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The Rise of Islam, A Perspective
The early formation and rise of Islam were full of grace but not without conflict. The prophet Muhammad is described as being very charismatic, honest, hard working and a competent leader in the face of adversity which may explain why Islam quickly spread within the region of Hijaz in the Kingdom of modern day Saudi Arabia.
The early formation of Islam shares similarities with two other religions: Judaism and Christianity; all of which are within the religious sphere known as the “Abrahamic Religions” because of all base their religious foundations off of the ancient tribal leader, Abraham.
When comparing Islam to another religious tradition, we see that all of the Abrahamic religions spread by word of mouth instead of by conquest (in the early formation) and it was not until much later that their tales were collected and transcribed. Specifically, these three religions hold in common the aspect of their chosen leaders being not only religious leaders but also political leaders. For example, Moses was a prince of Egypt before he became the leader of the Israelite's and thus the chosen “messenger of the word of God” to the Jewish population. Muhammad, as well, maintains the same comparison as being both a community and religious leader; working simultaneously in many instances as well as being the chosen “messenger of the word of God” to the Muslim population.
On that point, the media tends to take a completely different approach from the grace of Muhammad; if you will, they approach the world with a lack of grace. Western media affects the way we view Islam and Muslims negatively because of the experience our nation has with the Middle East. In our Said text the author uses second-hand resources to describe Islam as being completely foreign to us by sharing the opinion of news correspondent, John Kifner: “In Islam, there is no separation of church and state. It is a total system not only of belief but of action, with fixed rules for everyday life and a messianic drive to combat or convert the infidel.” (Said, 12)
What needs to be said about the blatantly biased opinion of Kifner is this: Of course there is no obvious separation between church and state within some Middle Eastern nations. Look at the foundations at which their country was founded. Muhammad was a political and religious leader much like the Imam, Ayatollah or Shah currently act in some nations.
If International Relations has anything to say for why American media portrays Islam and Muslims in a negative light; look at the history America has with many of these countries. “Iran was the major oil supplier during a period of energy scarcity” (Said, 6). The United States of America has been in the position of hegemony for quite some time and when a “threat” surfaces, it would make sense that there would be a great deal of “bad sportsmanship” occurring.
The negative opinion in which the United States tends to have regarding the Middle East evolved quickly because of the sheer magnitude that the media plays in international affairs. The Middle East wants to maintain (and fiercely protects) their sovereignty and has made it clear that they do not appreciate outside involvement. Within Western media, spread throughout a seemingly somewhat democratic international sphere; this may appear as a belligerent threat “to all that is good and light in the world”. More so if the particular recipient of such an opinion has the theoretical lenses of “Realist”. Therefore, the media takes the truth of the matter (that each country should be allowed it's private sovereignty) and turns it into an act of hostility. One nation trying to earn
Therefore, the media takes the truth of the matter (that each country should be allowed it's private sovereignty) and turns it into an act of hostility. One nation trying to earn it's keep on an international playing field is then viewed, feared and loathed for “playing the game” and, perhaps, being good at it.
Said, Edward W. Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World. 2nd ed. New York: Vintage Books under Random House, 1997. 3-35. Print.