May 21st, 2010
03:39 PM ET

Crash course in Islam from Miss USA

Who would have guessed that Americans would be receiving a crash course in Islam from Miss USA?

A lot of what Rima Fakih, who was crowned on Sunday, has to say about her faith counters stereotypes about Muslims. Check out what she told CNN's Octavia Nasr last night about her faith:

Fakih: During my time in Lebanon, we did not live in Southern Lebanon, we lived in the mountain area of Lebanon, which is predominantly Christian-base. That was a safe area of course because of the war and also because of the fact that the majority of my family is diverse, it’s both Muslim and Christian.

CNN: So, you represent even more than the Muslim Americans, is that how you feel?

Fakih: I feel more Arab-American is the more correct name

CNN: With no religion attached?

Fakih: Religion does not identify me, I would like to say that. My family is more of a spiritual family rather than religious. We’ve never been religious, we’ve been never known to be religious, and on top of everything, we celebrate Christmas, I went to a Christian high school. We are Muslim, however, we appreciate and admire all faiths.

The takeaway: not all Muslims define themselves by their faith - some have mixed religion families and even celebrate Christmas. Has Donald Trump done more for mainstreaming American Islam than anyone in recent memory?

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Islam

soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. David M

    This blog misses the point. She sounds secular. Religion is not an issue for her, so why would you bother making a discussion out of it. Lebanon has many parts that are very secular.

    The important point should have been to emphasize that Arabs and individuals in different Middle Eastern countries are individuals with a variety of worldviews.

    May 26, 2010 at 11:19 pm |
  2. mmi16

    Durning the course of history, more people have been killed in the name of peaceful religions than all of the other causes of conflict.

    May 26, 2010 at 10:42 pm |
    • AJ

      you have got to be kidding. What history book/s have you been reading? Ever hear of Stalin or Mao Zendong? your comment is one of comlete and total ingnorance that borders on insanity. Yes, religion has been used as a base to get people riled up to kill, but no where even close to what history has shown. Alexander the Great, Genghis khan....list goes on and on to prove you wrong.

      May 27, 2010 at 6:39 am |
      • advocatusdiaboli

        Ever hear of the Inquisition? Killed more than Stalin did. How many did pagans did Conquistadors kill? Europe had constant wars for many centuries over protestant versus catholic rulers–one lasting over 1000 years. Give a guess how many were killed over just the hundred years war? Countless.

        May 27, 2010 at 11:38 am |
        • advocatusdiaboli

          Corection: I meant "one lasting 100 not 1,000 years".

          May 27, 2010 at 11:39 am |
    • joseph

      devil's advocate you are incorrect. the hundred years' war was not a religious war. it was a territorial dispute between france and england. also wrong on the toll of the inquisition. stalin's policies led to an estimated 30 million dead. the inquisition certainly would have liked to have been that effective, but it wasn't. mao is right up there with stalin.

      May 28, 2010 at 9:09 am |
    • Jay Salem, OR

      MMI, you are correct.
      Those who quote Stalin, Mao, and the like are focusing on the 20th century atrocities committed by dogmatic atheistic regimes, that yes were responsible for about 100 million deaths. However they quickly shudder when they hear the real figure about religious conflicts thoughout history.

      In strictly spiritual conflicts, where religion is the primary, or the only discernable difference between the warring parties, it is conservatively estimated to be at least 890 million, or liberally estimated at 2.2 billion people being slaughtered due to religious conflicts.

      May 28, 2010 at 11:14 am |
    • antarctica

      That is right!!! Stalin, Lenin, Mao, Pol Pot, Enver Hoxa, Hitler were all very religious (!) and divine (!) people.

      June 13, 2010 at 3:59 am |
  3. Amron

    She is not Arab-American. She is American. Period. End of story. Maybe if people would realize that by classing themselves as anything other than just plain American some of the problems would stop.
    When people immigrate here to start a new life as an American then don't drag your old culture with you. She might have been born here, but I can guarantee you her parents or grandparents immigrated here to be American. Not Arab-American, but American. Nothing more, nothing less.

    May 26, 2010 at 10:33 pm |
    • fighting for your right to post here

      Don't drag your old culture with you? Thats a very unreasonable and ignorant request. America is a melting pot of other cultures. You can very easily embrace your culture and still love America and identify as an American.

      If she was Irish-American, would you still say anything? Keep Irish Pubs out of our neighborhoods? They're not American?

      And by the way, unless you're Native American, we are all here because of immigrants and different cultures.

      May 27, 2010 at 3:34 am |
      • AJ

        Uhhh....your "native Americans" were also immigrants. You know, frozen bearing straights that formed a land bridge and all that.

        May 27, 2010 at 6:43 am |
        • omdusa

          You are right, but I think you mean 'Bering Straits'.

          May 27, 2010 at 12:47 pm |
  4. Karam

    @ Mellissa- that sounds like a beautiful family.

    May 26, 2010 at 10:10 pm |
  5. Ireadthis

    I would like to know what Miss USA means by saying she is "spiritual". That seems to be the term dujour to keep you out of hot water with someone thinking you might be "religious" (the term "religious" being used as an epithet). I think the terms are synonomous.

    May 26, 2010 at 6:16 pm |
    • HearMyWords

      Ireadthis says "I think the terms are synonomous (Religion and spirituality)." Religion is man made jargon whereas spiritual comes from within, i.e. serenity, peace of mind. Religion is for those afraid of Hell. Spirituality is for those who have been there.

      May 28, 2010 at 9:34 am |
    • Ken

      Spiritual to me means how you commune with the "divine" be it god, goddess, gods, the universe, etc. on a personal level.

      Religion is an organized way of controlling other people's spirituality for some form of gain. Money, political/spiritual power, camaraderie, sense of community, security, etc. A lot of people feel the need to belong, and religion can be a very powerful way of doing so.

      May 28, 2010 at 11:43 am |
  6. chuckster

    Can, can, can we all just get along!!!!!!!!

    May 26, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
    • XPATKW

      LMAO! I wish we could.

      May 28, 2010 at 8:13 am |
  7. WinterClover

    I think she left out some of the basics, like killing infidells and women having rights!

    May 26, 2010 at 1:06 pm |
  8. Memphis Slim

    A beauty queen? Stimulating intellectual discussion?

    Please, folks, at least get a sixth-grade education and learn how to read and write in your native tongue; then perhaps you'll realize that an intellectual discussion requires intellect, along with a heavy dose of education.

    May 26, 2010 at 11:46 am |
  9. Carl

    How is this a "crash course" on anything? Its a very brief description of the girl's personal beliefs. She obviously comes from a mostly secular, intermarried family and clearly practices neither Christianity nor Islam in serious manner. This is hardly representative of mainstream beliefs and does nothing to counter the fanatic Islamist culture.

    May 26, 2010 at 8:37 am |
  10. OmegaMann

    She only won because she is Muslim. Just another exercise in political correctness! You see it all the time...

    May 26, 2010 at 4:03 am |
    • jack h.

      i totally agree. she may be smileing now, but if she went to pakistan, they would behead her.

      May 26, 2010 at 12:14 pm |
    • zohaib

      the funny thing is pakistan is trying to become westernized. half the government runs away from the country to visit europe and live in a fancy resort in america. so i think your kinda wrong. you should probably delete your comment

      August 18, 2010 at 6:10 am |
  11. HAL9000

    You need to keep reading the rest of the book. All this changes later on by a man called Jesus. That is the beginning of Christianity.

    "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

    As for the violent so-called "christian" crusades of the middle ages. They were headed by the Catholic church and the pope. There is nothing christian about the slaughter of innocents. Call a cigar a cigar. Just because you adopt a label doesn't mean you are the real item.

    You are not what you say you are...but what you do. Your actions define you loud and clear.


    May 26, 2010 at 2:48 am |
  12. Brent

    None of that is in the Koran.

    May 26, 2010 at 1:58 am |
  13. The real reason

    The terrorist are saying thanks but it still doesn't change anything. Wer're still coming.

    May 26, 2010 at 1:56 am |
    • Melissa

      I agree with miss USA a million %!! I raise my children in a home of faith. My husband is Muslim and I am Catholic. One of my kids goes to Islamic school and the other to Catholic school. We all celerbrate Christmas and the Eid. I also fast with my family during Ramadam. It opens our hearts, minds, and souls to learn differnt faiths 🙂

      May 26, 2010 at 11:14 am |
      • Ben Cooper

        I'm happy for you. Now move to Saudi Arabia, Iran or Pakistan and try that out.

        May 26, 2010 at 4:26 pm |
  14. Brent

    I find Islam to be two faced in America. Muslems dont follow the Koran to the T. They are suppose to try to convert people or kill them. Also heard they were to make people slaves if they also refused to convert. If you cant recite the prayer back to them. Yet in the US as my neibours are Muslem and always say they are Muslem do not attempt to do any of the above. So whats the deal? Have they made changes to their faith here in the US? Have they figured out we could care less about their faith? Or are they lying low til enough of them are here and suddenly uprise against us like the 911 terrorist did? Hey they were here for ten ten before the made their move. How about the mosque next to the TradeTowers site. Suppose to be one of the biggest in the US. Whats that say?

    May 25, 2010 at 8:58 pm |
    • Phil

      the big BIG problem is that while most of us have moved on the Muslims still carry the grudge after all this time. The jihadis believe they are ordained and empowered by Allah to conquer the infidels and rule the earth. Since theocracy is their only form of gov't democracy is wrong and must be eliminated.

      May 26, 2010 at 9:44 am |
    • antarctica

      Where did you get this perverted (dis)information about Islam, from Pat Robertson or Glenn Beck? Why don't ask a Muslim who happens to be morally upstanding, knowledgeable and observant? [Hint: start from your Muslim neighbors] Koran literally says "there is no compulsion in religion (Islam)". In fact, it is unislamic (and morally wrong) to force someone convert to Islam! If so, how would you expect the (forcefully) converted person to follow Islam's principles after conversion? Would they follow and uphold them? Your false assertions are totally untrue, baseless, illogical and offensively wrong! Get informed before you get an opinion!

      June 13, 2010 at 3:50 am |
    • ahmad

      we are not two faces just because we live in USA you have 1.5 billion Muslim in this world so if you have 30 million or 100 million are bad that doesn't mean all Muslim they want you to do this or that or they want you to convert or kill you the media in here play a roll of what they want you to know about Islam and definitely they want you to know the bad image about Islam I give you an Example when Hitler or the countries that was involved in world War 1&2 Mostly are Christian country and they kill tens of million of people that doesn't mean all Christian are bad what do you believe is between you and god and nobody have the right to one another my religion or your religion the better then one another

      June 15, 2010 at 4:53 pm |
  15. skep

    She appears to be nice looking muslim lady and would suite wearing a bikini. Most muslim women that i see are short, dump, frumpy, and wearing a flour sack bag down to their ankles. Real turn-offs, but that's the way allah wants it.

    May 24, 2010 at 6:04 pm |
  16. nancy

    I consider myself Christian and would not wear a bikini. Not a good test.

    May 24, 2010 at 5:58 pm |
  17. joe

    True islam is not free.

    May 24, 2010 at 3:50 pm |
  18. cfiman

    She is no more muslim than Minnie mouse.

    May 24, 2010 at 3:26 pm |
  19. Anisa Khan

    The same could be said for Christians who say X is not a true Christian because of Y or that X is not a true Jew because of Y.

    May 22, 2010 at 12:41 pm |
  20. mohamad burjak

    I am Muslim, and to me i really dont see her as a true Muslim woman; but my opinion or anyones for that matter does not matter. to allow this topic to have any controversy is kind of silly to tell you the truth.

    May 21, 2010 at 10:55 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.