Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Everybody with your fists raised high, Let me hear your battle cry tonight.

Heeey guys!
This is another essay that I wrote! I hope you enjoy. I would love to hear from you guys in comments, or emails! Check out my Contact Info page if you wanna reach me directly!

Emma Catherine Morrison
RE 101 – Tutorial 4
Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Misconceptions of Jihad: The Effects of 9/11 on the West’s views of Islam

Stephen Prothero says in his book God is not One, “when Americans are asked for one word that sums up Islam, ‘fanatical’, ‘radical’, ‘strict’, ‘violent’, and ‘terrorism’,” are the first words that come to mind (26). Prothero explains the modern West’s views of Islam perfectly. However, these ideas that he describes are not new to the 21st century. Islam has been the target of discrimination at the hands of the West since the Middle Ages. Hundreds of years have passed since the horrors of the Crusades, and yet somehow, nothing has changed. Muslims are still the villains in the eyes of the mostly Christian West.
The way the West views Islam of has been negatively affected by the actions of the extremists of Islam, which has resulted in discrimination and mistreatment of Muslims. The event that set the most recent anti-Muslim ideas in motion is the Terrorist Attacks on September 11th, 2001. The horrific events of that day are burned into the memories of this generation, Muslims and Westerners alike.
The actions of the extremist Muslim group Al-Qaeda on 9/11 were justified by Al-Qaeda through the Islamic idea of jihad or “holy war”, as the West has come to understand it. These terrorist attacks began what American President George W. Bush called “the war on terror”, that left everyday Muslims suffering the repercussions of extremist actions. This led to chronic discrimination all across North America, and left the West in an extremely Islamophobic state. Islam was feared and hated.
As quoted above, the West views Islam as a violent and fanatical belief system, which is in fact, untrue and Muslims have been fighting to prove these stereotypes wrong since the events of 9/11.
On September 11th, 2001, two commercial airplanes were hijacked and flown into the World Trade Centre in New York City. The death toll rose into the thousands and the effects of this tragedy were catastrophic. The United States went into a state of panic. The party that claimed responsibility for these attacks was an extremist Muslim group called Al-Qaeda.
To better understand the motivations of Al-Qaeda, the concept of extremism must be understood. Webster’s Dictionary defines extremism as “advocacy of extreme measures or views” (merriam-webster.com). What does this mean in regards to Islam? The Islamic idea of jihad is an idea that has been taken by extremists and changed into something that it was not meant to be, leading some Muslims to “advocate extreme measures” to carry out what they believe is the will of God, such as the attacks of 9/11.
“Jihad literally means ‘struggle’,” says Prothero on page 34. He goes on to explain that jihad is said to have two meanings, the first being a spiritual struggle against “pride and self-sufficiency”, and the “physical struggle” against the “enemies of Islam” (34).  Dr. Atkinson quoted page 81 of Reza Aslan’s book, No god but God in lecture, saying that the primary focus of jihad is on the spiritual struggle, rather than the militant struggle, which is contrary to the beliefs of extremist Al-Qaeda, who place more importance on the militant struggle. John Kelsay quotes a document written by Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and other extremist Islamic leaders in February of 1996, in his 2002 article:
“We—with Allah's help—call on every Muslim who believes in Allah and wishes to be rewarded to comply with Allah's order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it. We also call on Muslim ulema, leaders, youths and soldiers to launch the raid on Satan's U.S. troops and the devil's supporters allying with them, and to displace those who are behind them so that they may learn a lesson.” (Kelsay, 29)

Al-Qaeda believes the United States to be one of the “enemies of Islam” that Prothero describes. This is an excellent example of the extremism within Islam, especially portrayed by Al-Qaeda, and public enemy number one, Osama bin Laden. This image of Islam is what is presented to Westerners; the image that has led to the marginalization of the Islamic community. This image of violent, radical and dangerous, terrorist Muslims has tainted the name of Islam, which in fact means peace (Prothero, 27).
            Since the 9/11 attacks, the West has had continued negative views of Islam. Security at airports was heightened. People were being detained and questioned purely because they looked Muslim. Islamophobia swept across North America like wildfire.
Prothero states on page 36, “For all the emphasis on jihad among Islamic extremists… you would think that it is one of Islam’s central concepts. It is not.” This militant fervour that Westerners associate with all Muslims is in fact not a majority, but a minority. Also, extremist Islamic groups such as Al-Qaeda not only hold contempt for Americans, but also for Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia (Aikman, 58), which further distances the extremist minority from the majority.
 Westerners have also come to believe that Islam believes that all non-believers should be killed, and that this belief is what leads to suicide bombers and events like 9/11. However, as Prothero points out on page 35, the Qu’ran “promises hell” for those who commit suicide, which clearly rules out suicide bombing and the actions of the 9/11 hijackers as acceptable actions within the norms of Islam. The Qu’ran also “condemns mass murder” (35), much the same as the Christian Bible condemns murder, once again furthering the views of the extremists and their “advocacy of extreme measures and views” from true Islam. This is one of the most prominent misconceptions that Westerners have about Islam, and is very clearly disproven when one takes a closer look at the Qu’ran.
John Kelsay quotes the Qu’ran in another article: “Fight against those who fight against you, but do not violate the limits! God does not approve those who violate the limits,” (706). This clearly contradicts the negative, stereotypical public view of Islam. The type of fighting that this quotation is describing is that of defensive warfare, not offensive, attacking warfare, like the attacks of 9/11 proved to be.
How has the Islamic community responded to 9/11 and the negative views of the West? Prothero explains that as in every religious tradition, adherents have always tried to explain and rationalize the “elements in their tradition that have been used to justify evil” by extremists and deviants (35). This is the biggest way that Muslims have battled against stereotypes and negative assumptions.
 He then goes on to explain how most Christians tend to disregard passages in the New Testament that have possible anti-Semitic connotations because they blame the Jews for the death of Christ. Their goal is to remove these negative connotations in order to prevent their use in the justification of violence against Jews, as they have been used in the past. This is an interesting comparison. Anti-Semitism was the hate crime that dominated the 20th century, and eventually manifested itself in the Holocaust, an event that defined a generation. Similarly, 9/11 has also defined a generation, with Islamophobia being the result of the tragedy.
Another interesting aspect of this comparison is the fact that sacred texts from Christianity and Islam have been used to justify violence, and discrimination. An excellent recent example of scripture being taken out of context and being used to discriminate is in the case of the Westboro Baptist Church in the United States, and their crusade against homosexuality; some of their picket signs reading “God hates fags”. This act of hate is contradictory to the command of Jesus to “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Mark 12:31, NIV), similarly to the way that the act of suicide bombing is in direct conflict with the Qu’ran, as explained above.
Once again, the idea of jihad comes into play. “Apologists for Islam have tried to minimize the importance of jihad” and that of the two meanings of jihad, “the spiritual struggle is higher” (35), which echoes Reza Aslan’s argument quoted in lecture. It is clear that the West is very wrong about the idea of jihad.
The events of 9/11 perpetrated by the extremist Muslim group Al-Qaeda have resulted in widespread Islamophobia and discrimination towards Muslims in the West. Al-Qaeda justifies their actions with the idea of jihad or “holy war”, as it has been incorrectly interpreted, believing that by killing countless innocent civilians, they are carrying out the will and purpose of Allah [God]. Since 2001, Muslims have been fighting against the influence of extremists on the views of Westerners, and for their dignity as one of the world’s great religions. The struggle between Islam and Christianity that began hundreds of years ago has somehow managed to carry through into modernity. This should not be an “Us” versus “Them” issue; it should be a “We” issue, meaning that “We” should fight for a solution. “We” should stop looking for differences between “Us” and “Them”, and instead focus on the similarities.

Works Cited
Aikman, David. "Garlic, Dracula, and Al Qaeda: Civilization Itself Is the Target of Extremist Muslims." ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials. EBSCO, 2006. Web. 27 Mar. 2011.
Aslan, Reza. No God but God: the Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2006. 81. Print.
Kelsay, John. "Bin Laden's Reasons: Interpreting Islamic Tradition." ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials. EBSCO, 2002. Web. 27 Mar. 2011.
Kelsay, John. "Democratic Virtue, Comparative Ethics, and Contemporary Islam." ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials. EBSCO, 2005. Web. 27 Mar. 2011.

Matthew. BibleGateway.com: A Searchable Online Bible in over 100 Versions and 50 Languages. Biblica, 2011. Web. 29 Mar. 2011. <http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mark%2012:31&version=NIV>.
Prothero, Stephen R. "Islam: The Way of Submission." God Is Not One: the Eight Rival Religions That Run the World-- and Why Their Differences Matter. New York: HarperOne, 2010. 25-53. Print.


Love Always,
Emma Cate

Saturday, April 16, 2011

This is Home; I'm finally where I belong.

While we were talking, I heard a familiar laugh ringing from the back of the office; Tamara. She then poked her head out from around the corner. “Emma!” she cried as she ran over to where I was standing and hugged me around my waist. Tamara McNutt had always been a great role model in my life. She was almost five years older than me, and I always looked up to her. I had met her three summers before, through her sister, Alicia, whom I had been friends with for close to five years. Tamara flashed a smile and tucked a piece of her long, brown, curly hair behind her ear as she said, “Come on, I’ll take you to Dorm!” Dad said he would drive over so that we would be able to just unload the car when we got there, and Tamara and I walked.
Tamara and I caught up as we walked along the main road towards the Dorm. She asked me how my exams were, and I told her all about math. Strangely enough, it was easier to talk about it now that the great burden had been lifted off my shoulders. I asked her about how Pre-Season was, and she told me that it was a ton of fun. I thought about how much that I wished that I was old enough to work Pre-Season. Two months seemed so short a time to spend at Fair Havens, compared to the four months that Tamara was there for. I asked her about how she and Jon were doing, and she told me that they were doing great.
“So, when is he going to pop the question, then, eh?” I joked as we reached the brick pathway leading to the front porch of Dorm.
“I don’t know,” she replied from behind a smirk. I laughed, and told her that I better be one of the first on the calling list when it eventually happened. She promised that I would be.
I climbed up the steps onto the porch. I looked to my left and saw a makeshift fire pit in the very centre of the brick patio. Awe, campfires will be so much fun, I thought. Above me, the eaves hung a little bit below the edge of the roof. They had little plants growing in them that spilled slightly over the ledge, which led me to the conclusion that eaves had not been cleaned out for an eternity. Tamara disappeared through the screen door. I pulled the door open after her and it squeaked loudly. I took one step into the room and was hit by a wall of stench. The room smelled like mould. I coughed and said, “Wow. You would never be able to tell that boys used to live here,” with my voice dripping with sarcasm.
 “Yeah, we did our best to clean it up, but the stink just wouldn’t go away. So, we have all the fans on, and we put dryer sheets on them to blow the nice smell all through the house. Clever, huh?” I nodded in agreement.
The Dorm was a moderately sized building. As soon as you stepped in the door, you were in the common room. Adjacent to the common room were the bedrooms, bathroom, and shower. I quickly looked to my left as Tamara directed me towards the bathroom and shower. This is much nicer than I expected, I thought as I inspected the bathroom of my new home. “This one is your room,” Tamara informed me as she pointed out the door directly across from the Dorm entrance. I read the sign on the door; “Welcome Emma and Bekah”, it read. I suddenly was very impatient for my roommate to arrive.
Bekah Hesman has been my best friend since my first summer at Fair Havens. She used to live in Oshawa, but then moved to Windsor when I was in grade seven. Bekah and I have always gotten along famously. Whenever we’re together, we’re joined at the hip; inseparable. I love her like she was my own sister. I remembered the sneaky plan we came up with to both request each other, so that we would for sure end up together. I was very excited to learn during the May Long Weekend that we were going to be in the same cabin, along with Holly Nolson and Becca Thede. I missed Bekah every day. I hated that she lived so far away.
Dad and Tamara helped me to carry all of my stuff into my room from the car. It only took two trips for us to take everything inside. A sense of satisfactions and relief swept over me as I stood in my room, surveying the space and all of my stuff.
Outside on the brick path, Dad chatted with Tamara. Tamara gave me a quick squeeze as she said that she had to get back to work. Dad waved. Then Dad hugged me and gave me a kiss on the cheek. “Call if you need anything, okay? And I’ll probably be up on Thursday with the T.V., DVD player, and internet stuff,” he said. “Okay, thanks, Dad. I love you. See you on Thursday,” I replied as a pulled away from the hug. “I love you too.” With that, he got into the car, and slowly backed out of the Dorm patio area onto the road. He waved as he began to drive away, and I waved back.
I went back inside after saying goodbye to Dad and thought about what I was going to do. I knew that Bekah would not be there until closer to dinner time, so I decided to start unpacking my things a move into our room. The room itself was a little bit larger than I expected it to be. Directly to the right of the door was one set of bunk beds, aligned with the front wall. The other set of bunk beds was perpendicular to the first, and was raised up on a set of four cinder blocks under each leg of the bed. The back wall had a window. It was opened slightly, and I remembered what Tamara had said about trying to get rid of the stench. On the left wall hung the largest mirror I had ever seen in a bedroom. It covered most of the wall length-wise and almost reached the ceiling height-wise. Leaned against the wall directly below the giant mirror was a chest of drawers. I decided to unpack my clothes. I organized them into groups and put them into drawers; long sleeve shirts, sweaters, t-shirts, underwear, pants, shorts, tank-tops, everything.
Before I knew it, my two Rubbermaid storage bins were nearly empty. All that was left in one of them was a couple of dresses and skirts. I came up with the brilliant idea to store my bins underneath my bed. I had chosen the bed with the cinder blocks, so the bins fit very nicely underneath. I had to hand it to the boys; they knew how to make the most of a small space. I then unrolled my sleeping bag and laid it out on the bed. I placed my pillow and teddy bear at the head of the bed and I felt very pleased with all that I had accomplished. I suddenly began to feel very lonely. I decided that I needed some noise, so I plugged in my Mac laptop and put my Lady GaGa CD in. I felt better as I soaked in the music.
I opened the top middle drawer of the dresser and pulled out the box of Blue Mike and Ikes that Mum had bought for me. I loved that she knew the kind that was my favourite. The sugar also helped to relieve my loneliness.
This is Home - A Memoir
Pages 7-10

Love Always,

Emma Cate

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Can you kneel before the King, and say "I'm clean".

Hello Readers!
I just want to take a moment to tell you how happy you make my life! There is no better feeling than seeing how many views my posts get, and it's all thanks to you! So thank you!

Today I want to talk about music. Music is a huge part of my life, and has been for every moment that I can remember. I think I sang before I could talk. I love to sing, I love pretending that I know how to play guitar [I know like 10 chords, OKAY!?], and I love listening to music. I love listening to lyrics of songs, and trying to interpret what the writer was trying to say. I love how music makes me feel.

Now, I have this friend that I care for dearly.. And most of the time, he has awesome taste in music... But sometimes... When all of us are hanging out in his dorm room... He plays music that, well, I just can't stand.

I pride myself on NOT being a music snob, because it drives me absolutely crazy when my brother, who is in fact the SNOBBIEST of all music snobs [It's endearing.] tells me that some band or song I like is "garbage". So, naturally, I feel awful about hating my friend's music.

There is a good reason that I don't like the music... I hate how it makes me feel. I am left with this... ill-at-ease sort of feeling that sometimes, takes me a few minutes to shake off after the song is over, or until we listen to something that makes me feel better.

I agree completely with the notion that music helps us as humans to expel emotions, and allows us to connect with the emotions of the writer and all that jazz... But I do believe that the music we listen to has a very deep effect on our emotions... not just an outlet for the emotions that we already have, but a cause of emotions.

This music that my friend likes to play, I think, plays a huge part in how he feels on a day to day basis.. He disagrees.. But I'll go to my grave thinking that if he just listened to less of it, he might feel better. Or when he's feeling angry or sad, listened to something that made him feel better, rather than something that will aggravate his already heightened emotional state.

But, what do I know, right?

I'll leave you with something that made me very happy today.
White Blank Page - Taylor Swift [Mumford and Sons]


Love Always,
Emma Cate

You gotta get get over yourself a little, to see the grass is green.

Day 18: A time when you felt passionate and alive.

Day 19: A talent of yours.

Day 20: A hobby of yours.

Day 21: Something you know you do differently than most people.
In a previous post, I discussed how smell is a large part of how I connect with people... All my friends at university think I'm a giant weirdo... My friends at home? They apologize when they change perfumes.

Day 22: A website.
While on Tumblr a few weeks ago, I discovered this site called CompassionPit.com. This website is kinda like a helpline.. You can either go on as a listener or a venter.. It's all completely anonymous. You are connected with someone of the opposite position, and you can chat with them. I like being a listener. People come on, and completely uninhibited, share their problems with me.. I talk with them, ask them questions.. Give advice if they ask... This is a great safe place for people who think they have no one to turn to. If you ever feel like you need someone to talk to, please check out this site! Also check it out if you're looking for a way to help people! You never know whose life you may change with just a few kind, loving, and compassionate words.

Day 23: A way in which you want to be remembered.
21 “[Her] master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’"
Matthew 25:21
Day 24: A movie no one would expect you to love.
The Fast and The Furious.

Day 25: A recipe.
Vanilla Mocha
- Take 3-5 heaping teaspoons of hot chocolate mix and put it into a mug.
- Take French Vanilla Coffeemate. Pour some into the mug.
- Stir until hot chocolate mix is a liquidy paste.
- Then, add some coffee.
- Feel free to add more Coffeemate!
- Enjoy!


Love Always,
Emma Cate