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My Take: Defending TLC’s ‘All-American Muslim’ against Muslim complaints
Samira Amen, who's featured in "All-American Muslim."
November 28th, 2011
02:38 PM ET

My Take: Defending TLC’s ‘All-American Muslim’ against Muslim complaints

Editor's Note: Khurram Dara is the author of "The Crescent Directive: An essay on improving the image of Islam in America," coming this winter (Tensile). He tweets @KhurramDara.

By Khurram Dara, Special to CNN.com

For the last decade, Islam has been under a lot of scrutiny, and understandably so. When you’ve got terrorists all over the world declaring war on America and the West in the name of Islam, it’s only natural that people will have questions.

But this reasonable concern has rapidly turned into irrational suspicion, with anti-Muslim groups seizing on the opportunity to paint all Muslims in America as radical-loving, violence-approving foreigners.

The problem is that the response from American Muslims has been about as effective as Herman Cain’s PR strategy in the face of sexual harassment allegations. Instead of pooling our resources to combat radicalism, or taking a more active role in our communities so that other Americans better understand us, we’ve resorted to defense tactics.

We tell people that the Quran is being taken out of context. We focus on efforts to try to “educate” the American public. And we desperately cling to the idea that if people just had a better grasp of the facts on Islam, they wouldn’t buy into anti-Muslim propaganda.

Unsurprisingly, none of that has changed Americans' view of Islam.

So when I heard that TLC was doing a reality show about several American Muslim families, I was intrigued. The show wasn’t going to feature scholars refuting the (ridiculous) claims made about Islam. It was going to show regular Muslim families living in America. It was going to show, rather than simply tell, people about Muslims and Islam.

After three weeks of airing, “All-American Muslim” has done just that. Whether it was Mr. Aoude prepping his pregnant wife for that hectic hospital trip, or newlyweds Jeff and Shadia worrying about how their families will get along, it has shown viewers the single most important truth that will change the perceptions of Muslims: We are just like everyone else.

There has been widespread praise from TV critics, calling the show "intimate and heartfelt" and "as good as it gets" and praising TLC for how it has "upended the conventions of reality television."

The show’s premiere had 1.7 million viewers, making it the No. 2 program in its time slot among key demographics and scoring TLC's best Sunday prime time performance in more than a year.

Predictably, the show was also met with harsh and unfair criticism. Anti-Muslim groups wasted no time citing this as another example of Muslims trying to “take over” America.

This was expected. What wasn’t expected was the reaction from some other American Muslims.

“The families aren’t Muslim enough.”

“They aren’t good role models.”

"They don't represent all American Muslims."

Is the show a perfect cross-section of the American Muslim demographic? Are they the most religious families? Is it full of people you aspire to be one day?

No, of course not. It’s reality TV. It’s entertainment. We American Muslims ought to look at it in the grand scheme of things instead of just criticizing the show by saying it “doesn’t represent me.”

You’re right. It doesn’t represent you.

That’s because no TV show, no organization, no movement is ever going to represent you better than you can represent yourself.

“All-American Muslim” is not going to change the image of Muslims on its own. But it’s got the right idea. It’s premised on the fact that people judge a group not just on its beliefs, but also on their interactions with members of that group.

So if you don’t think “All-American Muslim” represents you, then go out into your community and show people what being Muslim is all about, from your perspective. Whether it’s a book club or a basketball league, we can all have our own “All-American Muslim” moments.

The most important take-away from a show like “All-American Muslim” is that we Muslims should focus our efforts on showing average Americans that we share far more in common with them than some would like them to believe.

And you don’t need a TV show to do that, you just have to have the courage to break out of your shell and share in those experiences with your American brethren.

Don’t treat TLC’s reality show as the only hope for changing our image, or as our one shot at showing America what Islam is all about. Don’t treat it as needing to be a flawless, immaculate portrayal of Muslims in America.

Treat it as a first step. Consider it a new approach. Look at it as the beginning of the long journey we have ahead, in changing the negative stereotypes about Muslims in America.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Khurram Dara.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Islam • Opinion • TV

soundoff (2,050 Responses)
  1. 26009

    Michele, You missed my point. I may not have been clear, sorry. I feel that NO student should have to observe anothers religion in school. It's not the place for it. Speak to your son's teacher. She will give him more appropriate work sheets. He should not have to sing but be allowed to sit quietly. I've had students whose parent abhor Halloween. There were always way to allow students to take part is art activities without coloring pictures that were offensive to parents or their religious beliefs.

    I am particularly disgusted at the high school students who have to stay up all night to practice, attend school during the day, do their home work or go to their part time jobs, then show up for practice at 10 pm until 5 am. I'm afraid that I don't understand how any parent can expect the best out of their teen ages and allow that. It may be a month but how very far a student can fall behind in a month, especially when we know how much sleep they need during those years.

    The coach is a self center man. Not someone who loves the students but someone who is willing to make the students observe his religion for his self gratifying glory on the field of play not on the field of life

    November 28, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • BG

      About 5' in on one of the interviews with the Fordson coach he made a telling statement.

      "We took them on at their own game and beat them."

      So it's not American high school football any longer. It's a contest pitting "us" against "them."

      November 28, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • Maria

      26009, I think what you don't understand is that these are practices during the SUMMER. Ramadan was during August, and schools (in Michigan at least) don't begin until after labor day in September. 2 a day practices are common amongst all high school football teams. These kids were not having to go to class/do homework/etc during the day... they could potentially use it to sleep and flip their schedules like any person working a night shift does.

      When Ramadan was during the school year, the football team would practice during normal hours. It's just the 2-a-days that are more of a struggle.

      November 28, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • 26009

      Maria, thank you for explaining that but it doesn't change the fact that the coach is making the team adhere to his religious beliefs. Public schools paid for with public dollars is not the place for it and he should be stopped or fired.

      November 28, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • BG

      @ 26009

      Take your complaint to the Fordson principal, Mr. Youssef Mosallam.

      November 28, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • Matt

      I watched the show. The coach switched practices because 90% of the team is muslim and would be fasting. They aren't allowed to eat or drink during the daylight hours. He was concerned about safety of the players. To me, it makes more sense to switch practice to accomodate the 90%, than to hold practiced with no water and have players dropping left and right. What would you suggest? Keeping the paractices the same, or cancelling them altogether??? I think what the coach did was the best and safest compromise.

      Moving a practice to accomodate religion is not the same as making the non-muslim players practice it. None of the non-muslim players were required to fast.

      November 29, 2011 at 11:11 am |
  2. s

    i M muslim and i love this country and i thank god every day for being here, the show isn't perfect but i m an american muslim that fits into society perfectly and i wear a scarf on my head.

    November 28, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • fred

      Do you condem suicide attacks
      Do you condem hate towards Jews and Christians

      November 28, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • Draeggo

      @Fred... thats the beauty of America... NO ONE has to condemn anything or prove anything to someone like you.

      November 28, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @fred,
      Do you?
      You sound more radical/extreme than @s does.

      November 28, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
    • BG

      Of course no one should be subjected to an interrogation goading the 'right answer.' But it sure would be nice to hear and see an honest unsolicited conviction.

      Like saying the Pledge of Allegiance or National Anthem and taking off your hat... all public displays of affirmation. Or hearing convictions shared in private conversations, or seeing loyalties and considerations demonstrated in daily interactions with fellow citizens.

      Now let's talk about how the muslims in Dearborn displayed -their- respect for American values when crazy ol' Terry Jones came to town to exercise his first amendment rights...

      November 28, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • fred

      Nonimus
      If the muslim community would have stood up after 911 against evil it would make a difference. I stand up against Christians that do not follow Gods words. Accountability matters now and latter.

      November 28, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • Really?

      "I stand up against Christians that do not follow Gods words"

      So you stand up to all those Christians that are committing adultery by divorcing huh?
      You stand up to all those Christians that steal from their employers by surfing the web when they should be working or taking office supplies home.
      You stand up to all those Christians that are full of greed and drive by the homeless asking for help.
      Oh, please you don't have the balls.

      November 28, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • fred

      Nonimus
      Take Romney he talks the walk and walks the talk we know where he stands. Newt on the other hand claims to be christian but has been terrible to his X wifes. Who do you trust.....................I go with Romney he may wear magic underware on Sunday in his capacity as a bishop but at least you know his shorts are clean

      November 28, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
    • fred

      Really
      yes, really with the exception of the homeless. We do not give them money we pick them up and put them in a shelter or service facility.

      November 28, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
    • Really?

      "yes, really with the exception of the homeless"

      I seriously doubt you go up to the people in your community and tell them they are committing sin through adultery, greed and all the other sins in the Bible. All those that think fred is a wimp and really doesn't do these things cast your vote, yea or nay!

      November 28, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      @fred: this is what we are getting at when we say religion is damaging!! re-read what you said to this girl!!! she's believes in a different god than you do,,,how are you so sure she is wrong? I don't believe every muslim is a horrible person and I don't believe everyone of them supports what has happened. I also don't believe every christian or every atheist or every jehovah is bad. This girl sounds decent and as long as she is not pushing her beliefs down my throat, why the hell should I care what she believes? She admitted to her belief and I'm damn sure she's aware of the stigma that comes with that...she doesn't deserve your questions in that format. You just keep making us Atheists look better...we don't divide and conquer like you just did. We have no god to define or to say is the right one.

      November 28, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
    • fred

      Really
      I am not to go out and smack down non believers. We are to reprove our brothers and sisters who do these things. Divorce means nothing in a sin context to a non believer. Discussing sin would be counter productive. In that case my approach is very secular. The first thing I ask is where they stand with God.

      November 28, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • Nonimus

      http://www.theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/muslim_voices_against_extremism_and_terrorism_2/

      November 28, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
    • Bob

      fred, do you condemn the eternal torture that your god metes out for a variety of minor transgressions during a short mortal life?

      The smack down of your sick beliefs has come. Time you answered up.

      November 28, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • Really?

      "I am not to go out and smack down non believers. We are to reprove our brothers and sisters who do these things. Divorce means nothing in a sin context to a non believer. Discussing sin would be counter productive. In that case my approach is very secular. The first thing I ask is where they stand with God"

      Yet you don't do that here on these blogs, nor have you asked many here that claim to be Christian where they stand with God first, you jump right in with your opinions. Wooooo....I got a big one on folks, hang tight while I reel it in! Cha – ching...hook line and sinker!

      November 28, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
    • fred

      TruthPrevails
      That was not my intent. To Muslims I begin to know these become the first questions I ask when we get into who is God. A Muslims position on the Jewish and Christian faith is very relative to anything someone says. There are two basic types of Muslims and both claim to fit well into the community. When they cannot or will not answer those simple questions you have your answer. There are two basic types of atheists, those that cannot believe and those that will not believe. Chuckles and atheist Steve for example will not believe whereas David Johnson cannot.

      November 28, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
    • Bob

      fred, buck up and answer: do you condemn the eternal torture that your god metes out for a variety of minor transgressions during a short mortal life?

      The smack down of your sick beliefs has come. Time you answered up.

      November 28, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
    • LetsPlay

      "Do you condem suicide attacks
      Do you condem hate towards Jews and Christians"

      Do you condemn verbal attacks towards those that don’t share your religious views.
      Do you condemn hate towards gays and Muslims.

      November 28, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
    • fred

      Bob
      God does not torture eternally for minor stuff. Hell is reserved for satan and his demons. There is a relationship between your time here on earth and rewards later on. We will both be rewarded Bob and we will both most likely be surprised with what that reward is. Gods judgement is perfect I cannot judge because I am far from perfect or knowledgeable.

      November 28, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
    • fred

      lets play

      yes to all

      November 28, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      @fred: you said "There are two basic types of atheists, those that cannot believe and those that will not believe. Chuckles and atheist Steve for example will not believe whereas David Johnson cannot."

      How nice of you to speak for my husband (AtheistSteve)!! It's not that he will not believe...he see's no reason to believe and it's not for lacking of seeking. He is like every other Atheist, we see no reason to believe in anything without evidence and we do not believe the buybull is evidence enough.

      Nice back peddling on the other issues though. As an Atheist I would never think to ask a Muslim friend those questions. They are offensive. You still have failed to tell me how you know you're right and she is wrong...two different beliefs, two different gods...which one of you is right and how can you be so sure?

      November 28, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
    • fred

      TruthPrevails
      Yeh thanks I did not realize it was offensive but will be more considerate after reading Nonimus link.
      I assumed Steve will not because he is very kind and models a Christ like manner. Thus more like Nicodemus was concerned with laws and the natural world that blocked his vision.
      With the Muslims and chosen ones we have the dual contrast set up from the time of Ishmael and Isaac. Just like there were two criminals on the cross and two trees in the garden we have the two heads of religion. Each has taken the prideful position of being better than the other (just as the two sons that were prophesized to be at each other for all time). The religious leaders of both today reflect what Jesus warned about as stuck on manmade laws instead of the love Christ reflected. I lean against the Muslim because I can clearly see how that religion was taken from the OT and the NT not to mention the character of Mohammed.

      November 28, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • S Guy

      When you say that you are muslim, and you love this country, what does that mean? Does that mean you would be willing to give your life in protecting this country, even if it means going to war against a muslim country and possibly killing muslims in battle for America, the country that you love? I am interested and eagerly awaiting your answer.

      November 28, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
    • Bob

      So, fred, now you've confirmed that you worship an ass-hole. Thanks for finally bucking up. And yes, reasonable doubt is a minor offense, or should be, except that your god is such an egomaniac.

      Now just try to keep your nose out of that, uh, 'god', for a change, will you? You stink.

      November 28, 2011 at 10:48 pm |
    • Bob

      Now, fred, you still haven't escaped the question, after all your dodging. Here we go again. We're on to you:

      fred, buck up and answer: do you condemn the eternal torture that your god metes out for a variety of minor transgressions during a short mortal life?

      Answer up. It's smack down time on your sicko Christian beliefs.

      November 28, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
    • Truth.com

      All faithfull muslims condemn any type of aggression on the innocent irrespective of the religion, it's mentioned in the Quran.
      leave alone humans, it even mentions about any living thing including plant life which you are not supposed to harm. If one needs to find the truth, grab the right resources. and just not google, 90% os the stuff on google searches are misleading about islam. propoganda.... where was all this hatred since 1400 years ago.. does it make any sense to start this with the work of some lunatics who did stuff to meet their personal goals ? pitifully they even achived it.
      Muslim's believe in one god, that same god of Abraham, Moses, Jesus (peace be upon them all).
      Reading these comments make me soo sad, they are all misinformed, they have no clue what they are talking about. they believe what ever they read. If you want the real truth, read the Quran for yourself, you can get that in any Islamic book store.

      November 28, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
    • Stendec

      Lots of cherry-picking over there at "truth.com" huh? Better change your name to liars.com instead. Liar.

      November 28, 2011 at 11:16 pm |
    • JamalJZ

      I use to be a Muslim but after watching this I no longer want to hear it.

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ua9HsFPtPM4&w=640&h=360]

      November 29, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
  3. snuffyandmerlin

    I am sorry, but I do not care about your religion, beliefs or value system. All of this PC garbage to make everyone feel all warm and fuzzy is nothing but nonsense. I do not care what you or half of the world believes other than the fact that I do not want you to bring it to my doorstep. This rediculousness was never a problem in our country 10 years ago. Having a a reality series showcasing this is about as useless as Kateplus 8 or the show on polygamy. I am hoping this show crashes and burns never to return to the airwaves again.

    November 28, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
    • Kathleen

      Are you fine when others tell you that they don't care about your religion, beliefs, or value system?

      November 28, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • Susan

      Agree...keep it in your own back yard. Don't come to my door step.

      November 29, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • SuperFan

      Amen!! Oops, as an American am I allowed to say that or will it insult someone?? LOL....

      November 29, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  4. johnfrichardson

    Khurram Dara 1 Aman Ali 0

    November 28, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
    • Khurram

      haha, we're all on the same team. I just disagreed with his point of view.

      November 28, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • BG

      @ Khurram

      What "team" is that?

      November 28, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • johnfrichardson

      @Khurram Aman no doubt means well, but his article on this show totally missed the mark. I think your path will prove by far the more productive one.

      November 28, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • Khurram

      @BG the team that would like to see Muslims take positive action, invest in America, and help eradicate Islamic extremism.

      November 28, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • BG

      @ Khurram

      A fine stock answer. Allow me a followup.

      Do you consider that Dearborn's Muslim population and city government were appropriate in their response and management of the Terry Jones' demonstration there?

      November 28, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
  5. 26009

    I watched the first 2 shows but when it came to making non Muslim high school football players practice from 10 pm to 5 am I was disgusted. What is wrong with a school district that allows one religion to determine when any school activities will take place. Those non Muslim boys were put in the position of missing practice and sitting on the side line or observing some religious observance that means nothing to them and should not be allowed.
    I'm done with this program. These people are so one sided, so not willing to compromise, so unacceping of any one that does not share their belief.
    I don't hate them but I sure as heck don't trust them. The towers fell in the name of their religion. Do you see a flag flying in their yards?

    November 28, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
    • BioHzrd420

      Non-Christians deal with Easter and Christmas every year. How many times do does the population who isn't christian have to listen to our politicians call America a Christian country? "These people"?? How about you people? I don't observe church on Sundays so I should be able to buy alchohol. But the LAW says it is the day of rest and since the bigger population said so I abide by it. Compromise comes on both sides.

      November 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • Michele

      wow! Welcome to my world, my eight year old spends an hour a day for the two months leading up until Christmas singing Christmas songs (a holiday he doesn't celebrate). About 15% of the children in his elementary school or Muslim, we also have Hindu's, Jews and Buddhists in our school. He also is given Christmas worksheets, spelling words, is asked to write holiday "letters" to Santa, etc. By your logic, no non-Christian student should ever be inconvenience for the sake of Christian students? Quite sure you and others like you are the first ones to scream when the shoe is on the other foot.

      November 28, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • america45

      flags aren't flying in their backyeards because people will wonder why a muslim has it flying, what reason are they flying the flag for. there is stigma from all sides. even if they try to be patriotic, people will ask questions and wonder

      November 28, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  6. jj

    The gods of all cultures are ETs that came to earth and were seen by ancient civilizations, many of whom incorporated these sightings into their histories (what we call myths or legends today although they are histories).

    November 28, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • S Guy

      Michele
      There is home schooling and private schools if you do not want your child to participate in activities at the public school that he attends. This is a Christan nation founded on Christian principles. It is not a perfect nation, but we are one Nation, under God, and if you can't accept that, there is always the option of relocating to another country. And by the way, what contribution(s) have you made to this county?

      November 28, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      S Guy, you are 100% wrong about the founding of the USA and "one nation under god." I suggest you go do some homework and report back with the facts, before others shred your unfounded assertions.

      November 28, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
  7. hawaiiduude

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IX9Tk2TMA6Q&w=640&h=360]

    November 28, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
    • hawaiiduude

      this is a great show about christians living in israel!

      November 28, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  8. Abdul Ameen

    Great article, from what i saw in the facebook page the non-muslims were more understanding and accepting of the show than the muslims were. This shows that we can't be strong if we're divided.

    People need to understand that progress comes in steps and is not an overnight change so being dramatic about the show and comparing it to useless stuff defeats the purpose of educating people about the religion/culture

    November 28, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  9. Sandra G.

    Can we see TLC produce a show centering on Christians living in a Muslim country? Now that will get ratings.

    November 28, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • hawaiiduude

      lets watch a show about christians living in israel... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IX9Tk2TMA6Q&feature=related

      November 28, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  10. BG

    Muslim "defense tactics" offered in response to the author's stated "natural curiosities" are the only response possible from muslims. Their book is perfect, and their (theocratic fascist) religion without fault. The dogma, precepts and righteouness of Islam is not to be subjected to the infidels' questions and criticisms.

    How many times have we heard 'you don't understand', or 'you've read the wrong translation of the koran or 'you have to be Muslim to appreciate..' Then, after we research, read, and study more closely the tenets of this belief and observe the behaviors of the followers, we arrive at the inevitable "reasonable concern" which is naturally exascerbated by muslim defensiveness and belligerance. The author states that: "... we desperately cling to the idea that if people just had a better grasp of the facts on Islam, they wouldn’t buy into anti-Muslim propaganda." In reality, a better understanding of islam makes 'anti-muslim propaganda' superfluous.

    November 28, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • hippypoet

      lol, here too huh! i find those that hate to be only expressing selfhate – they often have an enablity to accecpt themselves as they are and so belittle others... to shorten it and put it simply, they project there lackings onto others – like you!

      November 28, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Hippy's wifey

      Ain't I lookin lovely in that pic...that was taken by hippy dear..XOXO hipps

      November 28, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • BG

      Aw, here's our resident Jung, all stoked up are we? Let us know when a lucid thought decides to make a guest appearance in your convoluted little mind.

      * Lucid Thought * "Say, the floor's really sticky in here.. and it stinks, too. I'll come back later."

      November 28, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • hippypoet

      @BG thank you for proving my point. 🙂

      November 28, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • BG

      Glad your happy. I'd hate to be a buzzk. Now exhale.

      November 28, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • BioHzrd420

      Same goes for studying the bible and christianity. I'm sure if I just read the bible itself I could pick and pull phrases that would make your hair stand on end.

      November 28, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
  11. Supporter

    I thought the show was great. I liked the dynamics between the family members and had the show not had a religious theme – i would have completely forgotten it was there.

    November 28, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  12. Alex

    Thanks. Great point of view. Though it seems now that folks have seen three episodes, there is a lot less and a lot more love. This is a great show and it's been getting better with each episode. Truly transformative television.

    November 28, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  13. OldTimer

    Mr.Dara, you are either trying to sidestep the issue or are utterly blind to your own religion. Both are bad.
    People are just people, but your religion is not like that. Your religion is one of the worst in the world.
    This is not to say that being secular American Muslims isn't an improvement over your extremist fellows, but ignoring the fact that you are all reading from the same playbook is dishonest and misleading.
    If you have read the Quran, then you are just trying to divert attention away from the violence and insanity it espouses.
    Pretending it does not exist is not deserving of any respect. You follow a religion that is at its best when it is completely ignored.
    Secular American Muslims are better than violent extremist American Muslims. That is all that can be said about that side of it.

    November 28, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • footnotegirl

      OldTimer, have you read the BIBLE? There's some crazy violent stuff in there too, and yet we don't judge all Christians by the examples of those who commit horrible crimes (such as killing doctors). Islam, as a religion is no better or worse than any other religion, and quite frankly doesn't really have a larger psychotic fringe by percentage than any other, especially when the swath of human history is taken into account.
      There's a reason that I'm not a member of ANY organized religion. They're all pretty loopy.

      November 28, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
    • Khurram

      No actually I'm trying to avoid conversations where the parties involved have no idea what they are talking about. I'm not a religious scholar so I don't try to explain why some things are to be taken literally while others are more symbolic or in a particular context. One could isolate verses of other books and show how those verses promote activities which we consider to be wrong, but I don't think that's constructive. I'll leave that for the scholars. I'm saying that we should build the proper connections and bridges with people so that there is an appropriate counterweight to some of the anti-Muslim propoganda out there.

      Consider the fact that we do not accuse Christianity of promoting violence when Christian extremists commit violent acts. Is this because we have all exhaustively studied the Bible and came to the conclusion that the justification was tenuous? Or is it because we all know someone who is Christian, and know based on our experiences with that indvidual, that they, along with most other Christians, do not believe in violence? I say it is the latter.

      November 28, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • OldTimer

      A personal inclination towards peacefulness is not dependent upon the religion being followed (or not followed in the case of atheists).
      Peaceful people are peaceful regardless of their religion, politics, etc.
      You apparently like to sidestep anyone who argues that the religion is at fault for being used as a motivational resource and plead ignorance of deeper theological knowledge while wearing your Muslim faith like a shroud and seeking tolerance of others of that same faith.
      You contradict the whole stance of your article when you refuse to bring your religion into it beyond a slight tendency to call yourself a Muslim.
      You say you are a peaceful American. That's fine.
      But if you say you are a peaceful Muslim, then I say you are a secular one who does not understand anything about the religion you profess to follow. Many Muslims are peaceful only as far as they are willing to ignore the tenets of their religion.
      This can be applied to every religion that has violence advocated within its texts, like Christianity.
      Without a religion, a peaceful person can at least avoid being a hypocrite.
      Secular religious followers cannot avoid the fact that they are not following all the little rules their religion espouses.

      I like peaceful people. I do not like most religious "values".
      If you call yourself an American Muslim, choosing to wear this label, rather than simply calling yourself an American, then your attempts to appear as "just another American" fall rather short.
      We have religious freedom here. You are not required to declare your beliefs to anyone.
      You wear your label on your sleeve at your own risk, apparently in willful ignorance of what that can entail.
      You seek integration, yet every religion espouses separation. What is "holy" is set apart. Unbelievers are to be killed. Everyone must believe or die. Where is the freedom of religion within Islam? Nowhere. Tolerance of other religions is not freedom but merely a pause before the next holy war regardless of what religion you follow.
      Religions are insane. Secular followers know this and avoid the insane parts as best they can.
      But the religion hasn't changed, only their individual observance of it.
      You seem intellectually dishonest to me which is why I wrote such a long post. Am I wrong? Probably not.
      I'm surprised you responded to my post. Most authors avoid responding to comments here. Will you continue?

      November 28, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • Khurram

      I can imagine why people don't, there are lot of comments to follow. Yours caught my eye because that's a criticism I've heard–the accusation that: "hey look see he doesn't want to talk about the specifics of the religion, see this means it's not defensible." That's not true–a lot of scholars can provide guidance on that. My point is that no matter what I say, no matter what explanation I give, you are unlikely to change your views. I'd rather not waste the time, and instead focus my efforts on constructive sociological exchange through action and investment in America, fighting terrorism and extremism within Islam, and living my life.

      November 28, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • OldTimer

      Yet you wrote the article as written, yes?
      So go and live your life. I have told you some things. If you want to ignore them and run away, go ahead. I can't stop you can I?
      If I thought your views were defensible, would I have addressed them in the first place?
      And, no, you are not likely to change my mind on many things, but then I was looking to expand my horizons here and all you want to do is run away. Thanks for the empty dialogue. You are a "true Muslim".

      November 28, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • Khurram

      No, no I don't think you quite caught it. I don't really see the point of arguing with you on whether Islam is an "evil" religion. No matter what I say to you, you will not change your views. This makes sense, we tend allow emotion and personal connection to influence our perceptions. So my work is centered around a solution that involves building those connections with others so that we can show people that we share a lot more in common than we do different.

      November 28, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
    • OldTimer

      I'm sorry, but your religion does not advocate such things except by force. Are you saying you'd rather work towards human rights for all people in the world? Then I am with you on that. But, again, your religion is expressly against that.

      So then my question would be, are you saying you want to water-down your religion in order to be politically correct in appearance only or in truth? And regardless of your answer I would point out that your religion forbids either one!
      So either you are apostate and deserving, under Islamic "law", of death, or you are a heretic and deserving of same.
      Really, you appear to be on shaky ground here.
      I am for equal rights, human rights, etc., but your religion is not. That will always be an obstacle to believing anything you say to the contrary.
      Really, have you even thought this stuff through? Many people don't think too much about the details of their religion, and that's why they continue to call themselves believers, yet any properly objective examination of your beliefs, your religion, and how you got that way will point to answers you are even more likely to reject because they are not only true, they are dangerous to you.
      If you are seeking safety and peaceful co-existence, might I suggest that you think about it first? We don't get many authors in here posting – I'd hate to read of your fellow Muslims cutting off your head since you seem to be trying somewhat to live in peaceful co-existence with everyone. Yes?

      November 28, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
    • Khurram

      You're assuming that you are the ultimate authority on my faith. My understanding Islam is vastly different than you are portraying it.

      I'm not sure I appreciate being told that I should be put to "death," under your contorted view that I am somehow committing heresy in my faith.

      Not sure we're making much progress here.

      I hope everyone else can see how ineffective the "open dialogue" approach can be in combating negative perceptions of Islam.

      It's got to be 1) condemnation and eradication of Islamic extremism 2) Personal Connections and 3) Visible investment in America, if we want to change things.

      November 28, 2011 at 8:27 pm |
    • OldTimer

      Number one is a good start, but how do you plan to implement it? Who put you in charge?
      If you want to combat extremism, you'll have to examine the reasons as to why it happens at all.
      Are you prepared to go that route? Because it leads right through your religion like a truck driving through a flimsy roadblock.
      But it doesn't end there. I am not "all" about going after your religion. I am also going after the roots of every human problem.
      I have found a few things out. Like the fact that there is no god, there is no "Allah".
      With an open dialogue, how are you supposed to respond to something like that? I deny every basis for your faith. Your Islam is a lie. I am not saying this hatefully, but am only telling you the truth. Yet who can stand such a truth when they have lived a lie all their lives?
      Maybe you should consider becoming an atheist. You gotta admit it would simplify things amazingly....
      See? You have run into the problem all religions have with inter-faith dialogue. I deny most strongly any assertion of yours that is based upon your demonstrably false religion.
      This usually evokes an angry, outraged response within you. I've been there. I used to get quite angry.
      But you are the one who wrote the article which, by the very precepts of your religion, obstruct any open dialogue where your religion is concerned.

      Your problem is you are part of a group that does not play well with others. My problem is that you wrote the article while under the influence of your religious delusions.
      You want common ground? Then admit human psychology plays the central role here. Forget discussing religion. This is about the human brain and all the problems our brains have in processing information.
      But bring religion into it and you are just making things worse, not better.
      You will never stop the extremists until you are willing to deal with their psychology, and you won't be able to deal with psychology until you are willing to see how easy it is to make a person believe lies.
      I could go on, but what would be the point? You lack understanding and knowledge. Simple logic and epistemology would clear up that bad case of Islam you've got, but hardly anyone has the balls to go that far in separating the truth from the lies.

      I'm typing a lot today. Time for a break. Have a good day and feel free to ignore the truths within my posts, Muslim....

      November 28, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
    • jb1331

      I consider myself a pretty devout Christian, and I want to defend Khurram here. OldTimer is utilizing an old-school atheist tactic by assuming revelation and theological understanding cannot evolve. I, as a Christian, take note that my religion has changed drastically over the course of centuries—war is no longer committed in the name of God by religious leaders (we leave that to secular ones), slavery is condemned, and women are no longer viewed as livestock or property. Yet, athiests often point to past abominations committed by church leaders falsely in the name of God as "proof" that Christianity is "evil" and religion is wrong (often bypassing atrocities committed by atheists, see 20th century). What I am getting at is that Khurram seems to be representing a more enlightened face of Islam that may be the leading edge of further revelation within his faith. Progression of understanding is not mutually exclusive from theology, and his points illustrated above are evident of this. Trying to railroad him into the belief structure of “scholars” like the Taliban and the Supreme Council of Iran is rather unfair and misrepresentative, I believe, of the Islam he practices. Ask yourself this, is it not possible that understanding within Islam is evolving and progressing? If so, are your statements not acting as roadblocks to this path laid before Khurram and others like him?

      November 29, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • OldTimer

      jb1331, you may want to defend this guy, but I am not attacking him. I am attacking his demonstrably false religion, his silly and unrealistic ideas, and his lack of insight and lack of discernment.

      I could just as easily attack your foolishness, but you need to get an article posted by CNN first. All my arguments work for most religions including yours.
      Consider the expression of your religion as you yourself do it every day. Do you violate the law? Are you violating the spirit of the law? Possibly. And yet if you were I have no doubt that you would be proud of what you are doing illegally (if you were actually breaking the law for religious "reasons").

      Unless you're willing to address the points I was making, don't expect much beyond a scornful response from me.
      You ignore everything I said and just pooh-pooh it all and look like a fool. Make an actual argument, why don't you?
      Ask questions. Debate this stuff. Empty comments like yours are not worth reading for me. Go take a long walk off a short pier or something. Maybe your god would want it that way, right? Bah.

      November 29, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • OldTimer

      I should add that I do not think my posts are blocking progress. Just the opposite, in fact.
      Like I said before, if you want to address religious extremism, you'd better damn well understand how it arises at all in the first damn place!
      But you can't. You know why? Because you're a religious believer. The only way to get rid of extremism is to understand how it works – and most believers absolutely refuse to question their faith or their religion – two key points in understanding extremism. And that takes care of you, doesn't it? I'm done here....

      November 29, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  14. Yasmin

    Thank you!!! I don't think the Muslim critics realize how much harm they are doing in adding more fuel to the fire with the conversation used by anti-Muslim haters. Pam Gellar, the queen bee of creating fear of Muslims retweeted one of the Muslim critics which goes in her favor (https://twitter.com/#!/Atlasshrugs/statuses/141015226429616129) People need to stop letting their insecurities get in the way of the greater good. This show is SO GOOD for the image of Muslims in America

    November 28, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • S Guy

      Yasmin
      No disrespect intended, but based on your last comment, I have to say you've had your head buried in the sand for a very long time. Trust me, there is no anti-muslim haters, because there is nothing to hate about muslims or islam. Muslims are the most illiterate people in the world. There are people without out a land, people who are displaced all over the world, with no freedoms even in free countries. I have lived in muslim countries and witnessed first hand to sorrows misery of Islam and the lack of choices and freedoms. Please, don't get it twisted, there is nothing to hate about muslims or islam. I really feel bad for muslims and their great tool of brainwashing (the quran).

      November 28, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
    • Edwin

      S Guy: I feel sorry for you. It seems you are comfortable belittling over 2 billion people, calling them illiterate and calling their religious book a brainwashing tool. You say you have lived in muslim countries, but which ones - Turkey and Indonesia have pretty high literacy rates, and they rank high on personal freedoms, too. War-torn countries like Libya, Afghanistan, and Iraq, on the other hand, suffer from war - not religion - so your opinions may have been falsely colored by your choice of locations.

      November 29, 2011 at 3:16 am |
    • Susan

      Why should I care about the image of Muslims?

      November 29, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  15. Doc Vestibule

    Regardless of religious affiliation, so long as one support the western tradition of conspi.cuous consumption, you're an A-OK, true blue 'Merican, pardner.
    And that's what this show portrays – muslims playin' football, drivin' SUVs and drinkin' coca-cola – thus affirming their identi/ties as Americans.

    November 28, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
    • SuperFan

      and wearing their headresses (I do apologize I'm not sure what they're called) and their muslim garb but we can't display out 10 commandments....I just don't see why one thing is ok for some but the other isn't.

      November 29, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @SuperFan
      Nobody is stopping you from wearing a cross. In fact, I see a ton of giant Jesus/Cross tattoos on people these days.
      If you like, you can sport a T-Shirt with the 10 Commandments written on it.
      Should Sikh's be barred from wearing a turban? Maybe the Krishnas should be required by law to get proper haircuts?

      How would you feel if Sharia law were posted in your kid's classroom next to the 10 commandments?
      That's why the founders of your country were smart enough to keep religion out of government.

      November 30, 2011 at 8:46 am |
  16. @Tava524

    Your views are always on point when in comes to "American Muslims". I always enjoy reading what your articles. I believe on thing that we as muslims need to is stop being so defensive and judgemental.

    November 28, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  17. Colin

    The belief that an infitely old, all-knowing sky-god, powerful enough to create the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies, will cause people to survive their own phsical deaths and live happily ever after in heaven, if they follow some random laws laid down in Bronze Age Palestine = Judaism.

    Judaism PLUS a belief that the same god impregnated a virgin with himself to give birth to himself, so he could sacrifice himself to himself to negate a rule he himself made = Christianity.

    Christianity MINUS the magic powers attributed to Jesus PLUS the belief that the same god whispered the secrets of life, death and the cosmos to a seventh century pedophile in a cave = Islam.

    No matter which sky-fairy one subscribes to, it is all Bronze or Iron age mythological garbage.

    November 28, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Lulz

      blah blah blah blah blah, you sound like my wife...go take some midol.

      November 28, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      I guess I will quote a Poet.

      "personal i find those that hate to be only expressing selfhate – they often have an enablity to accecpt themselves as they are and so belittle others..."

      Colin, let it go dude.

      November 28, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
    • evolvedDNA

      Mark..I see no hate in Colins post. He has merely mentioned some of the ideas that make up the dogma people believe in and it does sound bizarre I know, but there you go. It has nothing to do we the way we think of ourselves..or others.. you are most likely a very nice fellow, and intelligent..which makes the fact you think the gods are real to be baffling ..as Doug Adams said,, I find the whole business of religion profoundly interesting. But it does mystify me that otherwise intelligent people take it seriously.
      – Douglas Adams in The Salmon of Doubt

      November 28, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
    • OldTimer

      Sometimes questioning a person's faith or showing how silly it all is provokes a lot of anger from the religious person.
      This is simple psychology due to them being a member of a cult. Any threat to the party line is violently resisted automatically, without much thought and opposing views are viewed as intolerable. Thus, truth equals hate-speech.
      The little bit of scorn and sarcasm can be overwhelming to an overly sensitive person who is insecure in their false belief.

      November 28, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"I find the whole business of religion profoundly interesting. But it does mystify me that otherwise intelligent people take it seriously."

      That is interesting because one of the reasons that I enjoy coming here is simular in that I find Athiesm interesting. How can folks that can make very decent observations go through life believing that there is no God as much as I believe there is.

      The question you have to ask is that with Colin's post it ended with a straight forward insult that someone that believes differently than him has a view that is garbage. Not different, not interesting...but garbage. Did you do that? Did I?

      That is where Colin allowed hatred to overshadow his post. See, I can view someone that looks, thinks, and believes as just that, different. After, such becomes acceptable, the dehumanization, then we open the flood gates of what people will do.

      I came here because I didn't want to just hate Athiest, I wanted to hear them. I wanted them to hear me. I wanted to begin the path away from just the "I Hate you" and another screaming back, "I Hate you". It gets us no where Ev.DNA.

      November 28, 2011 at 9:07 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Mark..Saying what you believe is garbage is not "hate",it may not be civilized perhaps, but not hate. I have never said on any of my posts that I hate folks..I may hate, however, what religions can do to a mind. Its also not that atheists" believe" there is no god... we see no evidence for one, no belief involved..We depend on you to produce the evidence and so far the only "evidence" appears to be your belief based on stories in a book. So really atheists are saying we will not falsify our understanding of the world in favor of a what is, so far, just a myth.

      November 28, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
    • Ironicus

      Uh, Mark, the term "garbage" is perhaps one of the most polite terms Colin could have used in this instance.
      He was being ***polite**** about one of the most heinous crimes against humanity that ever was in terms of sheer scope throughout human history!

      Shall we sugarcoat it for you and call it a heinous crime and the worst con-game that ever was?
      And then we'll ask you if you prefer one lump or two and smile sweetly as the medicine goes down.

      November 28, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
    • Edwin

      I'm with Mark here. Perhaps Colin presents no hate, but he does present ignorance and intolerance. As an atheist myself, I find it irritating that people like Colin ridicule religion in general.

      Whatever Colin believes about the universe, I'd bet there is no way to prove it. Even the "scientific method" requires two or three leaps of absolute faith to justify its use - assumptions that *seem* reasonable but are impossible to prove.

      November 29, 2011 at 3:21 am |
  18. hippypoet

    personal i find those that hate to be only expressing selfhate – they often have an enablity to accecpt themselves as they are and so belittle others... to shorten it and put it simply, they project there lackings onto others!

    November 28, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • johnfrichardson

      Hate can be stupid and debilitating. But a lot of what is called 'hate' around here (and in general) isn't hate.

      November 28, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
    • BG

      Well, Richardson, I went to your new WordPress page, and I can honestly say that I really -hate- it.

      Of course it's probably because I hated 10th grade math...

      November 28, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
  19. Z. M.

    good points, baby steps, baby steps. Showing is better than telling. I like it.

    November 28, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • Careful of that tripwire, Ahmed

      What episode do they show the back room in their basement? You know, the one where dad hand loads his "ammunition." Never mind all that wire in the corner. The pipe? We're plumbing in a new toilet. Now please leave.

      November 28, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Edwin

      Careful: it sounds like your distrust of muslims runs incredibly deep. It may take more than one TV series to help you start to see American muslims as human beings, like other American citizens.

      November 29, 2011 at 3:05 am |
  20. kay odei

    religion is not up for debate. of course the people are fine, the problem is the drivel they believe when it comes down to it. so long as you have people who believe crap they can't prove and proceed to impose it on their children, you have a problem. if you don't get this, you don't understand your environment

    November 28, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • OldTimer

      Well said.

      November 28, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • GAW

      Whew !Nice to know that not only religious people can be Holier than Thou

      November 28, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • OldTimer

      GAW, you must be new here. Welcome to the internet.

      November 28, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.