Posted by: kalmeida317 | March 2, 2011

Muslim people are NORMAL

In the midst of the reformation taking place in the Arab world, I can’t help but feel that the true essence of Muslim people is being grossly misrepresented. The protests, for the most part, have been secular in nature and the message of liberty has spread relatively organically through the region. However, as liberalism tries it’s best to leap forward in the East, the Western world continues to assign leaders like Gadaffi and Mubarak  the tag of “Muslim radical leader” and the media persists with reports on the rise of an “Islamic awakening”.

Now, perhaps I am missing something, but what about Gadaffi is Islamic? The reactions of the Libyan people are a result of years of political and social injustices and not a consequence of the Arab masses having a religious epiphany. Islam is a representation of a person’s faith, spirituality and personal way of life (with emphasis on the word “personal”), it cannot be affiliated to every action a person takes.

My contention, as ridiculous as it sounds, is that we have forgotten that Muslim people in the Arab world are normal. With the inundation of negativity, we have forgotten that Muslims can be and predominantly are people who laugh, people who play sport, people who like music and most importantly they are people who appreciate the simple joys of life.

Libya has one of the highest literacy rates (roughly 82%) in North Africa and has hundreds of higher educational institutes. Egypt has a GDP of approx. 496 billion (PPP), generated by investments in tourism, agriculture and energy, making it one of the most diversified economies in the Arab world. In all of these regions there are successful doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs and artists, but far too often their initial classification is “Muslim”.

Over the years, the humility of Muslim women has been described as oppressed, the simplicity of the population has been translated into lack of choice and their resistance to the west has been looked upon as backward.

The media cannot comprehend the fact that westernization does not equate to modernization. The challenge of the Arab world is to find a way to integrate modern development with their existing cultures. The solution to their political troubles does not revolve around adopting Western paradigms. What the Muslim people need is the world’s help not the prejudicial pity of those unwilling to accept their way of life.

-Karan Almeida

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Responses

  1. Amazing write up!!!

  2. Great Post!!!

  3. Some good thoughts, but don’t you think you are being a little harsh on the western media. I mean one of the major reasons these protests are happening is because it is being broadcast all over the world and people are getting encouraged that way.

  4. I admit that the media is doing many good things and is definitely a powerful tool . I was in no way saying that everything they do is bad. However, having said that I do think that all sides of the story very rarely get represented. The media has to prioritize what they broadcast and therefore a few details and opinions get left out, which in this case in the point I was making.

  5. Nice points and very well written

  6. This happens everywhere…even in India, we stereotype muslims, don’t we? How about in America?

    I would like to these muslim countries go the Turkey way. They successfully layered the western culture over muslim roots…Indonesia is slowly going that way as well..UAE is another country which comes to my mind…

    It is in the hands of the people and the possible new governments which can help them earn more respect from rest of the world.

    • Thanks much for the comment!

      Yes I agree Turkey and part of the U.A.E are good models for a modern Arab society. I just feel that by focusing on only the negativity all the time it makes it harder for some of these nations to gain that respect and come up.

      You are also right about India and for pretty much any other country in which Muslims are not the majority. Bottom line for me is that the bias and ignorance has to go away and until it does that happens sustainable progress will not become a reality.

      • I agree…however, it looks like it will be slow progress. Egypt, Libya and few other NA nations, like Morocco and Algeria will have to lead the change. I’m not suggesting they have to drop their conservative ways and culture, just that they have to catch up with other Democracies. Autocracy and Kingdoms ( phewwww! Kingdoms..wht a joke ) are a major road block to social liberation.

        Hoping for better times..Calm and development in Muslim world would directly lead to global peace 🙂

        • Yup let’s hope for the best! 😀

  7. Radicalism – of any type, christian or muslim – is what kills freedom and liberty.

  8. I completely agree, Thanks for the comment!

  9. I don’t mean to suggest that Islam is all radical–only that there ARE radical elements that seek our destruction. To ignore this point because there are so many good, great, and innocent Moslems is folly. Not many in Al Qaeda would care how many good, great, loving, caring, and innocent Americans are on a plane or in a building, bus, or subway. But as one of your readers suggests, radicalism from any corner is a problem. Imagine if during the Crusades a Moslem argued that not everyong from England was a radical! He would have been right but that would not have stopped the swords at his door.

    • Firstly, Thank you for your comments

      I think a distinction between the religion and the people who follow it has to made here. Islam does not have radical elements it has radical followers who are misinterpreting their own religion. I have said many times that the war should be on radicalism, regardless of which religion is involved.
      Groups like Al Qaeda individually claim their affiliation to Islam, that does not mean necessarily that there is a connection. I recognize that the U.S and other western countries have to enforce national security agendas but I do not think it is fair to use the minority radical muslims to define the religion as a whole.

  10. From the article “U.A.E. citizens Petition for direct elections and legislative powers”

    How about letting the children of the Sri Lankas, Pakistanis,Filipinos Bangladeshi ,etc that are born in the U.A.E. become citizens since they were born there? that is a start, do you think that would ever happened? How many of the UAE Citizens actually do manual labor? Don’t you think that this create a major difference in society and not a fair one? As it is mentioned less than 20% of the population is Emirate, so does it mean that they have enslave wage the other 80%? How much does the average pay for an Emirate VS Non Emirate compares to?

  11. It is very hard for a westerner to discuss the Islam issue without touching on religion, and this “touching” could be very detrimental to his own health…With all due respect to the Islam…Doesn’t the Qur’an stipulates that anyone that is not a believer of Ala or Mohammad it is an Infidel? And that by killing an Infidel a Muslim will go straight to heaven? So, an Infidel is anyone who does not believe in Islam or the Qur’an? There are no other religions in the world that states this in their most sacred books, and yet you still question why all the “negativity” surrounding Islam? I don’t think the issue is with the Arab people more than it is of the Islam….

    • Thanks for the comments.

      Regarding the U.A.E if you are asking whether I believe it is completely fair for people who are born there to non local parents to not get citizenship the answer is no, do no think it is fair. However, all the foreign people who come to the country are fully aware of the immigration laws and make an informed decision to come to the country, there is full disclosure by the government regarding that part.

      As for the labor conditions, they do not meet the required standards. The conditions are poor and that is an issue that needs to be addressed and I think it will be because they have received some heat for it.

      But the article was talking about changing the entire government paradigm and perhaps overthrowing the government, which is what I have a problem with because it is unrealistic. Jumping on the protest bandwagon without a consensus on an alternative solution is also not the smartest thing to do. The petition involved 133 wealthy business men, academics and lawyers, which to me does not represent the core of the U.A.E population.

      In regards to the Quran it does preach that non believers in the faith are infidel. However it does not say that Muslim should go kill and bomb non believers. All religions of the book or “kithabi” religions in one way or the other condemn non believers, Islam does not have to singles out here.

      Additionally, a vast majority of Muslim people are not interested it any kind of violence that may or may not be part of their history. The follow Islam to bring peace to their own lives and families.

      I disagree that Islam is the problem. Radicalism is the problems and there are radical people in all faiths, as we have seen in Ireland, Oklahoma and even in India. I have no issue with Westerners or anyone for that matter linking or touching up on religion when talking about Islam. What I do raise issue with is the link that people (not just Westerners) create with Islam and terrorism. Salman Hamdani for instance was a proud Muslim and follower of Islam who sacrificed his life saving people at 9/11/. There are many other Muslim people just like him who are more interested in helping people than destroying the world.

  12. U.A.E. ….
    Maybe the 133 wealthy business men would bring a more equal society to ALL PEOPLE in the U.A.E. A much fair society with equal rights. How many of those servants get hit, punished, raped without having rights to protect them? Just because they are in the hands of the few. U.A.E. will never be a “model” unless it considers ALL their people. Including all the ones born there, all the people that day by day toil and build the country with their bear hands….Then maybe some day all can be consider citizens of the country they have helped build.

  13. I do agree that less than 1% of the Muslim people are involved with terrorism. But, after reading some of the verses in the Quran a lot more questions arise. Such as, what is the difference between a follower an a radical? Surat Al-Araf 7:72, Surat Al-Anfal 8:7, Surat Ali Imran 3:157, Surat Ali Imran 3:169, Surat An-Nisa 4:74, Surat An-Nisa 4-89, Surat Ali-Iram 3:116…Also of non-cooperation with Jews or Christians, Surat Al-Maidah 5:51…You see Mr Almeida my God tells me to love all faiths, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhist, Induism, Spiritualism etc It does not tell me to “eliminate” “de-root” or “kill” anyone that does not believe the same way I do. If a father or a mother are waiting for their children to come home and they are all driving cars with different colors; they don’t care what color cars their children are driving as long as they get home safe….

  14. Analyzing religious scripture was not the intention of this post but to your point I have read all of those verses and there are similar writings in many other religions, the Quran is not the only one to condemn non believers, infact I don’t think there are too many major religions that say love all faiths, many of these religions spread on the basis of telling people that whatever they believed in was wrong.
    Anyway, back to practical matters. Even if you believe that the Quran preaches more violence than other religions what is your solution? Create hate against them! Invade countries in which Muslims are a majority! You have mentioned that 99% of Muslims are not in any way involved in violence (just like any other religion) so why are they getting attacked? Because there are questionable verses!? Regardless of what anyone believes these are people we are talking about,Lets stop making the majority of the population pay for what the small minority does.

  15. Calm down Mr. Almeida, I am not your enemy nor I wish it to be! I don’t believe in religion, I believe in God. Man invented religion NOT GOD. We could argue endlessly about it. It was not my purpose to make you mad at bringing those verses to your attention. Nowadays, the internet has brought us closer together and we have access to information that we never had, and people(not just me) in general are finding it hard to distinguish a follower from a radical in the faith of Islam. Do I find it justifiable to invade countries that have a Muslim majority? OF COURSE NOT! People are free to believe in whatever they choose to believe. You asked what are the possible solutions so the press won’t criticize as much? What about protesting and rejecting energetically and publicly when attacks are committed by these terrorist groups (and these go on either side) (The Americans and the Jews are not angels on these, but neither do you) Change the tribal status of the Arab world, it serve them well for thousands of years, but the world has changed and the Arab brothers should be as one, not a divided bunch. Recognizing and giving citizenship to anyone born on Arab soil. Stop the rule of the few for the majorities and make it the rule of the majorities for the majorities. Bring equal rights to women, making them as equals in all terms as men, socially and politically. That, would be a start…

  16. I was not mad, just discussing a somewhat controversial topic (I like the debate factor, its what blogs are about). Anyway, I completely agree with your point on God and religion and hope the world moves in that direction. I also agree that the non radical Muslims should be more vocal about condemning the few spoiling their name, I just think the Media can do a better job of helping them be heard.

    Ridiculous articles such as this need to stop! http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/262229/why-they-celebrate-murdering-children-andrew-c-mccarthy

  17. This is brilliantly put. I would have generally copied and pasted a quote, which touched me most but I have difficulty in choosing it as it all makes so much sense and resonates my own thoughts.
    Many of us may think this, but you have a fine pen which is tempered both by knowledge and wisdom as well as the ability to put the thoughts into words in a very effective way. I do not always find it easy to express myself.
    I also read some of your comments and I think you should be teaching the western media and people on how to think.
    I have recently begun a blog on Being Muslim, it is less religious and more spiritual, it is my own spiritual journey towards becoming a better person.
    To me it makes perfect sense to keep one’s beliefs intact and to embrace all that is good in the world around us, whether those are technological advances or other things.


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