“This Is Not Islam” — Why Do We Say That?

Politics, Religion, Self Reflection

After 9/11, I found myself saying that a lot — “This is not Islam.” Islam is a religion of peace, I insisted. We’re not supposed to kill people, or hurt others, or raise a “sword” against another human being unless it is in self defense.

I said this not only because I was taught this, but because I knew killing was wrong. We all know killing is wrong. We feel it in our hearts, through our blood, and deep down in our bones. We don’t like death. No one wants to die, to kill, or to hurt another human being (unless you’re a sociopath). We are born with a conscience.

Yet people are dying all over the place, all in the name of God, in the names of prophets, dying for their mosques, their temples, their shrines, or their whatever.

People are dying in Darfur, in Nigeria, in Iraq, Syria, Dagestan, Israel, Gaza, Lebanon, Egypt, China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the West Bank, America, England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and so on and so forth. It would take me all day to list all the places people are dying and getting killed in the name of religion or the name of God (which ever name you choose).

Terrorist was a new word for me in 2001. I didn’t know there was such a thing. I knew there were bad people in the world, I knew people fought wars, I knew what death was. But until those towers came down, I had no idea what terrorism was. So when people talked about Muslims being the people behind the attacks, I couldn’t understand what was going on, or why we would do that.

I would occasionally hear people say that those radical Muslims were a small number, and that they were poor representations of the religion of peace. We’re a peaceful religion, we insisted. Before that day, I had never had to defend my beliefs. And for me, defending my beliefs meant trying to put together what happened with what I’d always been taught, and come to the conclusion that we didn’t do stuff like that.

It never occurred to me that this incident may not be as isolated as we were claiming.

And now here I am again, 13 years later, trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with Muslims. People I know telling me that ISIS is just following the Sunnah. People insisting that Hamas is a resistance movement, and that they are just trying to free the Palestinians.

So I listen for a while.

Then I start hearing things. Things that I want to deny and run away from.

ISIS has over 40,000 people stranded and starving on a mountain in Iraq? They’re killing Sunnis, Shi’a, Christians, Palestinians, Yazidis, and anyone who disagrees with them?

Hamas is using Palestinian children to build tunnels, killing over 160 kids? Their own kids that they claim they’re trying to free?

Boko Haram is kidnapping, raping, selling, and killing young women? Forcing them to convert to Islam and marry disgusting, old pedophiles? Killing them if they resist?

Muslims in France are burning down the places frequented by the Jews? Their stores, synagogues, etc.?

British Muslims are marching down the streets telling people to follow Sharia Law?

No matter how you spin it, Muslims are acting crazy.  And that list is only a fraction of what Muslims are doing around the world.

I realize there are moderate Muslims out there. Although I’m starting to doubt just how many are moderate. There seems to be a thirst for blood that is just insatiable among them. And those who are moderate and fairly sane are considered hypocrites. These terrorist organizations believe they are following the Qur’an and the Sunnah. And all Muslims who speak out against them… are hypocrites. What does this say about the true nature of Islam?

If you want to be a hypocrite in Islam, dare to question all the killing going on. If you’re a true Muslim, you must support all these radicals.

No matter what you do, you can’t win. Moderate Islam is useless if these “moderates” won’t say anything, won’t do anything. A religion is the sum of its people. If Muslims keep denying what Islam is, they will never change it for the better. You can’t make changes if you never acknowledge the problem.

If you, as a Muslim, want better representation — if you want to be represented as a peaceful people — then you need to stand up to the evils that are operating in the name of Allah.

Because right now, Islam is not a religion of peace. When I discuss Israel and Gaza with Muslims, they think I am cruel and heartless because I will not side with Hamas. They tell me that they know where my loyalties lie, and when I ask where that is, it’s “not with humanity.”

Moderates are irrelevant in this mess. All the “moderates” want to do is protest Gaza and deny that Islam has any part in anything else going on. You want to talk about genocide? Let’s talk about genocide. Where were your Darfur protests? Where are your protests against ISIS? Against Boko Haram? Why don’t you protest what Muslims are doing in France? In Britain? Why are you always crying over Gaza, but don’t care about what Muslims are doing to anyone else?

You think I don’t care about humanity? Since when is humanity defined as “Muslim people”? You see, I believe humanity includes everyone. Not just Arabs and Muslims. Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Mormons, and all the other religions I can’t think of off the top of my head. They’re human too.

I don’t believe that a Jewish life is any less valuable than a Palestinian life. And I will not side with the terrorists, even if they pray to the same God I do.

This is Islam, and it needs to change!

My Political Opinion Determines My Religious Beliefs

Politics, Religion

I had a conversation today with someone very dear to me. I wanted this person’s perspective on some political issues. Specifically, Hamas and the situation in Gaza.

I asked if she thought it was okay that 160 Palestinian children died digging tunnels for Hamas.

She knew nothing about this.

I asked her if she thought it was right that the leader of Hamas is in Qatar instead of fighting in Gaza.

She knew nothing about that.

I asked if she thought Hamas was a terrorist organization.

She said she had no idea what their agenda was, and so she couldn’t say yes or no. She did say that she thought the Israeli army were terrorists.

I quoted straight out of the Hamas charter that “Jihad is our methodology, and death is our most coveted desire.”

She told me that Jihad is in Islam, and that it’s not haram (forbidden).

You know, I was taught that “Jihad fi sabilillah” is to “struggle for the sake or cause of Allah.” I really wish Webster would have sent out a memo when they changed the meaning of “struggle” to suicide bombing and murder.

How can you wholeheartedly believe that one side are terrorists simply because you think you’re supposed to?

She then told me to look at the ratio of death on either side. Somehow that must mean that the Israelis are terrorists. Would it actually change anyone’s mind if more Israelis died? That is some baffling “evidence.”

During this conversation, my religious beliefs came into question. I personally don’t see that as being relevant, but she obviously did. So I addressed her concerns.

She informed me that a Muslim would NEVER justify anything Christians or Jews are doing against Muslims. She feared facing Allah on the Day of Judgement and explaining to him why she defended people who were killing Muslims.

Me? I fear facing Allah and not being able to explain to him why I blindly listened to what people told me without verifying it for myself. Islam warns against ignorance. If you can’t answer questions when asked, you’re ignorant. If you don’t bother to find out after you have admitted that you don’t know, you’re willfully ignorant.

I asked her why Muslims won’t speak out against Hamas.

She told me, “I’m not there. I don’t have secret spies in their little army.”

But she’s so quick to judge the IDF, not knowing a single thing about what’s going on. And according to her, it’s because she’s Muslim, and she’s never going to support a Jew. Duh.

“Only Allah truly knows what Hamas is up to and if they are truly doing anything bad, but that doesn’t mean that I can support the Jews that are trying to get rid of them.”

I gotta ask. What Jews are trying to get rid of Muslims? Don’t get me wrong. I have no doubt that there are a few Jews out there who wouldn’t mind. And there are in fact secular terrorist organizations in Israel. But collectively. When you talk about a large group of people wanting to kill someone…

Take a look at this. I typed “Do jews want to get rid of Muslims” in a Google search engine. Guess what I found:

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit CFinally I explained to her that my questions concerning politics have nothing to do with my religious beliefs. This is an issue of politics, not religion. I was told that it is in fact about religion, and not to buy into “it’s politics” garbage.

Nothing I have said goes against God or Islam. I am questioning man’s actions. I am questioning the way in which people who call themselves Muslim are behaving. I have always been told that even if my parents told me to do something that I knew was wrong, I could disobey them. And now, I am questioning the actions of the Muslims around the world. Those who want to kills Jews and Christians, and those who kill each other. Because someone has to say something.

On the Day of Judgement, when God questions my actions and beliefs, I can tell him that I made decisions and came to conclusions based on my research using all the information I could get my hands on. I did not blindly do what people told me to, and I stood up and spoke out when I felt like people were doing wrong. Will you be able to say the same?

To My Understanding: The Balfour Declaration

Politics

In my attempt to understand the Israeli-Palestinian situation, I decided to dig deep and go way back. I’m pretty terrible at finding good, credible sources, so I approached my Facebook friends and asked if they could share some of their unbiased sources that they use to argue the Palestinian side of the land ownership debate. I needed a good foundation before I could make an informed decision. The reason I asked for the Palestinian side is because at this point I had already seen many arguments for the Israeli side.

One of the first (and easiest) sources someone shared was the Balfour Declaration[1]. Now, in my ignorance, I was a little reluctant to look this up, because I had assumed this was some sort of document the size of the Affordable Care Act. (And this is the point in which you finally realize the extent of my ignorance in this particular matter.)

The Balfour Declaration is a letter. A brief letter from Arthur James Balfour to Lord Rothschild.

Who is Arthur James Balfour?

At the time of the Declaration, Balfour was the British Foreign Secretary[3]. He had been the British prime minister from July 1902 to December 1905[2].

Who is Lord Rothschild?

His name is Walter Rothschild, and he’s the 2nd Baron Rothschild[3] (yep, there’s more of ’em). He was the president of the British Zionist Federation[1].

What did the Balfour Declaration say?

Foreign Office
November 2nd, 1917

Dear Lord Rothschild,

I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following declaration of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations which has been submitted to, and approved by, the Cabinet.

“His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

I should be grateful if you would bring this declaration to the knowledge of the Zionist Federation.

Yours sincerely,
Arthur James Balfour [1]

Want to know what I think about this? (Hint: not all that much)

My first impression is that the word “Palestine” written in 1917 is supposed to be some sort of revelation to me. The reason it had no effect on me is because a) I don’t deny the existence of Palestine or of the Palestinian people, and b) we’re going to need to go a lot farther back than 1917 to prove anything. Both sides claim thousand-year-old ties. Going back a century isn’t going to cut it.

I realize that some people claim Palestine didn’t exist before 1947. I’ve actually seen quotes in which people claim they were Jordanian one day, and the next they were Palestinian. I don’t know if those statements are founded, or if they’re even real. But here I do admit that the idea that Palestine popped up overnight in 1947 is nonsense.

When I look at the Balfour Declaration, I wonder why Balfour (and the British Cabinet) gets to decide if the Jews can make a permanent home in Palestine. I actually couldn’t find an answer to that until December 9th, 1917. The British capture Jerusalem from the Ottoman Empire (the Turks) at the Battle of Megiddo and occupy the entire area known as the Levant[5].

In June 1922, the British obtained a mandate from the League of Nations which legitimized their continued control of the region[5], which was the same year the League of Nations accepted the Declaration[1]. There you have it. By 1922, Palestine belonged to Britain. Legitimately.That is, as long as you consider a Mandate given by the League of Nations to be legitimate.

Also, notice what the Balfour Declaration states. It states that the Jews can establish a Jewish State (or a National Home for the Jewish People), with the condition that they not discriminate against any of the non-Jewish people already there[1]. There is no statement in the Declaration that says all the people in Palestine are or aren’t Arabs or Muslims. Nothing that says there are or aren’t already Israelites or Jews living there.

This just tells me that the British called that area Palestine. It doesn’t tell me anything about who the People of Palestine are. A hundred years from now when people talk about Americans, are they going to mention that this American is a Yemeni, Somalian, Indian, Polish, German, English mix of people? I’d like to know if Palestinian are truly an ancient culture that has always been there, or if they (like Americans) hail from other places.

Supposedly there are census records from that area that date back to 1859. I will try to research those and share my findings. But that may take some time. If you happen to have links or sources that would make my search easier, I’d love to know.

I’m thinking of researching the Canaanites and Ancient Egyptians next if I don’t get distracted. If there’s something in particular you’d like me to take a look at, or if I said something that isn’t accurate (I tried my best to stay as close to the facts as possible), please let me know.

Sources:

1. http://history1900s.about.com/cs/holocaust/p/balfourdeclare.htm

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Balfour

3. http://www.princeton.edu/~achaney/tmve/wiki100k/docs/Balfour_Declaration_of_1917.html

4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Palestine

5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandatory_Palestine

“You Should know Better!”

Politics

Those are the words that inspired — yes, inspired — me to begin this journey of what I like to call “a journey of enlightenment.” You should know better! In other words, I should be ashamed that I’m even considering a point of view different than the one I have been taught. I decided something wasn’t clicking, and it just wasn’t making sense. I shared this idea with others, and immediately earned much criticism.

The specific situation that sparked this criticism is the situation in Gaza. I had a friend who shared a video of the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu claiming that he didn’t care how many innocent civilians were killed, and that he didn’t have to explain himself to the Americans. It was a poorly spliced video, and yet I noticed that people actually believed he said that. So I made the comment that the video was spliced, and linked them to the original video.

The comments that followed are as follows (these will only be snippets, as the conversation became heated and lengthy):

It’s edited HOWEVER…this is the reality.No, it isn’t, but I guess that’s a matter of opinion.

I think your facts are a bit skewed Amira.” They wouldn’t be facts then, would they?

Also, I’m a bit disappointed by your defense. I mean really?” Is that a fact?

“Get your facts straight before opening your mouth Amira, you should know better!Know better? Are we on the same page? Because the one I’m on has a spliced video that you’re defending.

I agree with A****, your statements sound like American propaganda and maybe you should look at other sources.Need I point to the video in the original post… again?

I thought you knew better….Well, I didn’t. I never have. I just believed anything I was told.

Wow…really sad. Amira you wouldn’t leave your house, if you had no where else to go.” There’s always somewhere to go if the attack target is small enough. I would rather be unsure that I will live, than know that I will die.

“And yep, you are as blind and as ignorant as they come. A joke really a joke.” Show me your sources!

“Do you have to lie to yourself to make yourself feel good or something?” I try, but the scales just won’t take off those ten pounds!

Get real and quit lying.I’m not actually sure what she thought I was lying about. Possibly my claim that Hamas is telling its citizens not to leave their homes. Or that Hamas refused to honor the cease-fire that Israel honored… twice.

I can’t believe you are spewing this…….of course we check our facts! But you sound like you are not…you sound like propaganda.Again… are we on the same page? Do you know what “propaganda” means?

Got it. Thanks for your point of view. We know where your loyalties lie.I guess because I knew her in high school for a few years she knows EVERYTHING about me.

I’m done with this conversation Amira. You offer no real intellectual debate & you continually ignore my points.Just so you all know, the conversation didn’t end there. And this statement was followed by like, a novel.

And you are the pot calling the kettle black. You say of course you sound like propaganda because you don’t agree with shady information? But you won’t even acknowledge you were wrong about the call notification thing.I wasn’t wrong, by the way, and I shared a few of my sources with her.

These comments were made by a total of three people, only one of whom I actually know. It was amazing really to see how quickly people were ready to judge me as soon as I disagreed with them. The statements I made that they disagreed with were that Hamas needs to let up, that it’s good for the Israelis that they have the Iron Dome, and that Israel was in fact warning the citizens of Gaza before an attack. They asked for evidence of my claims. I provided them. One of the girls seemed convinced that I said they were sending out texts to the Palestinians. I didn’t say that, but she misread, which she did eventually admit.

The only time I ever issued anything remotely close to an insult was when one of them was absolutely convinced she knew me enough to say that I wouldn’t leave my home if I was under threat. I called her insane. And I stand by my statement.

These were not the only people who tried to shame me into agreeing with them. There were two others. But I love them dearly, and though we disagree on this, I respect them and their opinions. Because unlike the above commentators, they actually do know me.

I would like to conclude this post by sincerely thanking the ladies above, and all who have inspired me to go forth on my little journey. I don’t know where it will take me, but I think the credit should be given especially to the women I quoted above. I can’t say that I respect them, because I feel they are rather insulting and condescending (and their idea of proof is that I should know better. Like the information somehow made its way into my head without me knowing). But their effort to shame me into agreeing with them has helped me open my eyes to the sort of pressure put on people to see things a certain way.

So again, thank you. You are truly an inspiration.