“Islam is a vibrant faith. Millions of our fellow citizens are Muslim.
We respect the faith. We honor its traditions. Our enemy does not.
Our enemy doesn’t follow the great traditions of Islam.” (source)

“The English translation is not as eloquent as the original Arabic,
but let me quote from the Koran, itself:
‘In the long run, evil in the extreme will be the end of those who do evil.
For that they rejected the signs of Allah
and held them up to ridicule.'” (source)

George W. Bush


Introduction

This document addresses the assertion by some political conservatives that Barack Obama is secretly a Muslim.

The accusation that Obama is a Muslim comes from people who hope to discredit Obama among conservative evangelical Christians. Of course, their plan to discredit Obama in this way has the opposite result among the millions of American Muslims and those who aren’t Islamophobic. It’s like trying to discredit someone by claiming they have smoked Marijuana or they are gay. A lot of people will feel neutral or possibly favorable rather than negative.

The George W. Bush Standard

As a baseline and starting point we begin by examining George W. Bush’s relationship with Islam and Muslims. This will allow us to set a standard by which others can be measured.

Everyone agrees that George W. Bush is/was not a Muslim. He is a devout Christian. So, the intention here isn’t to criticize or discredit Bush, but to illustrate what might be a normal relationship with Islam by a Christian.

Perhaps no president in American history has been more strongly and publicly aligned with Islam than George W. Bush. He was the first president in U.S. history to observe Ramadan in the White House (eight times in eight years). He was the first U.S. president to defend and praise Islam through reference to the religious practice, quotes from the Quran, and appreciation of the culture (source). For decades, George W. Bush, his family, and his friends have had business dealings with Arab and Muslim oil tycoons and foreign dignitaries. If anyone were to be accused of being Muslim by association, it would be George W. Bush. Yet we accept that these things are part of being diplomatic. Bush was also the first president in U.S. history to light a Menorah in the White House in observation of Chanukah. So, his expression of interfaith outreach and appreciation is broad.

Here are a few photos for illustration purposes to show the closeness Bush had with foreign dignitaries who are Muslim (in this example, the head of Saudi Arabia). Click any photo for a larger gallery view.

When these photos were first ‘leaked’ to the public, there was a lot of confusion. Conservatives didn’t like the photos, and liberals tried to use them to discredit Bush. This all shows an ignorance (on the part of conservatives and liberals) about other cultures where men holding hands is customary and greeting with a kiss is a normal sign of respect and admiration. Simply do a Google search for people holding hands with King Abdullah and you’ll see other dignitaries doing the same. The ‘leaked’ story was just an irresponsible and misleading way of spinning the news story to sensationalize it.

At the bottom of this page are over 20 public favorable proclamations made by George W. Bush about Islam. Most of these were made at Islamic events he was hosting in observance of Muslim holy days. Much his praising Islam happened weeks after the 911 attacks.

Ask yourself this… If you were a straight white evangelical nationalistic patriotic Christian, from Texas, presumably surrounded by a culture of homophobia and anti-Islamic sentiments, would you have the guts to speak out repeatedly about the beauty and benefits of Islam, and then go kiss and hold hands with Arab men while surrounded by global media? Probably not.

Against this backdrop, it’s been quite odd to see the same people who support George W. Bush, criticize Barack Obama so harshly for doing the same (but lesser) things.

“Obama is a Muslim” Video

This is the video that attempts to prove that Obama is a Muslim.

One of the most misleading quotes in this video is printed at the end where Obama is quoted as saying, “I am one of them” — implying that he is one of the Muslims. That quote is taken out of context. From earlier in the video (at 24 seconds into the video), we hear the full quote in context where Obama states, “Many other Americans have Muslims in their families, or they have lived in a Muslim majority country. I know because I’m one of them.” So, he’s someone who has Muslims in his ancestry and he has spent time in predominantly Muslim countries. This doesn’t make a person Muslim.

Reasons Why Obama is Not a Muslim

The video above was produced by conservatives as an attempt to discredit Obama among those who have a poor view of Islam. It attempts to prove that Barack Obama is a Muslim. It has over 11 million views. The notes provided with the YouTube video offer a list of evidences which are easily refuted by the following facts.

  1. Twenty-Two Years of Church Attendance. The most vocal of Obama’s critics, those who claim he is Muslim, also claim that he is a Christian who for 16 years attended a Chicago church and was so involved in that church that he became influenced by the teachings of the pastor of the church (who they didn’t like). Obama received so much criticism from his opponents that he eventually resigned from that church and shortly after continued his Christian faith at another venue — but he never resigned from his Christian faith. (sources) He’s been a practicing Christian for the past 22 years. His faith is apparently strong since he continued as a Christian despite being harassed and persecuted by many Christians.
  2. No Regular Mosque Attendance. We have no record of Obama regularly attending a Mosque.
  3. Random Ongoing Wars and Air Attacks on Muslim Countries. Probably more than any other president, Barack Obama is waging war on multiple Muslim countries including Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and indirectly through military aide Palestine. To date, we’ve spent $4.4 trillion on these wars and those numbers aren’t going down under Barack Obama’s presidency. Obama continues the practice of detaining Muslims without trial, in Guantanamo — many who were subsequently released as innocent. So, if he’s trying to win the Muslim of the year award, he’s got some work to do.
  4. Profession of Christian Faith. Obama has made numerous public professions of his faith and religion. In January 2008, Obama told Christianity Today: “I am a Christian, and I am a devout Christian. I believe in the redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe that faith gives me a path to be cleansed of sin and have eternal life.”
  5. Profession of Muslim Faith Does Not Make One A Muslim. In the video below there are sound bites where Obama refers to his Muslim faith or experiences with Islam. In  Christianity, according to many denominations, it’s possible to say a short prayer, and possibly be baptised, to become a Christian. Islam is different in this regard. With Islam, there is a profession of faith, but there are also expected activities that are an ongoing demonstration of one’s faith. Believers are expected to give Zakatfast, travel to the Masjid al-Haram, and pray five times a day in a specific prescribed manner. We have no evidence to suggest that Obama is doing these things.
  6. Rhetorical Proclamation of Faith. A rhetorical tactic used by politicians who want to connect with a group and gain their support is to talk about something they have in common. Rather than referring to “my Muslim faith” he could have met with a group of Marijuana users and referred to “my Marijuana smoking.” In either case, he’s very likely referring to something that’s an early life experience and not an ongoing practice. This is particularly clarified by the context of the story he might have been telling (which we don’t get in the sound bites). For example, he may have been saying, “my Muslim faith impacted me growing up.”
  7. Admiration of a Religion Doesn’t Make One a Devotee. In the video below, Obama states some positive facts about Islam. Having an appreciation for Islam does not make one Muslim. Gandhi stated that he was simultaneously Christian, Muslim, and Jewish. It could be that some of Obama’s statements are similar to what Gandhi was saying. As mentioned above, George W. Bush has been one of the most vocal presidents when it comes to praising Islam.
  8. Bowing Before a Muslim King. One of the points brought up in the video is that on one occasion Obama bowed (leaned forward) when meeting a King. This was reported by some media (Fox News) as an indication that Obama was bowing to Islam and acknowledging that Islam is greater than the United States. That’s a stretch. When we meet a dignitary in their land, or in the King’s Court, there is a certain expected etiquette. One doesn’t sonter in without bowing. That would be rude and disrespectful. The bow in that case is not a sign of submission but a sign of respect.
  9. Obama’s Muslim Family. The video seems to suggest that Obama having Muslim family members makes him Muslim. Having relatives that are Muslim doesn’t automatically make one Muslim, just as having relatives who are Christian doesn’t make one Christian.
  10. Quoting from the Quran. Referring to quotes from the Quran during a speech doesn’t make one a practicing Muslim. Politicians often read from the Bible or any other relevant text when meeting with a group. It’s likely a politician will refer to the Holy Bible or the Sacred Quran simply as a gesture of respect and decency.
  11. Visiting a Mosque. Visiting a place of worship with a tourist group doesn’t automatically prove you are a believer in that faith, just as touring a Church doesn’t make you Christian.
  12. Knowing Muslims. Knowing Muslims doesn’t make one a Muslim, just as knowing Christians doesn’t make one a Christian. Politicians, at least successful ones, are well connected to many groups.
  13. Claiming the United States is not at War with Islam. In the video below, Obama states the U.S. is not at work with Islam. This statement is juxtaposed to videos of the 911 attack. Any religion has extremist militants, such as those who carried out the 911 attacks. In saying the U.S. is not at war with Islam, Obama is just clarifying that we don’t go to war with any particular religion. We go to war with militant extremists of any religion. George W. Bush stated, “We do not fight Islam.”
  14. Praising Islam. Politically and diplomatically it is important for Obama to praise Islam and acknowledge the positive contributions that Muslim countries have made to society. This doesn’t make him a Muslim. See the over 20 positive statements below made by George W. Bush about Islam.

George W. Bush – Praise of Islam

  • “Here in the United States our Muslim citizens are making many contributions in business, science and law, medicine and education, and in other fields. Muslim members of our Armed Forces and of my administration are serving their fellow Americans with distinction, upholding our nation’s ideals of liberty and justice in a world at peace.”
    • Remarks by the President on Eid Al-Fitr
      The Islamic Center of Washington, D.C.
      December 5, 2002
  • “Over the past month, Muslims have fasted, taking no food or water during daylight hours, in order to refocus their minds on faith and redirect their hearts to charity. Muslims worldwide have stretched out a hand of mercy to those in need. Charity tables at which the poor can break their fast line the streets of cities and towns. And gifts of food and clothing and money are distributed to ensure that all share in God’s abundance. Muslims often invite members of other families to their evening iftar meals, demonstrating a spirit of tolerance.”
    • Remarks by the President on Eid Al-Fitr
      The Islamic Center of Washington, D.C.
      December 5, 2002
  • “America treasures the relationship we have with our many Muslim friends, and we respect the vibrant faith of Islam which inspires countless individuals to lead lives of honesty, integrity, and morality. This year, may Eid also be a time in which we recognize the values of progress, pluralism, and acceptance that bind us together as a Nation and a global community. By working together to advance mutual understanding, we point the way to a brighter future for all.”Presidential Message Eid al-Fitr
    December 5, 2002
  • “Islam brings hope and comfort to millions of people in my country, and to more than a billion people worldwide. Ramadan is also an occasion to remember that Islam gave birth to a rich civilization of learning that has benefited mankind.”
    • President’s Eid al-Fitr Greeting to Muslims around the World
      December 4, 2002
  • “Ours is a war not against a religion, not against the Muslim faith. But ours is a war against individuals who absolutely hate what America stands for, and hate the freedom of the Czech Republic. And therefore, we must work together to defend ourselves. And by remaining strong and united and tough, we’ll prevail.”Press Conference by President Bush and President Havel of Czech Republic
    Prague Castle, Prague, Czech Republic
    November 20, 2002
  • “Some of the comments that have been uttered about Islam do not reflect the sentiments of my government or the sentiments of most Americans. Islam, as practiced by the vast majority of people, is a peaceful religion, a religion that respects others. Ours is a country based upon tolerance and we welcome people of all faiths in America.”
    • Remarks by President George W. Bush in a statement to reporters during a meeting with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan
      The Oval Office, Washington, DC
      November 13, 2002
  • “We see in Islam a religion that traces its origins back to God’s call on Abraham. We share your belief in God’s justice, and your insistence on man’s moral responsibility. We thank the many Muslim nations who stand with us against terror. Nations that are often victims of terror, themselves.”
    • President Hosts Iftaar Dinner
      Remarks by the President at Iftaar Dinner
      State Dining Room
  • “Islam is a vibrant faith. Millions of our fellow citizens are Muslim. We respect the faith. We honor its traditions. Our enemy does not. Our enemy doesn’t follow the great traditions of Islam. They’ve hijacked a great religion.”
    • Remarks by President George W. Bush on U.S. Humanitarian Aid to Afghanistan
      Presidential Hall, Dwight David Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Washington, D.C.
      October 11, 2002
  • “Islam is a faith that brings comfort to people. It inspires them to lead lives based on honesty, and justice, and compassion.”
    • Remarks by President George W. Bush on U.S. Humanitarian Aid to Afghanistan
      Presidential Hall, Dwight David Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Washington, D.C.
      October 11, 2002
  • “All Americans must recognize that the face of terror is not the true faith — face of Islam. Islam is a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world. It’s a faith that has made brothers and sisters of every race. It’s a faith based upon love, not hate.”
    • President George W. Bush Holds Roundtable with Arab and Muslim-American Leaders
      Afghanistan Embassy, Washington, D.C.
      September 10, 2002
  • “If liberty can blossom in the rocky soil of the West Bank and Gaza, it will inspire millions of men and women around the globe who are equally weary of poverty and oppression, equally entitled to the benefits of democratic government. I have a hope for the people of Muslim countries. Your commitments to morality, and learning, and tolerance led to great historical achievements. And those values are alive in the Islamic world today. You have a rich culture, and you share the aspirations of men and women in every culture. Prosperity and freedom and dignity are not just American hopes, or Western hopes. They are universal, human hopes. And even in the violence and turmoil of the Middle East, America believes those hopes have the power to transform lives and nations.”
    • President George W. Bush Calls for New Palestinian Leadership
      The Rose Garden, Washington, D.C.
      June 24, 2002
  • “When it comes to the common rights and needs of men and women, there is no clash of civilizations. The requirements of freedom apply fully to Africa and Latin America and the entire Islamic world. The peoples of the Islamic nations want and deserve the same freedoms and opportunities as people in every nation. And their governments should listen to their hopes.”
    • Remarks by the President George W. Bush at the 2002 Graduation Exercise of the United States Military Academy
      West Point, New York
      June 1, 2002
  • “America rejects bigotry. We reject every act of hatred against people of Arab background or Muslim faith America values and welcomes peaceful people of all faiths — Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu and many others. Every faith is practiced and protected here, because we are one country. Every immigrant can be fully and equally American because we’re one country. Race and color should not divide us, because America is one country.”
    • President George W. Bush Promotes Compassionate Conservatism
      Parkside Hall, San Jose, California
      April 30, 2002
  • “We’re taking action against evil people. Because this great nation of many religions understands, our war is not against Islam, or against faith practiced by the Muslim people. Our war is a war against evil. This is clearly a case of good versus evil, and make no mistake about it — good will prevail.”
    • Remarks by the President George W. Bush at a Town Hall Meeting with Citizens of Ontario
      Ontario Convention Center, Ontario, California
      January 5, 2002
  • “Eid is a time of joy, after a season of fasting and prayer and reflection. Each year, the end of Ramadan means celebration and thanksgiving for millions of Americans. And your joy during this season enriches the life of our great country. This year, Eid is celebrated at the same time as Hanukkah and Advent. So it’s a good time for people of these great faiths, Islam, Judaism and Christianity, to remember how much we have in common: devotion to family, a commitment to care for those in need, a belief in God and His justice, and the hope for peace on earth.”
    • Remarks by the President in Honor of Eid Al-Fitr
      The Diplomatic Reception Room
      December 17, 2001
  • “The teachings of many faiths share much in common. And people of many faiths are united in our commitments to love our families, to protect our children, and to build a more peaceful world. In the coming year, let us resolve to seize opportunities to work together in a spirit of friendship and cooperation. Through our combined efforts, we can end terrorism and rid our civilization of the damaging effects of hatred and intolerance, ultimately achieving a brighter future for all.”
    • President’s Message for Eid al-Fitr
      December 13, 2001
  • “According to Muslim teachings, God first revealed His word in the Holy Qur’an to the prophet, Muhammad, during the month of Ramadan. That word has guided billions of believers across the centuries, and those believers built a culture of learning and literature and science. All the world continues to benefit from this faith and its achievements.”
    • Remarks by the President George W. Bush At Iftaar Dinner
      The State Dining Room, Washington, D.C.
      November 19, 2001
  • “The Islam that we know is a faith devoted to the worship of one God, as revealed through The Holy Qur’an. It teaches the value and the importance of charity, mercy, and peace.”
    • President George W. Bush’s Message for Ramadan
      November 15, 2001
  • “This new enemy seeks to destroy our freedom and impose its views. We value life; the terrorists ruthlessly destroy it. We value education; the terrorists do not believe women should be educated or should have health care, or should leave their homes. We value the right to speak our minds; for the terrorists, free expression can be grounds for execution. We respect people of all faiths and welcome the free practice of religion; our enemy wants to dictate how to think and how to worship even to their fellow Muslims.”
    • President George W. Bush Addresses the Nation
      World Congress Center, Atlanta, Georgia
      November 8, 2001
  • “All of us here today understand this: We do not fight Islam, we fight against evil.”
    • Remarks by President George W. Bush to the Warsaw Conference on Combating Terrorism
      November 6, 2001
  • “I have assured His Majesty that our war is against evil, not against Islam. There are thousands of Muslims who proudly call themselves Americans, and they know what I know — that the Muslim faith is based upon peace and love and compassion. The exact opposite of the teachings of the al Qaeda organization, which is based upon evil and hate and destruction.”
    • Remarks by President George W. Bush and His Majesty King Abdullah of Jordan
      The Oval Office, Washington, D.C.
      September 28, 2001
  • “Americans understand we fight not a religion; ours is not a campaign against the Muslim faith. Ours is a campaign against evil.”
    • President George W. Bush Remarks by the President to Airline Employees
      O’Hare International Airport, Chicago, Illinois
      September 27, 2001
  • “The terrorists are traitors to their own faith, trying, in effect, to hijack Islam itself. The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends; it is not our many Arab friends. Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists, and every government that supports them.”
    • President George W. Bush’s Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People
      United States Capitol, Washington, D.C.
      September 20, 2001
  • “I’ve made it clear, Madam President, that the war against terrorism is not a war against Muslims, nor is it a war against Arabs. It’s a war against evil people who conduct crimes against innocent people.”
    • Remarks by President George W. Bush and President Megawati of Indonesia
      The Oval Office, Washington, D.C.
      September 19, 2001
  • “The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war.”
    • Remarks by the President at Islamic Center of Washington, D.C.
      Washington, D.C.
      September 17, 2001

 

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