Islam in America: A Panel Discussion

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Event Name: Islam in America: A Panel Discussion
Transcription Date:Transcription Modified Date: 5/19/2019
Transcript Version: 1

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be a very articulate group of people who

are in the media who are in politics who

are on the public eye and are speaking

about Islam in a way that Americans can

understand it they're going to be

bringing new people into Islam and

they're going to be clarifying Islam for

what it is there's still deep-seated

things that run deep in amongst the

Americans I mean I go to high schools

and I speak to the same level of

students that you have and usually I'll

start my lecture with well if I say

Islam what's the first thing that comes

to mind now maybe you've gone through

some of this already it and of course

terrorism is one of the most important

ones and here in New Mexico I the second

question I usually ask them is if if I

were to give you the language of the app

the most likely terrorist what would it

be and you know they'll usually say

Arabic to start with and then you know

some of them will say well English you

know or the Irish it and then when they

when I tell the most likely to be

Spanish that more terrorism is done by

spanish-speaking people far and away

than any other group of people in the

Arab speaking is you know small ten

percent of the world terrorism they're

surprised and it's hard to sort of

convince people of this because they

have this other belief that the

terrorist is an Arab or that it is a

Muslim and so forth so we have to

somehow enable them to rise above the

stereotypes and teach them to think for

ourselves and we have to be able to

think for ourselves in the first place

so part of what we try to get across

here in this institute is a clear

picture of what Islam really is so that

then you can understand what the

foundation of Islam is about and then


can understand who comes to you because

the truth of the matter is at this point

in time to be honest if you go to many

of the mosques in America you may meet a

lot of these immigrants who have set up

a mosque and they've come to this

country for whatever reason maybe I

students originally or to turn some

money but they've set up mosques and

they've come out of a setting a

political in a social setting this made

them very angry and very difficult and

there they may not be very communicative

about Islam and is the picture they

present to you about Islam or to your

students if you want to bring your

students it may not be an accurate

picture of Islam that's why what we've

taught you here in some cases it may be

very important you may know more than

some of the Muslims you encounter so

there's many different forces out there

and there's many different kinds of

Muslims amongst the african-american

communities Islam I mean Islam has come

as far as an indigenous group of people

to the African Americans it's estimated

forty five fifty percent of the Muslims

in America now are african-americans and

Islam as a as a spiritual teaching and

as a practice is transforming these

people in a very serious way they still

have enormous obstacles because of the

social situation they still are in and

they still face but there is

transformation going on and and we see

now emerging from these people and we'll

see more of it people with great wisdom

and clarity for expressing and

articulating Islam and articulating

solutions to American problems that will

surprise people so I'm saying you know

as teachers look for the people that you

can communicate with about Islam amongst

the African Americans there'll be some

really amazing people that you can

communicate and bring to your students

or take your students to amongst the

children of the immigrants now in UCLA I

was just at UCL of human UCLA a few

months ago the Muslim Students

Association there is headed by van Wang

you know that's the head of the group

and if you look at the group they are

all children of immigrants children of

Arabs children of Pakistanis there's

Chinese there's Arabs there just this

enormous mix and they're out being very

active in the community they're starting

free clinics

and they're doing tutorial programs for

incarcerated youth they're publishing

newspapers they're out speaking to the

public that's going to be on the rise

those people are also the kind of people

that you can communicate with and that

you can take your students to and your

students can come to and so forth so I

just want to add to what Hamza said it's

it's an amazing time and it's a process

that's in the in the midst of changing

someone one of the demographers one of

the people who gave the demographics

that recently suggested I may or may not

be accurate that it within the last two

years the number of immigrant Muslims

and the number of indigenous Muslims the

number of indigenous Muslims surpassed

the number of immigrant Muslims that's

just a recent phenomenon so it means

we're a kind of turning point we're at

point now in which Islam is emerging out

of the American society as an American

phenomenon which it will continue to be

so our understanding and understanding

of foundations and all that we've been

trying to give you here is important in

managing all this good night n because I

was a disadvantage here I can't really

say very much about Islam in America

because I know very little about it but

I've listened to what the other three

speakers have said and I would say

there's an almost exact parallel really

in the UK is another western country

we've had the very similar history the

very diverse groups and I would only add

probably i think the real interest in

islam in england got going under the

time the Queen Victoria I would think I

mean they're world Muslims before that

but I think in the town of Queen

Victoria with her connections with India

and the British Raj I understand the

Queen Victoria herself learnt oh do and

had Muslim servants at the palace of

whom she was very fond and I've also

heard the rumor that she did actually

declare Shahada so whether or not

whether whether we can count queen

victoria's and muslim or not i'm not

quite sure other people in the media

these days have wondered about other

members of the royal family the more

recent ones and certainly I would say

there is a great interest in

swam in the royal family a genuine

interest in it and what we're seeing at

long last I think is the genuine

teachings of Islam being made available

to us in words that we can understand

because we've been very handicapped in

the West all the great texts of Islam

that we would like to study have not

been available to us and the

translations that have gradually been

trickling through have been horrendous

and through nobody's great fault you

know but these are things which are

improving all the time so as genuine

knowledge of Islam is coming through I

think as soon as people realize what

we're actually about it starts with a

few converts and it gradually floods and

we're seeing a lot and obviously I'm an

example of this I haven't been a Muslim

as long as the gentleman here I

converted I think in 1986 and through

personal experiences travels meeting

people I certainly didn't accept Islam

because I wanted to marry a Muslim

although as a woman of the West there is

underestimated I think we gents don't

often think about this but it did become

very obvious to me that a lot of

conversion of English women is done

through less noble Muslims shall we say

young Muslim gentlemen who are at discos

and drinking the alcohol dating the

English girls when they shouldn't be

there breaking all their own rules and

this is one of the strange ways God

moves in mysterious ways that a lot of

English ladies have come into Islam

because they've been impressed with

these young men they've enjoyed their

company in ways they perhaps should not

have done though then discovered the

rules of Islam they then discovered

these young gentlemen are not doing it

quite right they've become converted to

Islam the gentleman have gone and left

them in the lurch they have remained

Muslim and much truer Muslim probably

than the gents that converted them they

then sallied forth and gone down to the

mosques to run into a brigade of a

different type of Muslim who have not

been quite so welcoming their arms not

quite so open they run into the Muslim

males that will not shake that it's that

kind of thing and some women will then

turn around and leave because there's

very disappointed with what they

experience but others are more

Turman sort will stick at it and think

well yes there are problems here that

there are cultural problems are things

that they don't know about the religion

they have to learn and we had to learn

tolerance and how to live together and

they stick with it and I have a vast

number of English lady Muslim friends

and I agree with the previous speaker

that now I think they I don't believe

the number of charcoal and white english

Muslims as yet outnumbered the

immigrants I don't think so but it is

creeping up and we look forward very

much to the time not not I mean not that

we want to outnumber them anything like

that but we do regard is llamas as a

world faith when I started off into

Islam I thought all Muslims were Arabs

and then I thought all Muslims were

Pakistanis and I gradually learned I got

the list of figures of what Muslims

aware and to my great surprise I found

out you know they're very few Arab

Muslims actually but there are vast

numbers of Muslims elsewhere and it is a

world faith and we would like to feel

that in England we will soon see the

emergence of English Islam and that

doesn't mean it will turn the back on

our immigrant teachers and brothers and

families that have led us into it but we

do want to see our own culture as well

and of course I think it's fairly true

to say that most of the people who

convert to Islam come from a Christian

or Jewish background in England there

usually are religious people to start

with I don't know that we have vast

numbers of people coming into Islam who

are not religious to start with for

myself I mean it was very simple study

of theology I had to go where reason led

me I had to be true to what I felt was

true and made that decision I was still

attending church there came a point

where I suddenly thought I honestly

don't believe that and that overtook me

and there came a point where I realized

I had become a Muslim and I had to take

that step as I explained in my first

talk it didn't mean that i love jesus

any less or you know i just changed how

I thought about him and I went back to

the Gospels and restarted them as a

Muslim and I'm very interested now in

putting across to the west the the

Muslim teaching of Jesus it is in total

correspondence with the teaching of the

Prophet Muhammad and previous prophets

and that's another story and

one little thing I can think of them I

don't know I'm not very good at dates

I'm afraid I'm not a scholar at this

century at all but I do think the first

mosque that we had in England Oh

certainly one of the first mosque i

believe it was the first one it was the

Begum of Bhopal Muslim female ruler and

you'll hear a lot of Muslims tell you

can't have women rulers and woe betide

nations are run by women and so on and

so forth but nevertheless both pearl

that had recently suffered an awful

catastrophe and but they were run by a

series of female rulers one of whom used

to visit regularly she was very much

into education for women she was a great

feminist when she appears in the UK she

was heavily veiled you could you see her

eyes peeping out she was a little stout

lady who dis their eyes showing but she

founded the whoa King mosque and I

believe that Marmaduke Pickthall who was

the translator or one of the translators

of the Quran into English and excellent

translation he acted as the Imam of

woken mosque for a long time and there

was a stretch of time when working

mosque was taken over by sectarians

whose Islam is debatable I don't get

into that but it is now suddenly

straight down the line and I think when

I went there as a visitor the Muslims I

saw vents look to me like Afghanistan is

and Kashmir ease that that kind of

person but anyway now you can find

mosques all over the UK some are

custom-built small and more custom built

but with loads of derelict churches odd

little buildings and things that get

taken over people's private houses all

sorts of funny places where Muslims will

now meet and converted English ladies

have a bit of a problem because one of

the things in Islam we're supposed to

marry Muslims a Muslim man can marry a

Jewish woman or a Christian woman

without too much to do about it but a

Muslim woman is supposed not to marry a

Christian or a Jew but to marry a Muslim

which is a bit of a problem because a

lot of the ladies that get converted out

of turned 40 and it's hard enough to

find a good man anyway 240 but then

we've got to find a Muslim one and they

do tend to marry immigrant

and we get this calumny that they're

becoming Muslims because they want to

marry handsome young brown men and which

may be the case for some but I don't

think that's really it I was certainly

Muslim before I met and married my

second husband and I don't think he

would have married me if I have not been

a Muslim already and I certainly don't

think our marriage would have lasted

five minutes I hadn't been a Muslim

already because the culture problems

that we walked into head-on were so

enormous that had we not had this basis

of shared faith and shared culture and

shared optimism it would have hit the

rocks I think very quickly and a lot of

transcultural marriages do in fact go

wrong quite quickly you have to learn a

lot of tolerance and then they remode

other things happen and hopefully that

they don't lose Islam you just have to

cling onto that as I said enough certain

a great diversity of different types of

Muslims and we get Muslim extremism in

England like you do everywhere else and

the certain groups that caused a bit of

a ruckus they sing over extreme I always

think that the best way of Islam is the

middle way this is what the prophet

taught I have umpteen hadith of the

Prophet where he tended to disapprove of

people who became too extreme fair

enough if they want to be extreme that's

fine you could be as religious and

extreme as you like but you haven't the

right to impose that on other people or

make other people feel they're not as

good as you only God knows who are the

real good is so you know we have trouble

where people get a bit overzealous the

hearts are in the right place is no

doubt their party is not in question but

sometimes their practice can be too much

and I always maintained that you know if

you're a genuine Muslim you're drawing

people towards you and towards God and

you can sort of judge them if they're

the kind that drive people away you

would not want to marry that one you

would not want to sit down have meal

with that one and there's something

slightly wrong with their Islam a true

Muslim is always attractive that little

beaut afore we will draw people towards

God and that I think is the mark of a

true Christian as well of course the

true Jew as well but the to draw people

to God is our business not to say you're

doing this wrong or you're not good

enough you're not praying in after Angie

you've made this mistake that mistake

that's not Islam it is Islam but it's


the important thing important thing is

to realize that there is a God and there

is a life after death of Muhammad was a

genuine prophet and the rest of it will

follow I was the good friends over there

see their opening of course in his long

summer nana waffles how many sweaters

money pit characterized kasnia Christian

Church the United States I responded to

the growth of this mom hasn't been any

fpm movement i know i am town birds

bottom or anything that you have some

time to time you do a lot of things

across the Jupiter rev up with the

priests but i just wanted have kind of


where there's any relationship yeah the

other one going muslim-christian dyro

muslim view is dialogue there is an

annual meeting of the American Muslim

Council and the Conference of Catholic

Bishops in Washington I have attended he

says this is now almost 30 years you

have a group of Muslims who will be lit

represent leaf from the Conference of

Catholic Bishops usually they have their

scholars and the Muslim scholars and let

the leaders of the characters you know

they're promoting is a Italian food with

dialogue in with Muslims dealing with

issues that of common interests they for

example the program of Sudan as he was

trash out very fat bonus be an objective

I mean Muslim spread presented their

position have a seat bottom and of

course the Catholics express their fears

and their concerns about letras now in

into that and you have very flat this

question 23 our meetings so

you have that way and the Conference of

Catholic Bishops arranged for the

Cardinal rinzai to come and meet with

sound emotional leaders

I'll be sure morning so you have things

like that I have been present in this

event so I know and then we have you

have Christian Muslim dialogue initiated

in various localities these are mainly

the initiatives of local Christians and

Muslims like it wasn't the secret of we

have the Interfaith conference of

washington DC you have mormons Jews

Muslims Christians from the bow tested

and Catholic denominations six and now

by eyes just join in the very entrance

and some was a very hot in there right

now I'm the president of the role in

addition so I mean later you have

avoided different booty you know they

are all these groups and then ever you

know Joe have well you have all these

different Christians know moments all of

them as who are keeps all they were

former congressman on utah working with

of this limitation something

us christian denominations president of

the chairman of the interview conference

it's a creative battling prison I mean

you have a nigga's oh yeah okay you are

having Presbyterian Church we have been

making some moves toward their local

Muslims and if without a vote when the

years ago now is almost 10 years ago

Christian Muslim together you know that

it is a whole book describing they would

they do being Christians meaning

Presbyterians about their own good

Muslims there's also there's a lot of

thinking in the country now there's

there's a lot because Christians feel a

little besieged as well by the the

secular you know the secular occurrence

and forces in the country one

interesting things was pointed out to me

by a Christian priest was that

traditionally whenever there were any

new land developments there was always a

segment set aside for a church which is

not happening or a synagogue depending

if it's a Jewish area which is not

happening anymore and what's happening

is in cities that it's all there's

running out there's no place for worship

and so a lot of people are actually

buying warehouses you know office space

and things like that but then you come

up with the zoning laws they're not

zoned because churches have a special

zoning and first is in our area we've

had this problem and and the Christian

leaders have responded in support

because there's a mosque there that is

in an industrial area and there are a

couple of the particularly one lsi logic

in particular who's been fighting this

and put a massive amount of money into

this and its cost the local mosque now

it's gone into the hundreds of thousands

of dollars for legal fees and and other

things and their argument is that it

because there's children there they're

dealing with chemicals they do doping

for it's a semiconductor plant but right

next door there's a Christian Vanguard

where they teach children like

instruments or anything that's been

functioning there for years so one of

the priests came and and set on public

TV that you know this is as far as he's

concerned it's religious discrimination

because if this was a church or a

synagogue he didn't feel it would be

happening and and the Muslims were

impressed you know the Christians came

out and helped I I personally don't

think that there's a there's enough

interaction not so much on the dialogue

no but on on more on you know trying to

to work together for mutual concerns

like youth you gang phenomenon a lot of

the violence in the communities

homelessness you know things in which

really they trans these these issues

trans and religious demarcations we're

dealing with some real basic things that

all of our traditions teach like taking

care of the needy and things like that

and I think it'd be useful to maybe

break down some of those barriers and

and there's there's obviously still a

lot of infant unfamiliarity just going

to ask you since

states on the background of Islamic

history and women were involved in

military companies how American Muslims

feel about women Muslims participating

our military well i mean what i will say

is right now there are a few muslim

woman in the military never saw guitar

it's random violence as it has a favor

Monica because Gadhafi where do you stay

over in the military that I was the

woman in the military and now the US

military has recognized Muslim chaplains

so you go out Muslim chaplains who are

now safe I either by KFC among comes

from all emo boy bahama so they Queen

and their work is like the Christian

champions or the rabbi's so the way I

will respond to the question really is

if you go by Islamic history I mean some

of the Muslim woman were not in the US

military they would say that well this

is a job for them because the army is

not a trap I'm is a voluntary am and

many of the Africa woman see the Army

has an opportunity for them to have

upward mobility and Tory good job

because you see if you gotta get out of

it and you going or you had one kid but

you keep custody with your brother and

you go into the military you can laugh

skills and many of our guns all you want

to call them after for 50 years 60 did

you come out if you know electronics and

you now begin to have you won't stop

playing under the earth TVs and radios

we need to better stay in the inner city

and you don't have anything so yeah I

mean in the eyes are many of you have

random and is applied for male and

female to extend wide oceans have all

chicken o Muslims location who suicided

military I don't know because this is

what maybe we are not working for but

what we do know is that the military has

spoken up to so many bishops water in

Denali and I usually see she will be

callable by people i factor would be

they have instead investigating Leary

said and so the true will be asking Phil

questions on decisions I think the whole

issue of women in art forms and is a

tricky right away what nervously what

happen was them because I won't have to

take quite a bit that if a man was

fighting in the field next to a woman

soldier our sources natural instincts

will either to protect him towards our

soldier if you were generally are that


that's female soldiers a weak link in

your thoughts and they'd be totally

wrong on that one but seven in my

generation certainly I think there was

not feeling that women as armed

combatants will be more handy having

help as mothers rei readers are here

we've just had all these kind of sexual

problems you know there's all this

court-martial I going on for four men

been abused there you know they use

their stare authority over people on the

other problem from Muslim point of view

again anytime any situation where a male

will be alone with a female is

completely prohibited the problem is

when you enter into the army or you're

entering the into a situation in which

you are subordinating your beliefs to

you don't join the army if you don't

believe for instance in killing people

from any reason that you don't agree

with whereas in Islamic law you cannot

find unless you have a valid Chettiar

reason you can't gamble hamid ali refuse

to enter into the armed services he lost

his title and was barred from boxing for

a few years because you know you said on

a promise to be account this is not i

don't have any problem with them you

know so and and really i think that

would be consistent with a Muslim

thorough thorough said that an educated

soldier is usually called a deserter you

know if you really know what people are

fighting about he'll tend not to I mean

the idea that the Kuwaiti war was about

defending democracy or anything I

thought I think came out as absurd to

even most Americans you know and there

was a there was a cartoon somebody do

that the Bosnian thing happened and

nobody's helping the Bosnians and one of

the Bosnians in the cartoon said you

know what we need to do is discover

loyal and then you'd have a lot of

people coming over there to defend them

right but the idea of defending the you

know the Kuwaitis or something like that

so I don't know I think it's a main

problem you know the military just in

general not just the American military

with military everywhere you know

because it gets part of a state

apparatus and we have to question what

what is being defended right what do we

defend you here are we defending the

interests of the people or are we

defending the interest of a global elite

army defending interest to burn cheap

oil I mean these are issues that you

don't want them not really dealt with it

you know any time

level and and yet people are being put

on the on the front lines and

perspective to die if called to do so

and so for me personally I think some

real very serious philosophical things i

get rid I mean I would not feel

comfortable being in any of the armies

of the world not any country in the

world right now I really would not

whether Muslim or non-muslim I would not

feel comfortable being in the Egyptian

army right because I don't think they're

defending anything honorable you know

and that's just as my own personal

belief that's not you know that's not

i'm not speaking for the Muslims I'm

just speaking for myself at that point I

just I'm very wary of modern military

apparatus you know I really am and I'm

certainly aware of this this country's

you know because I just died I don't

think that they're they're defending

well I served recently a very critical

humanitarian missions that otherwise

couldn't have provided relief so like

Somalia hit like Somalia when I think

operation provide comfort to the curs

why heartily okay part of the problem is

I mean for me Mary Kay with all with all

respect for the problem is why do we

have a Kurdish problem in the first

place it's one thing when you going /

somebody and then you start offering the

band-aids do you know I mean the

Somalian situation is is so money it's a

classic example of a cold war victim

right some writings were very important

to the Americans and there was they we

kept this petty little dictate

in power for several years right 30

years who in order to maintain his power

took introduced rise and just play them

against one another constantly divide

and conquer you learnt very well from

his masters and then when they're no

longer any significance you know to the

global one of the British used to call

the great game when they lost their

significance in the great game of global

civilizations that all of that support

was pulled up in the next new has a type

of anarchy in the country and then we go

in for the photo opportunity well I

don't mean again into the individual

campaigns them I guess it was a more

generic question because there are

Muslims serving in the military all over

the world in other countries and I just

wondered how my first felt about women

in since non Muslim women serve in our


give you have several positions seem

mentioned to you good a few having

wouldn't win again but the baby hook

Olivia some of the Muslim countries

women al-hajjaj yes sometimes only son

who support is in Egypt yes subsidies

you will not find anywhere in this

saturday i mean is eros able to traffic

as oh so many easy days a matter of

national choice and of course you have

scholars religious scholars to give them

fuck was to rationalize yeah i can't

step 4 yes because it's part of this

like in the Indian Indian football or

seven overall you have to play football

Aggies you know in reality progress on

theirs from yes you see that way anyone

communica yes now we're questions event

regarding Syria time soon it's my

pressure than emotional stereotypes in

this area are not so much these are the

Islamic that so much as error or is I

think a lot of Americans they see an

error and then think of their field

stereotypes and now we know thinking a

lot of relating to Islam's just like an

errand and i was wondering in the only

our community itself in the united

states how many are actually Muslims and

of those how many are really devout

muslims to where they're really crowds

in the heirs of this come here of

Christians yes that's a good question

for these mythical realize I'm like

Ralph Nader is probably the most famous

terror of America right and he's a

Christian yeah and then how was Africa

was a congressman another very welcome

is also Christian can they lose your

honor because if you know most people

are from there with the book the

strongness and things like this not

chasing cases Jack Johnson who is

another Krishna arab-american died about

what was really kind of Shelah then it

owns shall that us shut up on the

economic the cabinet with and these are

all appreciate before more citrusy

investment Danny Thomas was that is a

question of the guy on Nash I camera was

always dressing

Lebanese Christian martyrs just go for a

lot for a lot of Americans over the Arab

that they see does the Arab alone for

gas station especially in California are

you see around and just spend I know

they're immigrants now if are they

Iranians perhaps yeah so there's a shirt

I really semester George how much is a

Christian era also Terry Collins pursue

peaceful and I think generally the most

Americans don't even know their search

terms so I'm as a true this most

American this guy they think most of

they think era yeah I think they think

and then you'll get a whole spectrum and

there was an interesting film done

called the the Hollywood Arab what the

meaty Vieira and and the point of this

guy it goes right from the Sheik of

Araby with Rudolph Valentino when Aaron

wants a woman he just takes her that was

one of the famous lines from that film

and he was a romantic character right i

mean he was he was a romantic character

and there was a lot of women that you

know became a kind of fantasy there you

know getting seduced by the Arab Sheik

but then you get into the 70s where you

get the hook nosed the OPEC Arab right

with the form the four wives with all

wearing veils driving in the rolls-royce

obnoxious I think there was a Disney

film that caused some problems where the

Habib's were the next door neighbors to

a family and they were very obnoxious

that was a recent that's the class of

stereotype is also getting to do right I

mean the missile the aeros game

I think it's interesting but if you if

you studied prop again faces of the

enemy it's a brilliant book on

propaganda and how you know how faces

are distorted one of the