Channel: Omar Suleiman
Series: Omar Suleiman – Out Of Context
Forget the Pundits, Ask a Muslim – Omar Suleiman
In Part 1 of this fourteen-part interview with Dallas-based Pastor Mike Baughman, Imam Omar Suleiman shatters myths about Islam in America and about Muslims in general.
Hi, my name is Mike Bachmann, I'm a United Methodist pastor serving a new church start here in the city of Dallas called union. And I've been invited by the by ina Institute to come in and do an interview with Imam Omar Suleiman. Today, we've got a audience with us to be a part of our conversation, I'm really excited to have the opportunity to ask some questions of the mom, a lot of questions that I believe that Americans wonder about Islam. And I've had this realization over time that a lot of what I've been hearing about Islam recently, are things that I've heard primarily from politicians and pundits, and not actually from Muslims themselves. And I think that we need to have
opportunities for dialogue and conversation with Muslims, about their own faith, before we come to any sort of conclusion or belief as individuals, as a society and beyond. And so I'm really eager for this conversation to have the opportunity to hear directly from a man who is well studied, is well respected, and is a leader in Islam here in Dallas area, and then also in the United States as a whole. So I'm really excited to get to spend some time with you today. Appreciate it. Thank you for coming. Absolutely forward to it. So I'm curious that we might as well just just start off, start off well, off the bat.
You know, it isn't that like Muslims just arrived in America.
Muslims have been in this country for a while. of yours, right? Yeah. Yeah.
So Muslims have been in this country for for a long time, to varying degrees, of course. And I'm not that old in the grand scheme of things. I'm 37. But I've certainly noticed over the past several years, that there's been more and more conversation around Muslims in America, there's been more anti muslim rhetoric in recent times than I remember from the past. And I'm curious if you have a sense of why, what why this has developed over the past, you know, decade or maybe two? Sure. Well, Islam is actually very old. It's as old as the country is. So there were Muslims here when, when Christopher Columbus arrived amongst the native population that were here, obviously, a great
population of the of the slaves that were brought to the United States estimates up to 35 40% of the slaves came from Muslim countries, they were Muslim as well.
You know, the first country to actually recognize the United States was a Muslim country was Morocco. And, you know, we find Thomas Jefferson only have a copy of the Quran, Congressman, Keith Ellison sworn in on it, as well as Andre Carson. It's become sort of a thing, but it's we've been around for quite a while in this country. And so, you know, Islam is, is quite old in this country, the fascination with Muslims didn't really start until after World War Two. So historically, speaking, after World War Two, that's when America started with its fascination of Islam and Muslims abroad, particularly the Muslim world trying to understand the Muslim world, obviously, then you
have the Israel Palestine issue arises in the 40s. And then you have after that, as time goes on, you have the Iranian Revolution, you have the Gulf wars, right? So what we see is that around the 1990s, academically speaking, suddenly, you have all of these Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and Islamic Studies and Arabic culture, and so on, so forth, popping up on the academic level all around the country, then 911 happened, and after 911, it's like, you know, who are these people? What happened, everyone wanted to know about Islam. So actually, you would go to many public libraries, and you'd find that there would be no copies of the Quran, they'd all be checked out. So people
wanted to read about Islam. And this wasn't just the American population. This wasn't just the civilian population, even intelligence agencies, law enforcement agencies, everyone was suddenly trying to get really informed about Islam. Now, the problem is, is that you had all of these, you know, hate mongers and hate groups masquerading as experts that started all of these independent intelligence agencies and security agencies, and started offering training to, you know, to different law enforcement agencies across the country, and so on, so forth. Again, many of them claiming to be former Muslims and former terrorists turned out to be complete scams, but we paid for
that with our tax dollars. These were hate groups that eventually were identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as hate groups, but they just spread throughout the country, and they were informing some of the most important people in our country. So for example, frank gaffney, who's who's who's a fear monger, you know, he has a center for security policy, which all the names tend to be around center for security policy or something of that sort. And he's in the ear of every Republican candidate out there. You know, Rubio's attended his forums as well as, as well as Ted Cruz.
And so on so forth. And, you know, he appears to be an expert. But these are hate mongers and hate groups that have masqueraded as experts, they don't have credentials. Nor do they have any traction in the Muslim community. And so that's sort of a phenomenon in the West right now that we've had in the United States. And even in the United Kingdom, where you have these, you know, these these so called counterterrorism experts that have arose out of nowhere, and sort of taking advantage of the fascination. And so you believe that it's largely those organizations that have led to a lot of the negative conversation and negative dialogue that we seem to see in the United States, especially in
the political arena? Are they just a contributing factor? They are contributing. So it's media as well, right, Hollywood, the old Hollywood movies, and even till now, the portrayal of Muslims. Number one is that they're all Arab, which
Arab Arabs make up only about 15% of Muslims globally. So Muslim Arab are not synonymous. There are a lot of Arab Christians as well. Number two, it's always backwards and people screaming, Allahu Akbar, and you've got to worry about, you've got to worry about the Muslim next door, you know, he's going to turn out to be an evil operative that works for someone overseas. So you know, homeland and all these types of shows that have come out. So it's Hollywood. It's, you know, mainstream media, what's supposed to be mainstream media also contributing as well. So it's, the climate is not good, because people are not hearing as you started off from educated experts are experts on Islam or
Muslims themselves, even they're hearing from various interest groups, either directly or through, you know, these various manifestations that we've mentioned. Well, that makes sense. I mean, fear is something that sells Yeah. You know, we oftentimes say sex sells and Hollywood or other other places, but really, especially in the political arena, fear, absolute fear can be a big driving motivation. So how is it that, you know, the average American can sift through these different voices? If there is this group that's, you know, masquerading as experts? Or, you know, how do we, how do we work our way through understanding? Yeah, this is a good source. This isn't because it's
hard. And I think we're in American society, realizing that who's speaking to us, almost matters as much as what they're saying. Sure, sure. So how do we sift through that? Well, by approaching mainstream Muslims going to your local mosque, reaching out to local organizations trying to understand mainstream Muslims, there's often a, you know, this question or this that's posed, well, why aren't Muslims out there, but it's not, you know, the media will cover who the media wants to cover, and anyone that's involved, you know, on a local scene in whatever locality they are, will know that the Muslim community is actually quite,
you know, out upfront in terms of condemning terrorism, and so on, so forth. But it's more than that it's actually going and experiencing your local mainstream Muslim population. So going to the local mosques, and it might not be the most pleasant experience because mosques are as diverse as churches are in America, if not more diverse, right? When you go to any church, you're gonna get a different feel for each church. Right? Absolutely. So but still reach out to the local Muslim population. And what I what I tell people all the time is that we love being asked about our religion. Yeah, I mean, it's, it's actually refreshing. It's a nice departure from the typical go back home and stuff like
that, that we usually hear at Walmart or in a parking lot of a grocery store, right when someone asks you know, stops and very nicely says, Can I ask you a question you know about about your job, you know, that what you're wearing, you know, the scarf that women wear, can ask you something about your religion, is it okay? If I just ask you something politely? That actually is extremely refreshing for us. So just ask a Muslim about Islam, right. That's it's it sounds simple, but it's, unfortunately, you know, the intimidation and the fear factor has gotten so much that we don't talk to each other anymore. Yeah.