A look inside Islam

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A new civil rights group for Muslims sponsored a showing of the new film “Inside Islam: What a billion Muslims really think.” The film was at USF in Tampa last Saturday night, and was designed to challenge the notion that Islam and the West are on a collision course.

Muslims in 40 countries participated in a Gallup public opinion poll that showed what Muslims think about the most controversial issues surrounding their religion. Last Saturday hundreds of people attended the film at USF, which was sponsored by a new Muslim group called United Voices. The film sought to answer questions that Americans have had for the Islamic community concerning terrorism, women’s rights, and 9/11. Alex Kronemer is the executive producer for Unity Production Foundation, who made the film.

Egyptian born Dalia Mogahed is the chair for the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies.
President Barack Obama selected Mogahed as an advisor to the White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. She is a Muslim, and narrated the film.

With the events of September 11th and Fort Hood fresh in the minds of Americans, many still feel fear and hostility towards Islam. But according to Kroenmer, the poll showed that only 7% of Muslims thought 9/11 was justified for political reasons, and none of that group had religious justifications for their attitude.

Muslim travelers wearing traditional head coverings, or hijab, are now being automatically selected for additional security screenings and pat downs. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, sent a letter to President Barack Obama concerning the issue, since Obama declared in 2009 that “the US is not, and will never be, at war with Islam”. Kroenmer says that Muslims don’t dislike American culture, just its foreign policy.

There are more than 130 million Muslims in India. Suhila Cherian grew up among them.

The film drew about a dozen protesters from ACT! For America Now, a group that opposes radical Islam. They held a sign with quotes from the Koran like verse 8:39, which read “Fight them until all opposition ends, and all submit to Allah.” Mogahed came under harsh criticism from Jacksonville chapter leader Randy McDaniels, who is concerned with the rise of so-called islamofascism.

McDaniels and his camera crew aggressively questioned Muslim groups in the lobby.
Mogahed made the documentary alongside John Esposito, a professor of Islamic Studies at Georgetown University, whom McDaniels also denounced.

Ramzy Killic from CAIR was also at the film screening, and dismissed ACT for misrepresenting the facts.

Some who saw the film complained that it didn’t include enough Muslim voices, and others were hoping to hear more about Sharia law. Z.J Hafeez is running as a Democrat for the State house of representatives in District 67. If elected, he would be the first Muslim elected to the Florida State Congress. Hafeez said the film debunked many myths about Islam.

The filmmakers, Unity Productions Foundation, started 20,000 Dialogues. It’s a nationwide initiative that uses discussions about films to promote pluralism, dialogue, and civic engagement. It seeks to build greater understanding of Muslims through films and conversation. To learn more, go to 20,000 Dialogues and United Voices.