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who’s, which, what

on who’s, which, what


One of the most important takeaways from this course for me is simply the importance of religious literacy. Western reification of religion and a desire to view religious groups as homogenous often leads to a lack of understanding of the true nuance and complexity of a religious tradition. As Professor Asani put it so precisely in Infidel of Love,

Without adequate tools and opportunities to understand and engage with religious and cultural differences, people tend to represent those who are different from themselves through simplistic caricatures, painting them with a single color and a single brush stroke, thus stripping them of their humanity. In this sense, the ignorance that is associated with religious and cultural illiteracy is not inconsequential; it has serious implications for the multicultural, multiracial, multiethnic, and multi-religious world in which we live. The fear, prejudice, and bigotry it fuels against those who are different religiously or culturally tears apart the fabric of society, resulting in violence and instability.” (Asani 3)

This TikTok highlights dangerous and inaccurate statements about Islam (which could be applied any religious tradition) that belie nuance and over-simplify the tradition’s diverse history and present. The danger of this over-simplification of religious traditions is evident in the Islamophobia and broader religious intolerance in the United States, especially post 9/11. As Asani continues, religious illiteracy ignores the multifarious influences — economic, historical, sociological, political, cultural — on a person’s decisions, and often leads to the individual actions of extremists being taken as representative of the values of all who practice the same tradition. Even though such extremist actors may claim that religion is their motivator, their decisions are often not led by faith at all, but by economic, political, or other factors (Asani 4). Thus, religious illiteracy not only belies nuance and diversity, but sows misplaced division among religious groups, like Christianity and Islam, that share history.

I chose to do a TikTok (which is not published on the internet) for this topic because as social media is ever-increasingly a popular means of communication, I feel it is an important media for my generation to utilize for the greater good. While there is a lot of misinformation, over-simplification, and divisive content online (and especially on TikTok, which creates echo chambers by showing you content that you agree with), the use of these spaces to communicate nuance, truths, and good information is of the utmost importance. While it may feel inappropriate to use a TikTok format for a serious topic that has inflicted generations of pain, division, and trauma, it is important to adapt our communication to the means of the times, and ensure that we can maintain these platforms as spaces for instructive and productive ends.

All in all, the choice of social media to share a message of nuance and religious literacy was intentional, as hopefully in the future, social media can become platforms for productive conversation, rather than fostering divisive and harmful discourse which can have all too real impacts.

note: reflection is from Week 1 Lecture readings

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