Author Archives: Dr. Craig Considine

Islamophobic Yellow Journalists Attack Professor Ahmed, Again

Facts and truth.  Here are two words all too frequently treated as synonymous.  Indeed, as the writer Maya Angelou notes, ‘there’s a world of difference between facts and the truth.  Facts can obscure the truth’.

Citing ‘facts’ in her second malicious attack against Professor Akbar Ahmed, the notorious Islamophobic yellow-journalist, Laura Rubenfeld, believes she has reached the ‘truth’ – that Professor Ahmed is an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood and that his agenda is actually to ‘Islamize’ Americans and the world.

Rubenfeld’s ‘facts’, which are about as credible as supermarket tabloid stories, as pointed out by Jonathan Hayden, are positioned on extremely flimsy associations (some of which are indirect and thirty-years-old) and very loose personal relationships (to people who are no longer living).  Her ‘facts’ are as follows: Professor Ahmed’s previous appearances at various conferences concerning ‘Islamic knowledge’ is proof that he promotes the ‘Brotherhood agenda’.  Some of Professor Ahmed’s work from the 1980s, which is used on the Brotherhood website, makes it obviously clear of his Brotherhood affiliation.  Professor Ahmed’s Brotherhood link, moreover, is evident in the ‘fact’ that his friend, who is no longer living, once said something that could be interpreted as something the Brotherhood would promote.  Of course, Rubenfeld never places these appearances or quotes in any kind of context.  If she did, her argument would likely fall flat on its face.

Nonetheless, Rubenfeld, in desperation, resorted to an absurd ‘let’s connect the dots’ effort to slander Professor Ahmed.  Her article is a conspiracy theory of the worst kind.  It portrays Professor Ahmed as some kind of deceiver and radical Muslim.  For those of us who actually know him, we were appalled at the vitriol of such commentary based on a highly questionable methodology.

But the most hysterical, indeed laughable, element of Rubenfeld’s article was when she suggested that: [t]hose who previously relied on Professor Ahmed’s reputation as a moderate need to ask what else Professor Ahmed is hiding.

Professor Ahmed isn’t ‘moderate’?!  I had to read that line ten times to even believe what I was reading.  For a moment, I thought I was reading The Onion.

How do we dissect Rubenfeld’s lies?  For starters, it is useful to examine whether Professor Ahmed is even ‘moderate’ to begin with.  I, among countless others, could argue that Professor Ahmed is more of a ‘mystical’ than ‘moderate’ Muslim.  Ever since I can remember, he has always emphasized the works of the Sufi poet, Rumi, who writes about love, compassion and tolerance, all very ‘liberal’ values.  Rumi aside, Professor Ahmed’s role models include Gandhi, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King Jr. John F. Kennedy, and Nelson Mandela.  These individuals are humanitarians, universalists, and peace lovers.  Professor Ahmed is a humanist, not a moderate.

Rubenfeld also blundered in her comments in light of Professor Ahmed’s forthcoming book of verse, Suspended Somewhere Between. In one of the poems, ‘What is it that I seek?’, Professor Ahmed writes: ‘It is God’s greatest gift/It raises us high above/It is the bridge over the rift/It is love, love, love’.  Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea, writes that Suspended in Between highlights the ‘love and hope of Muslims’.  Daniel Futterman, the famous Hollywood actor and Academy Award nominated screenwriter, calls it a ‘book of love’.  Walter Issacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, notes that it shows us Professor Ahmed’s ‘beautiful soul’.

Professor Ahmed has also spent years and years of continuous and arduous work in trying to improve relations between Muslims, Christians and Jews.  He has befriended countless numbers of religious leaders, from Jonathan Sacks (Chief Rabbi of the UK) and Senior Rabbi Bruce Lustig of the Washington Hebrew Congregation, to Bishop John Chane of the Washington National Cathedral (with whom he recently published an article in the Washington Post that condemned attacks on Christian minorities in Muslim-majority countries), and too many others to name.  On a more personal note, I’ll never forget when I joined Professor Ahmed in Houston to meet Catholic Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza.  Fiorenza called the project we were then working on, ‘Journey into America’, as ‘the work of God’.   You could literally fill a book with all the religious leaders that admire the work of Professor Ahmed.  Yet, Rubenfeld insinuates that he is actually some kind of ‘Muslim monster’ with a sinister motive to impose Islam on the world.

Does Rubenfeld merit the credibility of these interfaith leaders and many other figures around the world that have embraced Professor Ahmed’s lifelong work?

I have known Professor Ahmed for about six years.  He has been my academic mentor and the second most influential male figure in my life aside from my father, Christopher.  He and his family have been to my home in Needham, MA, where we had an Italian feast.  When I once lost my cool and let my temper get the best of me, Professor Ahmed pulled me aside and asked me ‘what would Jesus do?’  I’ve seen him comfort my father with compassion when I had a life-threatening accident in 2007.  I’ve been with Professor Ahmed when we ‘hung-out’ with hip-hop artists in Buffalo.  I’ve walked Bourbon Street with him in New Orleans to better understand its culture.  I’ve even been to a Chicago Cubs baseball game with him at Wrigley Field because he wanted to learn about ‘America’s pastime’.    Professor Ahmed, you see, is not just about family and friendship.  He is about meeting new people, understanding new cultures, and taking part in new experiences.  Rather than trying to ‘Islamize’ you, as Rubenfeld suggested, Professor Ahmed would rather show you his warmth and demonstrate his natural curiosity about the ‘other’.

I should also add that never once has Professor Ahmed tried to convert me to Islam.  The topic has never even come up.  Nor will it ever.  ‘Islamizing’ is not his concern or prerogative.  Teaching me the value of knowledge is!

No matter how hard Rubenfeld tries to twist-and-turn the character and conduct of Professor Ahmed, she will never (ever) be able to twist the fact that many, many people of all backgrounds and faiths respect him.  No matter how passionate Rubenfeld becomes in her personal crusade against him, she cannot alter this evidence.  These are the facts.  This is truth.

If Rubenfeld wants even more facts to see the truth, she should try to arrange a meeting with Professor Ahmed.  My only fear is that she still won’t see the truth because she doesn’t really seek it, nor does she value it.  Unfortunately, Rubenfeld is blinded by the malignancy of hate.  She will likely continue on her xenophobic crusade because Professor Ahmed will continue on with his work.  We should expect more incoherent ramblings from Rubenfeld and the rest of the ignorant Islamophobic supermarket tabloid bloggers who twist the truth for selfish and monetary reasons.  If she wants to keep her job with the cynical Steve Emerson, who is manipulating the American public with his anti-Muslim rhetoric, Rubenfeld will have to do so.

My final point is this.  The only thing Rubenfeld’s article taught us is that the great English novelist, Alduous Huxley, was spot-on when he said that ‘facts’:

‘… are ventriloquists dummies.  Sitting on a wise man’s knee they may be made to utter words of wisdom: elsewhere, they say nothing, or talk nonsense, or indulge in sheer diagolism’.

By Craig Considine

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“Journey into America” picked up by the State Department

Since its premiere at the Islamic Society of North America’s (ISNA) Film Festival on July 4th, 2009,  “Journey into America” has received much acclaim and praise, from the strong film review it received from The Khaleej Times in Dubai to its invitations to world class film festivals like C&CIFF in southern France and to the El Sawy International Film Festival in Cairo, Egypt.  Now, the State Department has shown interest in the film, per a  recent article ‘New Documentary Film Explores Muslim Experience in America’ by Ahmed Mohammad.

The State Department’s Bureau of International Information Program (IIP) has a world wide audience that prints material in Arabic, Chinese, French, Persian, Russian and Spanish.  The purpose of this division of the State Department is to engage with international audiences on issues which the United States government finds imperative to American interests.  The publication of Mr. Mohammad’s article on American.gov not only gives our documentary an immense amount of publicity in the global arena of politics and international relations but it also proves that high ranking American officials have endorsed the  message which we communicated.

See the article here.

Documentary accepted into Culture and Culture Film Festival

7434_sWe very proud to announce that the  Culture and Cultures Intercultural Film Festival has accepted ‘Journey into America’ as a major feature of the annual event.  The festival will take place starting September 5th through the 19th in Chateau de Padies in southwestern France.

Dennis Piel, the director of the festival,  has had his photographs published in GQ, Vanity Fair, and Vogue and is also an award winning documentary filmmaker with ‘Love is Blind’ (1993).  The festival’s mandate is ‘to use the power of film to show and explore cultural diversity, to promote cross-cultural understanding through films focused on the lifestyles, values, and attitudes of individuals who inhabit our world community’.  Piel has also asked Journey into America to have a featured panel discussion.  Here is a link to the festivals description.

The Qur’an, Thomas Jefferson, and the Universalist American Philosophy

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By Craig Considine – Resting in the library of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello during the American Revolution was the Qur’an – a religious book respected and cherished by over 1 billion Muslims in the world today.  Jefferson was a curious revolutionary.  He was interested in humanity, God, and the commonalities amongst the human race.  ‘All men are created equal’, an idea that stands the test of time, was Jefferson’s own.  The author of The Declaration wanted to understand Islam.  He knew that one day, Muslims around the world would flock to America for its representation of tolerance and compassion for diversity in a world not always open to difference.  America is not just a territory with a flag and a bald eagle. America is in essence an ideology and philosophy representing upon the undeniable truth that human beings ‘are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights: amongst these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness’.  Jefferson gave America, and the world, a framework for coexistence – we all want to be free, no person is ‘more equal’ than the other, and everyone has the right to pursue their dreams.

Visiting Jefferson’s Monticello in late April was my second visit to this beautiful estate.  This trip, however, differed from my previous one in 2007.  I walked in Jefferson’s footsteps with my mentor, Professor Ahmed – a Muslim scholar that regards Jefferson as a personal hero and as his favorite American founding father.  There Professor Ahmed was, contemplating the sheer magnitude of what Jefferson had accomplished on the steps of Monticello, with his team of young Americans.  Our trip to Monticello embodied the best of the tolerant, compassion, and universal American philosophy that sprung from the American Revolution.

Can a Muslim be a good American? Absolutely.

By Craig Considine – Can a Muslim by a good American? That is a question we have asked to thousands of citizens around the country over the last seven months.  I myself have pondered it a little bit but found that our trip to Arlington National Cemetery made me think a bit deeper about it.  A Muslim can absolutely be an American, in my opinion.  What bigger sacrifice can a citizen make than to give his or her own life on the battlefield?  The definition of a ‘good American’ may vary but all Americans can undoubtedly agree that those that have fallen on the battlefield deserve the utmost respect from their fellow citizens.  I was proud to see their gravestones and even more proud that America is a nation designed by the Founding Fathers to be ‘colorblind’.  That is the true beauty of America.  

Washington’s ‘Old Guard’: Meeting with American Soldiers

By Craig Considine – On Wednesday afternoon, April 1st, we went and spoke to the soldiers of the Old Guard at Fort Myer that could very well soon be deployed to either Afghanistan or Iraq.  Col. Martinez invited Dr. Ahmed to speak to his soldiers about the intricacies of the tribal regions of Pakistan and the tribal codes of honor – in particular the pashtunwali of the Pashtun ethnicity.  

The soldiers of the Old Guard were very astute, intelligent, and devoted Americans to the fight in Afghanistan/Pakistan – the region they will most likely be deployed to sometime in the near future.  They were curious about the role of women in Islam and the appropriate behavior in the effort to win the hearts and minds of the regions various tribes.  Dr. Ahmed gave a very informative lecture surrounding honor, dignity, and the ferocity with which the Pashtuns have fought with for centuries.

The soldiers of The Old Guard were very responsive to Dr. Ahmed.  Col. Martinez even noted that high level leaders in the US government have consulted his scholarly works on the tribal regions he once administered.  I’m very hopefully that they will take his wise words to both head and heart.  If they do, I’m very confident in their ability to live up to the prestige of the soldiers with whom George Washington once deemed the very best – The Old Guard.

Dean Louis Goodman: American Identity from a Jewish Perspective

By Craig Considine – Frankie and I met Dean Louis Goodman in his office at the School of International ServiceAmerican University on a Friday afternoon.  Our conversation began with our most frequently asked question: what is American identity?  The Dean’s response was a unique one.  His notion of it is rooted in his Jewish American heritage.  His family came over from Europe in the 19th century and worked diligently in the community to create prosperous businesses.  His grandfather, he noted, was a prominent politician in New York City that was dedicated to the NAACP and to civil rights for all Americans, not just Jews.  The most interesting part of this conversation is the Dean’s thoughts on the Jewish community in America today.  Secondly, he also offers some interesting ideas on Muslims in America while simultaneously comparing this ethnic group with his people, the Jews.

In my opinion, Dean Goodman is an American dedicated to the preservation of the ideals laid forth in the constitution.  America was not meant for just White Anglo Saxon Protestants but rather all people from around the world.  The beauty of America is its openness in accepting different cultural norms and values.  Without the continuation of these principles, America will lose its meaning and purpose as the one country in history dedicated to the acceptance and equality of all peoples.