ever remove crucifixes from its classrooms, as some students and even faculty have proposed, he would resign.

“I will not continue to be at Georgetown if that cross is removed,” said Imam Yahya Hendi in Rome May 5. “I believe religion has a lot to contribute to Georgetown and to America. An attempt to remove religious values from our public discourse is dangerous.”

A widely quoted spokesperson for Muslims in the United States, Hendi also said that he believes global Islam needs an authoritative institution that can speak for Muslims as an antidote to the disproportionate influence of radical voices.

He also called on the Saudi government to offer greater freedom for religious minorities, long a sore point among Western critics of Islam.

Georgetown is the only university in America with a full-time Muslim chaplain, a position Hendi has held for five years. He was in Italy at the invitation of the United States embassy to speak about the experience of religious pluralism in America.

Georgetown University has periodically debated whether or not crucifixes should be removed from classrooms. Roughly half of the student population today is non-Catholic, and some students and faculty have argued that respect for pluralism requires a religiously neutral academic environment. Others concerned with a loss of the university’s Catholic identity have opposed such a move.

Hendi said that beyond philosophical questions, there’s a practical reason he wants the crucifixes to stay: If Georgetown loses interest in religion, it will eventually lose interest in Islam.

“If this religious identity were to go, someone will come on board and say, ‘I don’t care about this whole thing. You guys all leave,’ ” Hendi said.

In what he termed a great irony, Hendi noted that most religious minorities at Georgetown, especially Muslims and Jews, have firmly opposed removing the crucifixes. The pressure, he said, came largely from Catholics.

Hendi said there are some 400 Muslim students at Georgetown, 90 percent American-born and 80 percent undergraduate. He credited the university, the Jesuit order and Pope John Paul II for their outreach.

“This Holy Father has done more than any other in the history of the Catholic church [for Muslims],” he said. “That needs to be pointed out.”

During a May 5 lunch with American and Italian journalists arranged by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See, he insisted that the “Islamic street” does not seek violence, but acknowledged that it can be difficult for this message to get through to the West, given the lack of authoritative institutions that can speak for mainstream Islam.

“It is a true challenge for Muslims,” he said. “It is an issue Muslims have to solve.”

Hendi said that American Muslims may be able to point a way forward.

“In the United States, we are working on the idea of a Muslim Congress, a representative body able to speak on behalf of all Muslims,” he said. “I think we are moving in the right direction. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely doable. Very soon, we in America will be able to say: ‘Call this person.’

“If the experience succeeds in one place, it can be imitated elsewhere,” he said.

Hendi said the candidate usually proposed as an authoritative spokesperson for Islam, Cairo’s Al-Azhar Institute, is perceived as too close to the Egyptian government to command the assent of mainstream Muslim opinion.

In response to frequent complaints about religious intolerance in Saudi Arabia, where some 1 million Christians are legally unable to import Bibles or wear crosses, Hendi called for greater openness.

“Should Saudi Arabia be more inclusive? I believe that should happen, with no doubt, on the basis that Islam is inclusive,” he said.

Hendi was among Muslim leaders who met with President George W. Bush in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and he praised Bush’s outreach to the Muslim community.

Hendi was not so enthusiastic, however, about one of Bush’s aides: Attorney General John Ashcroft.

“The problem with this administration is the presence of someone who is openly anti-Islam, Ashcroft,” he said, citing a 2002 quote from Ashcroft to the effect that in Christianity God sent his son to die for others, while in Islam God wants Muslim sons to die for him.

“This is disturbing,” he said.

Hendi also expressed concern about some elements of the so-called “religious right.”

“Right-wing Christian fundamentalists are going in the direction of intolerance, spreading rumors every day about Islam. Franklin Graham and Pat Robertson are going from church saying that Mohammed was an evil man, the Quran is a book of evil. These people aren’t helping.”

In the end, however, Hendi said he believes such voices do not represent majority sentiment, and that America is favorable territory for Islam to take root.

“For me, America is Muslim,” he said. “Not by the number of Muslims who go to mosque, but by the values it adopts … democracy, human rights, freedom of religion. I feel fully Muslim in America.”
_________________________
You can be disappointed, but you cannot walk away. This fight has just begun. Senator John Edwards

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#761250 - 05/19/04 12:43 AM Re: "For Me, America is Muslim"
Axtremus Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/03
Posts: 6180
 Quote:
"For me, America is Muslim," he said. "Not by the number of Muslims who go to mosque, but by the values it adopts … democracy, human rights, freedom of religion."
Is there any monotheistic religion that truly upholds democratic principle and advocates for freedom of religion?

The "One and Only God" concept directly contradicts democratic principle, since there is not a multiplicity of Gods to vote on things and you're not placed on the same footing as God to vote.

The "One and Only God" concept also directly contradicts religious freedom since you cannot believe in other God(s).

Last I checked, "Muslim" literally translates to "one who submits [to God]." * Looking at how this country upholds the First Amendment -- what does being an America has anything fundamental to do with being a Muslim?

Such babble distorts both the meaning of being Muslim and the meaning of being American, and does no good to either Islam or America.

Other than the quible above, I thought it a good idea to build a stronger institution to spread the more moderate messages of Islam, globally -- not to gain converts -- but to balance or even drown out the extreme/fanatical messages, so that Muslims can have a moderate voice to turn to instead of hearing the extreme/fanatical voice.

[EDIT: Oh yeah, also agree with the part that says Pat Robertson's Islam bashing not[/b] being helpful.]
_________________________
www.PianoRecital.org -- my piano recordings

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#761251 - 05/25/04 09:44 AM Re: "For Me, America is Muslim"
Axtremus Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/03
Posts: 6180
Bump!
(Just checking to see if anyone cares about stuff other than Iraq and Bush v. Kerry.)
_________________________
www.PianoRecital.org -- my piano recordings

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#761252 - 05/25/04 09:55 AM Re: "For Me, America is Muslim"
pianojuggler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/16/04
Posts: 1515
I would question how many non-Muslim Americans, Christian or otherwise, would really practice The Five Pillars of Islam .

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#761253 - 05/25/04 10:14 AM Re: "For Me, America is Muslim"
Tom--K Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/03
Posts: 5934
As a graduate of Georgetown, I thought it was a good piece. It seems that if they are indeed going to hire a imam he should be someone of an egalitarian bent.

As far as the crucifixes in the classroom: removing them would cost Georgetown a LOT of money in gifts; the alumni doesn't much cotton to the idea.

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#761254 - 05/25/04 10:29 AM Re: "For Me, America is Muslim"
John Andrew Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/24/03
Posts: 3041
Loc: Southern California
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianojuggler:
I would question how many non-Muslim Americans, Christian or otherwise, would really practice The Five Pillars of Islam . [/b]
Actually, leaving aside the acceptance of The Prophet and the pilgrimage to Mecca (both decidely Moslem) I think many follow those pillars. Maybe not perfectly, but they do try.
_________________________
You can be disappointed, but you cannot walk away. This fight has just begun. Senator John Edwards

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#761255 - 05/25/04 10:55 AM Re: "For Me, America is Muslim"
pianojuggler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/16/04
Posts: 1515
 Quote:
Originally posted by John Andrew:
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianojuggler:
I would question how many non-Muslim Americans, Christian or otherwise, would really practice The Five Pillars of Islam . [/b]
Actually, leaving aside the acceptance of The Prophet and the pilgrimage to Mecca (both decidely Moslem) I think many follow those pillars. Maybe not perfectly, but they do try. [/b]
Americans Fasting? Most Americans would think that means driving in the far left lane.

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#761256 - 05/25/04 12:49 PM Re: "For Me, America is Muslim"
shantinik Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/23/01
Posts: 4271
Loc: Olympia, WA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Axtremus:
 Quote:
"For me, America is Muslim," he said. "Not by the number of Muslims who go to mosque, but by the values it adopts … democracy, human rights, freedom of religion."
Is there any monotheistic religion that truly upholds democratic principle and advocates for freedom of religion?
[/b]
To the degree that it upholds the principle of the exclusivity of truth, the answer is a clear and unequivocal "no".

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