This article explores how American journalists cover religion in Europe, where issues of faith and church-state relations lead to differing interpretations of religio-ethnic news events, by analyzing U.S. newspaper coverage of the anti-Islamic Dutch MP Geert Wilders. A focus on Geert Wilders incorporates both the Netherlands and Britain into the analysis but also Europe more generally given that the case prompted a wider discussion of immigration and the place of Islam in European societies. After discussing the differing roles and perceptions of religion in the United States and Europe, the article considers the differing models of integration for immigrants on the two continents and demonstrates how this has played out in news coverage of Islam. An examination of the reporting of the Geert Wilders case shows how Islam in Europe is represented through a conflict frame that incorporates a discourse of immigration, cultural incompatibility, identity, liberalism, and freedom.
Uighurs, a religiously and ethnically distinct Chinese Muslim community who are largely Sunni Muslims, share more in common with their Central Asian neighbors, ethnically and culturally, than their Chinese rulers. They speak a different language, possess different physical characteristics, and maintain their own distinct way of life and traditions. Eight million Uighurs are found in Xinjiang, which sits in remote northwestern China. Despite similarities to a well-known beleaguered Chinese community, Tibetan Buddhists, the Uighurs' plight has received very little media attention. Indeed, when their story has been told, it has been linked, however tenuously, to the specter of international Islamic terrorism. This article explores American news coverage of the Uighurs before and after 9/11. By looking at how and why this happened, the article illuminates American press practices regarding the coverage both of religion in China and of Islam.
Going back to the earliest days of the American republic, the Muslims, particularly those from the Arab world, have been described in most coverage by U.S. newspapers as a vaguely menacing place, with values and cultures often depicted as antithetical to those of the United States. Islam itself has often been portrayed as an archaic religious and political force that has consigned the Arab world to backwardness. Anti-Muslim sentiment developed early, as eighteenth-century American religious leaders such as Cotton Mather and Jonathan Edwards denounced Islam and the prophet Mohammed. News organizations, like the entertainment media, grasp at stereotypes. Just as the nomadic, camel-borne Arab and later the “Muslim terrorist” have become stock characters in film, television, and novels, so too do the news media often reduce their coverage themes to simplistic formulae. That many in the news media believed that Islam and violence are interconnected is evidence of flawed journalism. The truth is that the vast majority of Muslims find terrorism reprehensible.
This chapter attempts a historical sketch of the relationship between the Qur’an and rhetoric, arising from the Qur’an’s repeated reference to its own surpassing and inimitable eloquence, (Bayan) and thus, its divine origin. The Qur’an’s hostility to poets and poetry was eventually mitigated through early literary theories which found their fullest expression in Adab, Islamic literary humanism. Adab theories helped to define and refine the question of the Qur’an’s inimitability (i`jaz) through a close examination of the canons of eloquence. In more modern times the question of Qur’an and literature has assumed a new urgency, largely because a literary approach to the Qur’an has morphed into a theological re-examination of basic Qur’anic tenets. Such issues as the narratives in the Qur’an and how they are to be understood today as well as the nature of revelation itself are examples of this transformation of understanding of the sacred text.
This Epilogue offers a response to the chapters of the Handbook from an Islamic perspective. It addresses the way Muslims should look at the diversity of the Abrahamic religions, considering both commonalities and differences. The discussion focuses on several points: the relationship between the scriptural sources of the three traditions according to Islam; how to reconcile singularity within the community, the universality of principles, the human family as ‘one family’, and the overall shared sacred history of the Abrahamic religions; education and the transmission or dissemination of the three religions; the role of religion within contemporary secular and consumerist societies; the question of environment and issues pertaining to applied ethics; and the issue of violence. The conclusion will profess to the consequent necessity for continual dialogue so as to facilitate the understanding of one another’s references and viewpoints.
Karim H. Karim
The portrayal of Muslims in the news did not become salient only after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, this has been a long-standing issue that has acquired increasing attention over the last few decades as the coverage of the adherents of Islam has steadily grown in American news coverage. The image of the “Islamic terrorist” has come to dominate various depictions of Muslims. It tends to take at face value the claims of some who perpetrate political violence in the name of Islam at the expense of more than a billion followers who see the religion as a source of harmony. The endless stream of depictions beginning with some of the earliest encounters of Europeans with the “Saracens” have produced a strongly embedded set of core stereotypes that make plausible depictions that would seem outrageous when applied to other groups. This article shows how the intertextual weaving of the legends of the medieval “Assassins” into contemporary American news and entertainment media draws upon and reinforces the ingrained image of the violent Muslim.
The story of the Muslim press in the United States is a story of struggle: the struggle for justice, identity, and the ability to be heard. It is also a story of the evolution of the extraordinarily diverse Muslim population in the United States and American Muslims' desire to forge identities that balance the various influences in their lives. Islam has its very origins in reading: on the night that Muhammad became a prophet, he received his first revelations in written form. Though illiterate, Muhammad was visited by the angel Gabriel and ordered to read. Perplexed, Muhammad discovered in response to the angel's insistent command that he had miraculously been granted this ability. The passages that he read on that night, which Muslims commemorate every year as a sacred occasion, are the first ones revealed from the Quran. For that reason, the idea of books, of print, and of knowledge remains sacred within Islam. This article explores the development of the Muslim press and the challenges it faces as American Muslims enter a new era.
Walid A. Saleh
Psalms 37:29 contains the only explicit verbatim quotation from the Bible in the Qur’an (Q.21:105): “and we have decreed in the Book of Psalms (zabūr)—after admonition (dhikr)—that the righteous shall inherit the earth.” The word dhikr is often translated “remembrance,” but for Angelika Neuwirth it means “after the praise.” Q.21:105 is of utmost significance to the theology of the Qur’an and echoed in other Qur’anic verses where inheritance and righteousness are linked to one another. The Bet Hale Disputation bears witness to how Muslims understood this Qur’anic verse, in which the Muslim Emir was engaging in a complicated theological argument with a Christian monk concerning the kingdom of God and how victory is related to salvation. This article discusses the use of psalmic material in the Qur’an and in the Islamic religious imagination. It looks at the history of the Bible (both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament) in Islam and focuses on Al-Biqāʽī, the first Muslim exegete to inquire after the scriptural origins of the quotation in Q.21:105.
The chapter deals with two important approaches in Islamic theology, defining the terms that apply to these two trends and elucidating their main teachings. Scripturalist theology characterizes small groups in Islam which finally disappeared in the Middle Ages, however, leaving some traces on other theological schools. Contrary to the disappearance of the scripturalist theology, the traditionalist theology has remained the core of Islamic theology. It was a flexible theology that used both the Qurʾān and the Sunna and rational considerations. Through these two devices it challenged the rationalist theology and tried to refute both the rationalist methods and specific theological issues based on reason.
The article discusses Muslim attempts to develop innovative hermeneutical models for understanding the Qurʾān. It analyses the beginnings of reform in the eighteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries and the sustained efforts, starting in the late nineteenth century, to bring the interpretation of the Qur’an in line with ideas of rationalism and modernism. On this basis, the chapter presents an overview of the most important modern hermeneutical approaches to the Qur’an, some of which focus on its literary qualities, its historical context, its major themes, or its main goals, while others emphasize the Qurʾān’s inimitability in new ways or seek to expose its immediate relevance for contemporary believers. The development of these new ideas, which have often provoked severe criticism, is situated in the structural context of the emergence of colonial and nation states, mass alphabetization, and new media.
Was Abraham religious? The question seems out of place in a volume on ‘Abrahamic Religions’. Yet, it is precisely the juxtaposition of strictly anachronistic terms (Abraham, religion) at a time when ‘the religious’ proliferates, that should initiate a sustained interrogation. By considering the ways in which Abraham was never religious, by thinking with Kafka, with Ronell and Derrida, about ‘another Abraham’, this chapter asks about the persistence of an all-too Christian religio and reads Abraham (Sarah and Hagar too) toward another question, another juxtaposition, a different disputation.