John Esposito

writer and professor of Islamic studies
(Redirected from John Louis Esposito)

John Louis Esposito (born May 19, 1940) is an American professor of International Affairs and Islamic Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He is also the director of the Prince Alwaleed Center for Muslim–Christian Understanding at Georgetown.

John Esposito in Sarajevo, October 2013

QuotesEdit

  • Islam stands in a long line of Semitic, prophetic religious traditions that share an uncompromising monotheism, and belief in God's revelation, His prophets, ethical responsibility and accountability, and the Day of Judgement. Indeed, Muslims, like Christians and Jews, are the Children of Abraham, since all trace their communities back to him. Islam's historic religious and political relationship to Christendom and Judaism has remained strong throughout history. This interaction has been the source of mutual benefit.
  • In many ways, local populations found Muslim rule more flexible and tolerant than that of Byzantium and Persia. Religious communities were free to practice their faith—to worship and be governed by their religious leaders and laws in such areas as marriage, divorce, and inheritance. In exchange, they were required to pay tribute, a poll tax (jizya) that entitled them to Muslim protection from outside aggression and exempted them from military service. Thus, they were called the “protected ones” (dhimmi). In effect, this often meant lower taxes, greater local autonomy.
  • In Islam, men and women are moral equals in God's sight and are expected to fulfill the same duties of worship, prayer, faith, almsgiving, fasting, and pilgrimage to Mecca. Islam generally improved the status of women compared to earlier Arab cultures, prohibiting female infanticide and recognizing women's full personhood. Islamic law emphasizes the contractual nature of marriage, requiring that a dowry be paid to the woman rather than to her family, and guaranteeing women's rights of inheritance and to own and manage property. Women were also granted the right to live in the matrimonial home and receive financial maintainance during marriage and a waiting period following death and divorce.
  • [B]laming Islam is a simple answer, easier and less controversial than re-examining the core political issues and grievances that resonate in much of the Muslim world: the failures of many Muslim governments and societies, some aspects of U.S. foreign policy representing intervention and dominance, Western support for authoritarian regimes, the invasion and occupation of Iraq, or support for Israel's military battles with Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
    • Who Speaks For Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think, p. 136-137.

Confronting Islamophobia: Education for Tolerance and Understanding (2004)Edit

Speech at the UN seminar in December 7, 2004
  • We find statements by religious, polital leaders and the media that incite Islamophobia. I'm going to give you some, otherwise we wind up talking in very true but general statements. And I think we need to hear the actual words, because these are the words that people, who are in churches, people who are watching the media, hear. And if they don't have a context within which to place them, they will draw us out of conclusions. While George Bush and Tony Blair may distinguish between Islam and extremism, Franklin Graham tells us that "Islam is a very evil religion. All the values that we as a nation hold dear, they don't share those same values at all … these countries that have the majority of Muslims." You might think of Franklin Graham as an individual, but if you are in the Muslim world, you know that Franklin Graham gave the invocation at the first inauguration of president Bush, that Franklin Graham a year and a half later was asked to speak on Good Friday at the Pentagon. That sends a signal. Pat Robertson: "This man [Muhammad] was an absolute wild-eyed fanatic, he was a robber and a brigand. And to say that these terrorists distort Islam … they are carrying out Islam. I mean: This man [Muhammed] was a killer and to think that this is a peaceful religion is fraudulent." Benny Hinn at a pro-Israel rally: "This not a war between Arabs and the Jews, this is between God and the devil." And there are many others.
  • While Islamophobia like anti-Semitism is centuries old, it too will not be eradicated easily or soon. Therefore we all have a critical role to play: Government policy makers, educational institutions and the media, religious and political leaders, educators, media people, believers and unbelievers, the private and public sectors and international organisations like the UN are charged today to address and promote inter-religious and inter-cultural dialog to build a world based upon a modern notion of tolerance, that is grounded in mutual understanding and respect for others. For the end of the day Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance know no religious, racial, tribal or national bounderies or limits. The message at the end of the day is simple and clear: Islam is not the enemy, religious extremism is.

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Interviews