By Laura Fawaz, TMO
Detroit, MIâ€“Former President Jimmy Carter drew in thousands at this yearâ€™s annual ISNA Convention over the weekend in Detroit, Michigan.
ISNA, Islamic Society of North America, has been hosting an annual convention for Muslim Americans since 1963. This yearâ€™s keynote speaker was Former President Jimmy Carter. The main emphasis of his speech was his work since he left the White House, pertaining to The Carter Center that he developed with his wife Rosalynn. President Carter started his speech with a request to bring ISNAâ€™s 2015 convention to visit him and his Carter Center in Atlanta, GA next year, which drew many cheers from the crowd.
With The Carter Center, he continuously works to bring peace to the Middle East. The Center has full-time offices in Jerusalem, Gaza & Ramallah. His staff even remained in Gaza during what President Carter called â€œthe terrible bombardmentâ€ that ended just a few days ago. And they were also in 2008 and 2009 and 2012 when Gaza was â€œdestroyed.â€ President Carter says his goal for the region is peace. â€œWe believe that peace can come for the Middle East, and The Carter Center has been deeply involved in reaching out to all parties that can bring peace to the Palestinians and justice to them, and give them a homeland,â€ President Carter said.
The Center has many initiatives, though the majority of them surrounds helping women and children around the world who have become victim of human rights violations. â€œThe horrendous abuse of women and girls around the world; this is the most terrible human rights violation on earth and especially has been ignored and condoned by the leaders of many countries,â€ said President Carter.
He discussed his childhood, growing up on an isolated farm in Atlanta during the time of racial segregation. He was the only white child surround by African Americans, and says that this really shaped who he is and what he strives for in life. Specifically after seeing what his African Americans playmates went through just because of the color of their skin. He noted that one of the discriminations of black people was the misinterpretation of verses in the Holy Bible. That people who were racist would select certain scriptures saying that it is written in Godâ€™s word that black people are inferior to white. â€œWe all know now that it was a false interpretation. And one of the reasons for discriminations against females in this world is a misinterpretation of Holy Scriptures about the treatment of women and girls,â€ President Carter noted.
He went on to note that every month in Atlanta, 200-300 girls are brought in against their will to be sold as slaves into sexual service. He also noted that one out five girls enrolled in an American University would be sexually assaulted because their university presidents look the other way and make it easier on their rapist. Though another impactful statement he noted has to do with the military. â€œThere are 46,000 reported cases of sexual assault in the military. Only 3,000 of those resulted in the case being brought against the criminal who did this act. Thatâ€™s about 1%,â€ said President Carter.
He then noted several Qurâ€™anic verses which prove that, as he put it, â€œNo where in the Qurâ€™an is there any verse that women be treated inferior to men.â€
One being Surat Al-Taubah, Chapter 9, verse 71: â€œAnd (as for) the believing men and the believing women, they are the guardians of each other; they enjoin good and forbid evil and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, and obey Allah and His Apostle; (as for) these, Allah will show mercy to them; surly Allah is Mighty, Wise.â€
Though the Islamic reference that received the largest cheers from the crowd, and even made it to the local news, was a saying of Prophet Muhammad (s).
â€œAnd Prophet Muhammad was recorded saying the best among you are those who are best to their wives.â€ (s)
He continued, noting that the Christian leaders are just as guilty of misinterpreting the word of God. Nowhere in the New Testament does it give any justification of the mistreatment of women, though some still use certain scripture for their own perversion. And he noted that Prophet Jesus (AS) treated women better than men and better than any man in his time.
When it came time for the question and answer portion of his speech, President Carter was asked to go into more detail on the treatment of women. Within his response, he said a few words that was moving, yet entertaining true. â€œThose who believe that youâ€™re superior to your wife because youâ€™re a man, Allah says your wrong,â€ President Carter said.