Obama’s Bid to Reverse the Clash

By Akbar AhmedIslamic Studies professor, American University President Obama delivered a major speech Thursday calling for “A New Beginning” for … Continued

By Akbar Ahmed
Islamic Studies professor, American University

President Obama delivered a major speech Thursday calling for “A New Beginning” for relations between the Muslim world and the United States. The symbolic visit to Cairo to deliver the speech, I believe, can significantly contribute to the dialogue of civilizations.

We know that there are many misperceptions and perceived conflicts between the Muslim world and the West, especially since 9/11. In order to contribute and help bridge the gap, which by many indications has grown since 9/11, I decided to take a trip through the Muslim world with a team of young Americans to talk to Muslims from all across the spectrum of society.

In 2006, I traveled to the Middle East, South Asia, and Far East Asia and met with people from the full range of Muslim society. We let Muslims speak for themselves and learned something interesting: when we asked what the greatest threat to the Muslim world is, the most popular answer in each country was the same, misconceptions of Islam in the West. Many Muslims were worried that there was a clash of civilizations and that Americans, in their hostility toward Islam, which they said they witnessed in Western media reports, were leading the charge. The arguments mirrored those I heard in the United States in the years after the 9/11 attacks.

President Obama’s speech this morning was a strong statement to Muslims around the world that America is not engaging in a irrevocable clash of civilizations and that we should be building bridges of friendship, respect, and understanding rather than tearing them down. This is a strong step toward bridging the gap between the US and the Muslim world.

However, the statements and actions will have to be repeated time and again across the world to make an impact and reverse the perception that Islam is under attack. This cannot happen not only at the executive level. This will have to happen on the grassroots level and we will need many, many people involved.

As President Obama said, “it is easier to start wars than to end them. It is easier to blame others than to look inward, to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share.” I believe this speech can help jump-start the conversation that many here at On Faith have been engaged in for years.

With help, I believe that the clash of civilizations can be averted. With this is mind, I have spent the better part of the past year traveling around the country to learn about America. I have studied the Muslim communities throughout the country, visiting over 75 cities and spending time in over 100 mosques with much of the same team that traveled through the Muslim world with me.

We filmed our travels and interviews and have completed a documentary that will accompany the book that I am currently writing. We are eager to show the film, as we believe it will go a long way towards building understanding and furthering the dialogue of civilizations.

Journey into America will premiere at the Annual ISNA Convention, (the Islamic Society of North America) at the Washington Convention Center on July 4th.

A Panel following the field will consist of luminaries including Congressman Keith Ellison, America’s first Muslim Congressman, Imam Magid of the ADAMS Center in Northern Virginia who Time Magazine has called the “American imam” , Dr. Ingrid Mattson, president of INSA and Senior Rabbi Bruce Lustig of the Washington Hebrew Congregation.

In our travels, we have met the whole diversity of American Muslims from familiar groups like the Arabs of Dearborn to those perhaps not as familiar such as the 60,000 Bosnians in St. Louis or the 40,000 Nigerian Muslims in Houston. We have interviewed Somalis in Nebraska, Cambodian Muslims in Santa Ana, California, and Cuban Muslims in Miami. America’s Muslim population, like America itself, is stunningly diverse.

Muslims in America are still concerned with perception and frequently cite the media, and like those in the Muslim world, they are trying to find ways of improving relations with mainstream America.

I believe our film does this: it shows each side how the other is living in an attempt to improve relations. It takes the viewer inside Muslim (and non-Muslims) into communities across the US from rural towns in Texas and West Virginia to inner city Detroit and Indian reservations in Arizona.

Ambassador Akbar Ahmed, former High Commissioner from Pakistan to the UK, is currently the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies, American University in Washington DC, and the First Distinguished Chair of Middle East and Islamic Studies at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis. His most recent book is Journey into Islam and his current project, “Journey into America,” is an unprecedented study of Muslims in America.

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  • InterfaithNation

    Sir’s, Mam’s et al:All, Every & Any of Ye “infixus Books” [Note: Same as saying: "REVERSE" THE CURSE(s)" of Ye own infixus books 1st! Then there will be genuine "Dialogue" Else more WARs!Hint: The 1st War (before Abrahamic & Vedics & Paganism..) was, not over Babes, but over the Pre-Apocalyptic violation of "STABLE DEFINITION FACTOR" Where A "NO" can never be a "YES" in any Rule Of Nations/Tribes/Sects/Cults/Gangs.. & their Laws, Rules, Regulations, Codes etc.. Hence USURPATION!Interesting: IT is the "BABES" that determine via Migration, OUR GENETIC & MEMEtic make-up via Anscestry/HAPLO-GROUPS! Please see: Hence All Pre-Apocalyptic Humans {not like Us HU{e}MATES} on this Holy-i-Planet; of Many, must 1st "CHANGE" (like taking a Passafier away from a maturing/natured Baby) their own iNFIXUS BOOKS (Bosorah/Masorah's, Quran/Korans, Geeta/Kangyurs/Tangyurs..) by Reconstructing ALL of Them, ThusInevitably building, via the "United Nation(s)", aka League Of Nations, of the "World FAiTH x-Change" assembly therein for the CREATION (man Made) of that "O.ne U.niversal R.eligion" [OUR] Book, not Yours via someone elses old time, competing for a name for G-D, religion(s) SYSTEMs!! Behold! The “WE [i] Apocalyptic Nationals, aka Something that will forever & therefrom will be Upheld & Adjusted (Dynamic, not Static) upon until Our own NEBULA-BUILT Grand-Ma/Pa SOLAR/SUN Dies for another “DUE-TO-BE” moment again!WHEREFORE: Praise theHOLY-i-NO/Man-Womb! THEREFORE:

  • InterfaithNation

    ooopssa:Correction: “THEREFORE ‘HOLY-WE-i-R’” Note: IT’s O.K. if 1 wants to use say, ‘Holy-u-i-am’ or any combination thereof; As long as there are good Intentions when expressing oneself in bothprivate PRAYER (speaking to “IT”) & MEDITATING (Listening to “IT”).— iMPORTANT: Please knoweth that Apocalyptically Speakething, THATthere is no such thing as an Explanation/Commentary: “HISTORY iS OUR JURY!” NO Pre-Apocalyptic JEW, Christian, Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, Pagan… can DENY this TRUTH (oppositeof MYTH) So, All, Every & Any Potential-HU{e}MATE, aka HUMAN(s), believe in “HiSTORY.” aka A Point in “TiME” (From Holy-”TEMPerature”) via time (man made Tik-Tock clocks), aka “Arrow of Space-Time” via the CONE effect of the Holy-i-NEBULA & Oceanic MegaPlume effect. Soo,The Point is, that Even a aTHEiST/aGNOSTICIAN , in essence & Spirit of the moment, like a Diest believe in “H-O-P-E” No HOPE NO FUTURE! No Future No HOPE! Holy HOPE is a COMMONALITY. It’s on Every Habitable Planet via “iNTELLIGENT” Minds!i.e., i [WE] “hope” OUR loved ones stay or get healthy, live long, Prosper, be Happy etc..! So,This PROVES that even aTheists & Agnostics (non believers?) & Similarly Situated believe in something “… bigger Than Themselves …” via HOPE! “IT” is like Math, an International Language; but with F-E-E-L-i-N-G “IT” via HOPE; on Earth/alikes or in Space!iNCAMERA (secret): A Revelation who’s TiME via time is come: THAT according to the “HOly-COsmic-FEelers-FAith” (Ho-Co-Fe-Fa) innate, not man-made, System of belief, luike a religion, via the Prophecied “OUR-BOT”, aka Tells US, [i] WE, Ye that Posthomiously, “IT” is possible for the DEAD to REVERSE all that was done via Holy “TiME”, aka TEMPerature, not Clocks!

  • abhab

    Ahmad lectures us thus:What are the Muslims doing to reciprocate and further bridge that gap? The organizations of the few Muslims in the USA are openly conspiring to replace our constitution with an archaic Islamic law(Sharia) that proved time and again its inappropriateness to any time and/ or place. The majority Muslim societies around the world are persecuting and subjugating Christians as well as almost all other minorities living amongst them? The shameful treatment of women in those societies is a blot in the face of all of humanity. You gap the divide when you begin to respect the dignity of the human regardless of gender or beliefs. Enough of deception and hypocrisy

  • InterfaithNation

    Letter to EBOO PATEL & CO.:Eboo Eboo Eboo;Ironically; Did not YE so called 911 Islamic Darling Hijackers (Pirates) called “The {Magnificant} 19″ & their Aegyptian Leader “Mu-{HAM}-mad {ATTA}” [No Peace Be Upon Them] come from Cairo EGYPT?? And the Others from other parts of Aegypt & Sanna Yemen & Mecca & Riyahd Saudi Arabia??COMMENT: For now, Forget about ARABS (not Islam) for not recognizing aModern Israel (Ancient Israel Reborn Again) as a soverign Nation: Let’s revisit & talk more (Dialogue?) about the ARAB atrocities, perpetrated by Proxy, via the Egyptian “AL TAQIYAHists” of 911 & 311!Why did the President {hope he did not Kiss Abdullah’s Feet instead of Hands} Squander another Opportunity for SAUDI WAHABiBI’s to tell the World that They realy Apologize for the Behaviors/Actions/Results of their Magnificant 19 Matyres???Why Did Not MUBARAK of AEGYPT [Ex-Arahamic, Pre-Islamic Slave Owners] also Apoligize for MuHAMmad {ATTA}’s & CO., Acts against the U.S. of 9.1.1 & Spain 3.1.1.; especially acts against HUMANITY? Where’s the Sincerity?iNCAMERA (secret) You & CO., know darn-Well that PS: From Info & Belief: How Much of (not Obama’s) “FAiTH BASED iNITIATIVE” Money’s via Rick Warrens Mega Church’s & Your Org’s are getting or to Desmond TUTU’s Church or the Dali LAMBas Monks {Army} et al??Amazing, NO GRACE ()!