As the Holy Quran tells us, Be conscious of God and speak always the truth. - Barack Hussein Obama, June 4, 2009
In an interview with Laura Haim on Canal Plus, a French television station, President Barack Hussein Obama said that the United States is now “one of the largest Muslim countries in the world.” He sought to downplay the expectations of the speech, but he said he hoped the address would raise awareness about Muslims.
Mr. Obama went on to say that he seeks to establish a new age of rapprochement between the United States and Islam. “What I want to do is to create a better dialogue so that the Muslim world understands more effectively how the United States, but also how the West thinks about many of these difficult issues like terrorism, like democracy, to discuss the framework for what’s happened in Iraq and Afghanistan and our outreach to Iran, and also how we view the prospects for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” he said.
The president added the United States and other parts of the Western world “have to educate ourselves more effectively on Islam.”
In his speech at the University of Cairo, Mr. Obama said:
I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t. And I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.
Mr. Obama has been more forthcoming about his own Islamic roots than he had been during the presidential campaign.
Before Mr. Obama set off to Saudi Arabia and Cairo (bypassing Israel) to forge a new age of rapprochement with the Muslim World, deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications Denis McDonough said: “The President himself experienced Islam on three continents before he was able to—or before he’s been able to visit, really, the heart of the Islamic world—you know, growing up in Indonesia, having a Muslim father—obviously Muslim Americans (are) a key part of Illinois and Chicago.”
Before the election, Mr. Obama became red with rage when anyone spoke of his Muslim roots or made mention of his middle name, “Hussein.”
One year ago, speaking before a town hall meeting in Boca Raton, Florida, candidate Obama not only denied that his Islamic roots but also insisted that his father, Barack Obama, Sr. was not a bona fide Muslim. “My father was basically agnostic, as far as I can tell, and I didn’t know him,” he said.
Similarly, in September 2008, he told a Pennsylvania crowd, “I know that I’m not your typical presidential candidate and I just want to be honest with you. I know that the temptation is to say, ‘You know what? The guy hasn’t been there that long in Washington. You know, he’s got a funny name. You know, we’re not sure about him.’ And that’s what the Republicans when they say this isn’t about issues, it’s about personalities, what they’re really saying is, ‘We’re going to try to scare people about Barack. So we’re going to say that, you know, maybe he’s got Muslim connections.’...Just making stuff up.”
During the campaign, candidate Obama established a “Fight the Smears” website in order to quench all reports that he had been born and raised a Muslim. The website proclaimed: “Barack Obama is a committed Christian. He was sworn into the Senate on his family Bible. He has regularly attended church with his wife and daughters for years. But shameful, shadowy attackers have been lying about Barack’s religion, claiming he is a Muslim instead of a committed Christian. When people fabricate stories about someone’s faith to denigrate them politically, that’s an attack on people of all faiths. Make sure everyone you know is aware of this deception.”
Since the election, however, with the threat of the rumors at least somewhat abated, Obama has been increasingly forthcoming about his Islamic roots. This first became apparent when he opted to use his middle name - - Hussein - - while taking the oath of office on January 20.
In his April 6 address to the Turkish Parliament, Obama stated that many “Americans have Muslims in their families or have lived in a Muslim majority country. I know, because I am one of them.”
Is Obama a Muslim?
In Islam, religion passes from the father to the child. Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. (1936‚Äì1982), born a Roman Catholic, converted to Islam and named the son of his second wife Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. Only Muslim children are named “Hussein.” The president asserts that his father later rejected the tenets of Islam and became an agnostic. This assertion is undermined by the fact that Obama Sr. was buried as a Muslim with full Islamic burial rights.
Obama’s stepfather, Lolo Soetoro, was also a Muslim. Obama’s half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng told the New York Times: “My whole family was Muslim, and most of the people I knew were Muslim.” Obama’s half-sister further recalled that the family attended the mosque “for big communal events.” One of Barack’s friends from early childhood, Zulfin Adi, affirms that he “was Muslim. He went to the mosque. I remember him wearing a sarong” (a garment associated with Muslims).
As a young boy, Barack enrolled in the Franciscan Asisi Primary School in Jakarta, Indonesia as Barry Soetoro. On the registration form, his religion was listed as Islam. Rony Amir, one of Barack’s classmates, maintains that “All the relatives of Barry’s father were very devout Muslims.” This finding has been independently verified by Nedra Pickler of the Associated Press and Kim Barker of the Chicago Tribune.
Obama also was registered as a Muslim by his mother and step-father when he entered the Jakarta public school. During this time, he received daily instruction at a local madrassah in the teachings of the Prophet. In his autobiography, Dreams of My Father, Obama relates how he got into trouble for making faces during Koranic studies. Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times reports that President Obama can still recite the Islamic call to prayer in flawless Arabic.
President Obama says he “didn’t practice Islam” while living in Indonesia, a Muslim country, thereby implicitly acknowledging a Muslim identity. Indonesians, however, differ in their memories of him. Rony Amir, a public school chum, remembers Obama as “previously quite religious in Islam.”
Is Obama a Muslim? The President says no, stating that he is a practicing Christian with an affiliation to the United Church of Christ, an ultra leftist mainline denomination. Whether he still removes his prayer rug at designated intervals of the day and night remains a matter of conjecture.
Was Obama a Muslim? By all accounts, including his school records, yes, and therein is the rub.
It is easy to become a Muslim. All that is required is the recitation of the shahadah: “I testify there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger.” No other ritual or oath is necessary.
But converting from Islam is an entirely different matter. By turning from the teachings of the Koran, one believes an apostate and the penalty for apostasy according to shariah or Islamic law is death.
Paul L. Williams, Ph.D., is the author of such best-selling books as The Day of Islam, The Al Qaeda Connection, Osama’s Revenge: The Next 9/11, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Crusades and The Vatican Exposed. An award-winning journalist, he is a frequent guest on such national news networks as ABC News, CBS News, Fox News, MSNBC, and NPR.
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