Common Complications for Muslims and Mental Illness

Political pandering driven to simplistic sloganeering is creating a common challenge for Muslims and mental illness sufferers.

For Muslims in America, being perceived as sharing a common religion is an increasing burden following Orlando’s Pulse shooting, San Bernardino, the Boston Marathon bombing, Chattanooga, Fort Hood, 9/11 and other incidents. Foreign attacks, including yesterday’s airport attack in Turkey, don’t help either.

For those struggling with any mental illness, being perceived as sharing a common disease is an increasing burden following Sandy Hook, Columbine, the Colorado movie theater, Virginia Tech, and other incidents. The Germanwings crash and other overseas events only add to misgivings.

Since Muslims and mental illness are rarely discussed in mainstream media outside of tragic events, the perception of all Muslims and anyone struggling with mental health challenges is that violence is part of the label. For most, this is far from the truth.

[Read more…]

Is It Ever Okay to Offend an Entire Faith (Islam)?

Golden Rule behavior demands that we treat others as we would want to be treated given understanding of that individual’s circumstances.

Knowing that the Islamic faith prohibits depictions of its prophet Muhammad, is there ever an acceptable reason to produce and distribute cartoons about and including drawings of Muhammad?

Just after a $10,000 prize was handed out in Garland, Texas yesterday to the best caricature of Muhammad, two Muslim men attempted to shoot their way through the conference. Their assault began just moments after they were believed to have tweeted, “May Allah accept us as mujahideen” and stating their loyalty to the Islamic State. A police officer used his service pistol to kill the assault-rifle-armed attackers before they could inflict substantial harm.

In the immediate hours following the shooting, many media commentators questioned whether conference organizers had brought the attack on themselves. Given this reaction, is it ever acceptable to purposely offend? Following are seven questions worth considering in determining your answer:

  1. Was the offensive behavior—the caricature and condemnation of Muhammad—solely intended to offend, or was it pursued to achieve a higher purpose?
  1. If a higher purpose—or at least a serious purpose other than creating offense—was intended, could another method achieve that purpose without the offensive action?

[Read more…]

Understanding Islam and Charlie Hebdo

As I studied Islam over the past two years, trying to understand the dichotomy between my personal experience with peaceful, thoughtful Muslims and the brutal, hateful violence pursued by radical Islamist terrorists, I learned why silent acquiescence to radical Islam will not lead to peace. Much of what I now know is shocking to those who think of religious figures from a Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist or many other perspectives.

Here’s a few critical points worth contemplating as, through the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, we again live the violent tragedy imposed by those who believe we must live by their rules rather than the principles of freedom used in founding the United States:

  • Muhammad was a national ruler as well as a preacher. Most key religious figures, including Jesus Christ, did not attempt to rule an empire on earth. Christ and others guided followers to behaviors that would earn them a place in eternity. Muhammad sought to and did create a nation ruled by his views, and encouraged its continuous expansion.
  • Muhammad used violence to achieve his territorial objectives. Whether it was leading attacks on Mecca, approving the beheading of hundreds of Jews at Medina, or many other battles described in the Quran and Hadith, violence was part of the life of Muhammad. The Quran can be read as advocating violence or peace, depending on the desires of the interpreter.
  • Lying in the name of Islam is not a sin. Concepts known as taqiyya and kitman allow Muslims to lie to non-believers, particularly when lying advances the cause of Islam. It is even permissible in many branches of Islam for Muslims to deny their own belief in Muhammad and Allah to avoid persecution. Lie detectors track physical changes created when people engage in behavior they know to be wrong. Those changes won’t be found in those who believe their lying is not only acceptable, but encouraged.
  • Death is salvation. Many young Muslims are able to be convinced through interpretations of the Quran and Hadith that death in the name of Islam is a guaranteed pass to salvation. In The Great War for Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East, author Robert Fisk details the exalted pride of children preparing to ride motorbikes through mine fields during the Iran-Iraq war when Shia Muslims in Iran battled the predominantly Sunni Muslims of Iraq. For many raised in radical Islam, attacks on infidels are a thrilling opportunity, not a source of fear. (As an aside, Shia, Sunni and other branches of Islam often see each other as infidels.)

There’s much more to explore to understand the world as it is, rather than the world as we might hope. I’ll leave you with a quote from murdered Charlie Hebdo editor in chief Stéphane Charbonnier: “I’d rather die standing than live on my knees.”

Get On Your Side of the Room, Ladies

As ultra-orthodox religious leaders increasingly insist that women be segregated from men during public events, universities have begun allowing women to be forced to one side of the room. Now the practice is nationally sanctioned, glorified as a better alternative than forcing women to the back of the room.

“Concerns to accommodate the wishes or beliefs of those opposed to segregation should not result in a religious group being prevented from having a debate in accordance with its belief system,” a national organization of administrators stated recently in condoning forced gender segregation at university-sanctioned events.

If it had been orthodox Christians in America making these segregation demands, you certainly would have heard by now. MSNBC might even provide 24-hour coverage of ensuing protests.

The demands, however, originate with Islamic scholars and clerics in the United Kingdom and other Western European nations. Universities UK, a national association of vice chancellors in the United Kingdom, issued the guidance above, stating that free speech rights and religious respect are more important than concerns about gender segregation.

Universities UK at least acknowledges the rights of students and faculty to publicly object to forced gender segregation or, more aptly, gender apartheid given the ultimate goal of some segregation promoters.

“Those opposed to segregation are entitled to engage in lawful protest against segregation, and could be encouraged to hold a separate debate of the issues, but their views do not require an institution to stifle a religious society’s segregated debate where the segregation accords with a genuinely-held religious belief,” the association states in its guidance document on “External speakers in higher education institutions.”

What happens when white or black nationalists, espousing theories supported by a church, demand that their on-campus events be racially segregated?

What happens when hard-core Islamists demand segregation not just by gender, but further demand that Muslims be separated from Jews, Christians and especially anyone who doesn’t follow an Abrahamic faith?

There is a conflict growing between some elements of Islam and western democracies. Western Europe is giving America a preview of the debates heading across the Atlantic.

Forced public segregation is never an acceptable answer. America is already challenged with voluntary re-segregation – by race, political party, language, religion and other factors. If we head down the path argued by Universities UK of saying that publicly forced segregation is acceptable as long as it derives from “genuinely-held religious belief,” where do we stop?

Muslims have the right to practice forced segregation inside their mosques, just as Catholics have the right to not allow female priests. No one, though, has the right to impose forced gender segregation at events supported by public resources, just as no one has the right to impose racial segregation at such events.

In trying so hard to appease all sides of an issue, Universities UK missed that some principles require unwavering support.

Can Islamic and American Values Coexist?

How should the United States handle immigrants who have no intent to follow our laws? In the interest of tolerance and openness, should America welcome immigrants who believe it is their religious obligation to instill gender segregation at every opportunity? Should we ensure immigrants share our commitment to freedoms of speech and religion, along with other foundational rights such as the right of women to vote?

While incidents of gender discrimination occur on occasion inside the United States, gender segregation is becoming a frequent challenge on United Kingdom university campuses where radical Islamist student organizations are becoming increasingly bold in enforcing gender segregation at university events.

In recent years, radical Muslim gangs have begun roaming London streets and entering gay night clubs to beat patrons for their homosexuality, a punishment some who follow Islam believe is their religious duty to administer despite no legal backing in the U.K. or most non-Islamist countries for these heinous actions.

I believe firmly that robust, legal immigration is essential to America’s long-term economic prosperity. We need to welcome people of all races, religions and cultures. But I also think it’s fair to insist that those entering here tolerate Americans, our Constitution and our insistence on equal rights.

There are many of the Muslim faith willing to adapt to America’s legal requirements or whose view of their faith does not contradict compliance with our laws. Many others do not, and it is those individuals we should weed out in the immigration process.

UK universities fall victim to campus segregation trend – The Commentator.