Local High School Tries to Understand Islam

On November 8th, Middleton High School held a day long event for their Human Rights’ Day called “Understanding Islam.” The event focused on the topics of Islam in the news and women and Islam. Jean Feraca, the host of the Inside Islam Radio Series, moderated the panel on Islam in the news and I was part of the panel on women and Islam.

The panel members on Islam and the news discussed the controversy surrounding the Sheboygan mosque. Dr. Mansoor Mirza from the Islamic Society of Sheboygan was joined by Reverend Lorri Steward from the Ebenezer United Church of Christ in Sheboygan, Pastor Gregory Whelton from the St. John’s United Church of Christ in Sheboygan, and Professor Charles Cohen, a professor of History and Religious Studies and Director of the Lubar Institute for the Study of Abrahamic Religions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

On the panel on women and Islam, I was joined by Rohany Nayan, a graduate student and the graduate fellow of the Lubar Institute, and Betul Bolat and Ismat Bhuiyan, two Middleton High School students. The central message of this panel was that Muslim women’s experiences are diverse and that there is a difference between the practices of Muslims and the doctrines of Islam.  The young girls’ stories were particularly moving as both faced an incident of discrimination. Betul spoke about being called a terrorist on the bus by a fellow student. Ismat related how students in her class refused to work with her in the days after 9/11 and said that she would blow up their project like the terrorists had done to the Twin Towers.

These young girls, Betul, a freshman, and Ismat, a senior, spoke with courage and made me realize that the impact of 9/11 had far-reaching consequences. Young Muslims, especially, only know a world where the attacks define how Islam is viewed. While the image of Islam before the attacks was negative, the fear never reached this extent. It is for this reason that it is commendable that Middleton High School held  this event to raise awareness of Muslim experience and it was an honor for Jean and I to be a part of it.

Have you attended an event similar to Human Rights’ Day at Middleton High School? Do you think events like this can make a difference? Did you face any discrimination  after 9/11? Do you know anyone who did? What else can be done to give a more complex picture of Muslims’ experiences? Should Muslims have to be apologetic? Please share your comments.

3 thoughts on “Local High School Tries to Understand Islam

  1. Why do moslems never speak of Al-TAQIYYA, KITMAN, SHARIA LAW or the Caliphate when they try to indoctrinate AMERICANS? Hummm?

    Why not spew the truth about ISLAM to people while you are at it…You can fool some of the people but you can not fool all of the people. I just hope many are AWAKE and AWARE that all moslems say is ISLAM MEANS PEACE but they fail to mention PEACE is when the world is RID of all NON BELIEVERS..;)

    Also look outside the borders of AMERICA and witness TRUE ISLAM…where CHRISTIANS, HINDU etc are killed tortured and oppressed daily. TRUE ISLAM rears its head when the population gets high enough in a country..LOOK AT TEH UK, FRANCE, GERMANY, MALMO SWEDEN…Islam is nothing but evil trying to dominate the globe…GLOBAL JIHAD is what we are seeing and this type meeting is nothing more than a form of SILENT JIHAD…


  2. Pamela, it’s actually very frustrating as a reader of this blog to see that you have clearly not read the post that you are so colorfully condemning.

    In regards to “true Islam” in other countries, you fail to point out “true Christianity” and “true Hinduism”, both faiths are equally at war with one another, as well as with Muslims, which demonstrates a clearly unstable society; it’s not the religions, it’s the people.

    Following that train of that, the aforementioned blog post references the Bosnian genocide, the focus of which was the slaughtering of Muslims at Christian hands.

    Before you start spouting off some anti-Muslim hate speech, I think you should take a firmer look at all faiths and their interactions with one another due to the socioeconomic conditions of whatever country they may be in. I think that equality will prevail, insha’Allah.

  3. @Pamela, I like to kick in doors and start spouting catchphrases I learned from Robert Spencer books when I enter a room too. Nope, actually I don’t, but it looks like you do. Is your name a mere reference to Pamela Geller or are you here in disguise? Isn’t the internet marvelous? We can all just say whatever we want and nobody knows who we are in the real world…

    Al-Taqqiya: http://loonwatch.com/2010/08/taqiyya-the-ultimate-intellectual-cop-out/– you can read all about it there, it’s pretty straight forward. The idea of altaqqiya as laid out in Spencer’s book is pretty off base and trumped up. There’s no indoctrination going on.

    If you want to choose to say that your religion is the only right religion and this other religion is wrong, you’re either not paying attention to the US constitution, or you’re not living in the right country, or time for that matter. And! You’re not being any more accepting than the people you’re speaking out against.

    The true face of Islam in America isn’t one of underhanded evil trying to trick Americans into becoming something they’re not and take over, it’s not one of violence and terror. There are bad people in the world, some of them have the audacity to call themselves Muslim AND justify their evil with a sacred script; people who project piety to cover rot inside. There are bad people who do this in every country and in every religion, and their evil is evil – but this isn’t the face of Islam, this is the face of evil. That Islam is tied to terror like an albatross around its neck is a product of American reactionism and a prime example of sensationalist media.

    Like Bush said, “We’re not at war with Islam, we’re at war with terrorists.”

    As far as your ideas about the “dar al-Islam” and “dar al-Harb” you’re off base again. This was a concept that was utilized by Empires to be Empires and is not seen as a legitimate world-view today by “real-Islam.”

    And just to define my terms here, by real Islam I mean, this: Moderate, mainstream, majority Islam as practiced by Muslims around the world; and more specifically, American Islam as practiced by Muslim Americans. Dar al-Islam, literally translates to “realm of peace,” and Dar al-Harb, literally translates to “realm of war.” Muslims have been living in the Dar al-Harb for so long that even the traditionalists (who are not in the majority) that actually stick to these definitions had to come up with a third, the “dar al-Sulh” which is friendly territory – anywhere friendly to Muslims.

    Islam, like Christianity, is also a religion that includes obedience to the laws of the land – which is really, only contingent on the right to worship freely. In places that Muslims are not “allowed” to practice their faith, it is recommended that they leave for a place where they can. Not blow it up. Not fight it. Not subvert it. Just leave it, and go where no-one stops them from praying five times a day, fasting in Ramadan, making a trip to the roots of the religion, saying that there is no God but God, and giving charity to the poor.

    As for the comments about “True” Islam, and any other religion, again, the religion doesn’t torture, people do – people kill each other for too many reasons to count, and sometimes they do it for one reason and say they did it for another (for just as many reasons). There is no moral high-ground, torture is universal. People of every faith have tortured and been tortured.

    We’re all just people, demonizing an “other” doesn’t solve any problems, it just makes it worse. The problems on both sides have to do with individuals and groups thinking and acting as if they have nothing to gain from the other individuals and groups.