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Old 02-03-2014, 06:39 PM
 
Location: East coast
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Most of the world's population of Muslims are actually not Middle Eastern statistically by sheer numbers, but live further east (Indonesians, Pakistanis etc.). A solid number also live further south than the Middle East in sub-Saharan Africa (eg. Nigerians).

Even though the Middle East and North Africa has the most staunch Muslims and the region with proportionally the most Muslims, surprisingly the Middle East has only a fifth of the world's Muslim population!

The graphic in the article is pretty stark in showing how much of the Muslim population is outside the Middle East.
World

Why do people rarely imagine people like Indonesians, Bangladeshis, Nigerians etc. when they think of a Muslim when these people make up hefty numbers of the Muslim world?

Is it because the media is dominated by Middle East coverage, that a Malaysian or Senegalese is not seen as representative of the Muslim world?
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Old 02-03-2014, 06:54 PM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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I think it's because:

(a) Islam originates from Saudi Arabia. Not only that, compared to Christianity, Islam has been a vehicle for the expansion of Arabic culture. The learning of Arabic is a big thing in Islam, as is the pilgrimage to Mecca, the Hajj (nothing like that in Christianity, no need to learn Greek/Hebrew/Latin or make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem or Rome). Muslims who have the means to are expected to make the Hajj once in their lives (of course it's not a commandment but obviously something many want to do and feel it's good of them to do so). Plus like how Biblical names are common in Europe, many people from Indonesia to Senegal often take on Arabic/Islamic names.

(b) the media coverage of terrorism and the 'war on terror' focuses on the Middle East...actually Afghanistan isn't technically the Middle East but people think of it as such.

(c) The lack of coverage of events in Indonesia and Africa by the American and world news. The Bali bombings, however, loom large for Australians so I think we're a lot more aware of Indonesia being Muslim.
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Old 02-03-2014, 08:35 PM
 
Location: East coast
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Postman View Post
I think it's because:

(a) Islam originates from Saudi Arabia. Not only that, compared to Christianity, Islam has been a vehicle for the expansion of Arabic culture. The learning of Arabic is a big thing in Islam, as is the pilgrimage to Mecca, the Hajj (nothing like that in Christianity, no need to learn Greek/Hebrew/Latin or make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem or Rome). Muslims who have the means to are expected to make the Hajj once in their lives (of course it's not a commandment but obviously something many want to do and feel it's good of them to do so). Plus like how Biblical names are common in Europe, many people from Indonesia to Senegal often take on Arabic/Islamic names.
That's a good point. Islam seems tied to a sense of place and culture more than Christianity. Christianity is no less rooted in the Middle East (or at least the Mediterranean rim, and Greek, and Roman world which later led to the "western" branch of Christianity most Americans and Europeans are familiar with) than Islam is, but being "Middle Eastern" in origin is a stronger image for the latter.

Arabic words and names being called out in a Senegalese or Indonesian mosque surrounded by jungle is no more different or out of place, any more than Hebrew names and Biblical passages being read echoing across an air-conditioned church in a Texas suburb, or a South Korean Christmas sermon in the midst of a dark winter.

Yet, Islam will evoke the images of the flight to Mecca, the bustling Arabian cities, and the solitude of the desert, far more than Christianity will evoke the image of the antiquity of Jerusalem, the bustling Roman cities and a stroll through a Mediterranean garden, in the mind's eye of many people around the world.
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Old 02-03-2014, 08:55 PM
 
Location: East coast
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Originally Posted by The Postman View Post

(c) The lack of coverage of events in Indonesia and Africa by the American and world news. The Bali bombings, however, loom large for Australians so I think we're a lot more aware of Indonesia being Muslim.
Yeah, definitely, South East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa seems rarely covered by the contemporary news in the US.

I would say a large number of Americans don't seem conscious or aware that there are huge populations of Muslims in South East Asia like Malaysians and Indonesians.

Even I was surprised to hear that countries like the Philippines and Thailand had Muslim minorities (although not a huge proportion, but important and noteworthy in size enough to actually have rebel/separatist movements) because that is not really an image the US associates with Muslims. Probably more Australians I'm guessing see a face of an East-Asian looking woman in a headscarf than Americans do, whether or the news or in their cities?

The United States is also pretty unique that historically there was an internal or "native" Muslim population that were black or African-American converts. This might have changed now due to more immigration but for quite some time, that was who most American Muslims were. So actually, if anything, you would expect Americans to be more aware that Muslims belong to a variety of races and ethnicities.

Muslim Americans are actually pretty diverse (surprisingly more so than the Muslim communities of many other western countries, which are dominated by one particular, or a few particular immigrant groups from one region, such as Pakistanis in Britain, or Turks in Germany)

Islam in the United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 02-03-2014, 09:11 PM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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Originally Posted by markovian process View Post
That's a good point. Islam seems tied to a sense of place and culture more than Christianity. Christianity is no less rooted in the Middle East (or at least the Mediterranean rim, and Greek, and Roman world which later led to the "western" branch of Christianity most Americans and Europeans are familiar with) than Islam is, but being "Middle Eastern" in origin is a stronger image for the latter.

Arabic words and names being called out in a Senegalese or Indonesian mosque surrounded by jungle is no more different or out of place, any more than Hebrew names and Biblical passages being read echoing across an air-conditioned church in a Texas suburb, or a South Korean Christmas sermon in the midst of a dark winter.

Yet, Islam will evoke the images of the flight to Mecca, the bustling Arabian cities, and the solitude of the desert, far more than Christianity will evoke the image of the antiquity of Jerusalem, the bustling Roman cities and a stroll through a Mediterranean garden, in the mind's eye of many people around the world.
Well in Christianity not to the extent of Islam. While the Bible was of course written from a very Jewish/Hebrew (and to some extent Greek) it was more inclusive in it's early years, adapting and being translated into many languages from early on, from the original Hebrew and Greek to Aramaic (language of Jesus), early Arabian languages, Latin, Syriac, Egyptian.etc. Of course, in the early years of the church (let's say before even Constantine) Christianity indeed mostly spread throughout the Mediterranean rim, from Judea to Greece, 'Lydia', Italy, southern France, North Africa, and also east to Asia Minor, Egypt and was already making inroads into Ethiopia, Parthia (modern day northern Iran) and later into Armenia. It's said that St. Thomas one of the apostles established a church in India around 200 AD. Nestorians were already moving across the Silk Road and it's believed Christianity was known in China as early as 650 AD.

Well a church in Texas would not encourage lay scholars to learn Greek or Hebrew (it's mostly Biblical scholars) in order to read the originals. They believe the translations are faithful enough, while many believe that some of the Qu'ran's integrity or beauty is lost through translation.
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Old 02-03-2014, 09:14 PM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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Originally Posted by markovian process View Post
Yeah, definitely, South East Asia and sub-Saharan Africa seems rarely covered by the contemporary news in the US.

I would say a large number of Americans don't seem conscious or aware that there are huge populations of Muslims in South East Asia like Malaysians and Indonesians.

Even I was surprised to hear that countries like the Philippines and Thailand had Muslim minorities (although not a huge proportion, but important and noteworthy in size enough to actually have rebel/separatist movements) because that is not really an image the US associates with Muslims. Probably more Australians I'm guessing see a face of an East-Asian looking woman in a headscarf than Americans do, whether or the news or in their cities?

The United States is also pretty unique that historically there was an internal or "native" Muslim population that were black or African-American converts. This might have changed now due to more immigration but for quite some time, that was who most American Muslims were. So actually, if anything, you would expect Americans to be more aware that Muslims belong to a variety of races and ethnicities.

Muslim Americans are actually pretty diverse (surprisingly more so than the Muslim communities of many other western countries, which are dominated by one particular, or a few particular immigrant groups from one region, such as Pakistanis in Britain, or Turks in Germany)

Islam in the United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
We hear more about Indonesia and India in the world news here, since it's in the region and there are a lot of Indians here. But yes, there are plenty of East-Asian looking Muslim here, from Malaysia, Indonesia.etc, even some Afghani Hazara. Also if you've been to China you might see the Hui, Chinese Muslims.

Yes. In Australia I think Turks and Lebanese are associated most with Muslims, even if there are a lot of Indonesian and Malaysian Muslims. Although until quite recently most Lebanese here were actually Christian not Muslim. A lot of Arabs from Syria etc in America are Christian too.
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Old 02-03-2014, 09:21 PM
 
Location: East coast
613 posts, read 894,920 times
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Originally Posted by The Postman View Post
Well a church in Texas would not encourage lay scholars to learn Greek or Hebrew (it's mostly Biblical scholars) in order to read the originals. They believe the translations are faithful enough, while many believe that some of the Qu'ran's integrity or beauty is lost through translation.
Yeah, I know a church in Texas wouldn't use ancient languages like that or even care about the fact that Christianity was once written in foreign scripts (in fact, pointing out the fact that Jesus was Middle Eastern, cosmopolitan (that line about there being no Jew or Greek, male or female), pacifist and hippie-like is often used as a rebuttal by more liberal people against the image of Jesus as all-American, gun-toting capitalist)

I guess my point was that Christians in Texas or South Korea is just as far from the origin of Christianity as Senegal or Indonesia is from the origin of Islam in place, so in theory Hebrew or Greek words wouldn't be more out of place coming from them than Arabic from Muslims. In practice, of course, as you mention, Christianity is far more loose with adaptation to new cultural context.

Actually, debates about whether or not nuance is lost in the translation to English (mainly among scholars, not lay people though) do exist. For example, the debates of the Old Testament words for death, hell, etc.

Though I do wonder how many Muslims can read the original Koranic Arabic anyways?
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Old 02-03-2014, 09:23 PM
 
Location: East coast
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Originally Posted by The Postman View Post
Yes. In Australia I think Turks and Lebanese are associated most with Muslims, even if there are a lot of Indonesian and Malaysian Muslims. Although until quite recently most Lebanese here were actually Christian not Muslim. A lot of Arabs from Syria etc in America are Christian too.
I think I've heard that much of the Arab diaspora to western countries in general was historically Christian, not Muslim, but I think it is changing now.
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Old 02-03-2014, 09:29 PM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markovian process View Post
Yeah, I know a church in Texas wouldn't use ancient languages like that or even care about the fact that Christianity was once written in foreign scripts (in fact, pointing out the fact that Jesus was Middle Eastern, cosmopolitan (that line about there being no Jew or Greek, male or female), pacifist and hippie-like is often used as a rebuttal by more liberal people against the image of Jesus as all-American, gun-toting capitalist)

I guess my point was that Christians in Texas or South Korea is just as far from the origin of Christianity as Senegal or Indonesia is from the origin of Islam in place, so in theory Hebrew or Greek words wouldn't be more out of place coming from them than Arabic from Muslims. In practice, of course, as you mention, Christianity is far more loose with adaptation to new cultural context.

Actually, debates about whether or not nuance is lost in the translation to English (mainly among scholars, not lay people though) do exist. For example, the debates of the Old Testament words for death, hell, etc.

Though I do wonder how many Muslims can read the original Koranic Arabic anyways?
Yes, Christianity has been more westernised, while Islam has largely not, even when it is exported. I think that's partly why it's been so successful spreading across the world. Christianity is the primary religion of 5 of the 6 inhabited continents, although in Africa it's almost a 50/50 split between Christians and Muslims, with Muslims dominated the northern half.

Yes, that is true...I don't think most can, that is why many learn it. Another thing, many languages like Urdu, Farsi (Persian) and Malay have adopted the Arabic script/alphabet. The latter now uses the Latin alphabet now, except for jawi, which is used for religious purposes. Indeed, one of the main reasons for literacy in the old days was so that people could read the Bible for themselves. It was one of the most important goals of early missionaries. Christianity was thought to have a civilising influence on the natives.
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Old 02-03-2014, 09:31 PM
 
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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Originally Posted by markovian process View Post
I think I've heard that much of the Arab diaspora to western countries in general was historically Christian, not Muslim, but I think it is changing now.
Yes, it's changing...in the Middle East too, Christianity seems to have (at least from appearances) been gradually eroded away. Egypt's coptic community is under attack, as our Christians in Syria, Jordan, Iraqi...in Pakistan Christians face persecution, ditto Afghanistan and Iran where it's all but illegal.

Lebanon and Egypt are probably the last main strongholds of Christianity in the Middle East. The oldest Christian communities in the world in Palestine, Jordan and Israel might be under threat. Some still speak Aramaic.
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