"Is there something in Islam itself that makes believers more susceptible to radicalization?"
"One might ask the same question about the conservative Christian churches...."
"Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The yearning for freedom eventually manifests itself, and that is what has happened to the American Negro. Something within has reminded him of his birthright of freedom, and something without has reminded him that it can be gained. Consciously or unconsciously, he has been caught up by the Zeitgeist, and with his black brothers of Africa and his brown and yellow brothers of Asia, South America and the Caribbean, the United States Negro is moving with a sense of great urgency toward the promised land of racial justice. If one recognizes this vital urge that has engulfed the Negro community, one should readily understand why public demonstrations are taking place. The Negro has many pent up resentments and latent frustrations, and he must release them. So let him march; let him make prayer pilgrimages to the city hall; let him go on freedom rides -and try to understand why he must do so. If his repressed emotions are not released in nonviolent ways, they will seek expression through violence; this is not a threat but a fact of history. So I have not said to my people: "Get rid of your discontent." Rather, I have tried to say that this normal and healthy discontent can be channeled into the creative outlet of nonviolent direct action. And now this approach is being termed extremist. But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." Was not Amos an extremist for justice: "Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever flowing stream." Was not Paul an extremist for the Christian gospel: "I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." Was not Martin Luther an extremist: "Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God." And John Bunyan: "I will stay in jail to the end of my days before I make a butchery of my conscience." And Abraham Lincoln: "This nation cannot survive half slave and half free." And Thomas Jefferson: "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal . . ." So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? In that dramatic scene on Calvary's hill three men were crucified. We must never forget that all three were crucified for the same crime--the crime of extremism. Two were extremists for immorality, and thus fell below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists." - MLK in "Letter From A Birmingham Jail"
"Scholarship and expertise are not reliant on one's identity (the question of influence by way of experience is separate), but rather on factors such as training, sources and the use of these sources."
Well, this is an interesting book. Now, I want to clarify, you're a Muslim. So why did you write a book about the founder of Christianity?
Well, to be clear, I am a scholar of religions with four degrees, including one in the New Testament and fluency in Biblical Greek, who has been studying the origins of Christianity for two decades who just happens to be a Muslim. So, it's not that I'm just some Muslim writing about Jesus. I am an expert with a PhD. in the history of religions. But I have been obsessed with Jesus --
But it still begs the question, though, it still begs the question, "Why would you be interested in the founder of Christianity?"
Because it's my job as an academic. I am a professor of religion, including the New Testament. That's what I do for a living, actually. So, I mean-- it would be like asking a Christian why they would write a book about-- Islam; I'm not sure about that. But-- and honestly, I've been obsessed with Jesus for really 20 years. I've been studying his life and his work and the origins of Christianity both in an academic environment and on a personal level for about two decades. And, just to be clear, this is not some attack on Christianity. My mother is a Christian. My wife is a Christian. My brother-in-law is an evangelical pastor. Anyone who thinks that this book is an attack on Christianity has not read it yet.
Aslan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in religions from Santa Clara University, a Master of Theological Studies degree from Harvard Divinity School, and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop, where he was named the Truman Capote Fellow in Fiction. Aslan also received a Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. His dissertation was titled "Global Jihadism as a Transnational Social Movement: A Theoretical Framework".
In August of 2000, while serving as the Truman Capote Fellow at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Aslan was named Visiting Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Iowa, becoming the first full-time professor of Islam in the history of the state. When the Pentagon and World Trade Center were attacked in September of 2001, Aslan put his expertise of the Middle East to work for both the university and the greater Iowa community by traveling throughout the state speaking to public and private organizations, businesses, churches, mosques, and universities.His efforts in Iowa received national attention in such periodicals as U.S.A. Today, U.S. News and World Report and The Chronicle of Higher Education.
In 2003, Aslan left his post at the University of Iowa to concentrate full-time on writing
I believe that you've been on several programs and have never disclosed that you were a Muslim.
A friend of mine who is getting his PhD in religion and is no friend of Fox News is cynical of the whole controversy. I don't know what to think, personally.
he is Associate Professor of Creative Writing and Affiliated Faculty in the Department of Religion at the University of California, Riverside. His previous academic positions include the Departments of Religion at the University of Iowa and at Drew University.
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