Reza Aslan, who is an internationally acclaimed writer and scholar of religions, appeared on the The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Wednesday night, to discuss the idea of ‘reformation’ in Islam and the threat of ISIS.
Aslan conceded that ISIS is Islamic, however said if you are okay with calling them Muslim you should also acknowledge their victims are also Muslim.
“I’m okay with you saying that ISIS is Islamic as long as you also realise that the tens of thousands of people that they have kill are also Muslims and that the tens of thousands of people who are are fighting against ISIS are also Muslim,” Aslan said.
“What drives me absolutely bananas is this constant refrain, that you know what Islam really needs? It needs a reformation,” Aslan said on The Daily Show. “My answer is to that is: open your eyes, man. What do you think is going on? People think that reformation is about holding hands and singing Kumbaya. Reformation is about a cataclysmic debate about who has the authority to define a faith. Is it the individuals or is it the institution? ”
Aslan blamed anti-Muslim fervor in the US on “fear manufactured by a news channel that has spun it into ratings gold.” Aslan was referring to FOX News, a network Stewart targeted earlier in his show.
“It’s both sides, by the way. If you look at one of the greatest drivers of anti-American sentiment overseas are the fear-based rhetoric of their leaders, of punditry, of everything else.” said Stewart.
“Both sides have decided that to perpetuate their own power it makes best sense to play to the basic sense of fear of your constituency.” added Stewart
Aslan said about anti-Muslim fervor that it is a very real thing. “Two thirds of Americans think that Muslim and American values clash conflict with each other, Half of Americans think Muslims can’t be loyal to America and one-third of Americans -which he insisted is a very large number- want Muslims to be forced to carry special I.D. that identify them as Muslims,” he said citing a poll.
“There’s a historical analogy there somewhere. I can’t put my finger on it,” Aslan sarcastically said, hinting at Nazi sentiment towards the Jews.
“The good news is that everything that is said about Muslims today,” Aslan said, “that they are not American, that they are fearful, that they don’t belong here. Everything that was said about Muslims today were said about the Jews in the ’40s and ’50s, was said about Catholics at the end of the 19th century.”
‘”The bad news is then we will find somebody else to hate,” Aslan added.
Correction: An earlier version of the article wrongly attributed a quote to Reza Aslan. The error is regretted.