Like Americans, Islam can’t be generalized
Published: Sunday, February 27, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, May 4, 2011 01:05
Amidst the finger pointing, the threat of terrorism and the back-and-forth trite that opposing point of views like to consider "dialogue", when it comes to Muslims in America, most of us fail to consider our own personal illiteracy and bias in global matters.
You may have researched the Quran on Wikipedia, watched the news recently or have just the right amount of Muslim friends to justify yourself as educated.
Any rational individual accepts that, regardless of a society's virtues, there will be dynamic innovation, fragmentation and varying perspectives.
Although this is evident, our underlying convictions and experiences create a double standard.
In regards to certain states' suggestion to ban Sharia law and the recent visitation of Imam Siraj Wahhaj to UCF, some of us have managed to attribute this double standard toward American Muslims.
Religion and emotion aside, under the secular law of this land, we are Americans.
I view a black man as an American who just happens to be black, a lesbian woman as an American who just happens to be lesbian, and apply this equal status regardless of ethnic, political or sexual orientation.
For some reason, we've found ourselves in unease being able to do the same with Muslims. We see despots in the Middle East degrade Western values, declaring holy war on "infidels" and we take it at face value.
What we fail to apply to these scenarios is when we see an American Muslim women donning a hijab or an American Muslim man privately praying, we assume that these people share the same views.
Like many of us, they have varying degrees of disagreements within their own community and have the ability to reason, judge and make decisions.
Their subscription to their beliefs does not entail that they believe in every possible extreme interpretation of that belief. There are endless schools of Islamic thought which vary from region to region, on broad or even specific subjects, from capital punishment to women's rights.
Assuming Islamic society is static and not dynamic devalues the intrinsic worth of an entire people, and puts a generalized face on a belief that deserves to be acknowledged for its diversity.
The Muslim Student Association at UCF went to great lengths to address issues in Islam.
Simultaneously, while educating non-believers of their customs, MSA may view this as a learning experience. They too deserve the right to expand their horizons in a topic of their preference — that is the right of all Americans, and the right of all students in universities across the world.
It's fine to disagree, but disagreement should never breed contempt in lieu of different perspectives.
There are undoubtedly issues in Islam that have warranted criticism in Western society.
A handful of our students acknowledge these issues and are attempting to show that their society too, like ours, is faced with ideological, political, and socioeconomic predicaments, none that characterize our society completely.