June 11th, 2010
03:59 AM ET

My Take: New portrait of Muslim America shows community on edge

Editor's Note: Frankie Martin is Ibn Khaldun Chair Research Fellow at American University's School of International Service and is a contributor to the new book Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam.

By Frankie Martin, Special to CNN

As I got off the plane in St. Louis in September 2008, I didn’t realize I was beginning a journey that would change my life.

On that day, I–along with several researchers working with Professor Akbar Ahmed, American University’s Chair of Islamic Studies–began a grueling project aimed at studying America’s Muslim population and its relationship to American identity. Now, nearly two years, 75 cities and 100 mosques later, Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam, will be published by the Brookings Institution Press this month.

In addition to providing unprecedented insight into America’s Muslim community, it also led me to look at my own country, the United States, in a different way.

I had taken Professor Ahmed’s class on improving relations between Islam and the West as an underclassman shortly after the US invaded Iraq in 2003 and had traveled across the Muslim world with him for the book Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization, listening to Muslim voices in countries including Jordan, Pakistan, and India.

On that trip, during which Muslims in eight countries cited “American negative perceptions of Islam” as the greatest threat to the Muslim world, I was ready for anything and eager to learn. After all, I had spent the second half of my life living and traveling widely around the world, from Kenya to China, and studying foreign lands in my international relations courses.

America was a different matter. This, I thought, was a country that I knew. Yet although I lived in the Baltimore suburbs until I was a teenager and went to college in Washington, DC, like many Americans I was familiar with only a few states, and had never experienced entire regions like the South.

Assisting a world-renowned anthropologist on a De Tocqueville-esque quest would change this. Like that earlier foreign traveler, Professor Ahmed saw his endeavor as a tribute to a nation that had welcomed him so warmly in crafting a study which would examine both the strengths of America and the parts that could be strengthened.

Within a few hours on our first day—which took us to Somali refugees in a St. Louis housing project—I realized I was experiencing something unique. Though I’m a Christian, I was seeing the country through Muslim eyes, including those of my professor.

But this was only part of the story. In order to see how Muslims were fitting into America—and what it meant to fit in—we would need to talk to Americans from all backgrounds and religions. Assisting us would be data from the roughly two thousand surveys we distributed in the field as well as countless conversations on our travels.

Over the next long months, we saw the ravages of inner city Detroit and the mansions of Palm Beach, Florida; the serene, impoverished Hopi Indian reservation in Arizona and a Silicon Valley “hackers conference” with scientists talking of settlements on the Moon and Mars. We spoke at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, spent an afternoon with Mennonites in Texas, were welcomed by the Mormon leadership in Salt Lake City, and visited coal miners in the West Virginia wilderness.

The diversity of people and beliefs was striking and inspiring. And, for the first time, I saw the fall colors in New England, the Grand Canyon, and a Hawaiian sunset.

We found the Muslim community to be hospitable and patriotic, as they often said that America was the best place to be a Muslim because of religious freedom. But the community is on edge, divided and facing a leadership crisis—contributing to the “homegrown terrorist” phenomenon—and reeling from post-9/11 hatred and prejudice.

I was shocked to see the challenges American Muslims are facing, from kids beaten up and called terrorists at school to people incarcerated without charge and subjected to inhuman treatment and mosques being firebombed. A Muslim community that feels accepted as true Americans and is encouraged to enter the mainstream will be the best defense against homegrown terrorism.

Witnessing the challenges facing the Muslim community led me to ask a question I never had before: what does it mean to be American? Although we met Americans who had a different idea of the country (one official at a Church of Christ chapter in Austin named “pluralism” as the greatest threat to America and the Founding Fathers as the source of this threat) for me, the team, and my professor, being American means embracing the ideals of the Founding Fathers, which include pluralism, rule of law, and civil liberties.

Today, feelings against Islam are running high, with a prominent radio host recently expressing his hope that the proposed New York mosque near Ground Zero would be blown up. Every week seems to bring a new controversy, from the high emotions of the mosque debate to last month’s discussion about the current Miss USA, a Lebanese immigrant, who was slammed as a Hezbollah agent because her surname was said to be shared by people linked to the organization.

In this environment, I was inspired during countless hours of research into American history to see how clear the Founding Fathers were on the subject of Islam in America. Thomas Jefferson learned Arabic using his Quran and hosted the first presidential iftaar during Ramadan, John Adams named Prophet Muhammad as one of the world’s “sober inquirers after truth” alongside Socrates and Confucius, and Benjamin Franklin, who cited the Prophet as a model of compassion, wrote of his hope that the head cleric of Istanbul would preach Islam to Americans from a Philadelphia pulpit, so passionate was his belief in religious freedom.

Today, America faces a crisis of identity. One focal point at the core of the debate is Islam, which some Americans see as a monolithic threat seeking the takeover of the country. They are fearful and suspicious of the Muslims in their midst. For many of these citizens, being a good American—and, for some, a good Christian—means opposing and fighting Islam.

My journey has led me to conclude the opposite. Being a good American means welcoming Muslims as the Founding Fathers did and following their guidelines on matters of law and security as laid out in the Constitution. As for Christianity, the attitude of the Founding Fathers was shaped by Christian thinkers like John Locke, who declared that the true Christian’s duty was to “practice charity, meekness, and good-will in general towards all mankind, even to those that are not Christians.”

Giving us hope for the future was data from our surveys, which showed that over ninety percent of Americans would vote for a Muslim for public office, and the similarly high percentage of people who are open to Muslims living in and being a part of this nation.

Some, however, inserted “if” clauses, indicating they believed Muslims could be American only if they followed narrowly defined rules, such as ceasing to identify as “Muslim” in favor of an exclusive “American” identity. The Founding Fathers set no such qualifications for “Americanness.”

Discovering America over the past few years has made me appreciate the inclusive vision of the Founding Fathers. Having traveled abroad, I know that their ideals also inspire people around the world, especially in Muslim countries. I can now say I am American with an awareness and pride I never had before.

With all of the challenges facing the country, perhaps the most important thing we can do as Americans is to consider who we really are. For me, being American means assuming and implementing the Founding Fathers’ vision of tolerance and religious freedom. The rediscovery of that vision has reaffirmed my belief in the promise of America.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Frankie Martin.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Islam

soundoff (826 Responses)
  1. texmex

    They think america is a threat to them then what are they to us then! ONE BIG THREAT! muslims need to stick to their alleged meaning of peace which they claim to have but never show other than blowing themselves up unless that is what they really mean.

    June 14, 2010 at 11:40 am |
  2. Ali

    "A Muslim community that feels accepted as true Americans and is encouraged to enter the mainstream will be the best defense against homegrown terrorism."
    Frankie, I did graduate research among the Muslim communities in the NYC area way back in the 1990s, before even the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. Even though I'm Arab-American, I'm not Muslim. I was met with suspicion and a general lack of cooperation at most of the mosques and Islamic Centers that I contacted. Even in my home state of Michigan, the campus Muslim Center and its director, an academic on the faculty at the University, were not willing to have me survey them on even such a non controversial issue as consumption behavior. In short, Muslims have a suspicion of the U.S. that pre-dates 9/11 and a general unwillingness to engage with the non Muslim population at large.

    June 14, 2010 at 11:20 am |
  3. MK

    QMAX 1234, I understand what you are saying,, and each religion has to be protective of themselves. Thats how religions were made and that was the purpose of religion hundreds of years ago. But you know what, Muslims , especially in America, have been evolving,and it isn't the old traditional ISLAM from the year 700. Religion, just like everything else, needs to evolve and change for the better. Unfortuneately, its taking a LOOONG time for many Islamic countries to evolve, and understand that certain teachings from yr 700 can't be implemented in today's society. I do see a good change in the new generation of Muslims in the West, and thats the only positive thing I can say.

    June 14, 2010 at 11:03 am |
  4. QMAX1234

    How can Muslims stand up against this from their own Holy Quran and Sunnah:

    And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah. That is their saying with their mouths. THEY IMITATE THE SAYING OF THOSE WHO DISBELIEVE OF OLD. ALLAH (HIMSELF) FIGHTETH AGAINST THEM (Arabic: qaatalahumu llahu anna yu'fakoona– Literally-May Allah KILL THEM) . HOW PERVERSE ARE THEY! S. 9:30

    Now from the Hadith:

    Narrated 'Aisha and 'Abdullah bin 'Abbas:

    When the last moment of the life of Allah's Apostle came he started putting his 'Khamisa' on his face and when he felt hot and short of breath he took it off his face and said, "MAY ALLAH CURSE THE JEWS AND CHRISTIANS for they built the places of worship at the graves of their Prophets." The Prophet was warning (Muslims) of what those had done. (Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 8, Number 427)

    I'm sorry we should be warily of Muslims in our mist. Christian scripture doesn't have teachings like this toward other contemporary religions.

    June 14, 2010 at 10:40 am |
    • John F

      That is one interpretation. Another is that Muhammad was calling them hypocrites. Perhaps you will remember another Messenger of God who had similar words for self-proclaimed believers in previous religious dispensations, referring to them as liars and hyprocites and much worse. It was Jesus Christ Himself Who said this. He also said that they knew every jot and tittle of the Word of God but did not understand any of it.

      Secondly, the Hadith are, by definition, hearsay, pure and simple – and sometimes very remote hearsay, and some instances, are pure fabrications while others stand in direct conflict with each other. Because of these things, they are not accepted as being definitive or on a par with the Qur'an.

      Third, Muhammad said that if someone does not harm you or act falsely towards you, you should be kind and hospitable to them, and if they are in need you should take them into your protection. No one at the WTC or on any of the plane flights did anything to deserve what happened, so how can the terrorists involved even remotely think of themselves as acting in a way that was pleasing to God?

      In the Qur'an Muhammad referred to Christians as "the people of the Book" (the Book of God) and He referred to Jesus as the Spirit (the Spirit of God). He did not condemn Jesus or the Bible, but just like Jesus Himself, He did cast shame on those who called themselves faithful to God yet whose behavior did not reflect this.

      June 14, 2010 at 12:11 pm |
    • HeReigns

      Jesus/Isa al Masih did refer to the Saducees and Pharisees as hypocrites. They were the Jewish ruling class, their positions obtained from being scribes and keepers of the Scriptures. He displeased they did not live in a way that glorified God. He also did not use language that would incite his followers to take matters into their own hands and kill such people.
      The Hadith is hearsay, but Muslim teachers still use it to help interpret and expand upon the Qur’an. The Sunni have some, and Shia have others. There doesn’t seem to be any consensus as to what is valid, and what is not. To say imply that the Muslim world completely disregards Hadith is misleading.
      The Injil (NT) said that it is in our base human nature to love those that love us first. It is of divine inspiration to bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
      To refer to Jesus/Isa as merely a Messenger does not honor his character as revealed in the Injil. Muhammad may not have condemned Isa outright, but did give an alternate version of events surrounding the crucifixion and ressurection, an account that contradicts the Word of Isa. This is a red flag because the Injil clearly states that God is not the author of confusion.

      June 14, 2010 at 2:23 pm |
    • QMAX1234

      @ John F. In Islam the hadiths aren't hearsay. The Editor of the book Quarante Hadiths de Imam Nawawi[2] says in his preface, "The Qur'an, the word of God revealed to Muhammad; and the Hadith, the teachings of the Prophet, are the two sources of Islam. The knowledge of this religion would be impossible apart from these two texts." (Ibid., pp. 54-55)

      Also Christians and Jews may be people of the book but they are disbelievers according to Islam:

      And the Jews say: Ezra is the son of Allah, and the Christians say: The Messiah is the son of Allah. That is their saying with their mouths. THEY IMITATE THE SAYING OF THOSE WHO DISBELIEVE OF OLD. ALLAH (HIMSELF) FIGHTETH AGAINST THEM. HOW PERVERSE ARE THEY! They have taken as lords beside Allah their rabbis and their monks and the Messiah son of Mary, when they were bidden to worship only One Allah. There is no Allah save Him. S 9:30-32

      June 14, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
  5. MK

    I think that ALL MUSLIMS should stand up and AGAINST Extremism and Terrorism. WE SHOULD NOT TOLERATE idiots in the world commiting acts of Terrorism in the name of ISLAM. We should start with something small, which could lead to something big. A group, that stands up against these hideous acts of violence, false teachings, and twisting the religion of Islam. IDEA: Starting a Facebook Page, (group), for muslims and non-muslims standing up against Terrorism.Extremists, and False Teachings of Islam.

    June 14, 2010 at 10:32 am |
  6. Fabrizio

    The major problem that I see in dealing with Islam steams from the fact that there is a general lack of communication and clearness on both sides. The non muslim side is frequently bogged down by political correctess and is unable to ask the right questions. On the other hand, the islamic world lacks a single voice to answer with a single and credible voice to the concerns of the secular american society (which is very concerned about the lack of the concept of separation between church and state in large part of the islamic world). Moreover, many of the established religions around, are more centrally organized, with central training and control over the clergy. Such is not the case with Islam. And even if we have a council of american islam, this council does not really have any control on individual mosques and imams and what they teach.
    Addressing MM's comment (11 June), to judge the quality of Islam on counting the number of american killed by muslim versus the percent of americans killed by drunk drivers or random homicides is bordering the ludicrous. Following MM"s logic, let us paraise Saudi Arabia for not letting women drive and in doing so reducing the mortality on the road of at least 50%.

    June 14, 2010 at 9:35 am |
  7. Zach

    We as an Americans should educate ourselves and learn more about other religions before commenting and making racist remarks.

    June 14, 2010 at 7:52 am |
    • Paul

      Thanks Zach for your 7th grade sociology report. You are clueless...I am guessing it is you who needs the education. Racism? Really? What a pedestrian charge. What race is Islam again?

      June 15, 2010 at 6:49 pm |
  8. Richard Mavers

    Why so many stories about Muslims in America on this site? The world (and America) is full of many different religions. News sites focus on Islam so much it's really become boring.

    June 14, 2010 at 6:38 am |
    • juan

      Mr. Mavers: Other religions do not generate media blitzes because of their conservative and restrained ways. From the Hindus you will hear that people got trampled during a festival. From the buddhist you'll hear about the Dalai Lama and their problems with human rights... From Christians you'll hear about molestation related lawsuits and jail sentences... And the odd preacher that wants us to believe that God wants an amusement park... Please send him money... About the Jewish people you'll hear about Gaza... About the muslims you'll hear... Underage marriages, women being doused with acid... life threats because of a cartoon... terrorist attacks... Suicide bombings... capture and torture of aid workers in Asian countries... 911... father killing his 2 daughters because they decided to date white kids (last year, Dallas TX)... death threats to a writer who decided to write unfavorably about muslims (Salman Rushdie)... And, their open anti-christian-anti-every other religion and anti-american sentiment... yet, they still come here.... Oh yeah... And this so called religion of peace show us that they can't stop from killing each other... Shiite vs Sunni and all the stories from all these countries from the old Soviet block that we can't remember because of all the K's Z's R's and T's on their name (no criticism of their language... we just can't associate those names very well)....

      June 14, 2010 at 9:07 am |
  9. sgtak

    Americans actually do express outrage at insane Christians – who besides the family of Fred Phelps supports that group's craziness? Nobody. I am wary of Islam and Muslims – their Sharia Law isn't conducive with the Constitution that we live by in America. And why the hell should we bend over backwards to accomodate them? I see no reason. Having spent years living in a Muslim nation, I can tell you that not all Muslims are bad; however, Islam is indeed questionable and should be dealt with accordingly. I don't trus tthem. Period.

    June 14, 2010 at 4:04 am |
  10. Ben Cooper

    For Ana44: The bible and the NT are separate writings even though some publisher may combine them. Certainly, the Jews do not consider the NT to be part of the bible because they have disowned Christ.

    June 14, 2010 at 2:37 am |
    • HeReigns

      The Old Testament is referred to in Judaism as the Tanakh, the Tawrat in Islam.
      "Hebrew Bible" is a term that refers to the common/shared portions of the Tanakh (Jewish canon) and the Christian OT canon.

      June 14, 2010 at 12:14 pm |
    • theresa

      Ben. Please. Go to a bookstore. Google. It isn't that SOME publishers combine the OT and the NT for convenience. It is ALL the Bible. The parts are different. Some Christians believe that the NT overrules the OT, but that doesn't mean that the NT isn't part of the Bible. You can't buy a Christian Bible today that doesn't have the NT in it.

      June 14, 2010 at 7:23 pm |
  11. RW

    Muslims should Americanize themselves, not try to transfer their country here.

    June 14, 2010 at 2:16 am |
    • juan

      Wholeheartedly agree!!! At least illegal aliens from Mexico are Christians who want to get here and do better for themselves. Sure, they can't speak English, but they don't come here with the hidden agenda of trying to get us to 'convert or die'... I swear, I work in technology, which is a very, very diverse industry... And I still have to meet a nice, sincere Muslim that does not want to make your life difficult.

      June 14, 2010 at 8:46 am |
    • chuckster

      RW I absolutely agree. You come to America to be American, leave your culture in the country you left. WE DON"T WANT IT HERE. When in Rome, do as the Romans!!!!!

      June 14, 2010 at 2:10 pm |
    • Sophia

      Again, you miss the point. What is it to be American? Your 'Americaness' isn't defined by your religion – and part of being American as you so frequently harp on, is democracy, freedom of speech and belief.

      Right now, you are being very 'un-American'.

      June 15, 2010 at 5:12 am |
  12. Proud to be an American

    It is this culture of political correctness that most Americans will regret in a generation or two as Islam continues to grow in our country. Look what is happening in Europe, specifically the Netherlands. The far right wing has now gained a lot of support in the recent elections as a direct result of the continued Muslim immigration and aggression into that country. I am far from right wing but I fear when the Muslim population hits 5%, we will be in the same boat as the UK, France, Netherlands etc.

    Are we blind to the thwarted terror plots? Wake up people! These are American Muslims planning attacks against us on our own soil. Sure the vast majority of Muslims are not extremists but this majority does not speak out against these activities. (only time I've seen American Muslims so riled up was after South Park tried to draw Muhammad) And take a stroll into a mosque in your city, you may be surprised what you hear about America and the West.

    June 14, 2010 at 2:09 am |
  13. HK

    I believe in human rights, and equality of men and women. Mainstream Islam is what exists in the middle east. There is something fundamentally wrong with a religion that allows a man to have 4 wives and suppresses the rights of women.

    June 14, 2010 at 12:19 am |
    • Ben Cooper

      Men and women equal? Are you sure? I believe in equality of dignity and respect as you do, no doubt; however, that doesn’t mean the sexes are equal. That idea is a very recent invention…dating back to the 1970s at the earliest. Men and women weren’t intended to be equal. And they’re not. By what measure are they equal? There are far more differences between the sexes than there are similarities. God never said the sexes were equal. Jesus selected twelve men to be His apostles. He could have chosen a woman, but He didn’t. But none of that means that women are to be mistreated or that a man can have more than one wife at a time. In fact, like it or not, whatever women have today they have because men gave it to them. From the right to vote, to admittance to college, to the military, to political posts…you name it. Men have seen to it that women have been elevated in numerous ways. But there is no industry I can think of – no sport, no science, no game, no writing, no legal system, no athletic ability, no engineering, no drug discovery, no awards for scientific achievement, no Fortune 50 companies (companies that actually make something in addition to money), no adventurism, no culinary art, no nothing in which a woman sits above all men in her field. Ever look at the list of credits that appear at the end of computer video games? They’re all guys. Our brains are just not the same…not to say by any means that all men are brighter than all women. That would hardly be true…but it IS true that the top men in their fields in the world outperform the top women in the same fields. Gad, even in the fashion industry, the top designers are entirely male. There isn’t a single woman at the haute couture level. Incredible. I have no idea why that is, but that’s the way it is. Karl Lagerfeld has been running Chanel for more than twenty years. Armani, Dior, St. Laurent, Givenchy, Gucci…the list is endless. When women routinely win Nobel Prizes in physics, chemistry or medicine, when a woman becomes a world chess champion, when a woman conceives and develops a brand new computer chip that represents a significant advancement over quad cores, when a woman invents warp drive or phasers, when a woman solves an “insolvable” math problem, when a woman, while working with the Large Hadron Collider, discovers the now- hypothetical Higgs Boson to be an actual scalar subatomic particle, when a woman figures out how to pinpoint the exact location of an electron at any point in time, when a woman working for Merck or Pfizer develops a remedy for Alzheimer’s disease, when a woman’s baseball team can defeat the New York Yankees, when a woman can bench press six hundred pounds, run the 100 meter dash in under nine seconds or set a world record in the high jump, then the fairer sex will have made an advance or contribution unlike any it has made before.

      June 14, 2010 at 2:36 am |
    • theresa

      Ben, you have just offended a good half of your readers.

      I originally left Christianity, as I knew it, because women were not considered equal.

      I knew in the deepest part of my being, that my soul was worth just as much as a man's – and not just in terms of saving it, but in terms of the way my soul found its expression in my work and my relationships. That wasn't allowed where I came from, which doesn't sound very much different from where you are.

      You don't have to agree that women are equal to men, at any level, but you are being pretty offensive in how you express your opinion – especially when you consider the number of women in this discussion.

      For the sake of the peace of the world, please try and think about how you sound when you are putting groups of people down. Jesus came in peace. You aren't helping.

      June 14, 2010 at 8:08 pm |
  14. Ivan

    While you make a point, let me reply that mainstream muslims such as me, my family and just about everybody i knew growing up are in the majority in numbers, there are a couple of (sad) factors that let the extremists hijack our religion
    1. There is no organized central leadership in Islam, neither politically nor religiously (such as the pope for catholics). The 'leaders' are either rulers of dictatorships, politicians with power agendas or local clerics with their own version of islam that is rooted in the traditions of their region.

    2. Overwhelmingly, these extremist elements have been from politically and economically volatile areas of the world. There are all kinds of political factions, governments and foreign influences throwing money , arms and propaganda to areas such as pakistan and the middle east fueling these elements for their own gains. THe US has funded many factions over time for their own gains .

    3. The mainstream and moderate muslims really have no backing or voice anywhere. Even the media has no interest in showing stories of ordinary muslims living their life normally..or a normal muslim US soldier.

    4. Lastly, there is a lot of resentment in the muslim world against western political policies in their region. The palestinian issue, dictator regimes in the middle east etc..Extremist and terrorist elements use these issues as a motivation, mix it with their own version of islam and recruit for their own causes.

    Mainstream muslims have (sadly as a result of the 9/11 backlash) started in earnest to try and be heard and fight against these extremists. But to you and many others on this forum I ask that dont judge based on the actions of a few. There are 1.2bn muslims in the world.

    June 13, 2010 at 11:34 pm |
    • Paul

      As to whether or not there is a central leadership within Islam today, according to the book "Muslim Mafia" there most certainly is. It's called the Muslim Brotherhood. It was founded in Egypt in the 1920's and has been plotting ever since to come to America to overthrow the government and sabotage its 'filthy house from within'. Also, re: your point about Muslims being true Americans and patriots, this book also spells out what local police and FBI agents say, that the level of cooperation from the muslim community in rooting out extremists in their midst is exactly zero.

      June 15, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
  15. mattmchugh

    Mr. Martin writes: "...being American means embracing the ideals of the Founding Fathers, which include pluralism, rule of law, and civil liberties." It fascinates and saddens me that there vast swaths of citizens in this country who would take exception to that utterly reasonable statement.

    June 13, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
  16. Robert

    The author mentions Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Ben Franklin in a positive light regarding Islam, but conveniently leaves out that these and many other Founding Fathers were against Islam (commonly referred to as Mahometism back then) as a threat to American society and safety.

    In 1785, Jefferson and Adams, in negotiating with the ambassador of Tripoli to London, got this response from the ambassador which they conveyed to John Jay: "It was written in their Koran, that all nations which had not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave; and that every muslim who was slain in this warfare was sure to go to paradise. He said, also, that the man who was the first to board a vessel had one slave over and above his share, and that when they sprang to the deck of an enemy's ship, every sailor held a dagger in each hand and a third in his mouth; which usually struck such terror into the foe that they cried out for quarter at once."

    This article conveys the very pro-Muslim idea that America's Founding Fathers saw Islam in a positive light, but the above is just one of MANY examples to the contrary.

    June 13, 2010 at 9:28 pm |
  17. ArtInChicago

    The Defenders of the true faith are a silent majority. Muslims are not trying to integrate into American society. The nature of true American ideals is contrary to that of the Islamic faith, for your religion is a theocracy. Many are here for economic opportunity, not because they found the ideals that this country was based on to be so appealing. Be more vocal in your denouncement of your radical faction. Work with other denominations on the various social issues that face all Americans. That's right, mingle with the infidels.

    June 13, 2010 at 8:14 pm |
  18. ana44

    BTW, supplies of fresh water are limited in many areas of the world, many of them are muslim desert countries. They need our water more than we need their oil. Religion is an excuse for war over resources of land, food, water; always has been.

    June 13, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
  19. ana44

    I agree with jimmyc, and with posts that call Frankie Martin a duped apologist. Fear and ego are in the forefront of all strife on the planet. The war between Arabs and Israel goes back to an ancient feud over inheritance by half-brothers. Religion is a useful tool in that battle, not a reason for it.
    What we face now and in the future is wars over resources that are getting slimmer with increased population and a shrinking middle class. Instability increases instability. I understand why muslims and even our allies in Europe fear the USA. What might come about with a nuclear Iran is truly scary. It's time to start thinking outside the small box of us & them because 'them' turns out to be just about everyone else; just look at the posts. Theresa makes a rational statement about how women are treated in the world by all sides, pretty fair really, and 2 men immediately attack her. Sensei, probably of Buddhist sentiment makes a plea to look to spirituality instead of religious dogma and he's immediately labeled an atheist; he didn't say 'science rules' like some have done.
    Point is: we're all on this planet together–with many challenges. The other guy is always the problem until we look in the mirror and realize we all have basic human needs, including freedom. I also think a mosque at ground zero is a slap in the face, at the very least. Fear, however, is the real enemy. Creative solutions to world problems are needed; interesting that it took muslims (and illegals) coming here to get our attention. This is no time to be xenophobic. It's time to be creative and get to work helping each other solve problems; otherwise we'll stand alone. You all do know there's a wheat blight currently threatening that food supply for the 2nd year, don't you.

    June 13, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
  20. jimmyc

    It has become common practice to throw red herring statistics at this discussion. How many people die from drunk drivers relative to Islamic terrorists is irrelevant.

    For more than 20 years bloody, monstrous acts of barbarism killing innocnents world wide have been committed in the name of Islam. It is at this point irrelevant if those who perpetrate these acts of war are mainstream or fringe in the world of Islam since the "mainstream" Islam is doing nothing to isolate them, arrest them, or prevent them from further acts of terror.

    If the mainstream Muslim world really, truly opposes these acts then they must move forcefully and without hesitation to eliminate the support, flow of money, aid and sanctuary these groups receive. to claim to be against acts of terror while permitting those to commit them to live amoung you, be funded by your people is to support terrorists.

    It is very simple, reject the terrorists and aid in eliminating them or Islam is tacitly approving acts of murder agains innocent men, women and children in the name of their faith.

    June 13, 2010 at 4:26 pm |
    • chuckster

      I agree with you jimmyc.

      June 14, 2010 at 2:04 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.