President Thomas Jefferson considered the founding of the University of Virginia as one of his greatest achievements. Referring to the university in a letter dated, December 27, 1820, he stated, “This institution will be based on the illimitable (limitless) freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.”
Today’s universities are increasingly distancing themselves from the vision of Thomas Jefferson. This is especially true when you examine certain groups such as the Muslim Student Association (MSA) that are present on many campuses. Jefferson’s desire for the human mind to be free allows students to follow truth, but when this western mindset of freedom to pursue truth meets Islam there is a clash of mindsets. The religion of Islam presents itself as absolute truth and unlike Christianity does not allow its followers to question its teachings. Both the Qur’an and the hadith warn Muslims not to question Islamic teachings. The Qur’an says “A people asked such [questions] before you; then they became thereby disbelievers” (sura 5:102). In the classic manual of Islamic Sacred Law, “The Reliance of the Traveller” it says that to deny any verse of the Qur’an, or anything which by scholarly consensus belongs to it, is apostasy from Islam, which is punishable by death.
Perhaps even more tragic is the refusal of western universities to insist their students employ reason to combat error when it comes to Islamic issues. Rather than insisting students examine issues and form opinions by considering differing viewpoints and engaging in respectful dialogue, universities far too often attempt to be politically correct and tolerant in their treatment of the Islamic religion and Muslim views on political and social issues. How can our institutions of higher learning follow truth when they are unwilling to allow reason to even be voiced much less considered?
A recent example occurred when speaker and author, David Horowitz was invited to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to discuss the increasingly dangerous position of Israel in the Middle East. The Daily Tarheel, the campus newspaper, reported nearly all the students in attendance for the lecture walked out about 20 minutes into Mr. Horowitz’s speech. However, another report says the majority of the students stayed for the entire lecture.
The Carolina Review, UNC’s conservative journal reported, a spokesperson for the Muslim Student Association (MSA) that participated in the walkout said, “…Mr. Horowitz hurts the ‘culture of tolerance’ that UNC has worked to build over the years, because UNC has made such great progress in making ‘a point of respecting diversity and minority voices on this campus.’”
The campus newspaper printed three articles, an editorial cartoon and one letter to the editor regarding the event that were all critical of Mr. Horowitz’s views. In addition to one-sided reporting of the incident, The Daily Tarheel refused to print a letter to the editor from David Horowitz addressing the walkout, which included the following observation:
The closed-minded students – mainly but not exclusively members of MSA – who came not to listen to what I had to say but with the intention of walking out on cue exemplified an attitude that is all too common on campuses today. The intent of these “protests” is to defame a speaker whose views they oppose but cannot answer intellectually.
Rather than respecting Mr. Horowitz’s opinion and engage in the question and answer session that followed his speech, this group of students left. This is not the first time a group of Muslim students have left such a gathering. In February of 2010, eleven students that were part of the Muslim Student Union at the University of California Irvine disrupted and walked out of Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s speech. Because their actions were disruptive and stopped the Ambassador from being able to continue to speak, 11 students were arrested and the Muslim Student Union was suspended for an academic quarter. The school obtained e-mails that showed the group, “planned, orchestrated and coordinated” the protest.
Far too often those who disagree with the Islamic viewpoint on issues are the victims of insults and personal attacks in an effort to silence them. There can be no dialogue, education nor reason in such environments, only delusion.
PRAYER FOR EDUCATION:
• Pray those that are the victims of these attacks will continue to be invited to campuses across the country and will continue to speak truth.
• Pray that Muslims attending universities will begin to examine the teachings and political stands of their religion.
• Pray that God’s TRUTH will resound across college campuses throughout our land.
• Pray that Thomas Jefferson’s words will become reality – that our universities and colleges will not be afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead.