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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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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The 7 Best Pieces Of Advice I Have Been Given About Life

Some of the best advice I have been given over the years...

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There isn't a central theme among these pieces of advice or sayings. They are all just random things I have been told over the course of my life–especially in the last week. I find these 7 to be particularly helpful in various situations, and try to keep them in mind when I am in over my head.

1. "Don't be afraid to advocate for yourself because there is nobody who is going to help you more than you."

You are the #1 person who can help your own case. No one knows you as you do, therefore no one will be able to help you more than you can help yourself. A lot of things are mental, so once you can convince yourself that you deserve something (whatever it may be) you can convince anyone. Another saying goes along with this, on the flip side: "No one can diminish you but yourself." You are in control of your own self-perception, and you are very much capable of being your own worst enemy.

2. "Stand behind your reputation because you can never get it back."

My mom sent this to me the other day. Be who you are, and do it proudly. Especially with meeting people for the first time, you can never have a second chance at a first impression. That being said, if people view you in a bad light, figure out why that is and fix it. You may not be able to change someones initial thoughts of you, but you can change the way they view you after that.

3. "The best things in life happen unexpectedly."

"Life is what happens when you're busy making plans," also goes along with this. Trying to plan out every little detail of your life is only going to lead to disappointment. Sometimes you find the best things/what you're looking for when you're not actually looking. Just go through the motions and things will work out the way they are supposed to.

4. "Be proud of your accomplishments, no matter how small."

It's important to celebrate the little things. Did you go to class today? Good for you. Did you decide to drink water instead of a soda? That's awesome. How are you going to work up to doing bigger and better things if you don't have anywhere to start?

5. "Whatever you're stressing about now probably won't matter in five years."

As someone who is often eaten away by their own worry and anxiety, this is a mantra that I try to constantly remind myself. While it may seem like a big deal now, you need to keep in mind the bigger picture. Will it matter in 5 hours? 5 days? 5 months? And so on. If the answer is no to ANY of these questions, it's probably not worth beating yourself up over.

6. "Stop being the 'go to' person for someone you can't go to."

Someone tweeted that their pastor said this to them and the tweet went viral. A friend of mine sent it to me, and it really made me think. Something I have struggled with over the years is making excuses for people who don't show up for me when I am constantly there for them. This is a helpful reminder that if they aren't contributing to you and your life, you shouldn't have to bend over backward to help them out and be in their lives.

7. "Two wrongs don't make a right."

While this is often a saying that parents use on their young children, it is applicable to pretty much any stage of life. My parents, especially my dad, have constantly said this, whether it was in reference to fighting with my siblings or dealing with people at school. Even as a 20-year-old, I find myself saying this when I hear about arguments and problems people are having. Everyone wants to get even, to best those who hurt them. While it's important to stick up for yourself, it is also important to be the bigger person and not stoop to their level (and whatever else your parents told you in these situations).

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