Islam's Image Problem

By Smith, Geoffrey | Insight on the News, July 24, 2000 | Go to article overview

Islam's Image Problem


Smith, Geoffrey, Insight on the News


Westerners have called radical Islam one of the gravest threats facing the free world. But scholars and foreign-affairs experts agree that the faith's teachings are humane.

For years, journalists documenting militant Islam have supplied U.S. and Western media with harrowing stories of extremists conducting a reign of terror. But such reports neglect millions of peace-loving, tolerant Muslims who abide by the true teachings of their faith, says Sheik Hisham Kabbani, chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council of America.

Kabbani was one of numerous scholars, anthropologists, diplomats and religious leaders attending a conference earlier this year sponsored by the Supreme Council and Johns Hopkins University's School for Advanced International Studies. Participants analyzed the nature of radical Islamic movements, from their origins in Iran and Afghanistan to their more recent infiltration of Central Asian regions such as Dagestan and Chechnya.

Most experts agreed that politicization of Islam is the primary factor driving radical factions of the faith, combined with modernization and globalization. "With the growth of Islam, we see the birth of different schools of thought within Islam," Kabbani explained. "As previously isolated races and nations converge through the process of globalization and technical advancement, there are more opportunities for differences to arise."

For Kabbani, however, the core Islamic teaching essentially is unchanged since the days of the Prophet Mohammed. "As we consider traditional Islam vs. radical Islam -- in Central Asia or anywhere else -- we see that the difference between them lies not in the basic beliefs of the religion," he said. "The differences arise from love of authority and misguidance by people who don't fully understand the religion."

Now trained primarily in Afghanistan, Islamic militants receive little formal education and get a very distorted view of Islam, said Julie Sirrs, a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst. "Oftentimes, training schools seem to be a funnel for jihad movements" she said, using the Islamic name for holy war.

Likewise, radical movements are funding themselves from the sale of illegal drugs. "Terrorism has become a very profitable business" said historian Sherzod Abdullayev, formerly of Ferghana State University in Uzbekistan, who spoke through an interpreter. International terrorism and radical Islam are closely tied and pose a serious global threat, but radical Islam can be tempered and maybe even stopped through forces of political and social stability, noted Abdullayev.

Indeed, the essence of Islam is not antidemocratic, but forces of history and economics have worked against the establishment of democratic governments in much of the Muslim world, according to speakers attending a separate conference organized by the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy, or CSID, at Georgetown University. Long before the establishment of modern one-party states and authoritarian governments, the Muslim world had the makings of democratic government. In the classical Islamic era, Muslim systems featured an independent judiciary and separation of powers, noted Tamara Sonn, professor of religion at the College of William and Mary. But whether Islam is inherently democratic or not, Muslims soon will not enjoy democracy because they face obstacles of poverty, authoritarianism and political insecurity -- a point stressed by several scholars.

RELATED ARTICLE: What Is Islam?

ORIGIN

Islam is one of world's three major monotheistic religions, along with Christianity and Judaism. It was founded in Arabia and based on revelations received by the Prophet Mohammed, who lived from 570 to 632. Mohammed began his ministry at age 40, when tradition says the archangel Gabriel appeared to him in a vision. His central teachings were the goodness, omnipotence and unity of God, the need for generosity and justice among humans and a fear of Judgment Day.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Islam's Image Problem
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.