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September 1st, 2011
10:24 AM ET

My Faith: Rep. Keith Ellison, from Catholic to Muslim

By Chris Welch, CNN

Minneapolis, Minnesota (CNN) -Prior to 2006, few people even knew that then-Minnesota state legislator Keith Ellison was a Muslim. Because of his English name, he said, no one thought to ask.

But five years ago, when he ran for a seat in the United States House of Representatives - a race he would go on to win - word of his religious affiliation began to spread.

“When I started running for Congress it actually took me by surprise that so many people were fascinated with me being the first Muslim in Congress,” said Ellison, a Democrat now serving his third term in the House.

“But someone said to me, ‘Look Keith, think of a person of Japanese origin running for Congress six years after Pearl Harbor–this might be a news story.’”

Though Ellison's status as the first Muslim elected to Congress is widely known, fewer are aware that he was born into a Catholic family in Detroit and was brought up attending Catholic schools.

But he said he was never comfortable with that faith.

“I just felt it was ritual and dogma,” Ellison said. “Of course, that’s not the reality of Catholicism, but it’s the reality I lived. So I just kind of lost interest and stopped going to Mass unless I was required to.”

It wasn’t until he was a student at Wayne State University in Detroit when Ellison began, “looking for other things.”

He doesn’t have an elaborate explanation of what led him to convert to Islam in college, though he said he was “drawn to the multi-national congregation.”

“I would really like to hear somebody who is really articulate about the elements of their faith conversion. I'm not,” he said. "I investigated it, it worked for me, and it made me have a sense of inspiration and wonder, and I became a Muslim. It's been working for me ever since.”

Ellison's political opponents have made his faith an issue in his congressional campaigns.

“I would caution [opponents] that it doesn't work. People are not hateful like that," he said. "If you come up saying, ‘Vote for me because Ellison is a Muslim and I’m not,’ nine out of ten voters are going to see that as the silliness that it is.”

“It doesn't hurt my feelings at all," he said. "In fact I actually feel sorry for these people.”

And he said he has never had a second thought about converting.

“My faith and my identity as a Muslim - I never saw it as something that made my job harder," he said. "It’s just an aspect of who I am. It's the time that we live in. We have to respond to the realities of the world we’re in.”

But Ellison acknowledges that his faith has given him something of a national profile, not always in ways that are welcome.

In March, he testified in nationally televised congressional hearings, called by Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican, to explore what King said was radicalization in American Muslim communities.

At the hearing, Ellison choked up as he described the sacrifices of Muslim Americans who tried to save others in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

“Without any of my choosing or desire I became somewhat of a symbolic figure," Ellison said. "And I urge anyone to avoid becoming a symbolic figure if you can. But I ended up in that position, so I just figured why not talk about it? Why not help try to bring people together with it?”

“Faith really should be a bridge, not a wall," Ellison said. "Because at the end of the day we should be focusing on what you believe, not what your religion is.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Islam

soundoff (1,073 Responses)
  1. Kebos

    So what! He chose to go from one oppressive cult to another. How is that news?

    September 1, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • spiralbrain

      Agreed.

      September 1, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
  2. M

    Why convert to Islam, a religion that claims to be the ultimate and final truth proclaiming all you'll ever need to know or want to know is right in that book. A religion that needs to enforce that kind of ideology by using violence. A religion that divides the world in half and says that atheist, and gays other religions should be killed and that Women's statement is half that of a man. A religion that proclaims its own language is superior to all others just because the Quran only makes sense in Arabic. By far the other religions have their own faults but Islam is the worse of the evils.

    September 1, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
    • Stevie7

      You could substi.tute Christianity for Islam in your post and have as equally valid an argument.

      Maybe he just have enough of drinking jesus' blood and feasting on his flesh?

      September 1, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • Kebos

      Agree with that. Every religion claims to have it all and answer it all otherwise they would not survive.

      September 1, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • Abudu Rahman

      Yada, yada, yada, all of your talk and neither one of you can say what Islam doesn't have an answer to.

      September 1, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
  3. fred

    lol Minnesota also put Michelle Bachman there! Thats genius response to that hillbily!

    September 1, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • Martin T

      I agree Fred, but be careful THEY will condemn you for your truth.

      September 1, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  4. Bibletruth

    Someone said: Islam and Christianity share the same god, as do both of them with Judaism.

    I suppose it depends how you define God. What is absolutely true is that the three mentioned religions do not believe in the same god. Only folks that are ignorant of the beliefs of the three mentioned religions could make such a statement. For example, a Sunni believes certain things different than a Shi'ite, and they are hostile to each other re their different beliefs. Do they believe in the same god? No. Each believes they are beleving the true God and that true god has given them the "truths" they reject of each other. All one can really say is all of them, all religions, have a belief in a god. It is true that Judism and Christianity have the same God-Jejhovah. However, in rejecting Jesus, the Son of God, Judism has in fact rejected their own prophets and consequently God, in favor of a God of their own imagination, not the God of their own scriptures.

    September 1, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
    • Stevie7

      Using that same logic, Catholics and Protestants don't believe in the same god. it's splitting hairs.

      September 1, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • Martin T

      Oh they worship the same god, the one that doesn't exist.

      September 1, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • Derek

      Sorry, but there is a difference between having different ideas about one being (the God of Abraham) and believing in two different beings (Zeus AND the God of Abraham, for instance.)

      September 1, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • A Theist

      Christians and Jewish people believe in the same God, YHWH (though the Jewish don't believe we can even type the name)–according to Christians and Messianic Jewish followers anyway. The Jewish faith believe they worship a different God than Christians do–since they deny the existence of Trinity, or if they do not, they believe that Jesus Christ is not a part of the Trinity. Muslims believe in Allah, a monotheistic singular God that claims that the Jewish people have got it wrong and that the Christians have mistakenly deified a prophet (Jesus). Most Christians and Jewish people acknowledge that Allah is not the same as YHWH.

      Some Protestants may claim they worship the true God and Catholics do not (or visa-versa). But the differences in these denominations is that of how to follow Jesus Christ, a part of the Trinity. Both accept the notion of the Trinity and both describe Him as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. So, I doubt you could really say they worship different Gods in the same way Muslims and Christians do.

      September 1, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • Abudu Rahman

      Sunni and Shia Muslims believe in the same G'd Allah (SWT) and the same concept of G'd. Their differences come with what happened after the Prophet (saws) died.

      September 1, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • Palette

      You're wrong about Sunni vs. Shia. They do both believe in Allah (God), and that Mohammed was the prophet. Where it all breaks down is that when Mohammed died without a direct descendent, they disagreed on the successor to him. It's sort of like the Jews starting to fight because some believe one of Abraham's sons is the next prophet and some believe one of his other sons was the next prophet, yet they all still believe in the Bible. Completely stupid to me as I doubt there's anything in the Qu'ran that agrees with what they've done (and I think it definitely says that one Muslim shouldn't kill another, in spite of what those idiots did on 9/11). I believe they've done this because the Qu'ran does say something about "blaspheming Islam" and they both think that the other is doing just that. They can't both be right and maybe neither one of them is.

      September 1, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  5. Stavros

    Our Father...
    Thank You for naming us Your children with Your Holy Spirit. You have given me great value in my life... for I am but a handful of dust, and to dust shall I return. Without Your breath of life, I am nothing. But You have now granted me more than just Your breath of life, but Life itself, through Jesus Christ, You've granted all Your children eternal life, with You...

    Who art in Heaven...
    What a beautiful place, I can't imagine the sight of You and all the Saints and Angels, and all Your children, in love, with no evil in the world. No eye can see it, and no mind can imagine it. Our God is an awesome God...

    Hallowed be Thy Name...
    Jesus Christ, our Saviour, Son of the True Living God, may Your Name be glorified through me. Let your light shine through me, that people may glorify the Father.

    Thy Kingdom come...
    Remember me, O Lord, when You come into Your Kingdom.

    Thy Will be done...
    My own will just leads to unhappiness, and no love, take over God, let Your will be done in my life.

    On Earth as it is in Heaven...
    Let me begin my eternal life with You today, now. Let me get to know you and love you and live with you even on earth. Teach me to live humbly and to love unconditionally. Grant me love, faith, hope, patience, kindness, peace, and joy.

    Give us this day our daily bread...
    Thank you for your blessings and grace, continue to nurture us and make us grow in love and faith.

    And forgive us our trespasses...
    Judge me not according to my sins, for they are too great, but have mercy on me Lord! Have mercy on all Your children. Do not be angry with me when I stray, no matter how often or how far. But rather, return me to You. Do not be angry with all Your children on the face of the earth. To those who have shunned you, be merciful, to those who have misunderstood you, be patient, and to those who have disobeyed you, be forgiving. Let every child return to their Father, let every heart be filled with Your Holy Spirit, let every tongue praise Jesus Christ for freeing us from sin.

    As we forgive those who trespass against us...
    You are truly a Great God. Who am I that You give me the right to forgive others their trespasses against me? O Lord, if this is how easy it is to be forgiven for my sins, then let everyone on earth trespass against me, and grant me the love to forgive them all, that You may forgive all my sins as well.

    Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil...
    Why did You say "but" and not "and". It would make sense to me to say "lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil." I understand now. I understand that overcoming trials, tribulations, and temptations is the only way to be delivered from evil! Do with me as You see fit then, so long as when that day comes, and I am standing in front of Your seat of judgement, I am delivered from evil. I'd rather that than to live a comfortable easy life with no trials or temptations! Deliver us, all of us, from all evil O Lord. So we accept the trials and tribulations, but even then, it is not us that can overcome such trials, but...

    Through Christ Jesus our Lord...
    For He crucified all sin and all evil in us, and rose with the Holy Spirit whom He granted to us all. Who else but You, Lord? Who else could overcome death? Only You...

    For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory, forever and ever.
    Amen.

    Dear Lord, we thank You for Your mercy and blessings, and humbly ask you to enlighten every soul, purify every heart, and cleanse every thought. Show us Your light, let us get to know You, and maybe even comprehend Your Divine ways. Let us understand that the actions of Christians may not always be right, and that the actions of unbelievers may not always be wrong. Let us understand that there is nothing wrong with Your Word, but it is people living with sin that ruin it. When St. Peter struck his enemy to protect you, he was doing so in Your Name. This continues today, Lord, we strike one another, even in Your name, but we miss the part where you said told Peter not to, and then healed the wounded victim, Your enemy. Let us understand Your word. Forgive us, and let us not deny our faith out of misinterpretations or miscomprehensions, because as it stands, You are perfect, ever-loving, our Father. Let us be filled with Your Holy Spirit and Your eternal Love. For as You said to the Samaritan woman "the water you drink from makes you thirst again, drink from My water and you will be satisfied." Let us understand Your Word, and know that there is nothing of this earth that can quench our thirst, our desire for good things like love and peace, we will never find them here. Let us look towards You, and ask of you, that You, with all Your love, glory, and power, may grant Your blessings on all your children everywhere.
    Lord, have mercy. Amen.

    September 1, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • garc

      Do you spend this much time feeding the hungry, giving money to the poor, preaching TOLERANCE toward all, and performing other Jesus-like actions?

      September 1, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • Andrea

      What is God's Name? It's not Jesus!

      September 1, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • Stavros

      I do nothing but ask the Holy Spirit in me to do His will. I try, I fail, I ask again.

      September 1, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • Palette

      I have to admit that I'd like to see you answer this myself:

      Do you spend this much time feeding the hungry, giving money to the poor, preaching TOLERANCE toward all, and performing other Jesus-like actions?

      September 1, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
    • Stavros

      I serve, yes. Not as much as I'd like to, honestly... there are always distractions.
      More importantly, examine why you serve. Does the Almighty need YOU to feed the hungry? Does He need YOUR money? He certainly does not. Serving others is for our own salvation. St. Paul said "do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good". Service, prayer, preaching, are all good used to overcome evil within ourselves with the help of the Holy Spirit. Nothing I do is credited to me but to Christ in me, and this is reaffirmed when He says "You can do nothing without Me, but through Me can accomplish anything." His Power is reaffirmed when He said "faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains"... and years later, a mountain was literally moved – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_the_Tanner.
      Try not to measure it by money donated or time spent, you cannot measure love. Just thank Him for any service He gives you the opportunity and strength and means to do. And in every case, with every person, every day, be loving.

      September 2, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • Fred1

      @ Stavros: Well “Simon the Tanner” is every bit as believable as any of the other Christian fairy tales. So unless you have some evidence of this actually happening that you’d like to present, I will classify it in the same league as the talking snake in the garden of Eden and god’s personal appearance as a burring bush. Now if any of you or your religious friends care to repeat the demonstration I’d be happy to eat my words.

      September 2, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • Stavros

      Well Fred, I'm pretty sure at this point there's nothing I can say to change your mind, and no I can't move mountains. I don't have faith like Simon unfortunately. There is one thing I want to say though. God himself, and even Jesus when He walked the earth, was not capable of performing miracles where there was no faith. People say that if anyone moves a mountain, they'll believe, but this doesn't follow chronological order. We must first believe for God to perform the miracle... it was FAITH that moved the mountain, just as Jesus said "Faith can move mountains" and not "moving mountains can make you believe". A better illustration of this concept is when Jesus walked on water and then told Peter to step off the boat too and he will also walk on water. And Peter did. He stepped off the boat because he had faith that Jesus would make him walk on water, and he did, and only when he doubted did he fall. Now if someone asks "couldn't Jesus make him walk on water even if Peter didn't believe?" The answer is yes, of course, Jesus has that power naturally, but if Peter didn't believe, he never would have stepped off the boat, and there would be no miracle for Jesus to perform! The same applies with our lives, we will not experience any of God's works and miracles in our lives if we don't first believe in Him and let Him into our lives. We close the door to Him, and without even opening the door, we say "See, there's noone there." Open your heart to Him, start any dialogue at all with Him, even if you tell Him "I don't believe you're there, show me", just talk to Him.

      September 10, 2011 at 10:43 am |
  6. MSavick

    Representative Keith Ellison was elected by a significant majority in the 5th Congressional District (Minneapolis and western suburbs) with support from many diverse religious communities based on the many good bills he authored or supported in the state legislature. NGO's representing many faith groups appreciated his focus on helping people. He respectfully stated that Catholicism didn't work for him as he understood his family's practice at that time. He did not disparage Catholicism. The Inquisition is over. In America he has the First Amendment right to choose his faith. The anti Muslim bigotry is just that, ignorant bigotry. You probably don't know any Muslims. Keith Ellison is a kind honorable man who ably represents our district and I will continue to support his reelection campaigns.

    September 1, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • Martin T

      The truth of the matter is, IF he's being a good representative for the population in his district and serves honorably in the House, he's doing a fine job. I don't have info on any of that...

      September 1, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
  7. Raj Kumar

    IIslam is pure EVIL. Has anyone see that CNN, with Taquia Jakaria, giving more and more coverage to Islam to than any other religion. Learn this threat in FaithFreedom dot org

    September 1, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  8. Ofcourse

    hmm...the thought of 72 virgins is very tempting indeed! can't pass on that...

    September 1, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • Raj Kumar

      Your forgot to mention having 4 fully controllable wives now and 28 boys in the future.

      September 1, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
    • smartie

      are u sure u heard that right? it is A 72 yr old virgin awaitin u! Enjoy!!!!!

      September 1, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  9. RADDA

    there is 2 face to islam. there are 2 kinds of muslims. true muslim will be radical and dangerous.

    September 1, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  10. Andrea

    Go to abcnews.com click tech and you will see a article called how to spread a myth: often and briefly. Here the guy says Evolution is a fact not a myth! Just to let you know!

    September 1, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  11. Bubba

    Vote em out plain and simple.

    September 1, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
    • garc

      ...and vote in the ignorant. Yee haw, go bachman, go other republican nutjobs....

      September 1, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  12. OMG NO WAY

    *Grandpa Simpson voice* TEEERRRRROORRRISSTT!

    September 1, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  13. GGOPA

    You must understand the Islamic system. Refer to Dr. Peter Hammond's book Slavery Terrorism and Islam: The Historical Roots and Contemporary Threat. If you cannot get the book just Google: What Islam Isn't – you get to know how Islamic system works. As Mark Twain said, “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.”

    September 1, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
    • George

      If you want to see how Islam works, just read the news any day of the week for the suicide bombing reports.

      September 1, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • Stevie7

      And what should one think when reading about xtian terrorism (see: Norway) or reading basic xtian history?

      September 1, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • Fred1

      For a really good insight into how islam works read “Infidel” by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The story of her escape from islam

      September 2, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  14. Jerry

    So he converted from Violent, Drunken Nutball to Violent, Militaristic Nutball?

    Pretty much the only difference is the increase in IQ (Insanity Quotient)......

    September 1, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
  15. Arshi

    Well he just says it simply..He investigated and it worked for him.How can people condemn something without reading or investigating

    September 1, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  16. JUSTICETO ALL

    Ellison is a liar. He went in front of congress 9/11 committee crying about a muslim firefighter that was not honored because of his religion. It turns out the fireman was honored and treated as equal. Why Muslims are the worlds biggest liars has to do with a culture that says it is alright for the sake of Islam to lie. In fact killing is also alright in the name of Islam. Hence, when people lie after time habit becomes nature. The culture has become one big lie.

    September 1, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • Herf

      Christians also believe it is fine to lie for their religion. And even to kill for it. Why do you think so many Christians supported the Iraq invasion?

      September 1, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • Abudu Rahman

      No, you are the liar, Liar. Congressman Ellison was not speaking to get the firefighter honor. He was speaking out about how he was assumed to have been one of the attackers because of his faith in Islam. YOu can Google the story keith-ellison-tears-up-muslim-hearings. Ellison became emotional while recounting the story of Mohammed Salman Hamdani, a 23-year-old Muslim-American firefighter who died while saving others during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Hamdani, whose mother was in the audience, was castigated for his religion after his death, with some wondering whether he had been allied with the attackers, Ellison said. “He should not be remembered as a Muslim, but as an American who gave everything for his country,”

      September 1, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • Iqrar

      You need to educate yourself to know the difference between a religion and culture. Read Quran, study Islam to seek truth, knowledge and guidance.

      September 1, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
  17. Spongeon

    remember when JFK was elected, and all the protestants were worried about having a catholic in office?
    oh no, he'll take his orders from the pope and make it a religious state!

    i'm glad we're past all that and christians of all creeds and crazies have come together to hate as a group.

    September 1, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • heynow

      ok, I have to admit I laughed. But really, it's always going to be something; it's just the same scenario humanity has played out over millennia.

      September 1, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  18. lessismore

    Catholicism “I just felt it was ritual and dogma,” Ellison said.

    Let's turn this around. Muslim. It's been working for me ever since.”

    Muslim religion “I just felt it was ritual and dogma,” said by a Congressman.

    The Muslim word you be up in arms.

    September 1, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • sanity kicked in?

      woulda, shoulda, coulda, no credibility in your comment, amigo.

      September 1, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • heynow

      Do you mean the perceived insult would have garnered more attention? Probably. Not like that cartoonist or even the South Park guys did, but sure.

      September 1, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • MSavick

      Knowing your own history is important.
      Look at 1500 years of Inquisition and than complain about religious based violence. You could also read Martin Luthor's fervent antisemitic writings for a lesson in religious intolerance.

      September 1, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • Abudu Rahman

      You really need to stay off the Internet if that's the best you can do.

      September 1, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
  19. Jay

    one thing i noticed watching the video is that all the women are sitting in the BACK

    September 1, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • McJesus

      of the bus?

      September 1, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • Your Name Here

      If they were on a bus, they'd be sitting in the back!

      September 1, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
    • Ed

      In the world of islam, women are dirt and treated as such.

      September 1, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  20. dviper

    To all the Islam haters,
    Please stop spreading rumors and present proof of what you say. Where do people read that Islam was spread forcefully? Self-defense does not mean aggression. Please use credible sources when you cite something.

    September 1, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • Michael

      @dviper, do you mean other than the fact that the Koran says it is okay to kill any non muslim? Oh that isn't enough proof? How about the fact that THEY ACTUALLY ENFORCE THAT EVEN TODAY YOU DUMB F****** ID1OT?!?!

      September 1, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • McJesus

      Is a bronze age book a credible source?

      September 1, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • ThinkAgain

      @Michael: "do you mean other than the fact that the Koran says it is okay to kill any non muslim?" Please cite where in the Koran you read this ...

      September 1, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • Mike

      Well, wikepedia is an authentic source. There are many docs in wiki on what you look. Feel free to search on the wars fought in bronze age, mediviel age and present age.

      September 1, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • JJ

      @Micheal You're an absolute moron. No where in Quran it says to kill anyone. It actually condemns violence unlike your washed up brain.

      September 1, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • Michael

      @JJ @THINKAGAIN
      “Whoever changes his Islamic religion, kill him.” (Hadith Al Buhkari vol."
      YOU WANT MORE BRO? I got like 15 of these.

      September 1, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
    • Michael

      @JJ @THINKAGAIN
      "Qur'an:9:88 "The Messenger and those who believe with him, strive hard and fight with their wealth and lives in Allah's Cause."
      Qur'an:9:5 "Fight and kill the disbelievers wherever you find them, take them captive, harass them, lie in wait and ambush them using every stratagem of war."
      Qur'an:9:112 "The Believers fight in Allah's Cause, they slay and are slain, kill and are killed."
      Qur'an:9:29 "Fight those who do not believe until they all surrender, paying the protective tax in submission."
      Ishaq:325 "Muslims, fight in Allah's Cause. Stand firm and you will prosper. Help the Prophet, obey him, give him your allegiance, and your religion will be victorious."
      Qur'an:8:39 "Fight them until all opposition ends and all submit to Allah."
      Qur'an:8:39 "So fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief [non-Muslims]) and all submit to the religion of Allah alone (in the whole world)."" -------NEED MORE BRO?!?

      September 1, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • George

      Ok, how about any news service in the world, nearly any day of any week of any month, killings by Islamists.

      September 1, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • Stevie7

      @Michael – when was the last time someone stoned their child for being disobedient? I mean, that's in your bible, so people must be taking it literally and obeying it, right?

      September 1, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • SeeBee

      hahaha... tell me one place where Islam didnt spread by force ? Open your history book and read about the conquests of Persia and specially India. Did you know Afganistan and Pakistan were Hindu and Buddhist majority countries ? In the conquest of 1100 AD Muhammed Ghanzavi masscared 100,000 non-Muslims in a single day. They were given the choice of converion to Islam or face the sword. 100,000 chose the sword, a few converted. Then there is the 'Zajya' : a tax every non-muslim was supposed to pay in areas of Muslim dominance. Iraq was another great empire before Islam destroyed it. And look at the war fought by the Ottoman empire. Islam in Africa was also spread through blooshed !

      September 1, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • hmanity01

      Talk to any practicing Yazidi Kurd

      September 1, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • Michael

      @Stevie7 I'M AN ATHEIST YOU DUMB F*** I don't believe in magic like you you f***** kid.

      September 1, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • sanity kicked in?

      @Michael ,, my emal desiameer@hotmail.com

      Dude, please dont read things out of context. Read the whole surah, for example you quoted 9:5 butyou failed to read the whole thing including the ayah before, email me if you have any confusion on how to read this. I am sure that you haven't read this properly. By the way, non-Muslims have translated it too so if you don't like this translation by all means find something else BUT read the WHOLE thing:

      9:1
      to top
      Sahih International
      [This is a declaration of] disassociation, from Allah and His Messenger, to those with whom you had made a treaty among the polytheists.
      9:2
      to top
      Sahih International
      So travel freely, [O disbelievers], throughout the land [during] four months but know that you cannot cause failure to Allah and that Allah will disgrace the disbelievers.
      9:3
      to top
      Sahih International
      And [it is] an announcement from Allah and His Messenger to the people on the day of the greater pilgrimage that Allah is disassociated from the disbelievers, and [so is] His Messenger. So if you repent, that is best for you; but if you turn away – then know that you will not cause failure to Allah . And give tidings to those who disbelieve of a painful punishment.
      9:4
      to top
      Sahih International
      Excepted are those with whom you made a treaty among the polytheists and then they have not been deficient toward you in anything or supported anyone against you; so complete for them their treaty until their term [has ended]. Indeed, Allah loves the righteous [who fear Him].
      9:5
      to top
      Sahih International
      And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.
      9:6
      to top
      Sahih International
      And if any one of the polytheists seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of Allah . Then deliver him to his place of safety. That is because they are a people who do not know.
      9:7
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      Sahih International
      How can there be for the polytheists a treaty in the sight of Allah and with His Messenger, except for those with whom you made a treaty at al-Masjid al-Haram? So as long as they are upright toward you, be upright toward them. Indeed, Allah loves the righteous [who fear Him].
      9:8
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      Sahih International
      How [can there be a treaty] while, if they gain dominance over you, they do not observe concerning you any pact of kinship or covenant of protection? They satisfy you with their mouths, but their hearts refuse [compliance], and most of them are defiantly disobedient.
      9:9
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      Sahih International
      They have exchanged the signs of Allah for a small price and averted [people] from His way. Indeed, it was evil that they were doing.
      9:10
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      Sahih International
      They do not observe toward a believer any pact of kinship or covenant of protection. And it is they who are the transgressors.
      9:11
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      Sahih International
      But if they repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, then they are your brothers in religion; and We detail the verses for a people who know.
      9:12
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      Sahih International
      And if they break their oaths after their treaty and defame your religion, then fight the leaders of disbelief, for indeed, there are no oaths [sacred] to them; [fight them that] they might cease.
      9:13
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      Sahih International
      Would you not fight a people who broke their oaths and determined to expel the Messenger, and they had begun [the attack upon] you the first time? Do you fear them? But Allah has more right that you should fear Him, if you are [truly] believers.
      9:14
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      Sahih International
      Fight them; Allah will punish them by your hands and will disgrace them and give you victory over them and satisfy the breasts of a believing people
      9:15
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      Sahih International
      And remove the fury in the believers' hearts. And Allah turns in forgiveness to whom He wills; and Allah is Knowing and Wise.
      9:16
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      Sahih International
      Do you think that you will be left [as you are] while Allah has not yet made evident those among you who strive [for His cause] and do not take other than Allah , His Messenger and the believers as intimates? And Allah is Acquainted with what you do.
      9:17
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      Sahih International
      It is not for the polytheists to maintain the mosques of Allah [while] witnessing against themselves with disbelief. [For] those, their deeds have become worthless, and in the Fire they will abide eternally.
      9:18
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      Sahih International
      The mosques of Allah are only to be maintained by those who believe in Allah and the Last Day and establish prayer and give zakah and do not fear except Allah , for it is expected that those will be of the [rightly] guided.

      September 1, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • Stevie7

      @Michael – my bad. Didn't think and atheist wold ever consider a religious text as a credible source. Do you take the same position when people say that Christians aren't violent? There's clearly a double standard on these boards where Islam is concerned. Neither are inherently violent religions because people are, in general, good people.

      September 1, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
    • heynow

      Uh oh, pointless quote contest in the works...

      September 1, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • Michael

      @Stevie7 They can be, ratio wise they are less violent in the means of coordinated holy war for a religious cause. Christian text is JUST as bad, but the majority have come out of the bronze age, just like the majority of Muslims, yet there is still a core minority in Islam (Taliban etc...) that has coordinated first strikes against other nations and other religions. Both texts are completely horrid in their talk of killing nonbelievers (yes even the Bible says you can stone them at the front gates of the city). I guess what I am getting at is Islam's minority of radicals are extremely violent, much more so than the far right of Christianity which dominantly hails in the modern world.

      September 1, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • Abudu Rahman

      Michael, you're silly and ignorant. All of the scripture posted is speaking war where the prophet and his followers were attacked. What were they supposed to do? Lay down and be killed? The Qur'an is directing that when they are forced to fight they are supposed to fight in the most fair yet in the most fierce way. The same instructions appear in any other faith except for maybe Buddhism. Chairman Mao Zedong put an end to that thought.

      September 1, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
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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.