Tag Archives: Islam

Choosing a tribe

Choosing a tribe

I am exhausted from being torn between the polarities of the social strife in America. Everyday there are the racial battles. There are Blacks who resent Whites and want “reparations” and there are Whites who resent being resented and want Blacks to take responsibility for their poor choices. But I don’t want to take sides. Tribalism is almost as old as humanity, and racism is just another form of tribalism. Isn’t there another tribe I can join?

There are capitalists who see no problem with poverty in conflict with the socialists who want to bring them down. What a mess, is there no moderate voice here?

There are anti-immigration patriotic loyalists who feel that immigrants are not really pro-American in conflict with immigrants who are not so different from the parents of the anti-immigrant group. But the battle rages and I am caught as a moderate, trying to consider both sides.

The political insanity of this year’s presidential race could make a grown man cry. Sometimes it is embarrassing to be an American. I want to form a new political party; the Political Peace Party, or the Party of Moderates, or Party of Poets Crying in the Night!

There are religious tribes. Our constitution that separates church and state should be a safe guard against government intruding into religion, and religion placing itself over government. Yes, religions do have a right to influence government, but not to rule over government. Many religions specialize in social issues and engage in a power struggle for control of society. It is always about power. And it is very dark. Is there a way out?

I do have deep concerns for our society and all of the issues above, but striving in these conflicts seems to be insane, and I will not align with any of the tribes. If the Kingdom of Jesus is truly as he claims, a spiritual kingdom not of this world, then maybe that has been in front of me all along, and I need to fall back into it. Pilate asked Jesus if he was a king, Jesus replied, “If my kingdom were of this world, then my servants would fight. My kingdom is not of this world” This seems to be the only place I will find peace.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Immigration: Race and Religion

A major social problem facing America today is immigration. Our society is being torn apart through suspicion, political ranting, violent terrorism, vandalism, and deep fears. I am deeply concerned for the future of the USA in this area. Immigration is not the real problem; it is the social conflicts that arise from multiple ethnic groups inhabiting the same geographical space. If Americans do not find resources to blend in peace, then our current social problems will escalate to social wars and violence.

MigrantAB

            There is a civil war in Syria that has caused the mass exodus of thousands of refugees. Many of these refugees are Muslim and many Americans are fearful of their ability to adapt to American culture, values, and norms. American citizens can see the turmoil in many Muslim countries and do not want that violent unrest imported. The thought of people bombing schools because they are against education is fearful. There is an irony here because it is for humanitarian principles that American immigration policy is welcoming refugees from war torn Islamic countries, and it is possible that in future generations, violence will be our reward.

Islam as a religious institution has aggression and conflict imbedded in its values. I am speaking of an institution not of individual people who must be given the right to be judged on the merits of their own character. Islam has aggression written within its creed, “And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah altogether and everywhere” (Surah 8:39) and “If you gain mastery over them in war…” (Surah 8:57) and “Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of Allah” (Surah 8:60, Quran).  Islam has 14 centuries of aggression towards outsiders. Its founder led the first violent incursion against Mecca; as the leader is, so follow the people.

American immigration policy has historically served the security of the homeland. Immigration regulation is not expected to allow entrance by individuals with an explicit agenda to harm citizens or promote violence uprising against the government. Currently the USCIS has a rigorous screening policy for Syrian refugees. This is not a racist policy, it is proper concern.

In the beginning of Islam, when Muhamad was delivering his message, the country was a social mess with idolatry, drunkenness, and many other social problems. Islam was able to that stabilize society and so it has always been a religion of social reform. It does not pretend to separate government and religion the way we attempt to do here. Even in America we are in constant tension over this issue. We should be aware that as Muslims gain local majority they will have to choose how to adapt to their new land. Many Muslims choose to see their ancient text with a moderate view and many realize that extremism invalidates their religious credibility.

We are a pluralist society and a nation of immigrants. In the past assimilation was expected but now we value cultural diversity. Our society must choose the minimal level of integration or adaption necessary to live within the borders, and those choosing to live here should acknowledge these norms. Many Muslims do have a history of integration into American society while retaining their ethnic heritage. There are also examples of Muslims pushing Sharia as soon as they gain majority strength.  Considering what Whites immigrants did to Native Americans we should not be naïve about future possibilities. Muslim immigrants are coming to America by their own choice. I hope they are choosing to accept the values of a pluralistic society.

US Aggression

We should also be aware that US foreign policies contribute to terrorism. Our ethnocentric view of the world has led to policies of democratic expansion/imperialism, which will always lead to resistance from the oppressed. President George Washington warned America to not get involved in the conflicts of other countries. Since then we have moved towards policies of intrusion into other governments, especially since World War 2. There is no justifiable excuse to invade countries to replace their rulers; even when their rulers are tyrants. Iraq, Libya, and Syria are examples of our tragic errors. Muslim governments understand dictators because Islam is based upon authoritarian rule. That is their problem and not for Americans to solve! Other cultures may not separate church and state the way we do. Muslims may view our policies as a religious assault. What we see as defending democratic values they may view as a religious war. American leaders have been sadly ignorant of cultural issues. I propose a constitutional amendment to define foreign policy, restraining the American urge to intrude into other governments. As a democracy we need to urge our leaders in this choice.

Race and Majority Power

I have deliberately chosen to use the word “majority” rather than “Whites.” Whites happen to be the current majority in America, but the principles I am discussing apply to other countries and eras where Whites are not the majority. To use the term “Whites” is racist. It makes a certain race guilty of crimes that are committed by most any group in the majority position. Dealing with the issue of majority power and control is my goal, not debasing any ethnic group. Power is the critical issue; power to control a society and its norms, structures, and laws, is the essence of this social problem.

Immigrants claim that objections to immigration are racially based, but the objectors to immigration claim to simply want to protect their lifestyles and values. Many Americans expect assimilation by immigrants into the American “melting pot” as was the norm in past generations. But the modern paradigm in our pluralistic society is the American “salad bowl” where immigrants retain their former cultural identity and may not even learn the majority language. American culture has been largely shaped by values of the majority white Anglo ethnic group so it is understandable that the majority could fear the loss of their way of life as they are displaced by new ethnicities.

Cultural norms are not evil, they can become oppressive, but in general they are valuable to help us live together. In my sociology text I read, “In any culture, there exists a set of ideas about what is right, just, and good, as well as what is wrong and unjust. Norms are the common rules of a culture that govern the behavior of people belonging to it” (Chambliss & Eglitis 2014 p. 55). The sociologist Emile Durkheim foresaw the turmoil of a society where norms were disrupted through many groups moving into the industrial cities; industrialization and urbanization, and called this a state of “anomie” or normlessness (Chambliss & Eglitis 2014). America is the classic example of this state and the resulting social tension. Many of America’s ethnic majority are simply dreading the loss of social cohesion that comes from shared norms and values. If we are honest, we know that any society on earth would feel the same.

Racial Peace

Racism is elevating our own ethnic race above others and using race as justification for oppression. Anytime we choose elevate our group above others or use privilege to oppress others we engage the conflict attitude, which will destroy America. For multiple ethnicities to dwell together on the same piece of land we must make hard choices. We want everyone to have the right to be proud of their heritage! We want to rejoice in the colorful diversity all around us; this is the future of America! It is our choice.

Copyright; Mark Anderson 2016

 

 

 

References:

Ali, A. Y., & K̲h̲ān̲, V. (2011). The Quran. New Delhi: Goodword Books.

Chambliss, W. J., & Eglitis, D. S. (2014). Discover sociology. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Leon-Guerrero, A. (2014). Social problems: Community, policy, and social action (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Marx, K. (1888). The communist manifesto (F. Engels, Ed.; A. Lutins, Trans.) [Release date 1993 Etext #61]. Retrieved April 27, 2014, from http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/23905

New international version. (2005). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

U.S.A., Department of Homeland Security, USCIS History office and library. (2012). Overview of INS History. Retrieved February 24, 2016, from https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/History%20and%20Genealogy/Our%20History/INS%20History/INSHistory.pdf

 

 


Assad Must Stay

American foreign policy, bent on democratic expansion while being ignorant of the cultures beyond its own borders, naively supports the undoing of rulers that are deemed unworthy by American liberal values. In support of the Syrian revolution President Obama proudly proclaimed that the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must go. He cited the cruelties inflicted by Assad upon the revolutionaries as justification. So the USA in coalition with Saudi Arabia has been arming the revolutionaries. In a radical turn of events this week the Syrian revolutionaries have formed ISIS the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and have invaded Iraq. What our naïve American government does not understand is that Assad understands his people better than we do. There is something in the Islamic culture that only understands heavy handed leadership. Islam at its core is based upon sever authority and when outsiders attempt to meddle then we are messing with things we just do not comprehend. George W Bush began the invasion of Iraq declaring that Iraq would become a democratic “beacon of light” in the region. This was a classic beacon of American arrogance and ignorance. The only hope for American foreign policy is a constitutional amendment that would limit the ability of the USA to interfere in other countries.


Islam-Christianity

Islam-Christianity; compare and contrast

In the process of looking at religions first I prefer to observe the similarities.

Islam and Christianity are both monotheistic, though later this turns into the main conflict         (Islam sees Christianity as polytheistic)

Both believe in a basic premise of revelation; that mankind needs revelation from God.

Both believe in the nature of God as holy and that judgment for sin is proper.

Both have a foundation built on Judaism and Jewish scriptures.

Both have a community aspect; gathering for mosque or church.

Both have group leadership; imams or pastors.

Now lets look at these similarities but draw out the contrasts.

Monotheism; this is the great distinction of Judaism and religions flowing from it. It is the deity of Jesus that creates the sharpest conflict between Islam and Christianity. In the Quran this teaching about Jesus is repeatedly rebuked by Muhammad (Surah 5:17). Christians should think clearly on the doctrine called the trinity to make sure we are not becoming polytheistic because that would clearly go against the Hebrew scriptures upon which the Christian faith is based.

Revelation; both groups understand that our Creator is far above mankind’s ability to comprehend by our own reasoning and we are therefore dependent upon God for self-revelation. Our Creator has revealed itself in a general way through creation; art reveals the artist. But both groups believe that our Creator has spoken more specifically through prophets and through sacred texts; Quran and Bible.

Quran was spoken and recorded through one prophet Muhammad. The Bible was spoken and recorded by many prophets and writers, over a long span of time. The implication here is choosing to place confidence in one source or placing confidence in a larger source community. Both groups believe that regardless of the human source it is God who is the ultimate source. But for me I see God’s inspiring hand working over a long period of time weaving themes through the many writers.