Falling short

War on Error: Real stories of American Muslims


Falling short
by bparhami

War on Error
Real Stories of American Muslims

Moezzi, Melody
University of Arkansas Press, 2007

The author decided to write this book when the events of September 11, 2001, created a distorted image of the life aspirations and loyalties of Muslim-Americans in the minds of many. This is clearly a worthy goal that has been addressed by other writers, and filmmakers, with mixed results.

The author approaches her subject by presenting the life stories of 12 individuals: 7 women, 5 men. Those chosen include the author herself, her husband, and several very close friends. As such, these 12 people do not represent an unbiased cross-section of the Muslim-American community.

The author admits to this bias, but rather than being apologetic about it, derides the scientific sampling approach: “If I was going to be at all successful in helping to create a meaningful understanding of Islam and what it means to be a Muslim American, I wasn’t going to do it with a statistical sampling—thank God! Besides the fact that I am absolutely lousy at statistics and find them dull, lifeless, and easily manipulated, there was also my deep-seated mistrust of the accuracy of statistics …” [p. xx].

I won’t even attempt to state how many errors and misconceptions this short passage contains. Blanket dismissal of anything the author does not like, and praise for what she does like, is the rule in this book. A couple of pages later, we encounter this gem of an observation: “Video games and virtual reality, for example, are inherently inhuman. To boot, they breed obesity, violence, indolence, and stupidity …” [p. xxii].

These kinds of biases and emotional outbursts permeate the entire volume. We see very pleasant quotes from Quran, such as “Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from error” (2.256)[p. 152], but not “slay those who ascribe divinity to other than God” (9.5).

In the concluding chapter, the author opines: “If we want to educate non-Muslim Americans about the true beauty of Islam, we first have to speak out against this mistaken minority of hate-mongers and power-seekers who fraudulently claim to be acting in the name of Islam” [p. 154]. This would be a near impossibility in my view if one puts the author’s subsequent statement that “Our greatest ally in this effort is the Holy Qur’an itself” alongside “Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends” (5:51).

The book under review is not a bad read, when viewed as a collection of very brief biographies of 12 particular individuals, who (as advertised on the back-cover blurb) constitute a very diverse group, but it falls far short of achieving its intended goal.


more from bparhami

Only Reformation can save eslam

by eroonman on

As it is now, eslam is a wild unregulated set of misguided interpretations via the hadisehs which are no more than opinions as to the meaning of the vague poem that the quran is.

And one could say eslam became corrupt the night that Mohammad died. Today, eslam is where Catholicism was at the time Martin Luther suggested reform.

Unsubstantiated line of succession (was it Ali or was it Abu Bakr?), unreasonable prayer frequency, illogical dietary rules, and the totally out dated and reprehensible position on women and their clothing. Add to it the more expedient issues of how to collect tithes or zakat and khoms and so on, and who exactly gets the cash, and on and on and on, you can see I am headed to a Vaticanization of eslam argument.

All of these details need to be reformed in order for eslam to realize it's fullest potential, which in a modern, law of science and therefore a naturally more atheistic world, is realistically not going to be all that much.

Above all, an official transcription, and translation, of the quran needs to be conducted to remove the various mis-guided interpretations by amateur mollahs who have damaged eslam and have given it a reputation of a religion of hate, intolerance, and anti-coexistence.

eslam has to stop wanting to control and convert everyone in the world, and accept other religions as equally valid. It's stubborn resistance to this shows an arrogant lack of faith in it's own validity, which ironically precisely makes eslam infidel.