Thursday, September 09, 2010

Are Americans Being Biased or Prejudice Against the Muslim World?


According to The New American Encyclopedic Dictionary, "An Exhaustive Dictionary of The English Language Practical and Comprehensive published by J. A. Hill & Company of New York in 1906, "bias" of things not material is defined as: "The state of mentally or morally inclining to one side; inclination of the mind, heart or will; that which causes such an inclination, leaning or tendency."

In Crabb: English Synonyms, Crabb thus distinguishes between bias, prepossession, and prejudice: "Bias marks the state of the mind; prepossession applies either to the general or particular state of the feelings, prejudice is employed only for opinions. Children may receive an early bias that influences their future character and destiny. Prepossessions spring from casualties; they do not exist in young minds. Prejudices are the fruits of a contracted education. A bias may be overpowered, a prepossession overcome, and a prejudice corrected or removed. We may be biased for or against; we are always prepossessed in favor, and mostly prejudiced against.

Is there is a bias in America based on suspicion of the intent of the Muslim people's of the world and is it based on the history and modern actions of the Muslim world, in particular the actions of the mainstream Muslim factions. The majority of Muslims belong to one of two denominations, the Sunni and the Shi'a.

According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, in Muslim tradition, Muhammad is viewed as the last and the greatest in a series of prophets—as the man closest to perfection, the possessor of all virtues. For the last 22 years of his life, in 610 AD, beginning at age 40, Muhammad started receiving revelations from God. The content of these revelations, known as the Qur'an, was memorized and recorded by his companions. It has been 1400 years since Muhammad started receiving revelations from God.

Sunni Muslims are the largest denomination of Islam, comprising up to 90% or nine-tenths of the total Muslim population in the world. They are often referred to as Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l-Jamā‘h or Ahl as-Sunnah.

The word Sunni comes from the word sunnah, which means the teachings and actions or examples of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. Therefore, the term "Sunni" refers to those who follow or maintain the sunnah of the prophet Muhammad.

The Sunni believe that Muhammad did not specifically appoint a successor to lead the Muslim ummah (community) before his death, and after an initial period of confusion, a group of his most prominent companions gathered and elected Abu Bakr Siddique—Muhammad's close friend and a father-in-law—as the first caliph of Islam. Sunni Muslims regard the first four caliphs—Abu Bakr, `Umar ibn al-Khattāb, Uthman Ibn Affan and Ali ibn Abu Talib—as "al-Khulafā’ur-Rāshidūn" or "The Rightly Guided Caliphs." Sunnis also believe that the position of caliph may be democratically chosen, but after the Rashidun, the position turned into a hereditary dynastic rule. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1923, there has never been another caliph as widely recognized in the Muslim world.

Shia Islam (sometimes Shi'a or Shi'ite), is the second-largest denomination of Islam, comprising anywhere between 10% or one-tenth to 13% of the total Muslim population in the world. Shia Muslims—though a minority in the Muslim world—constitute the majority of the populations in Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Iran, and Iraq, as well as a plurality in Lebanon and Yemen.

In addition to believing in the authority of the Qur'an and teachings of the Muhammad, Shia believe that his family—the Ahl al-Bayt (the People of the House), including his descendants known as Imams—have special spiritual and political rule over the community and believe that Ali ibn Abi Talib, Muhammad's cousin and son-in-law, was the first of these Imams and was the rightful successor to Muhammad, and thus reject the legitimacy of the first three Rashidun caliphs.

The Shi'a Islamic faith is vast and inclusive of many different groups. There are various Shi'a theological beliefs, schools of jurisprudence, philosophical beliefs, and spiritual movements. The Shia identity emerged soon after the death of 'Umar Ibnil-Khattab—the second caliph—and Shi'a theology was formulated in the second century and the first Shi'a governments and societies were established by the end of the ninth century.

Kharijite (lit. "those who seceded") is a general term embracing a variety of Muslim sects which, while originally supporting the Caliphate of Ali, eventually seceded after his son Imam Hasan negotiated with Mu'awiya during the 7th Century Islamic civil war (First Fitna). Their complaint was that the Imam must be spiritually pure, and that Hasan's compromise with Mu'awiya was a compromise of his spiritual purity, and therefore of his legitimacy as Imam or Caliph. While there are few remaining Kharijite or Kharijite-related groups, the term is sometimes used to denote Muslims who refuse to compromise with those with whom they disagree.

Sufism is a mystical-ascetic form of Islam. By focusing on the more spiritual aspects of religion, Sufis strive to obtain direct experience of God by making use of "intuitive and emotional faculties" that one must be trained to use. Sufis usually considered Sufism to be complementary to orthodox Islam.

Once Muhammad lived and provided the Qur'an by 632 AD the various factions fought a 7th century civil war before undertaking 500 years of war against the Christians for control of the Western World. The initial Muslim conquest of Syria in the 7th century under the Rashidun Caliphs began the battle between the Christians and Muslims. After the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Christians and Muslims the wars ended with Muslims in control of most Middle East nations and Christianity split between the Latin and Greek sects.

By the time Christianity reached about 1400 years of age the factions within Christianity forced the Protestant Reformation in the 16th and 17th centuries and the break up of Christianity into many independent denominations.

Ironically, the Muslim factions have now existed for 1400 years and in country after country they have turned on each other in brutal wars, suppression of competing sects, and acts of genocide that have left a sense of fear, distrust and anxiety in the Christian and Jewish worlds. Is it not surprising? If the Muslim sects can justify Holy Wars against each other in this modern age what is to stop wars with us? Just look at the tens of thousands of civilian Muslim deaths at the hands of radical Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is in the news every day.

History is a brutal lesson in fact over fiction. The origins of terrorism within the Muslim factions is no surprise as radical extremists with a religious foundation have been around for centuries. There is no single voice for the Muslim world and no central control of order to that world. Until those elements of the Muslim world can overcome their own hatred for each other and then their hatred for the Christian and Jewish so called infidels, bias will exist and caution is warranted.

Just as the Christians had to overcome the violence and bloodshed of the ill advised Crusades and the Protestant Reformation in order for Christianity to evolve, so to must the Muslim world overcome the bitter wars and rivalry of secular and non-secular violence and the offshoots of terrorism that attempt to destroy any perceived effort to threaten the single domination of one religious sect over any government in a multi-cultural and religiously diverse world.

Any bias of unease or misunderstanding on the part of Americans toward the Muslim world can be changed, if the Muslim world evolves as other religions have evolved. When radicalism and terrorism are set aside, and they exist in all cultures and religions, there are far more similarities between Christians and Muslims than differences and both share the same God or Allah.  Finally, within every culture or religion are good people.


No comments: