1 - Religion of peace - Charles A. Kimball

1 - Religion of peace - Charles A. Kimball - 23 Religion of...

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23 Wake Forest December 2001 For many Americans, the intense media focus on daily developments related to the attacks on New York and Washington has produced conflicting images of Islam, the world’s second-largest religion. On the one hand, the hijackers and the al-qaida (“the base”) network that apparently supported them clearly reveal a mili- tant Islam. The five-page letter left by ringleader Muhammad Atta reflects a deeply held religious worldview seeking to justify the behavior. Similarly, Osama bin Laden’s widely publicized Jihad Manual and his vari- ous taped messages are laced with religious language and imagery designed to motivate his followers. On the other hand, many Muslim leaders have stated emphatically that Islam is a religion of peace and that these extremists do not reflect true Islam. President Bush has echoed a similar message repeatedly since the attacks: “We have no quarrel with Islam, which is a good and peaceful religion.” Religion of peace? U NDERSTANDING I SLAM M EANS G RASPING I TS C OMPLEXITIES BY CHARLES A. KIMBALL
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Martha Blevins Allman (’82, MBA ’92), director of admissions, in London on September 11: Eyes on the street or the train or tube that typically looked away now met ours with a sad, knowing kindness. Perhaps their own memories of menacing airplanes and fiery destruc- tion were made fresh again. Strangers, hearing our American voices, offered words of support. There were public displays of condolence: a worship service at St. Paul’s Cathedral attended by many Wake Forest students as well as Queen Elizabeth; the historic playing of the “Star-Spangled Banner” at the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. My small daughters saw Big Ben and royal palaces but what they also experienced was an international unity born of tragedy. F EELING THE I MPACT SEPTEMBER 11, 2001 24 Wake Forest December 2001 Other images further confuse the picture. A number of columnists and highly visible reli- gious leaders have seized the moment to pro- claim various messages. Some speak about Islam in generic terms as inherently violent and men- acing; some highlight selected Qur’anic passages to “prove” a particular point. Judging from the questions I have fielded during numerous national and international media interviews and speaking engagements during the two months following the attacks, there remains widespread confusion about Islam and the powerful forces at work in predomi- nantly Muslim countries: Why is Islam called the religion of peace? What is the meaning of jihad? Why do so many Muslims appear to hate the United States? Where do we go from here? Developing a Framework for Understanding Before engaging these questions, it is essential to recognize the need for a more accurate under- standing of Islam. Most Americans know very little about Islam. It is worse than simple igno- rance: much of what people think they know is incorrect or distorted. The reasons are connect- ed both to television images of violent extrem- ism and a long history of interaction between
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This note was uploaded on 08/31/2011 for the course STS 302 taught by Professor Nkriesbert during the Summer '08 term at N.C. State.

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1 - Religion of peace - Charles A. Kimball - 23 Religion of...

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