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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Supporting Middle East studies

By
Friday, March 4, 2016

To the Editor:

I read Sara Al-Salem’s Feb. 26 column with great interest and empathy. Many years ago, when I was an international student at Brown, I had an emotional breakdown due to some private reasons involving my family. I could not handle the double stress of trying to sort out personal issues, guilt for wasting money on an Ivy League education with no concrete prospects for the future and, above all, the stress of trying to get a job as an international student in the United States after graduation. Looking back now, it was an unnecessary effort I should have avoided. I wish I had studied economics like most other Turks and focused more on getting a good job on Wall Street instead of spending too much time with on-campus activism.

So I made a mistake, and I did not ask for help because I thought I was strong enough to “do it all.” I needed a break from my stressful life, juggling extracurriculars, academics and leadership roles with the Brown Muslim Student Association. That same year, two distinguished professors, William Beeman and Muhammad Zaman, also quit Brown, possibly due to frustration with the University administration and its obvious bias when it came to Middle East Studies.

It is refreshing to see that things have changed a little since I graduated. I hope that the administration has overcome its bias and has spent a little more money on keeping excellent professors in the Department of Middle East Studies so that students don’t have to suffer as a result.

Tamilla Mamedova ’07

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21 Comments

  1. “Obvious bias when it came to Middle East studies”? As opposed to the activist author’s complete lack of bias?

    What exactly is this letter about?

    Give us a break.

    • Yorken Fursten says:

      Tamilla, I am with you. Never mind the comment above. I get how Brown University likes to produce half-baked people like you. Don’t worry about it. Even if you had studied economics, you would still be solidly half-baked. Wall Street? Forgetaboutit.

      • Half-baked is fine. Not going to Wall St but instead going non profit or activist is fine, too.

        It is people who accuse others of bias but cannot see their own which is the problem with this author’s letter.

        • I definitely do see the bias in my own letter, Sir or Madam. I am sure I must have offended you in some way, so I apologise in advance for having offended you in the past, in the present, and also probably in the future.

      • Thanks for your support, Yorken. I definitely forgot about it long ago. I am not an activist anymore or anything else, I am simply a human being & obviously still pushing some people’s buttons without even realising I’m doing so. Didn’t even realize people would care to read & comment, but apparently they now do. I am sure I must have offended someone, so I apologise in advance for having offended you in the past, in the present, and also probably in the future.

    • The letter is about students suffering because qualified professors quit Brown (God knows why) and we didn’t have enough MES classes to choose from in our junior year to graduate. If that wasn’t made clear, I apologise – read the letter again. I am sure you will get it the second time round.

  2. Bias? Really?

    What would be nice is if Brown hired a professor who actually spoke truth on this topic. A professor who understood all the problems in the Middle East – literally all of them – can be easily traced back to Islam’s supremacist and insistence on controlling all people under a worldwide caliphate.

    But we all know this would be unthinkable at a liberal arts college where truth is sacrificed at the later of PC.

    Yet how else could one explain Islam’s history of jihdaist barbarism that some historians claim resulted in more than 260 million killed in the name of Allah? SOme historians claim that Muslim jihadists have killed up to 70 million Hindus and Buddhists in their caliphate building jihad into south Asia.

    Yes, that is right, the ancient Hindu and Buddhist communities that once spanned southern Asia are now all but wiped out by Islamic jihads. Only India remains as a Hindu country, but Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan are all now Muslim countries. Dysfunctional because dysfunction defines Islamic countries, but still Islamic.

    So you can talk until your blue in the face about unbiased Islamic studies, but until you confront your own REAL devils (Islam) your nervous breakdown will be all for naught. You will learn nothing from your mental anquish and you will blame something that had nothing to do with. Islam and its individual crushing ideology is what drove you mad. How else could a thoughtful person react to a strange new world where individual freedoms are nurtured not repressed as you so obviously have been by Islam.

    This is how Ayaan Ali Hirsi put it, ““Islam was like a mental cage. At first, when you open the door, the caged bird stays inside: it is frightened. It has internalized its imprisonment. It takes time for bird to escape, even after someone has opened the doors to its cage.”

    ― Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Infidel

    • Hiding behind fake names again, are we, my trolls? Arafat… lol!

      I do agree with your line “But we all know this would be unthinkable at a liberal arts college where truth is sacrificed at the later of PC.” Did you know that PC-culture apparently originated on the Brown campus? Or so I have been told.

      I have learnt a lot from my mistakes, trust me. InshAllah one day you will learn to be a little more open-minded and less judgmental too. May Allah bless you with a heart & some empathy, since it sounds like you missed out on that a little while growing up. Can’t blame you though. It’s probably not your fault.

      Islam is a vast faith with many interpretations, and most of us do not believe in it or take it as an ideology. But sure, go ahead & listen to Trump & other hate-mongers.

      • That must be why there are so many vast differences between Saudi Arabia, Iran, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen, Qatar and all the other despotic and theocratic Islamic countries. {Sarc/off}

        • This is why many of us enjoy living in secular democracies 🙂 I am 100% sure we can at least agree on THAT, can’t we?

          • Tami,
            Thank you for helping me provide a forum to help educate people about Islam. Your comments are also a natural lead-up to the Muslim tenets concerning apostasy and taqiyya.
            Apostasy: Or when a Muslim questions, speaks ill of, or leaves Islam is punishable by death. Everyday in the Muslim world Muslims are severely punished (often on trumped up charges) for committing apostasy. Apostasy is to Islam what mafia threats are too its family. If you leave the family you’ve signed your death warrant.
            Taqiyya: In Islam Muslims are taught to lie, trick or fool infidels. Doing so in the pursuit of spreading Islam is considered a very good deed. So when you, Tami, try to trick us into believing Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance and compassion, you and I both know that what you are really doing is practicing taqiyya – essentially lying and trying to trick is into believing something that is not even remotely true.
            Thanks again for your help in spreading the truth about your religion, dear.

          • Thank YOU for turning a mere observation & opinion piece about my experiences at Brown and some comments regarding the Middle East Studies department (which many of us shared) into a theological debate about Islam vs. all the other great religions. I would quote you a little Karl Marx on religion, but then seeing that scary name Marx, you’d immediately assume that I’m a communist, so I won’t even bother to finish my sentence this time. God help us all if everyone in America thinks like you. Luckily, I know for a fact that they don’t. Some people are actually tolerant to different viewpoints & religions. Let’s agree to disagree and avoid getting confrontational again, everyone is entitled to their opinion. It is STILL a free world.

          • Tami,
            You are making assumptions about me that are not accurate. I think Marx’s ideas were interesting and idealistic. Idealism does not work in a world where men like Mohammed exist.
            And Marxism does not work either in the real world as has been proven time and time again.
            I am tolerant to all religions other than Islam for Islam is intolerant of me. Islam would have me killed for speaking honestly about it as Islam cannot handle the truth. Just as Mohammed had people killed for refusing Islam 1,400 years ago so is it happening today too.
            Just as Muslims 1,400 years ago killed off or enslaved almost all non-Muslims wherever they invaded, so too is this happening today. Your people did this to the Animists and black Christians in Sudan, and they are doing the same thing in Nigeria today – burning children alive in the name of Allah.
            Your bias is shinning through and it’s clear your idea of a good professor is one who shares your bias, false memes and lies about Islam. By writing this article you opened yourself up to comments and criticism. This is America where we still are privileged with free speech. This is not like the 57 OIC countries where cartoonists are torn from limb to limb for depicting your pedophile* prophet in caricature.
            +++
            Mohammed’s eleventh wife was six when he married her and nine when he forced coitus upon her.

      • Fantasy sports such as football and baseball have become increasingly popular on the internet. For those not familiar with fantasy sports, the emphasis is on fantasy. The simple explanation is that you pretend to be the owner of a team, join a pretend league which has other pretend teams, and then man your team with actual professional players from that particular sport. In this fantasy world you can pick players from any team to be a member of your own team.

        When it comes to Islam, there is a similar world that has been created. In this world there are two teams involved, of differing sizes and membership, and interacting at different times and places. The large team consists of a group of non-Muslims who know little if anything about Islam, generally wish with all of their hearts that it is a “Religion of Peace,” seem to prefer any presentation that will support that wish, and frown on anyone who expresses skepticism about that wish during the presentation, or afterwards. The small team usually consists of one Muslim making a presentation that largely fulfills the wish of the large team. The accuracy of the presentation is not questioned because the presenter has already established his credentials simply by being a Muslim.

        In this world of Fantasy Islam, the presenter is able to create his own version of Islam, react with patronizing sympathy or condescending dismissiveness toward any non-Muslim who questions his version, and knows that the majority of his audience will support him in maintaining the comfort of this fantasy.

        Since the make-up of the large team changes regularly and this team is the more passive of the two, let’s look at two of the individuals who have appeared on the small team:

        Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, MD

        Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser is the Muslim Founder and President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD). He is well-known as a proponent of reforming and modernizing Islam, and for years has been a guest on countless television and radio programs. Unfortunately, for years Jasser has also played Fantasy Islam.

        Mickelson in the Morning

        We can go back to October 11, 2010 when Jasser was on a major Iowa radio station with host Jan Mickelson here. During the interview, Jasser said he didn’t believe that Muhammad had really spoken what was in thehadith about killing a Jew hiding behind every stone (Time: 17:58). Here is that hadith:

        Narrated Abu Hurairah: Allah’s Messenger said, “The Hour will not be established until you fight against the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say, ‘O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him.'”

        Sahih Al-Bukhari, No. 2926

        The collection of hadiths by Al-Bukhari has been considered by Muslim scholars to be the most authoritative collect of hadiths since the 9th Century. Jasser simply has no doctrinal basis for dismissing Al-Bukhari.

        Later in the same program, Jasser talked about the Verse of the Sword in the Koran (Time: 24:09 and 26:20). He said that this verse only referred to a specific battle against a specific tribe and applied only to 623 AD; it no longer had any relevance today. Here is that verse:

        Then when the Sacred Months have passed, then kill the Mushrikun wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and lie in wait for them in every ambush. But if they repent [by rejecting Shirk(polytheism) and accept Islamic Monotheism] and perform As-Salat (the prayers), and give Zakat (obligatory charity), then leave their way free. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

        Chapter 9, Verse 5

        Where did he come up with 623 AD? 9:5 was among the verses from Chapter 9 that were revealed in early 631 AD. And these verses were not related to a specific battle or to a specific tribe, but rather directed toward all non-Muslims (Life of Muhammad (Sirat Rasul Allah), pp. 617-619; The History of al-Tabari: The Last Years of the Prophet, pp. 77-79; and Tafsir Ibn Kathir, Vol. 4, pp. 370-376).

        There is no basis in Islamic doctrine for Jasser’s assertion that 9:5 has no relevance today. His assertion ignores the facts that Muslims believe the Koran consists of the eternal words of Allah, and Chapter 9 of the Koran was the last chapter to be “revealed” to Muhammad. Consequently, the commands found in Chapter 9 are the final, eternal words of Allah on the matters addressed in that Chapter…”

  3. “Islam was like a mental cage. At first, when you open the door, the caged bird stays inside: it is frightened. It has internalized its imprisonment. It takes time for bird to escape, even after someone has opened the doors to its cage.”

    ― Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Infidel

    +++++++++
    Tamilla, free yourself from your enslavement. Be a brave woman, a strong woman, spread your wings. Turn your back on a religion where fear of apostasy, fear of individual rights, fear of being who you are and what you can be is crushed by a religion that is and will destroy your potential. Embrace the enriching and frightening journey that your sister Ayaan embarked on. Otherwise you will never get to the bottom of your real problems and will live the life of an unfulfilled drone.

    • Thanks for the advice. Ayaan is an ex-sister and she is fully entitled to her opinion but I do not have to agree with it. It is a free world, after all, isn’t it dear?

      • It’s a free world unless you live in one of the 57 OIC countries ruled by oppression, repression fear and misogyny. You, of all people, know what I’m talking about, right dear?

        • Ayaan Hirsies and Nonie Darwishes and others are free to leave the religion because their experiences have been awful. They should be hating those Muslims who did those horrible things to them & speaking out against them. But instead, it’s easier to choose to hate the entire religion & all its followers. Since you seem like a smart guy, Arafat, here’s some free advice: please do us all a favor & enlighten yourself & try to read other books than just Ayaan’s “Infidel”.

          If I made up my mind about 1.5 billion people based on one or two selective books & articles I read about them, I would just about hate everybody else in the world & go live in a cave. Luckily, I don’t, because my parents taught me better than that.

          • “The Game:Most Muslims live peacefully, without harming anyone, so how can Islam be a violent religion?
            If Islam were the religion of terrorists then why aren’t most Muslims terrorists?

            The Truth:The same question can easily be turned around. If Islam is a religion of peace, then why is it the only one that consistently produces religiously-motivated terrorist attacks each and every day of the year? Why are tens of thousands of people willing and able to cut off an innocent person’s head or fly a plane full of passengers into an office building while screaming praises to Allah? Where’s the outrage among other Muslims when this happens… and why do they get more worked up over cartoons and hijab slights?

            Rather than trying to answer a question with a question, let’s just say that the reason why most Muslims don’t kill is that, regardless of what Islam may or may not teach, it’s wrong to kill over religion. Most people know deep down that if God wanted people dead for not believing in him, then he’s perfectly capable of doing the job himself.

            Here’s a similar question with identical logic to the “If the Quran taught violence then all Muslims would be violent” argument:

            “If the Quran taught that a thief’s hand should be cut off, then all Muslims would cut off hands.”
            We can all agree that very few Muslims cut off hands and that a majority (perhaps) believe it is wrong to do so. If the logic were sound, then this would be proof that the Quran does not say to cut off hands.

            But the Quran does say this… quite clearly:

            Cut off the hand of the thief, male or female, as a recompense for that which they committed, a punishment by way of example from Allah. 5:38This is also the example set by Muhammad according to the Hadith (Bukhari 81:792). Yet, the vast majority of Muslims do not do this.

            What this means is that the proof of what Islam teaches or what the Quran says is not in whether the majority of Muslims choose to do it.

            As individuals, Muslims make their own choices about which parts of their religion they practice and which parts they would rather dismiss via the guise of “context”.

            Adherents may think or say whatever they want to about Islam, it doesn’t change what Islam says about itself. As a documented ideology, Islam exists independently of anyone’s opinion. As such, it may be studied objectively, apart from how anyone practices or chooses to interpret it.

            The Quran plainly teaches that it is not only proper to kill in the name of Allah in certain circumstances, but that it is required. Muslims who don’t believe in killing over religion may believe this out of ignorance of their religion or because they are more loyal to a moral law that is independent of the true example set by Muhammad. Those who put Islam first or know Islam best think and act differently.

            In fact, few Muslims have ever read the Quran to any extent, much less pursued an honest investigation of the actual words and deeds of Muhammad (which were more in line withhedonism, deception, power and violence than moral restraint). The harsh rules that Muslim countries impose on free speech to protect Islam from critique also prevent it from being fully understood. In the West, many Muslims, devout or otherwise, simply prefer to believe that Islam is aligned with the Judeo-Christian principles of peace and tolerance, even if it requires filtering evidence to the contrary.

            But, while most Muslims are peaceful in spite of Islam, others are dangerous because of it. Purists who take Islam to heart are far more likely to become terrorists than humanitarians. Those most prone to abandoning themselves to Muhammad’s message without a moral filter are always the more dangerous and supremacist-minded. They may be called ‘extremists’ or ‘fundamentalists,’ but, at the end of the day, they are dedicated to the Quran and the path of Jihad as mandated by Muhammad.”

  4. The problem with Middle East Studies departments is that they are centers of indoctrination and political bias. All too many departments are funded by Saudi Arabia.

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