Here’s what’s wrong with hijab tourism and your cutesy “modesty experiments”

Personally, I think the Hijab is a great concept for both men and women. To what extent its owned by a particular community / religion, and is therefore subject to cultural appropriation, is another matter. But much of Ms. Muslamic’s argument about stereotyping of the veiled, Muslim woman hits the nail on the head.

Ms. Muslamic

Hijab: sometimes, it feels like everyone’s giving it a try. Lauren Shields is just the latest feminist to embark on a ‘modesty experiment’ based on the veiling traditions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Last year, a teenager on Tumblr wore hijab to the mall and ended up with 200,000 reblogs. In 2010, a young journalist went ‘undercover’ in hijab for a month to find out what it was like. Liz Jones wore the burka in 2009; Danielle Crittenden over at HuffPo wore it all the way back in 2007, like some kind of Cultural Appropriation Hipster. Over at Vice, Annette Lamothe-Ramos wandered around New York in a burka and then wrote a really insensitive article about the experience. Apparently if you’re stuck for ideas for content, a reliable fall-back is to dress like a Muslim woman for a day or so and then bang out…

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  1. I agree, these types of experiments ultimately result in failure, regardless of their outcome, as they are approaching it with the wrong understanding to begin with. It is sad that this latest one is a divinity student.

    • Hey Laraiba! Was this a brilliant post or what? I won’t go ahead and conclude that these experiments fail. It depends on the objective: Ms. Shields concerned herself with exploring ‘modesty’ – which I find highly commendable (despite the superficial understanding of modesty as merely physical). But to try and understand the Muslim woman’s life by wearing less makeup or donning a scarf – is a long shot.

      • Yes, it was a great post. It’s the premise or lack of true understanding in this case. Oh, well.

  2. Yes, Nezden, for those with an understanding of the values the lead women to adopt hijab, nikab, and burka ; it is an abomination that these women are trying to emulate something they believe is to oppress women, when it is actually is to protect and thereby allows women more freedom.

  3. Laraiba, did you read the entire text of Lauren Shield’s article? I find it interesting that Fatihah is censoring my comments on her blog. I am concerned with the extremes of reaction here. I understand how one can feel hurt when misrepresented or not understood, but when we escalate these minor injuries to extremes like abomination we invite more serious conflict.

    Honestly, rather than decrying any analysis as Islamophobic, I wish enlightened, self-described muslims would speak equally forcefully against the many thousands of muslims who proclaim the duty to kill infidels. These are not fringe elements, this opinion is founded firmly in the scripture, which obviously is in dire need of critique and revision.

    • Hey Nesdon, hope you don’t mind my jumping in. It’s all just very interesting 🙂 Firstly, I recognize that Shield’s experiment had little to do with Islam other than her inspiration and reasoning. But she did publish her article in a news website with considerable subscribers. So, there IS a problem when she writes from the premise that Muslim women are oppressed – especially since it’s all in the context of Islam in the West. Plus, she doesn’t know what she’s talking about – because she hasn’t faced the racial discrimination + Islamophobia to its full (or even quarter) extent (which is clear from her article).

      I see Fatihah’s response as a general argument against 1) Muslim-women stereotypes, 2) white, non-Muslim narratives of what it means to wear the Hijab and 3) (what she feels was) cultural appropriation and its monetization. Also, let’s not forget it was a blogpost – lending it some latitude in terms of being scathing in its criticism.

      As for your ‘killing infidels’ statement – we’ve both seen the verses and know them to be in the context of war. And we will both believe exactly what we want to. Just like you’ve made up your mind that some scripture ‘obviously’ needs critique and revision. From that position, it may be difficult to get into enlightened discussions with Muslims.

      I wish you best of luck and peace.

  4. Thanks for your reply, Adnan. I did not read any premise in Lauren’s article about the oppression of Muslim women, she seemed to quote women with whom she had a positive dialogue, she seemed to try to integrate and allow form their different perspectives. she writes

    “I didn’t know it then, but what I had learned about modest dress was teaching me about my own hypocrisy… In fact, for many women, it was pride. It was a desire to be considered for things other than what their hairstyle communicated, or whether their butts were shaped right… In America, Islamic dress is often a choice, and the women who make this choice are declining to endorse Western Imperialism and the sexualization of their bodies. It’s a way of expressing modesty and resisting the pressure to be scrutinized against Western standards of beauty.”

    I don’t know what more can be expected of Lauren. Shouldn’t we listen to each other and try to understand the others perspective as well and earnestly as we can?

    As to the proscription for the treatment of infidel’s (and I am one, as well as a heretic and a goyim) can you understand how reading such passages in the context of current events could seem like an offense to me? I have to confess I have not read the whole Torah, bible or Quran. But I do own a bible and a Quran, and I do read from them.

    I don’t think I believe what I want to, I think I believe what I read, hear and see, and when I see people quoting scriptures to justify actions that are destructive, I have trouble interpreting them in other ways. This goes for evangelical Christians and orthodox Jews who use the book of Revelations and the Torah to justify their support of settlement building in the the West Bank. It goes for white supremacists who use American revolutionary writings to support domestic terrorism such as the Oklahoma City bombing. As a secular person living in a globally interconnected and diverse world, I don’t see how I can criticize their scripture and not yours. I don’t see why this should preclude enlightened discussion.

    If Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins burst into the Vatican with machine guns to avenge the deaths of hundreds of Africans from AIDS due to the Catholic church’s obstruction of condom distribution, I would condemn them unequivocally, even though they may be members of my ideological tribe. I may revere Jefferson, but I still speak out against his ownership of slaves and idea that the tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of patriots. Obviously those ideas too, in this modern world, need critique and revision. Can’t you join me in calling for the revision of ideas like these that are being used by various violent factions to justify actions, such as the murder of innocents, that we must condemn.

    • You are most welcome, Nesdon. I appreciate your enthusiasm and efforts to engage with people with different beliefs. It’s quite rare these days. Understand that what I write here doesn’t represent Islam’s views, but mine.

      If you’ve read both Lauren’s article and blog posts – certain biased constructs appear. For example, you’ll see she says the ‘lecture on hijab’ was expected to be the ‘typical’ Islam-slamming session by ‘educated’ feminists. Do you see the problem there? The assumption that the ‘educated’ will always ridicule Islam? Consider sentences like “The speaker didn’t advocate for hijab, but she certainly wasn’t opposed to it” – the surprise element of it, almost as if to say ‘what? Not oppose the Hijab? You crazy?’ It’s as though opposition to the Hijab is the default reaction. Worst of the lot, think about “But it [Hijab] wasn’t shame, I soon learned. In fact, for many women, it was pride” – as if everyone knew it to be ‘shame’ – but Lauren Shields, the great Hijab tourist, first discovered it could be ‘pride’. She presupposes the backwardness of the religion & its adherents and goes forward from there. That’s the problem with the premise. One needs a bit more objectivity as an author on a journalistic quest – or even as a decent human being, really.

      ‘Your Richard Dawkins bursting into Vatican’ example is little better in its blanket bias and tribalist assumptions i.e. you would condemn your ideological tribe (Dawkins), why can’t I do the same for mine (terrorists). In a sentence, you have equated me to a terrorist – or an ideological equivalent. I hope you realize that, like 99.999% of other Muslims, I’m not a fan of violence. I condemn it – regardless of who is doing it. We do this not because it’s a knee-jerk, community reaction – but because it’s the right thing to do. Yet, in every discussion about Islam – I am forced to explain myself categorically, like this.

      I read the Qur’an – hell, I read the Bible and some Kierkegaard too – but I’m not being radicalized. Neither are 140 million people in my country. So, maybe we should consider the politics involved. Where did the Muslim Brotherhood come from? (Hint: anti-colonialism revolutionaries). Where did the Deobands come from? (Hint: anti British/colonialism movement). How did Saddam rise to power? (Hint: funded & equipped by USA during Iraq-Iran war) How did the Taliban rise to power? (Hint: with US money, firepower, logistics) – its politics, wars and injustices that radicalize. We have got to stop pretending that the world started from 9/11 and there was no history before that.

      People who quote scripture/revolutionary-writing/constitution to do bad things – and this may come as a revelation – are bad people looking for excuses to do bad things. They just need the written word to say it’s ‘okay’. And that includes all religious wars, native-massacres / assimilation, atom bombs, 9/11, Iraq war, Afghanistan war, arming Syrian rebels, drone strikes, rocket attacks on Israel etc. We can’t broadly attribute ‘all bad things’ to scripture, without conceding that then ‘all good things’ must be a result of scripture too. If scripture must own bombings, it must also own every charitable act in the world. It’s not the scripture – but what some miscreants do in the name of the scripture. I am a proponent of reforming the hand that wields the knife, not the knife.

      I’m happy, Nesdon – that you own scriptures and read from them. Though I believe it’s difficult to appreciate, grasp or utilize scripture if you don’t believe in God – I’m sure you have your reasons. And I have mine. But I don’t pretend as though mine are better. We have fundamentally different wiring – where I don’t hold ‘rationality’ as the ‘be all end all’ of my existence. Kindness, faith, fear of God and charity are equally important tenets of my existence (read my previous post about ‘Prisoner’s Dilemma’). And here’s the thing, I don’t apologize for my beliefs – and nor do I believe it to be any less potent of a way – compared to science, logic and reasoning – to understand the Life and the Universe. You, of course, have a constitution-guaranteed right to criticize scripture, beliefs, reality-TV, cinnabuns, LinkedIn …well, absolutely anything in the universe. I suggested that it might not be the best frame-of-mind for engaging Muslims – or anyone for that matter – for enlightened discussion. But if you can, I am happy for you.

      May peace be upon you.

      • You write: “She presupposes the backwardness of the religion & its adherents and goes forward from there.” But if there is false understanding, and I don’t thing ‘backwardness’ is what her assumption suggests, I think it is, in our context of over-vaunted individualism, that an enforced dress code is oppressive. She equated it with both Quaker and Jewish dress codes, and I don’t think there was any sort of idea that Quakerism is ‘backward.’

        To be honest here, (and, for what it’s worth, I do live in accord with faith, as reason only moves forward from assumptions, and cannot be a basis for all understanding of existence, or even prove the existence of existence. So I use a belief in Truth, Love, and Courage as standards by which to judge the quality of my own actions and motives, partly because these standards tend to lead me to positions nearly identical to those that many prophets have formulated) what I read in these reactions from muslims is a hyper-sensitivity to criticism of Islam.

        Methinks the lady doth protest too much. I understand that this comes somewhat from the context of long-standing injury, and certainly, starting with the terrorism of the Crusades there is ample injury to forgive this sensitivity. I know your relationship with your god, your faith and the great beauty of the poetry to the Quran are deeply fulling and comforting to you, as they should be. But I suspect that for an enlightened man like yourself, to see clerics who are life-long scholars of that scripture you take so much solace from, issue fatwas calling for the death of men only for the books they write or the cartoons they draw would be unsettling, and make you defensive.

        Wanting to protect their joy in the book and the faith, they discredit me and Ms. Shields with epithets like ‘abominations’, ‘privileged presumptuousness’ and ‘paternalistic and patronizing’ and all the rest. Her essay was gentle and accepting of these traditions, she described a changing of her mind to the place you should hope more American arrive, and yet our defense of her was met with these very harsh condemnations.

        I do not judge you as a terrorist because you are muslim, I know some idiotic Americans may, but isn’t it just as unjust for you to paint me with that Islamaphobic brush as it would be for me to paint you with that terrorist brush. There is a reality here, and my point was that I am troubled that much of liberalism refuses to make these judgements, that many good people are radicalized by Islamic scripture and that many oppressive traditions endure and are justified by that scripture. I do not, and we do not, have to condemn the whole to be critical of parts.

        I stand by my contention that critique and revision are sorely needed. Do you really want to be a defender of the Supreme Leader of an Islamic Republic who issues a fatwa against Rushdie and the many thousands of good muslims who openly and actively supported it? Do you really want to defend the continuing use of stoning as capital punishment for adultery, a penalty that is also present in the Torah, but that due to critique and revision is no longer used.

        Recognition of the injustice of these actions is not unreasonable Islamaphobia falsely assigning the guilt of a few bad men to a whole class. It is a genuine moral outrage at human rights violation made in the name of the Prophet. He was a man of a different and much more violent time, and knowing what little I do of his writings, I frankly think if he were alive today, he would be the first to join in condemning Khomeini and asking for his words to be revised. Just as I think Jesus would be appalled by the God-on-our-side ethos that has lead so many Christian nations to outrages of greed and violence.

        You have said critique is not the best frame of mind for engaging muslims or anyone else. I disagree wholeheartedly. In my tradition (western scientific) constructive criticism is seen as one of the best ways to teach and exchange ideas. Have you ever been to a scientific conference? It is all about criticism and revision.

        Perhaps the gulf is too wide. If I cannot succeed in engagement by criticizing calls for murder based explicitly in scripture (note that these calls were very widely accepted in various muslim communities, and many people died as a result. In fact the Union of Islamic Students’ Associations in Europe issued a statement offering its services to Khomeini to fulfill his fatwa) than perhaps we are doomed.

        I and Lauren Shields step into the commons to listen and share, to hear your ideas and to try and understand how these things that seem so ghastly and unjust to us can be coming from such lovely poetry. But our openings to your ideas are being met with condemnation. I am accused of bias, presumption, paternalism and likely, in private, much worse. Neither she nor I used any of these sorts of insults.

      • Nesdon, thanks for a very reasoned, level-headed reply. Usually, things become inflamed and personal by this stage. Very sad that you were insulted, that too in Ramadan. I am going to shorten this reply as much as possible. My ‘iftar’ is near 🙂

        I disagree with you about Lauren’s premise (though not about her intention). Even Fatihah talked about the ‘cutesy’ experiment. But exploration of oppressive dress-codes doesn’t preclude inherent biases. I highlighted three points – from the many – that illustrate the premise of ‘backwardness’: 1) the ‘educated’ expected to ridicule Islam, 2) surprise at speaker’s tacit approval of the Hijab and 3) the triumphant discovery that it wasn’t shame – but pride – that incentivized it. While not explicitly written out, the ethnocentric, stereotype-fueled premise was offending to me and many other Muslims. Hyper-sensitive? Maybe so – from where you’re standing. I’d imagine you’re not in the best position to determine what Muslims should be offended by. Either way, instead of passing judgment, you could perhaps think of it as a step towards understanding us better. It’s only natural that the ‘Other’ will not be like you. By the same token, your Western scientific tradition – while the best thing in your eyes – may not be the best way to engage here.

        To answer your emphatic question: no, I have not been to a scientific conference. Have you been to a waaz-mahfil / dua-mahfil or Islamic discussion? May be living in a Muslim country / attending some ‘mahfils’ could influence your opinion about how to engage Muslims. Unless, that is, you’re just aiming to win arguments and prove yourself right by any means.

        You suggested earlier that ‘scripture’ obviously needed critique and revision. And I had my reservations. It’s alarming when my defense of scripture is now misconstrued as defense of radical clerics. Why do you view me, Islam / Muslims as a monolithic phenomenon where we – unlike you – are incapable of internal criticism? Who in their right minds supports violence and killing? You call me enlightened – and then ask me to defend my position in this regard. Tell me …do you support killing people with atom bombs? Or killing civilians in Iraq / Afghanistan? Waterboarding? Do let me know to what extent you support despotic Western rulers, fomented riots, arming rebels, crooked banks and spying agencies. As you said, Prophets Isa or Muhammad would’ve never supported these.

        Lastly – to point out another misattribution – I didn’t call you Islamophobic. But your Dawkins-in-Vatican example was pretty close to calling me a terrorist. I am sure you didn’t mean to – but that’s the kind of inherent, cultural bias that exists in interfaith thought and exchanges. Its easy to be preachy without perceiving prejudices and faulty premises when you’re not on the receiving end.

        You wrote “If I cannot succeed in engagement by criticizing calls for murder based explicitly in scripture (note that these calls were very widely accepted in various muslim communities, and many people died as a result)[…]”. I’m not aware of the references, but still that’s like reaching for all the girl’s blemishes/faults on a first-date. I still don’t see it as a great strategy for engagement. The Holy Qur’an says the best way forward is to “come to common terms as between us and you” (3:64). If it were up to me – I’d go ahead with commonalities and not criticism. Not everything works according to your Western, scientific logic. I would imagine there are bigger tragedies than that.

        • I thank you as well Adnan for remaining civil and avoiding ad hominem attacks that are always the death of productive dialogue. My reading of Shields was that she was recognizing, not embracing the bias she described. What troubles me in the criticism of this piece is that to confess to bias (even though I think she was describing the bias she expected to encounter at the event, and not necessarily her own) and then to happily admit and renounce one’s own hypocrisy is the best we can expect. No one can change their past, they can only embrace new attitudes going forward. To admit to past transgressions is positive and to attack someone for that admission is highly counterproductive.

          Clearly we read her post from differing perspectives and contexts, and I shall leave our disagreement about the content of that article here. I think i better understand the nature of the offence you felt, and I hope you can better understand how I found it positive and hopeful, especially in contrast to some of the horribly hateful speech that we reluctantly but resolutely allow in my culture.

          More important are the general opinions and misconceptions we may each hold about Islam and secular humanism. It is important to me for you to understand I am in no way prejudging you or any individual based on their faith or any other class to which they may belong. This is the essence of sexism, racism, anti-semitism and islamophobia, and I feel it is important to distinguish this bigotry from philosophical discussion about the values of various doctrines and ideas, and their impact of cultural evolution and human behavior.

          It concerns me that my effort to understand scripture and evaluate what parts may have become obsolete or destructive is taken as some sort of bigoted judgement that lumps humans into monolithic groups. This is not at all the case. E.g. I know and can accurately state that men are taller and stronger than women, but this is almost useless to judge whether I am taller than any particular woman, in fact their are many millions of women who are taller than I am, and in fact many women who are taller than the vast majority of all men. This is fallacy that mistakes statistical variance for individual traits is all too common and at the core of the reasoning behind most of this bigotry. Trust that I am not making this error. I am completely aware that the vast majority of all humans are peaceful and attempting to live in harmony with their neighbors, other wise the are horrors that we obsess so fearfully about would not be the rare one in a million event they are, thank goodness for that!

          But that does not change the fact that the, for instance, this passage in Deuteronomy 1:8
          “See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land the Lord swore he would give to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—and to their descendants after them.” Is used, along with many others, to support the establishment of the state of Israel and the even more difficult political movement of Eretz Israel, by which fundamentalist Jews staunchly refuse to cede any part of what they believe to be the historic land of Israel. I come from a Jewish heritage, and yet have argued forcefully against this passage with my jewish friends and a number of Rabbi’s, some of whom agree with me. This is in no way an anti-Semitic position, something that would be hard to accuse a reformed Rabbi of, nor indeed the majority of the population of Israel itself, who shares the view. But, importantly, because it is enshrined in scripture that is believed to be the infallible word of g_d, it does motivate may thousands of good Jewish men women and children to destroy the ancestral homes and orchards of their palestinian neighbors, This, by my humanist standards is wrong, caused by the scripture itself and the understandable reverence for that scripture, and I believe very deeply, that I must not be silenced by those that accuse me of bigotry for making such a remark.

          In this context can you understand my criticism of passages in the Quran that proscribe death as punishment for things like apostasy? Can you understand how frustrated I feel when I can find so few Muslims who are willing, like my friend the reformed Rabbi, to join in criticism of these types of obsolete passages? You ask “do you support killing people with atom bombs? Or killing civilians in Iraq / Afghanistan? Waterboarding? Do let me know to what extent you support despotic Western rulers, fomented riots, arming rebels, crooked banks and spying agencies.” My answer is I absolutely do not support any of these. I criticize them, and even more, openly and frequently, as in my comments about how the “greatest generation” was actually complicit in Nazism. In my western scientific tradition, in my country, criticism of these policies is loud and active, and we are taking action to end them. Just as we ended the Viet Nam war and a good deal of American imperialism, I trust that this openness to criticism will result in us eventually ending these evils as well.

          I worry that the fear of apostasy among Muslims is empowering the radicals, giving cover to their justification. Just as Fatihah felt it appropriation for a western woman to delve into the issue, I feel it is more your responsibility as a Muslim than it is mine from outside that tradition to speak up loudly and stand in opposition to the fundamentalist ideas and scriptural interpretation that are used to justify violence. Violence begets violence. Ideals of vengeance, however common in all these abrahamic scripture, are now proven by game theory, among other scientific examination, to be counterproductive. It is pretty easy to see how the violent and duplicitous US policies in Cambodia, Iran, and Afghanistan have contributed to the violence we have faced ourselves. But just as much, the violence now being faced by the unfortunate souls in Afghanistan has been contributed to by 911.

  5. Please excuse the numerous misspellings and errors in my overly long previous post. I did not have time to properly edit it. Also, my apologies to your readership for these dense TLTR posts.

    I think by reading each other’s writings, Adnan and I have found some common ground and mutual respect, a space I would like very much to try and grow. To do this, at least for me, requires a depth and complexity of communication not possible in terse posts. I think too it is valuable for us to have this dialogue in public, which is why I am posting such annoying long posts here.

    I think it was Ehud Barak who was quoted today on Fareed Zakaria’s GPS today saying that there are two things that should not be done in public, making love and making peace. I do know that my belief that any earnest discussion of any topic is valuable is not only a personal value, but a cultural bias. I am very sorry if my efforts to make peace with Adnan in public causes him any distress.

    • No distress at all, dear friend. Rather it is delightful to see someone taking the time to understand a different culture / belief-system. Nothing else in the universe warrants more effort or investment.

      While I agree to much of how you view Lauren’s efforts – I hope you too will understand my contention that aping mere rituals for 9 months seldom leads to a deeper understanding of lifelong beliefs, motivations, sacrifices, prejudices faced and judgment endured. Fatihah, coming from a Muslim women’s rights / culture angle, felt it was appropriation. I didn’t (see my comment on the reblog). Regardless, it IS better than hate-speech and bigotry.

      A philosophical discussion regarding Abrahamic religions and their corresponding scriptures is much needed and underway. I will advocate understanding of what good it brings (e.g. I believe all morality stems from religion – like defining what constitutes a sin) – before we can move on to what interpretation must be challenged. Note that, I say ‘interpretation’ – especially with regards to the Holy Qur’an. The usual criticism of the Qu’ran, I feel, stems from malice, misinterpretation and misunderstanding. ‘Death to apostates’ is not in the Holy Qur’an. All it (Qur’an 4:89) says about ‘apostates’ is that you should not be friends with them. If you read through, it says, (paraphrasing) if they defect to an enemy side during war time (i.e. become a traitor, spy and enemy combatant), slay them. Isn’t that standard practice between enemy sides during wartime? It’s still a controversial subject where many scholars argue it makes no difference unless the apostate is taking up arms / working against the Islamic state / community. While that seems like a fairly modern and moderate idea, I am poorly-versed in the topic and should venture no further in evaluating it.

      I hold both the Torah and the New Testament to be the word of Allah, however distorted over time. But I also believe in contextualization of scripture (or any other written word for that matter). Suppose George Washington had once shouted ‘attack’ to his troops. Should Americans then keep on attacking whomsoever they can find till the end of time? Or should they understand the command in context? It really depends on your ‘intention’ doesn’t it?

      When I was young, my father explained to me the central concept of ‘Niyaat’ (or intention) in Islam this way: the knife can be used to stab to death. But it can also be used to perform an operation and save a life. It depends on the one wielding the knife. But it doesn’t mean that we should blunt, break, burn and bury the knife. It’s the same with Scripture. What must be examined and mitigated/reformed, if needed, is the user and his motivations.

      I know you don’t support the atomic bombs, killing civilians or waterboarding. The question was rhetorical – to illustrate what it feels like to be asked these questions every time you identify as a westerner. Because I am asked if I approve of radicals and extremists every time I introduce myself as a Muslim. And that’s the kind of prejudice every Muslim faces everyday. But in reality, you and I are not really that different in our condemnation of wanton violence and bloodshed.

      Since you brought up the topic of logical fallacies – I’m going to point out another called ‘attacking the straw man’. It refers to setting up a decoy logic and refuting it to convey the impression of having refuted another, original argument from an opponent. This concerns my saying that you viewed Islam-Muslims-me as a monolithic group. If you read carefully, you’ll see I said it the context of you asking me to clarify my position regarding Iranian/radical clerics – not because of your challenging scripture. As I said before, challenge away.

      To end my tirade, I address your contention that ‘fear of apostasy is empowering radicals’. I disagree because in my view – it is constant US / Western / Israeli wars on Muslim lands that empowers radicals to rally cornered-innocents. Consider the facts: these are the countries bombed by the USA (past 2 decades only): Iraq, Afghanistan, and Sudan (during Clinton) Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, and Somalia (during George Bush) Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya (during Barack Obama). At least half of these were before 9/11. The USA has military bases in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Turkey, Pakistan, UAE, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Djibouti, Kyrgyzstan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Chad (I Googled it). Bangladesh still has British Era relics left over from their 200-year rule here. Can you imagine a single Muslim country (not rogue citizens/groups) attacking and bombing 14 Western countries? Hitler tried and look at how History paints him. If mainstream History and Entertainment were in the hands of these Muslim countries – who do you think the terrorists would be? Wasn’t George Washington called a terrorist too? It’s all a matter of perspective. In the end, as you aptly summed it up, ‘violence begets violence’. And it has little to do with Islam or scripture – apart from them being unifying factors.

      I thank you for reading my long posts and engaging so vigorously. I had been thinking that if one single soul comes out of this exchange having learnt anything – it was all going to be worth it. And I have learned from you more than you can imagine. Peace be upon you.

      P.S. I’ve taken the liberty of correcting some of the misspellings in your post – for the benefit of readers. I hope you don’t mind.

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