|L to R: Reza Aslan, Ejaz Naqvi
After a brief introduction to Islamic Scholarship Fund by ISF president Hamid Razapour, the attendees were served dinner and treated to a popular one-woman monologue, Dirty Paki Lingerie, by Aizzah Fatima, a Pakistani-American actor and playwright who previously worked for Google as an engineer. She played a couple of characters to offer a glimpse of some of the real-life situations faced by first-generation Muslim immigrants and their off-springs. The first character she played was that of a mom working the phone speaking in her native accent to find a suitable husband for her daughter, followed by her funny portrayal of the American-born daughter dealing with the cultural divide faced by the children of first-generation Muslim immigrants.
|L to R: Marium Turab, Ejaz Naqvi, Riaz Haq, Hamid Rezapour
Iranian born Aslan who grew up in the United States explained that his parents were Muslim but not particularly religious. His interest in Jesus began as a teenager when he became a devout Christian but reverted to Islam a few years later. As he studied Jesus, he realized that Jesus is not really a historical figure. Most of what the world believes about Jesus comes from the New Testament. The only reference to Jesus that Aslan found outside the New Testament is by Jewish historian Flavius Josephus who mentioned "James, the brother of Jesus, the one they call messiah".
Aslan said that there was strong rivalry between James, Jesus's brother and close companion, and Paul, who is credited with much of what the Christians believe about who Jesus was. Aslan said Paul never met Jesus and yet his descriptions of Jesus have been the main source of what is in the New Testament. It was Paul, not James, who saw Jesus as divine rather than human, according to Aslan.
Responding to a question about how Americans perceive Islam, Aslan said , "No one in America believes that all 1.5 billion Christians have a single interpretation of Christianity, yet they seem to expect that all 1.5 billion Muslims have one common understanding of Islam".
When asked why he wrote a book about Jesus and not Prophet Mohammad, Aslan said, "I did write a book about Prophet Mohammad. It's a best seller titled "No god but God"".
Reza Aslan is very articulate, telegenic and knowledgeable. He is an effective advocate for interfaith harmony in the face of vicious attacks of various hate groups against American Muslims since 911. I found his performance in TV debates surrounding bigoted opposition to "Ground Zero Mosque" to be particularly impressive. It would be great for interfaith harmony in America if the Islamic Scholarship Fund (ISF) can help produce many more Reza Aslans among American Muslims.
Here's a video clip of Reza Aslan's interview with Fox News:
REZA ASLAN stuns foxnews presenter about his... by RohailAsghari
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