I would like to thank The Eagle for publishing the article defending Chaplain Fadel Soliman by two Muslim undergraduate students, and I remember suggesting to The Eagle's staff to give voice on its pages to the chaplain. I do not think that there is a battle here between Muslims and non-Muslims, and I consider the debate by the pen a healthy one. Rather than answering with petitions each time criticisms flirt with us, I prefer to see what our ancestors like Abu Hanifa and Ibn Rushd used to practice: debate. They even developed a science called "Mounadara," an act of scrutinizing something interactively. I would like to voice my opinion concerning the article published last week, "Soliman is a valuable chaplain."
The two undergraduate students who wrote this piece found The Eagle articles denigrating to Soliman's name and "outright anti-Islamic." One might look into the prospect of the articles being anti-Solimanic, but that does not make them at all anti-Islamic. There wasn't a remark that was, according to my modest opinion, anti-Islamic in the articles of The Eagle, and it is alarming to turn an issue involving a person into a crusade against Islam. Hence, the petition should be clear that it is about Soliman rather than luring people into signing a document against a ficticious attack on Islam. The authors said that if I had interacted more with Soliman, I would have found that he does not preach narrow views. My answer to this valuable suggestion is that I have attended every single Friday prayer and some of Soliman's sessions a year ago and have been part of MSA before one of the writers of the article came here and even before Soliman became a chaplain. If interaction is taken as a variable, then one wonders to what extent the non-Muslims who signed the petition interacted with Soliman. I remember the good old days of Atyaf al Wazir as the president of MSA, when we had such a diverse crowd of Friday speakers, and without a comparative framework, one can absolutely not engage in "unbiased" judgment.
Being nice does not rule out being a Wahhabi, and to make such a judgment one needs to understand very technical matters such as the stance on Ash'ari creed, the invitation of Shiite preachers, or even the view on the Sufi ecstatic trance.
The part that I found funny was when the authors of the article wrote: "Although all Arabs may look the same to Bouasria, Soliman was actually born and raised in Egypt, one of the only two Arab countries to make formal peace with Israel." Islam came to dispel the myth of Arab supremacy, and I have never said anything about Arabs in my articles. Being an Arab myself, I hardly know what an Arab "looks" like. The notion of the "Arab look" stems from an exotic Orientalist fantasizing Hollywood abode and is spiced up by the erroneous feeling of "Arab envy" so common in some parts of the world. The part about Egypt signing a peace treaty with Israel is just irrelevant because I have not attacked Egypt, which like many countries, gave birth to great human beings such as Naguib Mahfouz, the Nobel Prize winner in literature, as well as ruthless men such as Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the second commander of Al Qaida.
The authors of the article cited, as a reason that made them suspicious of The Eagle's intentions, the use of the picture of frowning Dr. al-Johani as anti-Islamic Propaganda. I liked the part where they said that Muslims "do smile and often get photographs taken in this action." The answer is given to us by the picture that appeared in their article of Fadel Soliman with gorgeous sunglasses correcting the frowning image of some Muslims even if the smiling part is somehow very subtle. I believe that this healthy debate is encouraged by the first verse of the Quran "Read" and by the importance of the testimony or Shahada in Islam, and I feel disgusted by any discourse that espouses apologetic overtones or that speaks the wooden language of no-matter-what in-group solidarity.