The Obsession DVD as well as the Obsession hate pundits have long peddled a series of carefully crafted lies about Islam and Muslims that paint a very different picture from the one scientific reports and neutral scholars give. Here are some of the facts the hate brigades steer well away from:
First, Americaís Muslims:
The first-ever, nationwide, random sample survey of Muslim Americans finds them to be largely assimilated, happy with their lives, and moderate with respect to many of the issues that have divided Muslims and Westerners around the world.
The Pew Research Center conducted more than 55,000 interviews to obtain a national sample of 1,050 Muslims living in the United States. Interviews were conducted in English, Arabic, Farsi and Urdu. The resulting study, which draws on Pew's survey research among Muslims around the world, finds that Muslim Americans are a highly diverse population, one largely composed of immigrants. Nonetheless, they are decidedly American in their outlook, values and attitudes. This belief is reflected in Muslim American income and education levels, which generally mirror those of the public.
Some of the Key findings include:
- Overall, Muslim Americans have a generally positive view of the larger society. Most say their communities are excellent or good places to live.
- A large majority of Muslim Americans believe that hard work pays off in this society. Fully 71% agree that most people who want to get ahead in the U.S. can make it if they are willing to work hard.
- The survey shows that although many Muslims are relative newcomers to the U.S., they are highly assimilated into American society. On balance, they believe that Muslims coming to the U.S. should try and adopt American customs, rather than trying to remain distinct from the larger society. And by nearly two-to-one (63%-32%) Muslim Americans do not see a conflict between being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society.
- Roughly two-thirds (65%) of adult Muslims in the U.S. were born elsewhere. A relatively large proportion of Muslim immigrants are from Arab countries, but many also come from Pakistan and other South Asian countries. Among native-born Muslims, roughly half are African American (20% of U.S. Muslims overall), many of whom are converts to Islam.
- A majority of Muslim Americans (53%) say it has become more difficult to be a Muslim in the U.S. since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Most also believe that the government "singles out" Muslims for increased surveillance and monitoring.
[Source: Pew Research Center]
Second, Islam Facts:
A commonly-used deceptive tactic of the hate brigades is to speak on behalf of Muslims, forcing words into their mouths, and superimposing their own illicit beliefs upon them. Islam, as professed by its mainstream adherents is quite different from how it is professed by Daniel Pipes and Steve Emerson, or Bin Laden and Al Zawihir. Here are some basic facts about the faith of Islam:
- What is Islam?
Islam is not a new religion. It is the same truth that God revealed to all His prophets throughout history. Islam is both a religion and a complete way of life. Muslims follow a religion of peace, mercy and forgiveness.
- Who are Muslims?
There are an estimated 1 to 1.8 billion Muslims from across the globe, representing virtually every country, culture, race, and background.
The demographics defy stereotype. From Australia and the Maldives to England and the United States, Islam has distinct histories in each country and is expressed uniquely within each culture while adhering to its basic tenants of its faith. For example:
The country with the largest Muslim population is Indonesia.
China has an estimated 20 million Muslims, more than in Saudi Arabia alone.
Large communities of Muslims are also found in Russia and Eastern Europe.
Islam is the predominant religion in Africa.
South Asia and Southeast Asia contain the most populous Muslim countries.
No more than 20 percent of Muslims live in the Arabic-speaking world.
- What do Muslims believe?
Muslims believe in the One, Unique, and Incomparable God. They believe in the Day of Judgment and individual accountability for actions. Muslims believe in a chain of prophets beginning with Adam and including Noah, Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Moses, David, Solomon, and Jesus. God's eternal message was reaffirmed by each prophet and finalized by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be on them all). A Muslimís basic testimony of faith reads: "There is no deity but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God." By this declaration, a person announces faith in God and belief in the entire prophetic chain of God's messengers.
- What is the Quran?
The Quran is the record of the exact words revealed by God through the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad. It was memorized by Muhammad and then dictated to his companions. The text of the Quran was cross-checked during the life of the Prophet and its 114 chapters have remained unchanged through the centuries.
- What are the "Five Pillars" of Islam?
1) The Declaration of Faith - This consists of the two sentence declaration: "There is no deity but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God."
2) Prayer - Muslims perform five obligatory prayers each day. Islamic prayers are a direct link between the worshiper and God. Islam has no hierarchical authority or priesthood. For example, if a Muslim chooses to join a congregation for one of the five daily prayers, a learned Muslim chosen from each congregation leads the prayers.
3) Zakat - One of the most important principles of Islam is that all things belong to God and that wealth is held in trust by human beings. Zakat, or charitable giving, is believed to purify wealth by setting aside a portion for those in need. This payment is usually two and a half percent of one's capital.
4) Fasting - Every year in the Islamic lunar month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from first light until sunset. The fast is intended in part to teach self-restraint, compassion, and a heightened God-consciousness.
5) Pilgrimage - A pilgrimage to Mecca, or Hajj, is a once in a lifetime obligation for those who are physically or financially able to complete it.
- What about the American Muslim community?
There are an estimated 7 million Muslims in America. The Muslim community in America is made up of people from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds and national origins. There are almost 2,000 mosques, Islamic schools and Islamic centers in America. Muslims are active in all walks of life. Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in this country and around the world.
- What about Muslim women?
Under Islamic law, women have always had the right to own property, receive an education and otherwise take part in community life. Men and women are to be respected equally. The Islamic rules for modest dress apply equally to both women and men. (Men, for example, cannot expose certain parts of their bodies, wear gold or silk, etc.) If a particular society oppresses women, it does so in contradiction to Islam, not because of it.
- What is Jihad?
Literally, jihad means to strive, struggle and exert effort. It is a central and broad Islamic concept that includes struggle against evil inclinations within oneself, struggle to improve the quality of life in society, struggle in the battlefield for self-defense (e.g., - having a standing army for national defense), or fighting against tyranny or oppression. "Jihad" does not mean "holy war."