Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Karen Armstrong Looks at "Islam: The Misunderstood Religion"

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Karen Armstrong Looks at "Islam: The Misunderstood Religion"

Article excerpt

KAREN ARMSTRONG, a former nun who now is a brilliant writer, speaker, teacher and commentator on religious affairs in the United States and England, launched the Mosaic Foundation's new lecture series "Re-Discovering the Arab World" at a standing-room-only event at the National Press Club on Nov. 20. The Mosaic Foundation is a charitable, educational and cultural organization founded in 1998 in Washington, DC by the spouses of Arab ambassadors to the United States. Rim Abboud, wife of Lebanon's Ambassador Farid Abboud, welcomed guests and Christ'l Safieh, wife of Ambassador Afif Safieh, head of the PLO Mission, introduced Armstrong.

The author of such books as Jerusalem, A History of God, and her latest, Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time (Eminent Lives) said she began to learn about Islam when she lived in Jerusalem and watched "three religions jostling around their religious sites." She saw antagonism and affinity, she recalled, and said her study of Islam and Judaism brought her back, at last, to her own religion. Trained to see both sides of every question, Armstrong is offended to see Islam portrayed as a violent religion. "It's just not true," she stated. "History shows it was bigotry in Europe that led to death camps. And we haven't seemed to learn from that catastrophe."

Armstrong traced the history of Islamaphobia from the Crusades to the present. Since 9/11, she said, Muslims have become the new bogeyman, child slayers, violent Jihadis. After every crisis, like the cartoon controversy or the pope's lecture, "all the old skeletons come out of the closet and we have to start all over again teaching that Islam is a religion of peace," Armstrong lamented. "It's like the game Snakes and Ladders. We go sliding down a ladder and have to start all over again."

One by one Armstrong demolished each of the old chestnuts or arguments regularly used to convince Westerners that Islam is a violent religion. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.