Fake sharia threat distracts from real problems

BY GUEST OPINION | JULY 26, 2011 7:20 AM

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It pays to get some education. Unfortunately, ignorance rules the United States and will continue to for a long time. Recently, GOP presidential-nomination candidate Rick Santorum said the "Koran was written in Islamic."

Really? This alone demonstrates the unintelligence of the current generation of Americans.

Our decade-long military engagement in the two ongoing Middle Eastern conflicts speaks volumes about the ignorance. So far, it has cost the country more than $1 trillion and thousands of innocent lives. The return on that costly investment is dismal.

In the meantime, approximately 14 million Americans are jobless. Millions are losing their homes — once a hallmark of the American dream. The stereotypical hollering on Sundays from the pulpits about the "sanctity of life" has lost its meaning. But the GOP is worried about sharia, of all things.

In their first debate in New Hampshire, the Republican hopefuls offered no plausible solution to the financial quagmire — a quagmire that President George W. Bush forced upon the nation by paying out trillions to the machinery of war. Devoid of concrete ideas, the candidates offered the fear of sharia.

This is nothing new. In the last election, the New York-based Clarion Fund distributed the DVD "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West" to perpetuate a message of hatred, divisiveness, and fear — and attempt to influence voters to support John McCain. This backfired, of course, as fear-mongering invocations of sharia should do in this election cycle.

Americans (the GOP hopefuls included) could get some real education about the hyped demon of sharia by learning from real Muslims — including those who gave an informational session at the University of Toledo, a video of which is available online.

The Arabic word "sharia" literally means "way of life." Moses was given the sharia code, and so was Jesus. The followers of both Judaism and Christianity were prescribed a divine road map to lead a peaceful, morally enriching successful life.

If Muslims in America choose not to have bachelor or bachelorette parties prior to solemnizing the sacred pact of marriage between a man and a woman, how does that threaten American society? If American-Muslims refrain from eating pork, drinking, gambling, infidelity, and their teens are averse to premarital sex, how does it add to our country's burgeoning debt? Is it wrong for American Muslims to be honest and law-abiding? Is it too much for Muslims in America to adhere to the lifestyle prescribed to the followers of Moses and Jesus?

I love my country, but I feel sorry for its Herman Cains and Michele Bachmanns. Hiding behind the thin veneer of false patriotism, they are trying to shake the very fundamental principles that this country was founded upon: Freedom for all. And that includes the freedom to practice one's faith — whatever that may be.

One look at the decadence pervading the Europe, and I marvel at the gushing fountain of faith that Americans from all walks of life so sincerely and so proudly exhibit. So as much as all the Cains and Bachmanns of this world might try, more churches, more synagogues, and of course more mosques will continue to be built on the blessed soil of America.

Abdul-Majeed Azad is a University of Toledo professor and a 2010-11 Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Alternative Energy Technology at the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden.

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