Reza Aslan perfectly explains what Islamophobes are getting wrong about ISIS

"A Muslim is whoever says he's a Muslim"

Published April 6, 2015 5:22PM (EDT)

Reza Aslan           (Random House/Hilary Jones)
Reza Aslan (Random House/Hilary Jones)

Although members of the terrorist group ISIS are technically Muslim, argued religious scholar Reza Aslan in a speech at the University of Toledo last week, that doesn't mean that Islamophobia is even a little bit justifiable.

"It's perfectly natural for Muslims to look at [ISIS] and say, 'That has nothing to do with us. That's so far removed from anything that can be ascribed to mainstream Islamic thoughts or beliefs that they are not Muslim," Aslan said. "But that's not very helpful, and it's also not true."

"A Muslim is whoever says he's a Muslim," he continued. "A Christian is whoever says he's a Christian. A Jew is anyone who says he's a Jew. If you are saying that this is your identity, and you are acting according to your identity, then we should probably take your word for it. Because it's not helpful to say, 'No, that has nothing to do with religion,' because like it or not, these actions are being done in the name of a specific religion."

"If you want to place the responsibility for ISIS on Islam, that's fine with me-- as long as you also credit Islam for the people who are fighting ISIS. For while it is true that ISIS are Muslims, it's also true that so are the tens of thousands who are battling them, and the tens of thousands of victims of ISIS. They're all Muslim too," he concluded.

"If you want to blame religion for all of the bad things that religion does, fine. As long as you are willing to credit religion for all the good things religion does."

Watch the full speech below:

By Joanna Rothkopf

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Isis Islam Islamophobia Muslims Religion Reza Aslan University Of Toledo Video