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Arabs and Muslims Are Not Necessarily the Same Thing

Just because one is a Muslim doesn’t mean one is an Arab.                             Rana Ossama / Flickr

Just because one is a Muslim doesn’t mean one is an Arab. Rana Ossama / Flickr

Last Friday before going to the mosque I stopped to buy some groceries. I was wearing a headscarf and talking to a friend on the phone in Spanish. When I hung up, a lady came to me and said, “It’s surprising, I didn’t know they spoke Spanish in Saudi Arabia.”

I didn’t really know what to say. I wasn’t offended by it, because with time I’ve learned to deal with comments like that, I just felt very uncomfortable. I just smiled and walked away.

The thing is, this is a pretty common misunderstanding. Well, I don’t actually think that there are many people who think that Muslims are all from Saudi Arabia, or at least I want to think so. However, most people do not really differentiate between an Arab and a Muslim.

This is a very important thing to know about, more nowadays, when we hear about it everywhere. This is not a mistake only common to “average” people. The news coverage sometimes misses the point, too.
Only by understanding the difference between Arab and Muslim, we can understand many of the issues related to Islam.

The biggest mistake usually made, is to see Islam as a uniform block.

They are all Arab, they all speak Arabic, and they are all terrorists. Well, nothing could be further from the truth.

Although Islam originated in the Arabian Peninsula, today only 15 percent of the Muslim population is from Arab ethnicity. That includes countries in both the Middle East (i.e. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria, etc.) and in North Africa (i.e. Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia).

Even more surprising is the fact that people in those regions, people with Arab ethnicity, aren’t always Muslim. So, yeah, not all Muslims are Arabs, but also not all Arabs are Muslims. In Lebanon, for example, there are important Christian communities; those are Christian Arabs, they speak Arabic, do Mass in Arabic and read the Bible in Arabic. In Morocco, there is a Jewish community; Jewish Arabs that speak fluent Arabic, my French teacher in junior year of high school was from that community.

So, if only 15 percent of Muslims are Arab, which ethnicity does the other 85 percent belong to? Well, without going too far from the Arabian Peninsula, we can find other “Muslim” ethnicities.

Turkey, for instance, is a country where almost 95 percent of the population is Muslim. Their ethnicity is Turk not Arab, and even some of them don’t get very happy when they are called “Arab.” They speak Turkish, not Arabic, and still they are Muslims just like the ones in Syria or Tunisia.

The ethnicity for Iran is Persian. They speak Farsi, but are still Muslim. In Afghanistan the official language is not Arabic but Dari and Pashto, and even though Pakistan is a country with a big Muslim majority, and yet the population is not Arab, but has many different ethnicities.

In Africa, there is also a big Muslim population. Most of them are from African ethnicity, and speak the official language of their country.

And located in Southeast Asia and Oceania, Indonesia is the country with the biggest Muslim population in the world, and they are not Arab nor do they speak Arabic.

Of course, there is also another ethnicity added to Islam, or should I say, many other ethnicities. Those are the ethnicities of those who, like me, convert. I didn’t change my ethnicity when I converted, I don’t think that’s actually possible, and even if it was I wouldn’t.

I am Hispanic and Muslim, not an Arab who speaks fluent Spanish. The same happens with Americans or Europeans that convert to Islam. It is normal for people to get confused and sometimes call us “Arabs,” but this is a mistake that only reveals ignorance.

Islam is very broad, and the main reason we sometimes get it wrong is because we don’t really go in depth with it, and just believe everything the Media says.

This whole explanation narrows down to one thing. Taking into consideration how many different ethnicities, countries and cultures are involved with Islam, it would be very shallow to justify everything by blaming it on the religion.

Just as religion helps to shape culture, culture also tends to add or even modify things in religion. The way a Christian practices their Faith here in America is not the same as the way Christians practice it in South America, in Africa or in Asia.

The way religion is practiced doesn’t only depend on religion itself, but also on a cultural and social context.

It is the same with Islam. Different countries practice Islam differently.

To take a simple example, when the time for Iftar (breaking the fast after sunset in days of Ramadan) comes in Jordan, they won’t probably eat the same things that we eat in Colombia for that same event. We break the fast with arepas and papa salada, and that’s how we contribute our culture to the religion.
Now, this is kind of a simple example, but it also applies for other things. Some practices that are attributed to Islam, such as the burqa don’t really come from Islam, but from the particular culture of a country.

It’s only by understanding the diversity that exists within Islam, that we can understand the difference between culture and religion, even if sometimes it seems blurry.

Carolina Medellin can be reached at colaya@ut.edu.

45 Comments on Arabs and Muslims Are Not Necessarily the Same Thing

  1. a true muslim // July 8, 2012 at 3:05 pm //

    and another thing sory username amazigh i copied most of what u said hope u don’t mind ^_^

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  2. a true muslim // July 8, 2012 at 3:04 pm //

    and one more thing arabs,americans (muslims) are not terrorists it all started with the russians so f u pleez dont call any muslim a terrorist…..cheerz again ^_^

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  3. a true muslim // July 8, 2012 at 2:59 pm //

    islam is a religon, arabic is a race/language, u don’t have 2 be an arab 2 become a muslim for example i am a muslim from north africa, libya 2 be exact but i am not an arab i am an amazigh( or what people call bebers thesedays) soo everyone dont let anyone arab or non arab tell u tht u hav 2 become an arab 2 be a muslim cuz thts wrong completly wrong, even prophet muhammed and the holy book of qurran say tht u dont be an arab 2 be a muslim cuz god created all languages, and for those who wonder the only reason qurran was written n arabic is becuz at tht time arabs were the most non belivers n god/ sinners( kafara ) they were worshiping stones and sculptures, by the way i apologize f any arab thinks this comment is insultive, i dont mean to make people think ur bad i am just trying to show them the real islam………. cheerz everyone ^_^

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  4. amazigh // July 8, 2012 at 2:50 pm //

    islam is a religon, arabic is a language/race, u don’t have 2 be an arab to be a muslim, for example i am a muslim from north africa, libya to be exact but i am not an ara,b i am an amazigh(or what u call these days berbers) but still i am a muslim, what i am trying to say is tht don’t let any one arab/or not arab tell u tht u hav 2 be an arab 2 become a muslim cuz thts wrong, even prophet mohammed (PBUH) and quraan say tht u don’t hav 2 b an arab to become a muslim, the only reason the quraan was written n arabic is becuz at tht time arabs were the most sinners/non belivers(kafara), by the way i apologize to any arab that finds this comment insultive, i am not trying to make people think ur bad i am just trying to show them the real islam………..cheerz everyone ^_^

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  5. ???? ??? ??? ? ??? ??? ?? ???? you are all Adam’s sons and daughters and Adam was created out of clay

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  6. Its compulsory for Muslims to learn the foreign languages as well as learning Arabic the prophet PBUH is actually is a half cast his roots are Arab and non Arab

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  7. Dear assholes: you might not know that the prophets origin is actually not Arab you might want to know that one of his followers whom Allah said he was going to heaven is Ethiopian you might dont know that the language our language was choosen just because its the best expressing language but wether you like it or not its still going to be the precious language well I would like to tell you that the miracle of alquraan is not the language it is sth else a secret I would like to keep it to myself because I think that most of you are getting it all wrong besides some people didnt need quraan to believe in Allah and his prophet they just spontaneously believed in them my advice is that u shouldnt talk about sth u dont know

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  8. Dear Madam,

    This is Paul. Nice reading that article. There are a few questions I have which I believe you will please answer.
    Are all Arabs Muslims?
    Are they the same?
    Who are more in number?
    Do both worship the same God?
    Do both read the same Quraan?
    Do both have the same prophet, Mohammed?
    Then who are the Parsees?

    I understand there may be some cultural differnces. Can you also please share which countries have Muslim population & which countries have Arab population.

    Blessings
    Paul

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  9. Dear Madam,

    This is Paul. Nice reading that article. There are a few questions I have which I believe you will please answer.

    Are all Arabs Muslims?

    Are they the same?

    Who are more in number?

    Do both worship the same God?

    Do both read the same Quraan?

    Do both have the same prophet, Mohammed?

    Then who are the Parsees?

    I understand there may be some cultural differnces. Can you also please share which countries have Muslim population & which countries have Arab population.

    Blessings

    Paul

    Like

  10. I Enjoyed this article; it has been helpful information for me while writing an essay for my diversity class. I just have to point out, after reading all the comments, that people can be very mean about subjects that do not call for it. Why do some people want to vilify whole groups of people? I am white, American, and I have no problem with Muslim people, or Arab people, or anyone else who is capable of being nice to another human being. Just as you ask not to generalize, I ask you to do me the same courtesy. Not all Americans are mean or spiteful. Sometimes, when I read some of the things that people say about each other online, when they can hide behind the anonymity of the internet, I wish I did not have to live on the same planet anymore. =(

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  11. Enjoyable article to read by the way. First I would like to say that Kelle you are a tool and read a book, not just on Islam but on other cultures and religions, secondly I am American, white, and Muslim. When I tell people this they don’t believe me because well I’m not middle eastern. I think people shouldn’t fight about what someone else believes and to be kind to others. After people find out that I am Muslim they see things in a new light, weather or not they agree with my life choice is another story.

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  12. Kellee:

    The bottom line is you are a racist, islamophobic douchebag who falls into the minority of douchebags, just as islamic extremists do (a .02% of Muslims.) Anyone who generalizes a race or religion usually falls into that category especially considering the facts that a very small percentage around .02% are extremist, just as a very small percentage of Christians and Jews, violently act out. However, due to your lack of critical thought, lack of basic research beyond headlines or simply lack of brain cells you exhibit an online tone that reflects you are radicalized and/or obsessed about Muslims. Perhaps you should put on a niqab and troll around your local redneck mall.

    Jimmy L.

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  13. The bottom line is all arabs, muslims and everything sounding them are terrorist.

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  14. I’m late to this discussion, but I just wanted to say I’ve pointed this out to many people. In America, most Muslims are not Arab and (still, I think) most Arabs are not Muslim.

    I attend a university in Hawaii where there are a lot of Muslim students, but only a handful are from Arab countries. I had one neighbor from Iraq and another who is Palestinian, but the rest were Pakistani, Indonesian, Bangladeshi, Malaysian, Singaporean, Iranian, Uighur (from China), Burmese, Indian, and even British.

    None of them were terrorists, either.

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  15. Vetstudentorg // October 29, 2010 at 12:49 pm //

    Good article. The Student Veterans Organization looks forward to working with the Muslim community on campus. We would like to invite you all, or a representative, to our next meeting to discuss possible projects in the future.

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  16. the frute falls near the tree,,,dark waters dont tast good,,,during a war who can u trust,,,,it was the arib/muslum world wich creates such violent acts agenst mankind,,,in the name of there home religion,,the burth of that mentalaty is arib history,,,so let the aribs worrie about how they are preseaved,,,aribs without the so called religions “based on my lifes experiances” are still theaves when it comes to how they think,,,they should all go back to the east and develop there own country,,,,and run it the way they want,,,

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  17. bu ghnm // May 25, 2010 at 6:42 am //

    Hey hey hey… i am muslim all my life living in a muslim country you people dont know anything, not to be offensive or nothing but the writer of this article is correct and you are wrong. The Koran !! first is spelled (Qura’an) is written in Arabic, and it is the one true religion that you blind people cant see. instead you stay in your States and choose to stay clueless about the eastern world. Which is why nobody knows where arab countries are !! everyone i asked in UT dosnt know nothing ! all of you !! you dont even know where the countries are dont they teach you anything in highschool … i wont finish elt me jst stop … losers

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  18. Dr. Zelinka, I think you’re mistaken in saying Kufic is a separate language. In the 7th-8th century, it was the prevalent Arabic script. Just like cursive and block lettering 🙂 Nowadays the prevalent script is Naskh (see Islamic Calligraphy).

    Its use in non-Arabic contexts didn’t come until the later Middle Ages. The first quran’s are still very Arabic. In fact, with some effort, I can read and understand them 🙂 If I remember correctly, the Quran itself mentions that it is Arabic at some point 🙂

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  19. This language of the Qu’ran arguement is something you learn when you are five. And then guess what? You learn something on top of that. Its called intention. You learn the same thing in Yeshiva or in Church. It doesn’t matter what language as long as it’s a trusted translation. You have to love the gall with with John says “Muslims believe that since Arabic was the language of revelation, the Quran can never be translated.”

    That’s some real balls John. Muslims believe this, Muslims believe that. Are you sure? Have you been to Turkey? How many muslim friends do you have, i hope more then one so you can see the difference of opinion or how about just NOT BEING A RACIST. Have you walked through Brooklyn and spoken to the different heads of mosques. No. Because if you did you wouldn’t make stupid comments like “ALL MUSLIMS believe”….do you realize what a fool you sound like?

    These close-minded inert racists have no idea how they appear. It’s totally out of control. Like a mental disease Americans just don’t get nuance and variants, themselves all variants of western european pilgrims, con artists and capitalists. There’s no hope in educating old farts, its the youth that must understand. Let the old hags die with their prejudices and hardened bones.

    The prayers in Arabic are what matter but even still many Turks do it in Turkish, same all over the world. I would reckon to say this language arguement is so weak in fact, it is only used by Arabs to call Turks and other ethnicities kaffirs. Now, it’s being used by non-muslims (John and the Doc) agaisnst Islam itself. Everyone knows so little of what they are talking about the ignorance of Doctors and self-professed couch potatoe theologians should be a crime.

    “Midnight Express” probably etched Turkey in your mind as place not to go. Did you know the actors in Midnight Express were all Armenians, that it was entirely an Armenian production from the onset to frame Turks as the villain? The Turks in the movies are speaking Armenian, why? Because no Turk would subject themselves to that fictional dribble. It’s like Americans minds cant handle more than one concept at a time and whatever concept has the most lobbyists behind it, or most Hollywood gleem wins the position in the mind. Human creatures dominated by their lower intelligences not caring about healing, understanding and life — it’s about keeping the status quo. Grow a nerve America and relax on Muslims, maybe they’ll relax on you.

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  20. Dr William Zelinka // April 19, 2010 at 10:54 pm //

    to support the comment of John recently, the language issue is simple to understand and understand is the key word

    ‘i give this to you in your language so you may understand’

    the first three Korans of which two are safe and readable are not in the Arabic language but in Kufic, the universal language of the mixed population, written by Uthman who spoke Kufic for reasons of communicating with the Christians, Jews, and others of the large area extending far south from Medinah and far north as well

    Arabic in fact would have been a miniorty language of the time, Kufic writing and speech would have been the best way to offer the Koran to the most amount of people

    The fact that others later wished to unify the arab towards Islam did taint the understanding that it was a private issue to arabs who speak arabic and in some cases, those who wished to enforce this thinking did only speak arabic, so they found it a matter of convenience for themselves.

    the universality intent is clear, leave your own understanding of such issues to your own research and you will find your truth that works for you, following others has been widely stated as a deep concern and warned against in all major religions, but those same religions who order inspection upon themselves are very shy to seek such inspection but rather teach that you follow blindly today

    somehow the fact that the first Islamic university was and is in Morocco shows that education, inspection, personal searches for the truth were very far distant from Medinah and the heart of Islam

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  21. This article makes an important point, but it fails to mention an important feature of Islam which contributes significantly to the confusion which the author finds so problematic. Muslims believe that since Arabic was the language of revelation, the Quran can never be translated. Its meaning can be translated, but if you want to read the Quran itself, you have to read Arabic, regardless of your mother tongue. Muslims are free to believe this, of course, but they should not pretend so much surprise when the rest of world has trouble separating Islam from Arabs and Arabic. That trouble will not go away so long as Muslims insist that Arabic, finally, is the language of God.

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  22. Dr William Zelinka // April 17, 2010 at 11:35 am //

    in response to comments about historical America and it’s failures, the books are all there and free to read….which is not the case in all nations. the most vial of historical situations was perhaps the civil war, in which people died, in one, case 100,000 died in one day fighting over what amounted to civil rights for all Americans, not just white anglo-saxon Americans. over all, what nation offers humans the rights and responsibilites and the amazing values of freedoms? you can find critical issues in all nations yet, none match the human resources and human rights issues today that the U.S. has , does and most probably always will.

    i find support of dictators a common strain in politics today, favored by those in power and disfavored by those in need and in want.

    My own family ango-saxon landed in North America in 1720 so i can speak with authority on the North American perspective, and I am a Muslim so i can speak with great authority on most relgions for i did not read just the last chapter, i studied the whole book of chapters. Today’s political problems as i see it stem from the age old separation of have and have not as always, those that can be propagandized, are brain washed….those that cannot…will ultimately lead for they alone have the freedom of choice.

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  23. Ahmad Afdal // April 17, 2010 at 11:02 am //

    with all respect to Dr william’s participation .. it has a lot of holes

    No US is a very racist nation since the ethnic cleanse of native indian and against the black people while they were lynching them on trees and the white people care to show their smiles beside the hung corpse before the camera.

    Dr william review the book and clips of Jack shaheen in youtube “reel bad arabs” and you will notice how the US media is vellifying the arabs and the muslims in cinemas a LOT before 9 11 long time.

    Dr william review the book “rogue nation” and you will be educated how US has dirty history in supporting dictators in latin america and Middle east , and vietnam and korea and fueling massacres to oust the unwanted leader who doesnt meet the imperial agenda .. US isnt sleeping bear at all .. in my opinion US foreign policy is verr rogue and dirty .. figure out what happened in Iraq

    The americans like to use some racist words as degrading terms like rag head, hadjis (to arabs) towel head , dot head to the indians, .. N word to the black .. gooks for the asians especially the vetnamese.

    i hope the americans will grow up one day and forsake this supermacy view based on ignorance.

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  24. Dr. William Zelinka // April 17, 2010 at 12:00 am //

    speaking to the situation of prejudice in the United States since the 911 attack , one should review the historical reactions of American citizens when elements of foreign powers have attacked before.

    The most recent was actually long ago when military elements only and not representative of the majority Japanese struck military targets in Hawaii. I stress military targets.

    When one considers the insantity of an overt attack on civilian targets by foreign nationals , no one needs to apologize and apoligize at all. It was an attack that requires a suitable response from the American government, the military, and the people, each in their own way responding in kind to such an event at their own level of response. Had each citizen, government body and each military unit not done so and in fact are still doing so, what would be then the vision of America….and how fast would radical elements in Wahabbi Islam follow up such a first attack with more attacks if the U.S. was perceived as weak and confused?

    make the mistake of underestimating the average american and their understandings of other nationalities and religions and you will find yourself embarrased beyond belief, it is a nation that still accepts the weak, the hungry, and downtrodden and the poor, thus the average american has a very first hand knowledge of universiality , most other nations do not have that much experience in diversity. While pondering the fibre of the American think to your own nations and their own viewpoints on diversity and freedom of speach, press, religion, and opinion. You may be shocked that in reality, any criticism of the American way is not more than a deep wish to have your own land embrace such philosophy.

    American bonds with each other, post American Civil War of 1865 fused the states and the people into one unit when under pressure

    the less said the better regarding arab and islamic relations for the time, no one wants another Hershima or Nagasaki to end the discussion and that then is a historical reality. Like Russia, America is actually a peaceful sleeping bear, when aroused and provoked, you dont want this bear at your doorstep for there is no defense against such a bear when agnry, you can only pay the price for your transgressions. no one especially the bear wants this, yet consider the bear position, if he does nothing, his neighbor most likely will be encouraged to try his acts of thoughtlessness and evil thinking again. too often in history, the right was over corrected by the might, why let this be then a pattern in our century, we should be smarter than our fathers and lead forward There is an admonition in most all major religions not to follow the fathers blindly….

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  25. Joseph Modaph // April 16, 2010 at 6:26 pm //

    Wonderful article.. muslims and arabs are both been destroyed by media.. they both GOOD people

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  26. When people have to be “taught” Muslims are not Arabs and furthermore the distinictions among difference races of people that are Muslim you know the country you’re living in is beyond repair. However, this is the best it gets.

    When nearly 98% of Americans have not even met a Muslim and think they are “All” Terrorists but allow Christian “Militias” to function even when they fly planes into buildings and plot to overthrow the government, should I even go on. The Christian militant who shot up a holocaust museum last year? Why don’t “We Never Forget” those issues? Why is it “Never Forget” only when it comes to a few loony wahabi al-qaueda freaks? I’ll tell you why; Muslims have been used and will continue to be used. One teacher, one article cannot save these peoples minds – even two or three. The politics of your departments and the racists within the administration of your schools will only give you a certain freedom until they replace you with a non-muslim middle east expert. Everything they look at is the blame of Muslims yet that have no idea what that means. This has been the biggest brainwashing of all time. All you can do is apologize and apologize and when they have wiped out out all the Muslims they will fight each other.

    That you have to answer a question about where you are from, when you were born in the US, is out of control. The moment that was okay was the moment American anything went down the train. This country is built by immigrants – the pilgrims anyone?

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  27. dr william zelinka // April 16, 2010 at 7:06 am //

    on the subject of shaping community, tribe, or nation, let us keep in mind that all religions have had little effect on the community today in part due to the logic that a house divided against itself cannot stand….and what filled the gap while divisons battled in religions was technology….the old hated science feared by religious leaders. Yet if you analyse the reality of today’s global ‘culture’ and save the traditions for the museumes so they can be guarded and kept for the generations to see, Technology is the big winner…it shapes, it changes, it saves, it heals, it speeds and it communicates. Can we agree that any and all religous beliefs are the baseline core competency offering right from wrong, and that technology then drives the community?

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  28. Aser Ahmad // April 16, 2010 at 6:56 am //

    Quote:
    “Just as religion helps to shape culture, culture also tends to add or even modify things in religion.”

    Totally agree. That’s because religion is a PART of people’s culture. It is an active and strong part, but it is NOT the whole culture.

    Thanks for the good and simple differentiation between ethnicity and religion. The same thing applies to Judaism.. not all Jews are Israelis, and not all Israelis are Jews..

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  29. Dr William Zelinka // April 16, 2010 at 12:34 am //

    while a long study, a necessary tour through all religions will set the whole woven pattern in students understanding of religion. Begin with the first prophets in the far east, India and work through the multitudes of early Middle Eastern prophets and end with Mohammed as the last known prophet. The messages in languages amount to the same of course and this understanding will help to unify those that have little information or simply do what their ‘fathers did’. Religion must stand the test of inspection by every human. God by all names gave us a brain to use to the fullest. Come to your own personal conclusions based on your own studies and find your personal link to the Creator. Failing to do this then shows failure particularly in our educational systems and religious teachers who only teach one chaper of a very long book of chapters.

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  30. Ahmad Afdal // April 15, 2010 at 8:49 pm //

    that’s true! .. i have a lebanese friend living in USA , and she’s christian, she takes long time to “persuade” the neighbours that she’s christian AND Arab in the same time as they think that Arab means Muslim

    plus there are about 10 million christians in Egypt and they are arabs too

    lest forget during the US presidential election campaign , an old american woman told mccain that she doesn’t trust Obama , as he’s an ARAB – !!!!- and of course we know that she meant that he’s a muslim as the rumors were telling , and Mccain made it worse by replying , no he isn’t Arab he’s decent and family man , HELLO?? ,

    Greetings from Egypt and thanks for your article and your simple way of clarification

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  31. Jennifer Lynch // April 15, 2010 at 6:13 pm //

    I want to thank you for writing this article. As a UT alum I received my weekly Minaret updates and saw this and thought what perfect timing. This week I was teaching my 6th grade class about Islam and Muslims and the Arabian Peninsula. I was shocked when they immediately thought all Muslims were terrorists. It has been difficult to get them out of these ideas. I plan on reading your article tomorrow to my class. Thank you for writing this!!!

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  32. once again your work is very interesting, because a lot of people don’t know what you said, it’s teaching a lot !
    i love the way you write and i love your mentality, you have a very nice style of writing.
    thanks you for enriching us Carolina !

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  33. Superbe article, reflétant parfaitement la réalité des choses, et qui je trouve, apporte une lumière certaine pour celles et ceux qui pensaient encore que Musulman = Arabe. Une idée préconçue et largement diffusée par les médias, très réductrice. Car comme tu le dis, seulement 15% des musulmans aujourd’hui sont Arabes !! On peut citer encore le pays où il y a le plus de musulmans au monde: l’Indonésie ! Bref, vraiment, très bel article ! Continue comme çà, je te suis et serais toujours une fan dévouée 🙂

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  34. Thiago Queiroz // April 15, 2010 at 2:59 pm //

    Congratulations on one more AMAZING article…i am your fan!

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  35. I enjoyed your article very much. it was very enlightening and informing on a few things I din’t know about Islam.
    This reminds me of the stories my father spoke about when he first came to the USA, he was belittled and judged because he was a German citizen trying to gain citizenship here and he was of Jewish religion.
    He was automatically labeled a Nazi because of the widespread ignorance plaguing society, as well as the mass confusion and having no one to point the finger at. when in fact he was a Jew who spent 3 years hiding in the Austrian hillside communities and the woods walking towards England as a teenager and not knowing if his parents were alive or dead and all alone.

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  36. Saber France // April 15, 2010 at 10:27 am //

    I think All what you said is well known in European countries
    but the comments shows that a lot of people don’t really know islam …

    @A Questioner, There is a lot of diversity in Islam ! 2 big ways : sunnit ans shia and they are divided in many directions…

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  37. Persephone // April 15, 2010 at 10:21 am //

    @A Questioner; that in itself is a generalization. You also seem to lump in Islamic extremists with those who are modest about their faith (and I believe the general consensus is that extremism of ANY sort, whether it be Muslim or Christian, is a bad thing). To think there is uniform practicing across the board seperate from the differences in other religions is just blind ignorance. Since you seem to be so keen on political correctness, maybe you should educate yourself.

    Carolina, amazing article. Excellent to point out that some “Muslim” identities to Westerners are actually cultural, not religious, things, such as Saudi Arabia’s culture towards women.

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  38. A Questioner // April 15, 2010 at 9:43 am //

    “It might be worth pointing out that there are very few Jews from Arab countries left, 99 percent having been forced to flee the Arab world.

    I think this is a good point. The purge of Jews from Islamic countries after the 1948 founding of Israel is far more than a historical footnote.

    One thing that Carolina has not touched upon that yes, there are Muslims of different cultures, but there is only one “Muslim Culture” – in the sense that Mohammed standardized religious practices. In Christianity, you find many different practices; from charismatics to Catholics and everything in between. There is no diversity of religious ritual in Islam; 5 times a day, the same prayers said by all Muslims all over the world.

    Also, @I Think Therefore I Am, you should be more aware of your language, as “non-believer” (or Kuffar) is a _highly_offensive_ de-legitimizing epithet used to describe non-Muslims. Please be courteous.

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  39. Carolina! I wanted to congradulate you for such a badass article! I learned a lot from this article and am even curious to learn more about the topic. I loved the relationship you give to religion and culture, it is a great insight because most people believe they have no effect in each other but they do.

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  40. This is a wonderful article. It would have been really helpful for my final paper in my World Religions class. I had a lot of good sources but most were more academic, none quite as personal as this.

    Like

  41. Saber France // April 15, 2010 at 9:24 am //

    S AMAR only 30% of moroccans are berbers, the others are arabs in majority…

    Good article 🙂

    Like

  42. cool article! but i have 2 agree with BATAWEEN. I am moroccan, born n grew up in casablanca n i am a berber! more than 80% of moroccos population is berber and most of them object to being called arabs! my father is a berber n he only speaks berber and french n yet he was born n grew up in morocco n still lives here! hes the kind of person that would go mad if he was told he was an arab! unfortunately, like you said, the media doesnt seem to make a difference! one final note, take the case of indonesia with almost 250 million people and its a muslim country, therefore makes it the biggest muslim country in the world by farrrr!!!! and yet, theyre not arabs!!! malaysia is the same, turkey, iran, morocco, soudan, albania,…..the list of non arab but muslim countries is defo not short!
    Merci pour larticle, jespere que ca va aider a ameliorer notre image heureusement! bonne chance a vous

    Like

  43. thanks for this… straightforward article and an eye-opener for the rest of non-believers… keep up the good work Carolina… Bismillah. ?? ??? ??? ????

    Like

  44. Carolina is right: there is a difference between Arabs and Muslims. Many Muslims in North Africa, for example, would object to being called Arabs – they are Berbers, Tuaregs, even Egyptians.
    Jews are, however, a separate ethnicity and just because some speak Arabic and like the music of Um-Khalthum does not make then ‘Jewish Arabs’. It might be worth pointing out that there are very few Jews from Arab countries left, 99 percent having been forced to flee the Arab world.

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  45. Andrew Johnson // April 15, 2010 at 1:22 am //

    I found this article to be eye-opening and refreshing at the same time! Thank you for being straightforward and clear with the distinctions between Islam the many peoples who practice it. It feels good to understand a little more of it in the world today!

    Like

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