• santanu

    yes and maybe Reza and all the his devotees can also forgive her but that wouldn’t be right would it ? magnanimous anyone ?

  • sean

    Talk about imagined persecution. Reza has enjoyed nothing BUT privilege, and this is surely thanks in large to the skillful manner in which he has been able to manipulate identity politics in this country. Any person who sells as many books as he has and appears on as many media outlets as he has, despite have nary the qualification to speak as an authority on the matters he drones on about, absolutely reeks of privilege. So what FoxNews sent an incompetent interviewer his way.

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  • Meenu

    It’s not about forgiveness. This is a clear example of what people often talk about (privelage) but the point is missed. So we need more dialogue rather than “forgive” and forget. Only dialogue about what’s wrong with our society will help make changes to correct it.

  • Ruben

    Sean, this is about much more than just the treatment Reza received during the interview. This is about the privileges one has as an upper class/white/male, and the disadvantages and discrimination one faces in this country and throughout much of the westernized world as a lower class/non-white/female or male. That you have not realized its existence yet is nothing surprising, since many choose not to see or simply cannot see as a result of their upbringing and indoctrination they have received in part because of the privilege they possess. This interview raises issues that transcend both religions discussed and FOX’s reputation. This interview is just as Safi said. It is about privilege and the realities of many who don’t have the privilege that allows them to speak or be treated equally as those with economical advantages, European features (namely light skin), and a male gender throughout the world.

  • sean

    Sooo … a poorly conducted interview on an avowedly conservative tv station in which a conservative Black female harangues an Asian-American male is about white male privilege? Why anyone has even heard of Reza’s book is the real puzzle to me (beyond its marketability, which is no mean feat). Why is Reza being interviewed by all these media outlets rather than a real biblical scholar with actual qualifications (e.g., Dale Martin of Yale, or the like)? To sensationalize his book for sales of course! The only privilege I can see on display is Reza’s.

  • Ahmad

    Lets just leave those who only highlight one part of the whole idea being discussed. They reek of ignorance. They always do that. And our job is to turn away from them.

  • John Standard

    Can you please explain how you came to the conclusion than he is not qualified to speak on the subjects of his books? Are his degrees invalid? If so, how? Are his life experiences somehow ineffectual at producing good scholarship? If so, how did you figure this out? Have you read his books? Which ones? What about those books specifically leads you to believe that his discussion of religious topics is somehow unworthy of attention or reasoned debate?

    Could you also please explain in what way he is manipulating identity politics? Who’s identity is being manipulated, and to what end? How did you discern this? Is he successful at it? If so, what is the result of his manipulations (other than people deciding to read his books)?

    Can you explain his privilege? Is it the case that becoming a successful author means you have lived a privileged life? Is his interviewer also privileged? After all, they are getting paid lots money to be on t.v. How did they get that privilege, and why does their privilege not upset you?

  • Anwar Abdul Gany

    Wow, coming from an upbringing in Apartheid South Africa, this article is so ‘on the money’,

    It is astonishing to note that an organisation (yes Fox does fall into the category of a prejudice organisation), operating in a country that is founded on the principles of Freedom of Speech, has so much difficulty in coming to terms when an academic scholar writes on a topic that he specialises in.

  • Anne

    Wow, Sean. The man has four degrees: BA in Religions from Santa Clara University, Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity, PhD in Sociology of Religion from UC Santa Barbara and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Iowa and you’re going to continue the “not qualified” nonsense?

    Just exactly what would make him qualified, in your view?

  • Simin

    This is a general problem with Europe and the US that they feel obliged to defend Christianity, in all its forms and the Bible since they think implicitly that had there been a better book or religion their forefathers would have chosen it, not?

  • Shoaib Mir

    Privilege or no privilege, Fox News could not have chosen a more idiotic interviewer than Lauren Green, repeatedly addressed as ‘madam’ and ‘maam’ by Reza Aslan, who by the way was so cool, calm and composed – so Jesus-like, I thought.

  • christoph

    So whats the plan of correction? All sides use this finger to point at the other side. Few have a solution. Those that do always seem to suggest we fix it by oppressing the offending side, or the having an “open mind/discussion” about other views. This always seems to translate into “you need to come to my way of thinking”. We are allowed to disapprove of each others views/religions/lifestyles. Screaming racism and oppression has done little to further anything. Finding a play on semantics does not aide the cause. Being offended by facts does not alter that it is a fact. Are Muslims a problem? No. Are radical Muslims or islamists responsible for the majority of terrorist attacks in the world. Well unfortunately it seems to be that way. While I don’t care too much for fox news I have seen very littlethat suggests they are racist. I’ve seen lots of people play on words and desperatly manipulate what was said to make it seem racist. Just like fox and rush do with all the liberal shows. Fix something instead of pointing fingers.

  • Frank

    Instead of focusing on how someone got over on a Fox newscaster (who cares?) we should focus on the absolutely nonsense that Aslan claims about Jesus. Obviously his degrees have not paid off with the truth about Jesus.

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  • Sorry to say after watching that video it gave me an impression like he was some two years old brat, constantly shouting I’M PHD.I’M PHD…what the hell I do if he is PhD?

  • he was not Jesus like, If he was Jesus like he would have shut up.

  • Fatima A

    The reason he kept repeating himself was because the interviewer kept insinuating that he MUST have been writing with a religious bias. The fact is that in scholarship, ALMOST all the the time scholars disagree with one another when it comes to their field of research (be it on Jesus, World War II, etc.) People need a lesson in historiography101. The interviewer at one point implied that Aslan claims to be a scholar but is not. Why are his credentials under attack?

  • Michael Arcangelo

    Have you read the book? Which of his “claims” about Jesus do you disagree with? What truths is he ignoring, ignorant of or wrong about?

  • Michael Arcangelo

    One thing Jesus definitely did not do, if we are to believe both the Bible AND historians, is shut up. His latter-day followers would do well to though.

  • Michael Arcangelo

    Tsk. Now you’re simply showing ill-mannered bias. If a news cow was haranguing me the way that person did Prof. Aslan, I’d tout my credentials as well. He was doing so because that idiot embarrassment of a talking head was being rude and, apparently, ignorant of her guest’s background. He was perfectly within his rights to point out to her AND the television audience (considering the venue) that he was not Joe the Plumber but someone with the actual credentials to write such a book.

  • Jon

    Omid – What a great and perceptive blog post! Yep, you hit the nail on the head. You were looking for a word, you tried “religionist”. I think you may have been looking for the term “religious bigot” : Someone who discriminates based on religion.

    Have a fun day – Jon

  • Frank

    Just a taste of his nonsense:

    Aslan informs us that we cannot trust the Gospel of Mark–because it was written 40 years after Jesus’ death. He then chides us to trust his new book, written almost 2,000 years later.

    Aslan’s claim that Jesus was a kind of pro to-Zealot is a thesis that has long been discredited by New Testament scholars. That he was a political revolutionary of any kind is nonsense. The historical Jesus was undoubtedly the most apolitical of major religious figures.

    Aslan certainly does not take what the gospel writers have written at face value. For example, he writes, “Whatever languages Jesus may have spoken, there is no reason to think he could read or write in any of them, not even Aramaic.” (56) He claims that Jesus debating with the rabbis and scribes, and Jesus reading from the scroll, “…are both fabulous concoctions of the evangelist’s [Luke’s] own devising.” (57) He also writes that predictions Jesus made, such as the coming destruction of the Temple, were “put into his mouth by the evangelists after the fact.” (90) Regarding the account of John the Baptist’s death, “the gospel account is not to be believed.” (95) Luke invented the infancy narratives of John the Baptist and Jesus. (101)

    He certainly does not believe Jesus was divine. “…Jesus of Nazareth was a Jew and nothing more.” (129) The fate of Israel and the Jews was all that mattered to Jesus. (129) Also, “…the fact remains that the resurrection is not a historical event.” (173)

  • Sarah

    Sean, you make a good point…why WOULD anyone listen to someone who is not an actual believer right? That’s what you’re saying, right? And I would bet my last dollar that you eat up every single word that non-Muslims on FOX news have to say about Islam and about Muslims.
    Reza has several degrees in the topics he writes about. He’s not just simply studying the Bible and writing about Jesus from a Biblical perspective. He’s writing about Jesus from SEVERAL perspectives. If you only read one book on, let’s say, wheels, you’ll never truly understand the significance of the wheel. Not that wheels would be your topic of choice, but just to give you another perspective. People go through the world deaf, dumb and blind because they CHOOSE to believe whatever was taught to them. And to waver from that theory that they cling to is SCARY! People are just too afraid to think for themselves. It’s people like Reza that encourage them to seek the truth for themselves. You might find out that everything you were taught was bogus, you might find out that everything you were taught was absolutely spot on. It’s YOUR duty to find out.

  • John Standard

    You did not read the book. You went to a website and looked for quotes that biblical literalists don’t like and strung them together to make it look like Aslan is calling Jesus a fraud.

    For certain, this book is not a piece of theology. He is not a pastor, or claiming any spiritual religious authority. He is making assertions about biblical figures based on the context of the world around them at the time they were writing, and about what Jesus was likely to have seen around him while alive. More importantly, he is backing up those assertions, and has claimed over and over and over again that it is expected that people will not agree with all of them.

    You seem to be assuming that if Aslan’s degrees were utilized correctly, he would know the truth about Jesus. Your truth, specifically. It seems odd to me that you would invalidate his scholarship on the grounds that his lifetime of dedication to the subject didn’t make him a Christian with your particular theological bent.

    I further fail to understand how you are in any position to claim to carry the “Truth” about Jesus any more so than any other person. Given the hundreds of Christian denominations in the U.S., I find that a particularly arrogant claim.

    You can disagree with Aslan all you want, but if your reason for doing so is “Some online critic told me that Aslan said some things that don’t match up with my beliefs about what the bible said about Jesus.” then all you’re really doing is bible-thumping….

    And that’s annoying.

  • Ralph

    The glaring one-sidedness of this piece is not even in the snarky way it refers to Fox News (don’t tell me MSNBC, CNN or any of the other news outlets don’t have their biases), but the fact that the greatest “privilege” bestowed anywhere is on Islam in Islamic countries. Non-Muslims are subject to special taxes, draconian restrictions on activities including building, education and preaching, and even gathering for worship, and the death penalty for leaving Islam or encouraging another to do so. The ignorance of a particular newsperson (and to be fair, many journalists have shown utter ignorance of Christianity in their own work in relation to Christianity) pales in comparison to Islamic privilege in Islamic countries.

  • Frank

    Whats annoying is when someone puts forth an opinion and calls it scholarship.

    Whats annoying is when people on a comment board make assumptions. Good job!

    My comments stand! Its a joke of book.

  • AZatheist

    How many mosques, yeshivas, or Jehovah Witnesses going door-to-door are there in Vatican City?

  • houmz

    Sean can’t answer those questions, because he hasn’t studied Aslan’s work or read any of his books. His commentary comes from the very “privileged” voices that were mentioned in this article, and from the very “misguided” and “ignorant” position of Lauren Green. Talking in “generalizations” and making accusations without mention of specifics, is what Fox news and its avid viewer Sean have mastered.

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  • Anwar Abdul Gany

    Interesting….’The book is a joke’ is just an assumption.

  • Anwar Abdul Gany

    “The ink of a scholar is more sacred than the blood of a martyr”. Prophet Muhammad SAW (PBUH)

  • John Standard

    Again, I wonder how you can assume, without actually reading the book, that the author is simply putting forth an opinion piece.

    That said, all scholarship is opinion at its core. What makes it scholarship, rather than some newspaper o-ed piece, is that a high degree of study, reasoning, and analysis is done to back up the opinion.

    As far as I can tell, Aslan goes through great lengths to put the research of his detractors into the book, and explain how he reached a different conclusion. He also credits these thinkers extensively throughout (as is the scholarly thing to do).

    The only assumption I’m making in the comments section here is that you haven’t bothered to read this book before calling it a joke. And so far, since you haven’t refuted the claim, I’m going to stick with it.

    Because of that, I see no reason why anyone here should lend any credibility to you when you A)Claim to know the Truth about Jesus, and B)Claim to have the scholarly authority to denounce someone else work.

  • Rehsab Thgir

    Thank you santanu,

    That was the most disingenuous thing I’ve read all month.

  • Rehsab Thgir

    You, sir, are a cartoon character.

  • Frank

    The book is a joke is hardly an assumption but maybe more accurately it can be called a book of fiction.

  • Frank

    Everyone is welcome to their assumptions and beliefs no matter how flawed they may be. What I do know is that Aslan wouldn’t know Jesus if he bumped into him and his book, after a certain amount of time, will be collecting dust.

  • Daniel Berry, NYC

    your posting is such a non-sequitur to the previous material that it can’t even be answered without stepping outside the thread and the context. Surely you’re aware of the existence of various types of literature–including various types of religious literature? from your posting, evidently not.

  • Youssef El Ashmawi

    You ask a reasonable question. I think the solution is to try to dismantle “privilege” in all its forms whenever possible, as Professor Safi indicated Let’s try to move towards a world which is more like what Martin Luther King, Jr. was talking about; where a person is judged by the content of his character and not by his skin color or religious identity. As far as your statement about who is responsible for the majority of terrorist attacks: You might find this story interesting reading.
    Selective Reporting Misrepresents Muslims as Prone to Killing (FAIR)

  • Frank

    Maybe it was a no sequitur but the real point is not how Aslan “got over” on a newscaster or what his faith is, the real point is he has produced an opinion and labeled it as scholarship. How embarrassing.

  • John Standard

    I’m afraid you’re still not engaging in any kind of conversation here.

    Just to review: You haven’t read his book, but you know that it is a joke. You haven’t read his book, but you know it is a work of fiction. You haven’t met this person, conversed with him, or engaged any of the 20 years worth of writing he’s done, but you know enough about his faith and mindset to determine that he is incapable of knowing Jesus.

    (For the record, declaring that someone is incapable of knowing Jesus is kind of counter to the whole “Jesus is everyone’s savior” part of Christianity.)

    Again I fail to see how you know these things. Is it just a gut feeling? Did someone tell you what to think? So far, I keep asserting that you haven’t read any material by this Author before forming an opinion, and you simply won’t deny that this is true.

    So how can you judge a person, and their body of work in this fashion and still expect that your opinions and assertions will not be treated like a joke?

    After all, if your definition of joke writing is “a set of opinions not backed up by anything” then everything you’ve said thus far fits pretty well in that category.

  • eeenok

    i think green’s issue with aslan might have been that he didn’t begin his study with the assumption that the gospels are axiomatically true. ironically, this is why we need to question the ability of believing christian authors in speculative new testament history. while we can expect that all claims from a muslim scholar will be tested for merit, common christian assumptions, especially within a broadly christian culture, frequently pass by without remark or challenge

  • Virginia

    LOL, that’s reaching!

  • Frank

    Reading comprehension is not your strong point I see.

    You are free to make all the assumptions you like. Doesn’t help your position but if it makes you feel better….

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  • You say that “the solution is to try to dismantle “privilege” in all its forms whenever possible, as Professor Safi indicated Let’s try to move towards a world which is more like what Martin Luther King, Jr. was talking about[.]”

    The problem, Youssef, is that no orthodox Muslim wants that kind of world. An orthodox Muslim wants the entire globe subjected to Sharia law and the rule of the imams.

  • That is completely irrelevant to the very valid statements made by Ralph. Your ignoring of them shows your own refusal to think clearly and rationally on an issue that pushes your emotional buttons.

  • Jim Stagg
  • Stuart Falk

    By Paul Kowalewski:


    “….The Buddha taught that we deceive ourselves by clinging to the illusion that the individual person is a separated, isolated self, when all beings actually are in a dynamic interrelationship. The true self is a relationship. ….

    Jesus, like the Buddha, was also radical and revolutionary in what he taught and in what he did. Jesus, like the Buddha, also taught his disciples that to find your “true self,” you had to die to your old self; you had to surrender your ego to find your genuine nature. ……
    In his recently popularized book, Reza Aslan refers to the historical Jesus as a “Zealot” – a social prophet who led a revolutionary movement against Roman oppression and domination and was ultimately crucified for his crime of sedition against the state. While Aslan is hardly the first scholar to suggest this, I think he is probably quite accurate….”

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  • Youssef El Ashmawi

    Sorry, Andy, but you cannot define my religion for me. The fact that you do not understand the teachings of Islam is unfortunate. The fact that you make bold pronouncements about Islam and Muslims despite your ignorance is offensive. And to top it off, your comment had absolutely nothing to do with either Christoph’s or my comment.

  • RobThom

    Foxnews is dishonest.

    Its sad that its pretty much the only popular media outlet even vaguely representing a non-liberal point of view.

    Due to the east and west coast media mafias.

    Thank goodness for the internet.

  • Andy Doerksen

    Youssef, I regret having to say things that are unpleasant for you to hear–but I do have to say them (that is, if I’m going to discuss this issue *at all*). What I’ve contended about Islam–that orthodox Muslims desire the entire globe to be subjugated to sharia–is entirely consistent with both the Qur’an itself, and with Islamic history.

    The principle of abrogation, the common interpretive method by which later suras carry greater authority than earlier suras, leads inexorably to the conclusion that the Qur’an as a whole teaches aggression against non-Muslims, especially those that actively oppose Islam. And the orthodox Islamic response to Muslims that apostatize from the faith . . . is a death sentence.

    Muhammad’s own personal example–which any orthodox Muslim will claim to want to emulate–follows this pattern. Initially, when he had no hope of imposing his beliefs on anyone, he sought to spread his faith peacefully. But as he accrued a significant number of followers, he began using force. Subsequent generations of Muslims followed his example, such that Islamic caliphates several times attempted to conquer Western Europe. In territories already conquered, non-Muslims are officially treated as second-class citizens.

    Since 1532–when Muslim forces were at the gates of Vienna but were turned back–Muslims have agitated for sharia in those Western nations where they have emigrated and have become a significant minority. There are now sharia enclaves in several regions of Britain and the Continent. Across the Atlantic the same phenomenon is seen in, for example, Dearborn, Michigan, where it’s not official but is practically treated as an inviolable enclave by local officials and law enforcement. In my own location of Ontario, Canada, a few years ago Muslims clamoured for the official institution of sharia, but were given a firm “No” by the provincial government–but the very fact that they so agitated proves what orthodox Muslims will do when they reach significant numbers in non-Islamic lands.

    But wherever Islam has become the dominant force of a region or nation–and especially when whole nations are officially Muslim–there has been oppression and violence. This pattern is historically and currently observable and consistent, and isn’t dependent on mere opinion.

    If you personally break that pattern . . . then you can call yourself “Muslim,” but you’re inconsistent with your own faith and prophet.

    To which, in closing, I ask you this: On what grounds should Muhammad be considered a bona fide prophet in the first place . . . ? This is a man who went off into the wilderness and came back claiming to have heard from God, produced (by his own admission) no miraculous signs to confirm his message, and was a war-monger and oppressor.

    Why would I ever consider such a faith legitimate . . . ?

  • DuaneBidoux

    The dictionary.com definition of zealot is below. I am not a religious scholar so could not comment on the relationship of Jesus to definition 3 however I grew up in a Christian fundamentalist family and from what I learned definition 1 would definitely describe Jesus. I learned he was there to overthrow “The System.”

    I’m sure that most fundamentalist Christians find the word “zealot” offensive. Just pretend that it is definition 1. One of these most definitely fits anyone’s interpretation.

    1. A person who shows zeal.
    2. An excessively zealous person; fanatic.
    3. A member of a radical, warlike, ardently patriotic group of Jews in Judea, particularly prominent from a.d. 69 to 81, advocating the violent overthrow of Roman rule and vigorously resisting the efforts of the Romans and their supporters to heathenize the Jews.

  • Youssef El Ashmawi

    1. You will believe what you want to believe.
    2. Muhammad’s (PBUH) miracle is the Qur’an itself. It was the Arabic verses of the Qur’an along with the Prophet’s character that convinced the highly skeptical Arabs to accept Islam.
    3. Historians do not claim that Muhammad (PBUH) was a “warmonger and oppressor”.
    4. Wherever and whenever human beings have been in charge, there has been ” oppression and violence”.
    5. Of course Muslims advocate for God’s laws to be reflected in our governments. So should you. Or maybe you believe that man knows better than God?

  • You can say whatever you want, Youssef–but you can’t refute 1400 years of history in which we (Westerners corporately) have seen a consistent pattern from Islamic nations and subgroups.

    As for what ideology or ethic or philosophy should underlie a government, no, I don’t believe “man knows better than God.” I contend, rather, that God has implanted a moral compass within all human beings, though some, of course, are more in tune with that compass than others. Wherever a given society is heavily populated with godly people, that society will tend to produce more rational and moral governments. Governments don’t merely govern the populace–they reflect the populace; since politicians emerge from that cultural milieu.

    I *don’t* want my own religion (Christianity) running the government, because Christians aren’t called to lord it over nonChristians in this age. (When Jesus returns, however, that’ll be a different scenario.) When Christians have tried to do so before, it’s been disastrous for both society and the Church.

    And I *definitely* don’t want to live in a society run by sharia. That’s one of the most oppressive thoughts I could ever ponder.

    But not being governed by either sharia or the Bible *doesn’t* have to mean that a body of law can’t reflect the Creator’s own righteousness.

  • Youssef El Ashmawi

    Andy: We did not start this conversation by me asking you or anyone else to live under Sharia. I made a comment about privilege. Who’s voices are heard in society and whose aren’t. You are the one who is insisting that I want to force you to live under a law that you disagree with. I don’t. Let me repeat. I don’t want to force you to live in any particular way. And I am an “orthodox” Muslim. And while I am not an Islamic scholar, I am not uneducated about my religion either. YOU SIMPLY HAVE COME TO THE WRONG CONCLUSION ABOUT ISLAM AND MUSLIMS. Islam was not forced on people in the time of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). There are reputable Western historians that will tell you that Islam’s 1400 year history is no worse than any other religion’s when it comes to violence. In fact it is better than most. But Muslims have not been perfect. No human ever is. But you and I do not have to worry about that because EVERYONE will face God. He will judge them for their actions. All you need to worry about is your life and your actions. That’s why I don’t attack you because of something other Christians have done in the past or present. You are free to live your life however you wish. So go do that and let me live mine as I wish.

  • Depends what you mean by “overthrow.” Jesus didn’t intend a _violent_ overthrow, but a spiritual one, powered by the Spirit of God.

  • I think one of the main goals of Fox News is to reconstruct all public dialogue in terms of the most narrow (and shameless) polemics possible. The idea that would absolutely determine the value of the work poisons the well of public discourse terribly. It means that experts who aren’t working a narrow angle simply cannot be heard above the din. The pay-off for this is, I think what you are talking about here. As long as we look at scholarship through this lens, then the privileged voices will certainly dominate. It’s only if we admit the possibility of dialogue that stretches beyond narrow polemics that the sort of hegemony Fox pushes can be threatened.

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