Posts tagged ‘Rima Fakih’

May 20th, 2010

How Devout Was Dr. Ergun Caner?

There has been a lot of discussion about Dr. Ergun Caner whether he was brought up a Muslim. He claims to have grown up as a devout Sunni Muslim yet people now doubt his testimony especially because recent court documents show his mother had primary custody of him and his brothers after his parents’ divorce was finalized in 1978. Many have questioned how she could rear him as Muslim when she had objected to their upbringing as Muslims in court documents.

Muslims and non-Muslims have wondered if she was ever a Muslim. Some have raised doubts if Mr. Caner were such a devout Muslim man, how he could marry a non-Muslim. It is worth exploring some of these assertions lest we fall victims to speculations and generalizations. Just so you know, even if she wasn’t a convert to Islam, it would be perfectly fine for a devout Muslim man to marry a Christian or Jewish woman because the Qur’an allows it in Surah 5:5. Prophet Muhammad himself had a child by a Christian woman. His son Ibrahim was by a lady commonly referred to as Mary the Copt. Therefore, it is ridiculous for anyone to claim that Dr. Caner’s father was not a devout Muslim because he married a “non-Muslim.”

Court documents show that his mother consented to Islamic education and only objected and a ruling was made in her favor in 1978 when Dr. Caner was almost 12 years old. Some madrassa students have the entire Qur’an memorized around that age. The final ruling in 1979 answers two prevailing questions. The first is whether Dr. Caner had attended madrassa and the second question is whether his mother was a Muslim. You can find the first answer on page “3” of the final ruling which states, “…the trial court erred in failing to make specific conclusions of law as to the constitutionality of an order requiring defendant-appellant’s children to continue their instruction and practice of the Islamic faith.” [Emphasis mine.] This is proof that Dr. Caner attended madrassa until he was at least 12 years old. If he didn’t, why is there “continue” in regards to Islamic education in this legal document that bears multiple signatures? The onus is on those who make it an issue. Page “4” of the same document states, “The trial court’s denial of the plaintiff’s motion to require the children to be raised in the Islamic faith by their mother.” [Emphasis mine.] This proves that Dr. Caner’s mother was a Muslim even when she was going through the divorce proceedings, because Mr. Caner asked the court if she could raise the children as Muslims.

Some have wondered how the Caner Brothers could get madrassa education when they were with their father only every other weekend and on some holidays. Most countries where Muslims are in the minority have madrassa on Saturdays and Sundays, especially where the children attend secular schools Monday to Friday. It is possible that the mosque—it doesn’t have to have a minaret to qualify for a mosque—that the Caners attended had a part-time madrassa teacher—one who also had a day job. That is not uncommon even these days in the United States.

Muslims have a penchant to dismiss ex-Muslims. They do not accept any explanation given. They label converts as “fake ex-Muslims” regardless of how young or old they were when they apostatized. At what age does a Muslim become devout? Prophet Muhammad said, “Command a boy to pray when he reaches the age of seven years. When he becomes ten years old, then beat him for prayer.” Why would a ten-year old be beaten for something that he was instructed to do for three years? Aisha married Prophet Muhammad at the age of six. She was a devout Muslim and old enough to marry Allah’s Prophet and was even a prominent figure in Islam. This youngin’ is credited with narrating 2210 aHadith. Muslims defend her marriage and also her account in the Hadith. Who has heard of a three-year-old devout Muslim girl who knows about the Hadith, especially the part about the Jewish woman who poisoned Prophet Muhammad? She is being referred to as a “devout Muslim” in the video only at the age of three. Why would anyone doubt that Dr. Caner was a devout Muslim at the age of 12? It is apparent that age matters in Islam only when the situation does not favor Allah’s religion.

Some have questioned how it could even be possible for Dr. Caner to be raised as a Muslim when his mother became “a hippy” upon moving to America. When did becoming a liberal make a Muslim a non-Muslim? Miss Michigan 2010, Rima Fakih, has just been crowned Miss America 2010. She became the first Muslim woman to win the beauty pageant. The Associated Press reports, “Fakih took top honors at the pageant at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino on the Las Vegas Strip after strutting confidently in an orange and gold bikini, wearing a strapless white gown that resembled a wedding dress and saying health insurance should cover birth control pills.” I never thought I would write on a beauty pageant but here we are. She wasn’t wearing a burkini. Her stance on birth control pills is against Islamic teachings. A Muslim woman, yet she espouses these unorthodox views. No Muslim has publicly decried her liberalism. In fact, even her native hometown in Lebanon is proud of her accomplishments. The AFP reports, “We are so often described as terrorists and killers, but we Shiites love life and beauty—and mainly the beauty of the soul, which is what is so special about Rima.” She wins a pageant, which by even some non-Muslims’ standards is nefarious, and yet Muslims are proud of their fellow “hip” Muslim.

A fortnight ago the US State Department sent “America’s first Muslim country singer on Middle East tour.” How conservative is Kareem Salama? I bet he is hip enough because austere Islamic teachings ban music. Even the Council of America Muslim Relations, a Muslim civil rights organization, could not resist sending out a press release about this momentous feat. I have not heard any news reports about demonstrations after Friday prayers in Bahrain and Morocco decrying this tour. Here we are labeling the Caner Brothers as either “fake ex-Muslims” or “fake ex-devout Muslims” because their mother was liberal.

These two examples of liberal Muslims show just how far some Muslims in the West have come and some have realized that austere Islamic teachings are incompatible with Western standards. They are even calling for reform within Islam. Is it possible Dr. Caner’s mother felt the same about Islam? I doubt these other Muslims send their children to madrassa.

Some also have wondered how Dr. Caner, growing up a Sunni Muslim, “could attend a Shiite Muslim Youth group.” This doesn’t surprise me because the palpable animosity between Sunnis and Shiites is evident only in countries where one group has authority over the other. Muslims are happy to meet fellow Muslims in a foreign country. I had a friend in college who was from Pakistan. K was from the Ahmadiyya sect, a sect whose teachings are considered bid’ah (unwarranted innovations) in Sunni Pakistan. This group suffers great persecutions. Some are killed. Sunni students in college were friends with K. I did not notice them arguing over their sects’ differences in a foreign country. That was perhaps the case in Columbus where Sunnis and Shiites held joint youth groups.

There is a lot of information to process in this case. Some Christians and Muslims have erred in their “fake ex-devout Muslim” and “fake ex-Muslim” accusations respectively when referring to Dr. Caner, because they failed to analyze the opposing evidence. Any careful analysis of facts would lead to a conclusion that Dr. Caner was brought up a devout Muslim.