08 November 2008

Is Barack Hussein Obama a Muslim?

No proof is offered by those who make the claims that he is a muslim -- no sightings of Barack Obama attending a mosque, no pictures of him reading the Koran, praying to Mecca, or observing Islamic holidays with his family. The entire case, such as it is, rests on a confused and error-ridden recitation of Obama's upbringing and purported childhood influences. It also rests on -- or exploits -- a deep fear and mistrust of the Muslim faith.

Virtually everything we do know about Obama's parentage and upbringing, it should be stipulated, comes from the senator himself. Obama told the story of his search to uncover his African heritage in Dreams from My Father (Three Rivers Press, 2004), and shared further autobiographical details in The Audacity of Hope (Crown Publishers, 2006). He spoke at length about his Christian beliefs in a 2004 Chicago Sun Times interview with Cathleen Falsani. Must we take his word for all of it? Not necessarily. But in the absence of contrary evidence we have no reason to doubt Obama's own candid account of his life story.

Was Obama's father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., a "radical Muslim who migrated from Kenya to Jakarta, Indonesia?"

No. Though Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. was raised a Muslim, he had lost his faith and become a "confirmed atheist" by the time he attended college, according to his son. Obama's parents separated when Barack was two, his father moving not to Jakarta, but to the United States, where he attended Harvard. Eventually he returned to Kenya.

Did Obama's mother go on to marry another Muslim named Lolo Soetoro who "educated his stepson as a good Muslim by enrolling him in one of Jakarta's Wahabbi schools?"

Yes and no. When Obama's mother remarried, it was indeed to an Indonesian man named Lolo Soetoro, whom his stepson describes as a "non-practicing" Muslim. But it was his "secular" mother who supervised his education, Obama has written, sending him to both Catholic and Muslim primary schools after the family moved to Jakarta. There is nothing on record to indicate Obama attended a madrassa (Muslim religious school) run by Wahabbists, and in any case it's unlikely his mother would have chosen to expose him to such an extreme form of Islam given her stated abhorrence of religious closed-mindedness and her stated goal of giving him a well-rounded education, including in matters of faith.

(Update: CNN has tracked down the school in question, the Basuki School in Jakarta, which a deputy headmaster described as a "public school" with no particular religious agenda. "In our daily lives, we try to respect religion, but we don't give preferential treatment," he told CNN. A classmate of Obama's described the school as "general," with students of many religious backgrounds attending. Obama entered the school at the age of 8 and attended for two years.)

Is it true that "Obama takes great care to conceal the fact that he is a Muslim while admitting that he was once a Muslim?"

In Obama's two books and sundry news interviews, the senator has never mentioned being a Muslim at any point in his life. Yes, he lived in a Muslim country during part of his childhood and briefly attended a Muslim school there, but he certainly wasn't raised a Muslim and has never been a Muslim.

That anyone, let alone a sitting U.S. senator with designs on the highest office in the land, would conceal being a Muslim for twenty-odd years while going through the outward motions of practicing Christianity (or vice-versa, for that matter) is a bizarre accusation.

Is it true that when Obama was sworn into office he used the Koran (Qur'an) instead of the Bible?

No. Barack Obama placed his hand on his personal Bible during his Senate swearing-in ceremony, which was conducted by Vice-President Dick Cheney. Those making this allegation have apparently confused Obama with Congressman Keith Ellison, who actually is a Muslim and was sworn in on January 4, 2007 using a copy of the Quran.


Letting the time pass me by said...

Well, I dont remember any article that I have read about Obama saying he is a Muslim...

I dont think he is a Muslim, and I think he also stated taht he is not a Muslim, but I remember that he says he follows the religion o his mother, that must be Chirstian... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama

zack said...

I don't think US voters would vote him in if he is a Muslim. We hope that, he as a person who have many Muslim extended relatives, the least he could do is to have more dialogs and discourse with Muslim countries rather than treating them as a terrorist nation.

Anonymous said...

He sure isn't a Muslim. He's Islamophobic, instead.