Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Fate of Shared Faith

For anyone who may have seen him when he visited campus last spring (and even if you didn't), Dean Obeidallah just published a piece on CNN giving opinions and his own personal experiences regarding 9/11 and how it changed Americans' perception of each other. Worth a look.

3 comments:

alexrued said...
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alexrued said...

To sum it all up: I don't buy Dean's argument on what religious tolerance looks like and I don't think he gave a fair synopsis of the intolerance that exists in America today.

Dean: "We must stand together today as Americans, just as we did in 2001 after the attacks. We cannot allow those who promote hate, either here or abroad, to divide our nation."

I do understand and appreciate the point that 9/11 has allowed bigots to come forth proudly under the guise of patriotism, and I would agree that this is an unwanted side effect of a tragedy that should have brought the nation closer together.

Dean: "There was a time in our nation's history when if you wanted to demonize a religion or race, you had to wear a white sheet over your head. Not any longer. Indeed, peddlers of hate wouldn't want to cover their face because they want people to know who they are so they can sell more books, secure more well paying speaking engagements, and appear more often on television. (I'm looking at you Fox News!)"

Many people (including those horrid Fox contributors) have made an effort to specify their attacks as not on mainstream Islam, but on the radical sect adhered to by Al-Qaeda members. I frankly don't see any reason not to demonize the "religious"practice of the al-Qaeda regime. Just because Al-Qaeda has called their quest a 'religious mission' does not mean it deserves the same religious tolerance as what ought to be granted to whoever peacefully practices Islam; In fact, it would be insulting to suggest the two religions should be equally regarded.Furthermore, Dean failed to mention another more recent factor that fueled the fires of religious intolerance, namely the attempt to build a mosque at ground zero. It would not have ruined my day if a mosque was built at ground zero and Muslims certainly have the right to practice their religion where they want. However, I thought this a poor setting to push the religious tolerance agenda and that a little more understanding and caution could have been exercised to avoid exacerbating the situation.

Dean: "Our mini "melting pot" succeeded because we focused on the commonalities between Islam and Christianity, the most obvious being that we worship the same God. How could we not? After all, we share almost identical prophets such as Moses, Abraham and Jesus."

I found this part of the article silly. First off, creating religious tolerance by asserting the similarities between religion goes against the very principle of religious tolerance. Religious tolerance lies not in the acceptance of similarities, but in the acceptance of differences-it is the notion that all should worship freely in difference. If members of this mini melting pot had given equal weight to (and accepted) both the similarities and differences of each other's distinct religions, rather then merging them as best they could into compatible doctrines, then they may have accomplished some form of religious tolerance. Secondly, according to Christianity Jesus is not a prophet to be put on the same plane as Abraham and Moses....He is Himself God in the flesh. Allah and Jesus are not the same God just as the Bible and the Koran are not the same books. I sincerely doubt that Dean's Christian mother occasionally prays to Allah and his Muslim father considers praying to Jesus Christ, which would be probable if they truly understood them as "the same."

Will Rusche said...

So much to say:

First, I offer this exchange that occurred during the Republican Presidential Primary Debate tonight to offer one snapshot of the current state of religious understanding in this country:

Ron Paul: The idea that the whole Muslim world is responsible for 9/11 is just not true.

Audience: Extensive booing.

Do we remain convinced that there is not still a segment of the American public greatly misguided?


Second, and more importantly, I think your disagreeing on any level with the location of the ground zero mosque demonstrates Dean's points as you've created a contradiction. If you see Al Qaeda and mainstream Islam as separate entities, then how can you describe the mosque as having a "poor setting"?

I certainly don't think Dean's point apply to all Americans, but I do believe he has validity.

Finally, as for the nitpicking of religious doctrine, Muslims and Christians believe in the same God, the God of Abraham. This is why both religions are known as "Abrahamic religions". This is what Dean is referencing when he describes a similarity. Of course there are differences that follow - this is why the two religions are separate. Dean's point is that the differences were overcome in his family by finding common ground, by choosing to walk together, separately if you will. This is the shared faith he is alluding to.