When I Say “Islam” or “Muslim”, What Image Comes to Mind?

Thanks to James for showing me the 5 Ridiculous Things You Probably Believe About Islam.

I’m going to be brutally honest about my own flaws and lack of education here. After I read the page above, I did a quick experiment. I asked myself to write down the first 5 Muslims that came to mind. Here’s what I wrote:

  1. Bassam (a friend of mine)
  2. Muhammad Ali
  3. Osama bin Laden
  4. Ayman al-Zawahiri
  5. Yasser Arafat

2 of 5 of those are terrorists. That’s 40%. Obviously, I don’t believe there is a connection between the ideology of terrorism and the religion of Islam. However, as an American (with just a couple Muslim friends) that lived through the last 10 years, a not insignificant percent of Muslims I know and think about are terrorists. This is a big problem that the American media and politicians do not help. They exploit it. Famous Muslims is a good example of a website that tries to address this issue for people like me that have unacceptably little knowledge about the culture and people of Islam.

I have views about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, about America’s war on terror, and many issues that involve the Middle East. However, what I am talking about in this post is outside all of that. It’s about my ignorance of other cultures. It worries me that on some subconscious level, it may effect the way I think about our foreign policy, about religion, and just about the line between good and evil in society. So, again, I have to thank James for reminding me of the things I need to learn before providing an opinion.

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