Middle East studies in the News
Oprah Winfrey's 'Belief' Series Sparks More Controversies as it Tackles 'Jihad' Concept [incl. Varun Soni]
by Czarina Ong
Before it even aired, several evangelists and Christians had been pointing out that Oprah Winfrey's new miniseries "Belief" was wrong in proclaiming that there are actually several ways to get to God.
The series recently sent tongues wagging again after it aired an episode that showed Varun Soni, the dean of Religious Life at the University of Southern California, saying that the term "jihad" is a misunderstood concept regarding the Islamic faith.Before it even aired, several evangelists and Christians had been pointing out that Oprah Winfrey's new miniseries "Belief" was wrong in proclaiming that there are actually several ways to get to God.
According to The Christian Post, Soni spoke about Islam in the introductory video for "Belief." He said that contrary to popular belief, the term "jihad" is not connected to the "holy war" that terrorists often talk about.
"There is nothing holy about war," he stressed "What 'jihad' actually represents is an internal struggle, the battle that is raging in our own heart. And all of our religious traditions talk about that internal struggle. In that respect, jihad is not just a Muslim idea but it's a reality of the human condition."
Soni's statements have been echoed by organisations such as the Islamic Supreme Council of America. The group believes that jihad is "not a violent concept," and it is not a declaration of war against other religions.
"The concept of jihad has been hijacked by many political and religious groups over the ages in a bid to justify various forms of violence. In most cases, Islamic splinter groups invoked jihad to fight against the established Islamic order. Scholars say this misuse of jihad contradicts Islam," Soni said.
Oprah's "Belief" was a seven-part mini-series and was shot in 33 different locations all over the world. It took three years to complete as it shared the stories behind different religions and spiritual beliefs across the globe.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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