Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Speaking Out: An Interview with an American Muslim

One of the reasons for this blog is to exercise freedom of speech, not just for the author of the blog and his views, but for others who do not have a voice in the media. All too often, the media covers the leaders of radical movements, and the leaders of State, which often leads to misunderstanding among the rest of us. The following interview is with a young woman named Tikyra "Tiki" Angelique, who is the daughter of an American military family and is a devout Muslim. She speaks with the ferver and convictoin of the Converted, and the earnestness of a fresh college education. Her political views do not reflect those of the author of this blog. In the interview, Tiki expresses her distrust of the current Administration and its policies, while at the same time clears up some questions we had about Islam and religious tolerance. This interview is presented in the interest of freedom of speech, and therefore is unedited, except to recover text from a formatting incompatibility. Remember--"Open debate makes our country great!"

Do non-Muslim people generally respect you for your religion?

Well, my experience has been that there are different kinds of Americans. There are those who are political
and either sympathize with Arabs, Palestinians and Muslims and understand our political views that differ
with what most of the media puts out, and there are Americans who go along with most of what the media
puts out against Arabs, Palestinians and Muslims.
I think most Americans are good hearted people who are being mislead and misused by an International war
criminal named Bush. I think the media has let down most Muslims and Jewish groups who disagree with America's and Israel's foreign policies; I believe the true job of a reporter is to impartially report both
sides of any issue and let people decide for themselves.
I see something new happening lately because of the military conflict in Iraq, more and more Americans
are asking why do they (different groups or countries in the world) hate us? And others are approaching me and other Muslims who wear religious clothing and ask us, what is your religion about?

What difficulties, if any, do you face being a Muslim woman in America?

That's funny because recently I got a job at McDonalds. I told them why we wear the scarf and even though
their corporate policy says they don't discriminate based on religion, they would not let me wear it. I did
what a lot of Muslim women facing this situation have done, I wore a baseball cap and put my hair up
under it instead. Most employers don't understand that the scarf is not a fashion statement saying that I am
a Muslim woma--it is part of our religion. I am hiding my beauty including my hair, that I will only show at home with my family and my future husband ( I am not married ).They also don't understand that our loose clothing is also about modesty, not revealing the shape of
your body, so it does not allow others to be sexually attracted to you based on your body or hair. The loose
clothing is also a dress code for Muslim men. They also have problems with employers who don't allow
having a long shirt outside the pants so the hip area is not easily revealed.

What do you see as the biggest misunderstanding of Islam in America?

People think blowing ourselves up is part of our religion, it isn't, LOL. I cherish being alive, thank you.
There is (a religious teaching) which says "If you know of an injustice, change it by your hand, if
you are prevented from doing that, speak out against it, if you can't do that, write against it, if you are not
allowed to do any of those things, you MUST, pray against it."
In other words GOD never told any of us to just do nothing about injustice, that is part of what JIHAD is, fighting against injustice. JIHAD can also be the inside your own self for things like your struggle with an addiction or sinful behavior, your JIHAD to make yourself not do it.

Do you come from an Islamic family, or did you convert to Islam?

I converted to Islam. It was easy for me to become Muslim because my family is Christian in name only. I respect the teachings of Jesus but technically they are not Christian because they do not believe He is
the Son of GOD, they love and revere him as a human prophet (peace be upon him), they do not believe he died for forgiveness of anyone's sins, they believe you can only be forgiven by asking GOD directly to
forgive you for your sins, and they do not believe He rose from the dead and became alive again. When they celebrate Christmas and Easter it is for celebrating a holiday, but, Christmas is important to my family
Jesus was a wonderful prophet (peace be upon him) whose wonderful message has taught all beings how to treat all people with peace and respect.

Many of us believe that Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are different ways of worshiping the same God. We see religion as a personal attribute, meaning that the right way for a person to worship God is the way each person chooses. Can you see it that way?

We say there is no GOD except the ONE true GOD. To us, GOD, who we call Allah, is the same GOD
in all 3 religions. HE is the GOD worshiped by Abraham (the Jews), Jesus (the Christians) and
Mohammad (the Muslims), peace be upon all the prophets. We share the same history and prophets with a few exceptions, the Jews (with the exception of Jews for Jesus) do not accept Jesus as a prophet, peace be upon him, the Christians do not accept Muhammad as a prophet, peace be upon him, and we accept all the
prophets and believe that Muhammad, peace be upon him, is the last prophet and messenger of GOD.

Muslims call Jews and Christians "the people of the book," which is written in the Quran.There are people
who know about GOD but who have consciously decided to live sinful lives. If a person does not know GOD but is a good person who lives a good life, he or she can go to heaven.

Many Islamic scholars and Imams have written that violence and murder of innocents is not a part of Islam. Do you agree?

I think that is one of the hardest questions to answer in any religion, when is killing a person self defense or of one's home or country murder, and when is it justified defense. Military chaplains run into this
dilemma when talking to conscientious objectors, but also when considering possible crimes
against humanity committed by soldiers.

Is there a clash between the cultured and the uncultured in Islam?
In the previous question, Tiki and I discussed the question of the fine line between religious duty and
Civil duty. There are some who feel as though their religion requires them to kill, and my understanding is that the "unclultured," those who use religion as an excuse to kill are misrepresenting their religion. This is a follow-up question addressing the extension of some religious ideas to government and law.

We talk about this all the time at the Mosque and at college. There are things that Islamic governments do that they say are dictated by Islam, but those laws violate Islam, they are doing things based on culture
of Islam. For example, when the Taliban closed all the schools for girls that was a violation of
Islamic law, because the Quran specifically states that women have a RIGHT to education. What the Taliban did was to act on it's own feeling about how to treat women based on the new culture they wanted to impose on Afghan women. I have even talked to men who were angry about what the Taliban did because what a lot of people don't realize is that many Muslim women including myself, have college degrees and honestly don't want us to help with the family's finances by working. Actually deciding to help pay the bills is a problem for me as a Muslim woman the Quran says I can keep my money for myself and not pay any bills, but most of us love our families and do contribute.

Can Islam thrive in a free society?

There are 12 million of us Muslims living in America and the number of new converts is increasing.
The irony of the soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan is that, day after day they are living among
Muslims in middle east countries, they will bring back knowledge about Arab culture and Muslim religion.
Most of them will see us as human beings who just want to live our lives like you do.

Can a free, democratic society exist in the Islamic world?

To be honest, Israel is not a Democracy, it is a blatant open Apartheid, compare it to the "Democracy" of South Africa before Nelson Mandela became President. Why doesn't anyone ask questions about Zionist
terrorism against mostly unarmed Palestinian and Arab civilians in Palestine and the "occupied zone."
Why doesn't anyone question the violation of the rights of the people of Iraq when Bush
through a dictator put on them, named Bremmer (probably spelling his name wrong)?? What about the press Bush and his regime closed in Iraq because they wrote articles against Bush and his puppet
imposed on the Iraqi people? Is that the freedom of the press democracy is about?? What about
American soldiers who shot at Iraqi protestors is that the right to peaceful assembly Democracy
Does Abu Graib ring a bell??? How about when America tortured and killed prisoners there, their families visitation, denied the prisoners lawyers„ what kind of Democracy are you bringing to ignorant Arabs and Muslims??

Do you, personally, get involved in the political process in America?

It's really funny you asked, because I protested against Israel for 1 year in Lexington Massachusetts.
While Bush has been so busy destroying the Constitution and violating the most basic rights Arabs, Palestinians, and Muslims who are American citizens have, that all he has to do is call me an enemy combatant and the power hungry idiots who support him would imprison me in Guantanamo Bay, without evidence, witnesses or charges, just like they did to Jose Padilla. He is an American citizen who was imprisoned there for 3 years. When the government finally admitted there was no evidence that he made or had anything to do with "dirty" bombs. He should have been released from Guantanamo prison, but he is still being held as the government creates new charges to keep him imprisoned to indefinitely await a military trial for a civilian. Talk about destroying the most inherent spirit of the law under which the nation
was founded, the right of anyone accused of a crime to have due process, and a "speedy" trial, to
avoid making the imprisonment while waiting for a trial, a punishment based solely on being accused not as a result of a guilty verdict. In other words if an innocent man is accused of a crime and the jury finds that he was "not guilty," then the time of imprisonment, his loss of freedom, damage to his and finances is in itself a punishment.

The following video is in response to a follow-up question by the author, as the question of Isreal came up during the interview, and we felt that this answer was thoughtful, thought-provoking, and interesting, as well as controversial.

Click here if you can't see the video.

Afterward--my thoughts:
It is interesting to note that Tiki's political views are very much in line with the opinion of many who are politically on the far left of the spectrum, yet Tiki could be considered a "conservative" Muslim, who believes, among other things, that it should be a punishable offense for a woman to smoke while with child. It is easy to see how policy missteps--particularly those made during the interim administration of Paul Bremmer--can become an indictment against the entire policy.
It should also be noted that, although Tikyra does not recognize the right of Israel to exist, she strongly believes in religious freedom, and recognizes and respects the religion of others.
In response to the political point of view expressed in this interview, all I can say is that our beliefs--that is the belief of each individual--is exactly that; an individual belief, and that belief is indelable, based upon each person's life experience and education. The result of the practice of many university level teachers to indoctrinate rather than educate is evident here, but I know that I can disagree and argue until I'm blue in the face, but it will not change Tiki's beliefs any more than she can change my beliefs. This is Tiki's opportunity to state her case, and I am grateful to her for granting this interview and allowing me permission to publish it on this blog. Comments and questions in the "comments" section here are solicited and encouraged, and Tikyra can be contacted here, via email.


Anonymous said...

Ms Angelique,

I am very sorry that your parents did not fill your heart with the love and joy of Jesus Christ. Please remember, that no matter what, he stills loves you and accepts you and just asks for your heart to be open for Him.

You have entered a faith that I hope you study in depth and in detail. The Quran teaches that only Islam is the true religion, and unbelievers have three options: 1) convert to Islam; 2) remain an infidel, and submit to humiliating subordinate status under Islamic (Sharia) law, including paying a hefty poll tax; or 3) wage war with, or be killed by, Muslims.

Keep in mind that in Islam it is “good works” (good vs. bad deeds on the scale of life) that you DO that may get you into heaven. Somehow you must win Allah’s favor. If you fall just .0001% short on the scale, you will be cast down into Hell.

But the problem is you never know when you have done enough. It is like being a salesperson who must meet a quota but never being told what that quota is. You can never be sure you have actually done enough (except dying in Jihad fighting infidels – but I don’t know if that is for you though).

Worse yet, the Bible tells us in Romans 3:23 that we can never do enough. We will always fall short of God’s holy and perfect standard.

But be thankful – for there is hope. Jesus has DONE something for us that we could have never done for ourselves. Christ lived the perfect life that we could never live and He willingly died on the Cross to pay the penalty we owed for the wrongs we have done.

To become a Christian (a follower of Christ) means to humbly receive God’s gift of forgiveness and commit to His following and His leadership. When we do that, He adopts us into his family and begins to change us from the inside out.

Also consider - If you ever want to leave Islam, it will be considered an act of apostasy, which carries the death sentence in much of the Islamic world.

Best Regards,


PS – I spent a year in Afghanistan; living, eating, sleeping, talking, praying, fighting and dying with Muslims.

Anonymous said...

Mark - Good comments!

RevJim said...

Mark, I spoke to Tiki today, but I forgot to mention to her to check this site, which is probably why she hasn't responded yet. I'm sure she'll want to. I have to believe that Ms Angelique found religion the same way most of us do, after much searching and research, so I don't think she'll ever change her mind.

Thom Clark said...

Tiki.. We served together in Germany.. yes folks.. Tiki was in the United States Army... and she is a good person.. she is NOT stupid.. nor ignorant.. She is very intelligent and I have always respected her inner strength to stand for what she believes.. I do not agree with her on alot of her beliefs.. but it is what I spent 21 years, and retired, for.. The Freedom of Speech.. but in some cases people should have more information...
There is alot that she doesn't know...
But I am glad she still has the strength of will to stand for what she believes..

SSG Thom Clark, US Army (RET)

RevJim said...

Thom, God Bless you. I feel that freedom of speech is just as important as any of our rights, and one can not exist without the other.

My purpose of posting this here was to point out that we don't have to agree with someone in order to give them a platform on which to speak. Tiki is a good friend of mine, and, even though I disagree a lot with what she had to say here, I felt it my duty to let her have her say.

Thanks for leaving a comment here. I will let her know you left her a message here. There is a link to her email address included in the original article, if you want to try to contact her directly.