Islam in the Media: The Myth of Conflict in Scholarship and Discourse

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Arts and Humanities | English Language and Literature | Religion


Noreen Herzfeld, Theology; Michael Opitz, English


Cloaked by the lens of a non-Muslim perspective and filtered through media representations, Islam as a spiritual tradition receives little fair and legitimate consideration in contemporary dialogue. As a result of media and scholarly distortions, many Western consciousnesses directly link Islam, violence, and war. I provide evidence to this powerful and prevalent subtext in contemporary discourse by focusing on imagery from the cover of Time Magazine. Utilizing ideas put forth by theorist Roland Barthes, I explore the symbolic meanings of visual texts discussing Islam, Arabs, and the Middle East. I also present a fair exploration of Islam’s foundational spiritual teachings; doing so allows for comparisons and contrasts between the spiritual realities of the religion of Islam and projected understandings of Islam in Western media and scholarship. In sum, the work presented in this study provides evidence of the scholarly discourses and visual texts distorting Islam as a religious tradition and perverting its meaning in prevalent contemporary world-views.