The Muslim Blanket

The Muslim Blanket

Islam isn't violent -- people are.
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"Guns don't kill people; people kill people." Many of us have heard or used this expression to argue that people are indeed the violent aspect of gun use, not the actual gun.

What people don't realize is that the same argument can be used when it comes to generalizing Islam, Muslims, Arabs, and ISIS. Just because ISIS identifies with the religion of Islam doesn't mean that all Muslims or their religion are inherently violent.

So many Americans express their opinions all too frequently on the current hot topic of our nation's relationship with Islam. At the same time, they don't even bother looking into what Islam actually is and what the religion represents.

Here is a breakdown of the key terms used on the news.

Islam:

A monotheistic (one god) religion based on the teachings of the religious text called the Qur'an. This is believed to be the word of God (called Allah) and based on teachings of the prophet Muhammed. There are five pillars to Islam; testimony, prayer, fasting, almsgiving (food provided to the poor by those who can afford it), and pilgrimage.

Words you may have heard associated with Islam are Shia, the largest denomination, and Sunni, the second largest. These are simply denominations and have fundamental differences and history of bad blood, but are both a part of Islam.

Muslim:

An adherent, or follower, of Islam. This is the Christian of Christianity -- it's as simple as that. Referring to countries like Egypt, Bangladesh, and Pakistan as "muslim countries" is politically incorrect-- the country isn't Muslim; the people are Muslims. The country isn't even Islam -- it's a country where the majority of the people practice Islam. Calling those countries Muslim is like calling America a Christian country.

ISIS:

This stands for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Yes, it's a terrorist group. Yes, it has the word Islam in it. This is perhaps the best example of the generalization made by Americans -- practicing the religion of Islam doesn't make you a supporter or an adherent of ISIS. ISIS claimed itself as a caliphate, which means having control over Muslims across the world, as in political, religious, and military control. Many governments have rejected this however; ISIS as a caliph isn't legitimate, because the majority of their support stems from fear and fear alone.

By no means are Islam and ISIS completely unrelated, but it's unfair to associate someone with ISIS because they're Muslim. That's like associating someone with Westboro Baptist Church or the KKK because they're Christian and both of those groups say they're Christian. These are generalizations -- ugly ones.

There are such things as extremist Islamic groups, just as there are such things as extremist Christian groups. They take different forms, of course, but blanketing all Muslims under the terrorist category is inaccurate and ignorant.

Many think Islam is a violent religion because of the associations made by terrorist groups and the idea of women in Islam being oppressed and treated violently.

Islam is automatically generalized as a religion that practices female genital mutilation and other oppressive rules to women like Sharia Law, which extends to a wide range of punishments for things like theft and a variety of rules concerning women and their rights. For example, women get just about half of everything a man does under Sharia Law, such as inheriting half of what a man would inherit. It also says that a woman cannot testify against her rapist if she is raped. This doesn't extend to all Muslims, but in extremist Muslim groups, like in Saudi Arabia, it is practiced without mercy.

There are so many countries that interpret Sharia Law differently however. It's unfair to say that every Muslim endorses the idea of Sharia Law-- though it's practiced as a legal system in some extreme Islamic groups. The support of Sharia Law, including genital mutilation, doesn't even necessarily mean Islam is a violent religion, at that point, genital mutilation becomes a legal problem within that country, many Muslims don't even practice that.

Sharia Law is archaic and should be condemned, but generalizing every Muslim as a supporter of Sharia is yet another inaccurate mistake many make about the religion of Islam. Nobody should support such a legal system but the fact of the matter is that some people of Islam do, still giving us no reason to castigate an entire religion because a portion of it's followers interpret Sharia strictly and literally.

Terrorism and antiquated ideas like Sharia Law shouldn't by any means be seen as acceptable, but there is no reason we should be associating all Muslims with either of these ideas.

These generalizations lead us to the Syrian refugee crisis and how 31 states have rejected opening up to relocated refugees. The November 13 Paris attacks were claimed by ISIS , and one attacker was carrying a Syrian passport, scaring Americans into shutting their doors for resettlement of refugees.

According to ABC News, "More than 7 million Syrians have been displaced by war, and by the end of September the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees had referred 18,000 cases to the United States for resettlement." It will likely be difficult to find somewhere for these refugees to go without half of our states' support.

Islamaphobia and the misconstrued picture of Islam that millions of Americans have has gotten out of control. So many refuse to look past what major news media outlets say and research it for themselves.

In a recent interview in the below video with Professor Reza Aslan, what was expected to be an agreement with the program's predecessor Bill Maher, on CNN is a perfect example of the media simply seeking a soundbite that agrees with their political agenda. Aslan does a fantastic job of not letting an anchor push him around, and pointing out their ignorant and uneducated questions.

Maher said: "vast numbers of Muslims around the world believe that humans deserve to die for merely holding a different idea, or drawing a cartoon, or writing a book, or eloping with the wrong person."

Watch Aslan's applause-worthy response to the anchors here:


Of course, there are traditional portions of Islam we may not all agree with and see as culturally justifiable, but that doesn't mean the entire nation of Islam promotes violent behavior. Aslan said it best:

"This is the problem. These conversations that we’re having aren’t really being had in any kind of legitimate way. We’re not talking about women in the Muslim world, we’re using two or three examples to justify a generalization. That’s actually the definition of bigotry."

He continues: "Islam doesn't promote violence or peace. Islam is just a religion and like every religion in the world it depends on what you bring to it. If you're a violent person, your Islam, your Judaism, your Christianity, your Hinduism is gonna be violent. There are marauding Buddhist monks in Myanmar slaughtering women and children. Does Buddhism promote violence? Of course not. People are violent or peaceful and that depends on their politics, their social world, the ways that they see their communities."

Here's one of the same anchors featured in a perfectly captured tweet:

Cover Image Credit: http://www.ihhakademi.com/islamophobia-media-and-the-echo-chamber-effect/

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You May Have Worn The Prom Dress With Him, But I Get To Wear The Wedding Dress

You had him in high school, but I get him for the rest of my life.
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High school seems like the best time of your life when you are in it. You think that all of your friends will be with you until the end, and that you will end up with whoever you are dating your senior year. For very few, that might just be the case. For all others, that is far from true.

You thought that you would marry your boyfriend and you thought that everything would work out how you had always imagined. I don't blame you though. He's great. You wanted everything with him, but you were just not right for him.

I wish I could say that I am sorry it didn't work out for you, but I can't. I can't because he is mine now, and I get to cherish him forever. You didn't do that right, and you were not meant to be together. You will find someone too, but I am happy that you were not the one for him.

Sometimes I have issues with jealousy, and I hate that you got all of the high school stuff with him. You got to go to games and support him. It kills me that I couldn't be there for him because I know I would have actually been there wholeheartedly. I would have done it out of love, not as a popularity appearance.

I hate that you got to go to all of the school dances with him. He got to see you all dressed up and probably told you how great you looked. I'm sure you did look great. Prom dresses were always fun to pick out and so colorful. It was exciting to match colors with your date. I am sure you had fun choosing his matching tux to your dress.

I find myself getting jealous, but then I stop. I am getting to match his tux with our wedding colors. I got to go dress shopping in a sea of white, and he doesn't get to know one detail about that dress yet. He will get to see me walk down the aisle and then every day forever. I get to love him forever.

I try to not get jealous of all of the things you got with him because it is all in the past. You had your time, and now I get the wedding. You got to dress up in high school, but I get to dress up for my wedding with him. He may have put a corsage on your wrist, but he will be putting the wedding ring on my finger.

Cover Image Credit: Jessy Scott

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To Whomever It May Concern; It's Time To Forgive Yourself

Personal growth is cultivated through successes and mistakes, beating yourself up over the latter is counterproductive to progress.

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We've reached that point in time again where it seems that the general population in its entirety has recommitted to improving themselves with the start of a new year. While it's refreshing to have a renewed determination to eat better, be kinder, or achieve the goals you had attempted at last year, the beginning of a new year can also prove to be a source of anxiety. As many sit down to put their goals on paper in hopes of making them more attainable, it's all too easy to be bombarded by all of the reasons that ones' ambitions are beyond what that person is capable of.

Memories of past short-comings and words of self-deprecation uttered in moments of perceived failure are compounded by a general fear of the unknown for what the future holds. In my own experience, I've come to understand that the limits we place on our capacity for achievement, happiness, and growth are the direct results of not forgiving ourselves. So many goals are set with the intent to receive some form of external validation to indicate that the world has forgiven our flaws and deemed us worthy, but if we can't forgive ourselves and see our own worth, then how can we possibly expect anyone else to?

In the safety and comfort of your own imagination where you are free to envision your best self, living the life you have always hoped for, the only person that can condemn those ideas for being unrealistic is you. When we allow that sardonic voice from the back of our minds to inhibit our dreams, we permit that voice to embed itself in our conscious thoughts and put trust in our inadequacies rather than our capabilities.

For those who have yet to forgive themselves of their own trespasses, failures, and mistakes; the next time you have the thought to better yourself or your life and find it being attacked by memories of deficiency, do not concede to those assailants with the belief that you are incapable of becoming and achieving anything you choose. Instead of willing away those thoughts that remind us of what we are trying to grow from, face them, face your old self with forgiveness, and decide how you're going to become someone better because of who you were.

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