‘Miss Fran’ from the children show the Romper Room has converted to Islam.

“I discovered a God who, the Qur’an tells me, is closer to me than my jugular vein, who runs to me when I walk toward Him, and who profoundly cares about my existence and my soul,’’ she said.

Pappert-Shannon said her family has been accepting of her decision, including her 80-year-old mother, a devout Roman Catholic.

But not all understand her decision. Pappert-Shannon said she’s saddened by the response of some non-Muslims who are distrustful of Islam and have made mention of terrorism to her.

Like the majority of Muslims, Pappert-Shannon said she rejects any Muslim person or group that commits terrorism and “commits such horrific and un-Islamic acts.”

“Islam is a religion that extols peace, justice, mercy, compassion and forgiveness. There is zero tolerance for terrorism and honour killings in Islam,’’ she said.

When I shared this news on Facebook, my brilliantly astute, beautiful and earthy aunt posed this question to me via e-mail:

K, when I try to tell my friends or aquaintances that “Islam is a religion that extols peace, justice, mercy, compassion and forgiveness. There is zero tolerance for terrorism and honour killings in Islam,’’ as the Romper Room lady said, they invariably refer to the acts of terrorism by Muslims. All I can ever come up with is “well, you know extremists in every walk of life” or words to that effect.
How can I explain both sides of the tablet? Is it the use of the word ‘muslim’? as a people/religion? Is Islam only muslim and are all muslims believers in Islam?

Here is my response:

Boy you sure ask tough and intelligent questions 😉

I think first I’d like to make a distinction between honour killings and terrorism. Honour killings are cultural and patriarchal. They may be sometimes done in the name of religion, but like violence against women, it’s found across cultures, and is rooted in an intense male hatred against women and to save male pride. Indian Hindus, Pakistani Muslims, African Christians and animists, Chinese mafia Buddhists — all participate in honour killings. When a western atheist kills his wife because she changed her Facebook status to “single,” we call it murder — but it’s essentially an honour killing. Because of this, I’d never ascribe it to Islam as being a part of the religion.

Since 9/11 the Media has coined the term “Islamic terrorism”. When in fact, terrorism is committed in the name of many religions. You don’t hear about Christian Terrorism when the KKK/Neo Nazis parade through towns terrorizing locals and spewing hate crimes in the name of Christianity. You don’t hear about Catholic Terrorism when the IRA bombs yet another target or when pro-life groups fire bomb abortion clinics or murder doctors who perform abortions. You don’t hear about Jewish Terrorism when Jewish settlers torture and kill Palestinian children.

I could go on, but all of these incidents are done in the name of religion, have roots in the religion, and are committed because someone, somewhere has interpreted the religion to say that this is OK.

What you also don’t hear, is people blaming 99% of Christians for the 1% who firebomb abortion clinics.

Islam is the only religion that has been simultaneously hijacked by a (VERY) small minority of screwballs, as well as the Media. Unfortunately, the Media finds the other 99.96% of Muslims to be boring. So one of the only reasons why you only hear about all of the terrorist acts, yet another stoning in Afghanistan, a whipping in Iran, a gang rape and subsequent punishment of the woman in Pakistan… is because it’s sensational and hot news right now. And the Media is going to report every single act, over and over again. So all everyone hears is “Islam, hate, rape, Islam, bombing, honour killing, hijab, Islam.”

Who wants to hear about the Romper Room lady converting? Or a group of Muslims and Jews who got together to form an Arabic school? Or the Muslims who are feeding the homeless during Ramadan? Etc, etc.

And now to answer your question:

Islam is a religion that extols peace, justice, mercy, compassion and forgiveness. There is zero tolerance for terrorism and honour killings in Islam. Islam itself means “peace” and Muslim is one who “submits to peace”. The Qur’an says that if a person takes the life of an innocent, it’s as if they’ve killed all of humanity. Violence against women is forbidden in the Qur’an and Muhammad repeatedly said that it is one of the most abhorrent acts, and that one who beats his wife, is not among the believers. Muslims are not allowed to kill spiders or ants, let alone engage in an active war with the West.

Ok, that’s fine and well. But what about Muslims? Why are they nutters?

Islam is a religion of peace. Muslims are human. They aren’t perfect. A very small minority are FREAKIN CRAZY and have SKEWED the teachings of Islam, blackening a pure message with their hate, and in the name of Islam only, commit terrible acts that are condemned by the religion and by the majority of Muslims. No, not all Muslims are believers in Islam.

No one is perfect. So some Muslims lie, cheat, steal, drink, eat pork, beat their wives, are pedophiles, and commit murder. These Muslims are not following the teachings of Islam, and their sins are their own issue to deal with. Some Muslims commit terrorist acts. The majority of Muslims believe that this minority is no longer even Muslim. There is no room in Islam for terrorism. Terrorism is antithetical to Islam. And we are fighting against them — but the Media never talks about that.

Ok… so why do I hear about Shariah law? That’s Islam and it condones the stoning of women. That seems hateful to me.

Sharia means “path (to truth)”. Centuries ago, legal scholars took the Qur’an and teachings of the prophet and made legal texts for judges to follow as AN EXAMPLE when they made their rulings. So when the Qur’an (other religious texts too, FYI) says that when 2 people are caught in adultery, they should be lashed 100 times — the jurists took that into consideration.

In order to prove a case of adultery, you have to have 4 witnesses, and the confession of the 2 people involved. How are you going to get 4 witnesses to a sexual act? The law is difficult and gives an extreme example on purpose. So while applying a law that is 1400 years old, in 2010, a shariah judge has to take all of this into consideration…. and NORMALLY does not sentence the couple to 100 lashes. But just deals with the family law aspect of the adultery case.

But what you hear about in the Media is the odd case of a TRIBAL court (of 20 men in some random village somewhere with ABSOLUTELY NO legal Islamic training) sentencing a young girl to stoning because she was gang raped by 4 men. They have 4 witnesses (the perpetrators), and no one in the family comes to her aid as character witnesses out of shame and honour. So the Media reports that a woman is stoned for gang rape, ACCORDING to Islamic Shariah.

No. Only according to the misguided and uneducated whims of the 20 tribal leaders. Who have no training in Islamic Law. Who are interpreting the Qur’an literally. Who are interpreting the religion to meet their needs, instead of living a life of peace and changing their lives to live the message of Islam.

Often culture skews religion and THIS is what the Media illustrates as being Islam.

Fine then. Why do I hear that terrorists martyrs will get into heaven free and receive 72 virgins?

There are a few things going on here. The Arabic word in question regarding the 72 virgins is houri. There is a subtlety of the Arabic language — where one word can mean several things. This word CAN mean “white grapes.” In context, it’s something right out of an Arab view of what heaven would be like: lush, flowing, full of ripe succulent fruits. This is heaven we’re talking about. A heaven to entice 7th century Arabs. The Qur’an also describes rivers of milk and wine. That’s not exactly MY idea of heaven. I’m sure if the Qur’an was revealed in the Yukon, heaven would be described as having “white sands,” “warm sun” and “pina coladas next to the pool.” (now THAT’s my kind of heaven)

Add to this the fact that the Qur’an has been interpreted by men, for men. And later, men interpreted this for more men, and with men in mind. Not to put down the male gender as a whole, but for those who think below the belt, this word as “pure being” was understood to mean pure, white, doe-eyed virgins — and was expanded upon in commentaries as beings who are essentially at your whim to serve you drink and food when you’re lazing around in heaven. They’re not quite angels and they’re not quite human. But they can be there for your every whim. Few actually say that you get to have sex with them — but you know, that’s what is always IMPLIED by when they hear the word “virgin.” What’s also largely ignored by the “congratulations you win 72 virgins” group, is that women have access to them as well.

Let’s not forget that in heaven you are free of your earthly body and desires. So, I’m not sure how much sex a free-floating, God praising, spirit actually gets.

Martyrs going to heaven: In the 7th Century the Prophet Muhammad was struggling to give his message of peace to the Pagan Arabs. They didn’t like him or his followers. They threw him out of Mecca. Killed and tortured his followers. Attacked him and went to war against him. During this time, many of his followers were martryed or innocently killed. God sent him a message saying, “It’s all good. Have no fear. Those who die in the name of Islam are guaranteed heaven.”

And THAT’s where Muslim terrorists believe they’ll get to heaven by blowing themselves up. But it’s out of context. Because God didn’t intend that message for 2010. It was for those dying at the hands of 7th century pagan Arabs.

But it’s easier to sell blowing yourself up if you can promise heaven and 72 virgins.