Islam is not getting a pass

Tomorrow, May 6th, National Day of Prayer events will take place at the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill. This year’s events are receiving media attention because of the Pentagon’s decision to rescind their invitation to Franklin Graham, the son of Evangelist Billy Graham. According to Col. Thomas Collins, this decision stemmed from Graham’s controversial statements on Islam that include calling it an “evil and wicked religion” and saying that “[true] Islam cannot be practiced in this country. You can’t beat your wife. You cannot murder your children if you think they’ve committed adultery or something like that, which they do in these other countries.” Collins said, “We’re an all-inclusive military. We honor all faiths…Our message to our service and civilian work force is about the need for diversity and appreciation of all faiths.”

I heard about this story after receiving an email from the Council on Islamic American Relations about the Army’s decision. CAIR was among several groups that protested Graham’s participation in the event. Despite the fact that it was the Military Religious Freedom Foundation that began the protest, media reports and Graham himself are implying that Muslims are primarily behind the Army’s decision.

What I find most interesting about this story is not that he was disinvited, but the reactions of some who even see this as an attack on Christianity. Graham has gone even further to suggest that President Obama is “Giving Islam a Pass.” With all the negative attention that Islam and Muslims usually receive in the media, I was surprised that this was the response.

First, as I mentioned, Muslims were not the originators of the protest nor are they the only ones who have a problem with Graham. Second, even if Muslims were the source of the protest, why is it acceptable for a speaker to make such negative stereotypes about a major world faith? If a Muslim were to make comparable statements about Christianity or Judaism, not only would they be disinvited but there would likely be more serious criticism. Third, and this is the most frustrating part,  when speaking about this issue, Graham repeatedly makes sweeping statements about Islam that show incredible lack of knowledge of the faith and its followers.

So, I don’t think Islam is getting a pass. I would not advocate for any speaker–Muslim, Christian, Jewish, or any religion–to be invited if they have made the kinds of statements that Graham has. It is one thing to think your faith is the right path, but its another thing altogether to assume that it allows you to disparage another faith. Characterizing a whole faith by the actions of the few is simply wrong.

What do you think about the Army’s decision? Do you think that Islam is getting a pass? Do you think there would be the same response if it was an imam who had made comparable statements? Please share your thoughts.

3 thoughts on “Islam is not getting a pass

  1. Islam is not Evil, it came to eradicate evil. I am telling the so call preacher man to read about Islam, pre-islamic arabia and read the koran.
    I bet he did not even know the bible, the laws in the old testament and bet he did not know anything about Islam but the killings and beatings. I urge him to go seek knowledge. He is spreading nothing but ignorance.

  2. I grew up around Muslims, they are wonderful people. It is a shame that the actions of a few reflect badly on the rest. The same sort of thing happens with Catholicism nowadays with the whole child abuse stories.

    I have an honest question for Muslims: What is your opinion of people in the videos that come out on the internet of Islamic radicals beheading people and torturing people in the name of Islam? Is it just that the people doing these things are wicked, or do you think that they misinterpret the Quran?

    I don’t think that it is fair for the actions of such people to reflect on the actions of the rest, but I want to know what you think when you see/hear about this kind of thing.

  3. Sorry for the late response Claudia, but I just recently found this site and found your post while perusing older posts, to try to get a feel for who is here.
    I am Muslim. I can’t give you a hyphenated name for the religion I follow because I follow only the qur’an and Sunna of the prophet may the peace and mercy of god be upon him.
    In answer to your question, from my point of view the people who commit such acts are following the same logic as the islamophobes and haters. They choose an ayat from the qur’an and assume it Is a stand alone injunction. They ignore the context, both textual and historical. For example the phrase “kill them where you find them” is actually in the English approximation of the qur’an, and something similar is in the actual qur’an, but it doesn’t mean what it seems to mean when removed from the previous and later ayat. One meaning is actually the same as what the American military does with spies and battlefield traitors i.e. Summery (sp?) exicution. This ayat does not mean we can go around killing non-Muslims with impunity. It is important to take ALL ayat concerning a given subject and concider it and it’s context and also any hadeeth regarding those ayat. The problem arises when people take these matters into their own hands but lack the knowledge to make educated choices. There is also the matter of these people being justifiably angry. Angry people do not as a rule think logically. They want to lash out at oppression and aggression so in a way their neia may well be good, but their lack of knowledge combined with a desire to lash out at those who are committing terrible crimes against humanity causes them to punish innocent people.
    One final note, the argument could be made that military personell are legitimate targets (although Islam forbids the killing of P.O.W’s)
    I mention this because the word “terrorist” is often used to describe people who attack legitimate military targets (think Berut army base or USS Cole in Yemen). If you concider these people terrorists, them you also must concider the American Revolution in the same light.