An Exercise in Missing the Point

I read this article today in Time by a young Muslim girl who was offended by what her text book said Islam.   But the quote she cites actually says nothing about Islam, it says something very specific about the Quran.  Those are two different discussions.  What this girl should be upset about with regard to this text book is not stereotyping Islam but rather misinterpreting the Quran.  Of course we don’t get the whole quote in the article, but the portion she seemed to be upset with goes like this:

“According to the Quran, women are to satisfy men’s sexual desires and to bear children …women are considered sexually seductive …”

This girl’s response was to claim that such a statement was stereotyping Muslims when the article didn’t say anything about Muslims so much as it said something very specific about the Quran.  I don’t have an agenda against Islam here, I just want to point out that if the Quran doesn’t say anything of the like that is pretty easy to demonstrate. I would have found the whole thing more appropriate if she had actually addressed the Quran, but instead her point was that most Muslim’s aren’t like that.  Do you see what I am getting at?  She didn’t actually address what her text book said.

Though misrepresentations of Islam are probably more common in our country that misrepresentations of Islam (though that is changing), I do not get upset when Christianity is misrepresented in our culture, I do get upset when the Bible is misrepresented, and my labor is rarely to defend Christians themselves or their actions, but what the Scriptures say when they are misrepresented.  If Scripture’s words are true, then I need to be able to articulate why some of the more difficult things it says are true.

About Drew Dixon

Drew is an editor at Christ and Pop Culture and editor-in-chief of Gamechurch.com. He is also a pastor, soccer coach, and writer. Drew also regularly writes for Think Christian, Bit Creature, and Paste Magazine. He has also written for Relevant Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @drewdixon82

  • http://www.pofgblog.com Joseph

    Great example of an exercise in missing the point. For more examples, see every conversation that happens on CNN, FOX News, and MSNBC, plus every interview with a politician ever.

  • http://jerothforjesus.blogspot.com/ Jeff

    Wonderful article. It is hard enough to have such conversations without confusing the issues.

    P.S. The first sentence of the last paragraph had an error, “Though misrepresentations of Islam are probably more common in our country that misrepresentations of Islam…” Your point still comes across but you might want to edit that. Feel free to remove this postscript along with it.

  • Mitch

    Would love to see this article. I don’t really have much of an opinion on this, but in defense of the girl maybe an understanding of the culture is in order. First, it is a “culture” therefore she could have been upset at the article not because of the misrepresentation of the Quran, but because it was a misrepresentation of her culture. Islam is practice differently in different areas. In Saudi Arabia, for instance, that quote is pretty dead accurate. In other areas especially America it’s not as accurate. As Americans we don’t understand this cultural identity to a religion as much, but if we did we may understand why the world sees Christians as immoral and bad, to them America is Christian so the majority of things that they see good and bad from America is “Christian”.

    If she is from certain areas of the world, such as the one I’m in, she may not know the Quran at all. Even though it is hard for us as Christians to understand it’s not proof that they are misguided or misinformed on what they believe, they just don’t believe the same ways that we do. We were taught that we can do anything that we want if we put our mind to it, they are taught that to not be Muslim dishonors their family. Some are devout others aren’t, but they are all Muslims and we should not attack or belittle the girl for not picking the right thing to be offended about, but instead try to understand and love her.

  • http://electexiles.wordpress.com/ Drew Dixon

    @Mitch–you can read the article–it is linked in the very first words of my little post here.

    Secondly, how does my article here “belittle” or “attack” this girl? What did I say that was unloving? Why can’t I say that this girl is arguing about something that her text book doesn’t say and that not be interpreted as a personal attack but merely an observation. I was just pointing out that she was offended about the wrong thing that does not say anything about her character. In fact, the point of my little article here was to point out how Christians should react when misrepresented in a healthy way.

    Your thoughts about Islam are fair and I have heard similar stories from friends who have done missions in those countries.

  • Mitch

    I read it as you saying what the girl “should” be upset about as in she is wrong for not being upset about this. It is possible that that is not how you meant it, but that is the way that the tone came across to me. Secondly, when the Quran or Muhammad is mentioned most Muslims will defend them because they have been attacked so many times by Christians and even though your article may not have been meant to come across as belittling or demeaning if an average Muslim came across it then they would most likely also see it in that way.

    Guess in the end I understand where you are coming from and I agree with your point, but we are outside of their culture and there will be alot of things that we find odd in their way of reacting. It is a much better argument if it is based first on common ground, which we do have with Muslims.

    And I know that you weren’t talking to Muslims, but they may still come across it if they are curious and anything remotely attacking their prophet or their Holy Book will turn them off to the rest of the site.

    Finally, as Christians I wish that we would see how close we are getting to over generalizations and missing the point on the things we fight for. I also wish that we would lose the superiority complex. We often think that we are right and only try to prove the other side wrong rather than befriending them and understanding them.

    Just wanted you to know I’m glad that you wrote the article. :)

  • http://electexiles.wordpress.com Drew

    @Mitch, I understand where you are coming from. We can’t worry about who might read our posts. I thought about whether or not that post was worth writing or not, I guess it probably was a little critical of Islam–but that is what the girl was upset about–when her text book said nothing about Muslims, but what the Quran said–that is easy to defend. My hope was that those who actually read the article would see that she is defending the fact that Muslims aren’t like her text book says they are–which may be true–but her text book didn’t say anything about “Muslims” but the Quran’s teaching. I just found that interesting more than anything. If a Muslim read this post, I would hope that they would want to talk about what the Quran actually says, because I think my article (though I am baised) actually said very very little about Muslims. My point is that if we are always worried about offending people by every little thing we say, then we will probably never have any conversations worth having.

    From what I have heard, most Muslims are not as radical as most Westerners tend to think–that is worth talking about, but did you notice that I never said they were? I am just addressing the argument. So often in the U.S. we argue about things that don’t actually address what people are saying and that is unfortunate.

    I didn’t say anything at all about Muslims in this post, so if it offended them, it would be a wonderful opportunity to express what this post is really about and then perhaps have a profitable conversation about the gospel, which is offensive by the way.

    Anyway, thanks for your comment, it made me think and reread my article and think about its merit.


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