Our readings this week focused on Islam, as well as on the Bible as Literature, the Word, Poetry, and Sacred Texts. We heard Suzanne speak on the original emergence of Islam. There is a handout on Moodle comparing the three Abrahamic faiths.
I heard so much this week talking about the misogyny of modern day Islam, yet I’ve learned in other classes (see lecture by Sgt. Yusuf Weber from Orthodoxies & Apostasies, Spring 2012) that this does not come out of Islam at all, but from the cultures that have adopted Islam. How the various tribes and civilizations have adopted Islam, in whole or in part, is dependent on the overall culture of that region and how they have treated their peoples (men or women). What Armstrong discussed about the veiling of Khadija and his other wives to show their prominence was not wrong, it is something that has been misappropriated by those in other cultures that have adopted Islam as their religion. If an entire region, or tribe, is going to adopt a particular religion, how do they do that, and how do they stay true to the religion? How do they stay true to their culture? Can they do both? Should they? I wonder how those in Asia view “the West” and our religious beliefs, whether Christian, Jewish, Moslem, or otherwise.
The word association exercise we did with Suzanne on Monday brought up more for me than I know how to say or express in a large group context. For me, some of those words bring up the Arab League and their attack of Jews and Israel at every opportunity since the inception of the state of Israel in 1948 by other foreign powers due to the Holocaust, and now the delegitimization of Israel. Now, this is something that is by no means true of all Arabs or all Moslems. I know and know of many who are working actively towards peace and who want nothing more than to live side by side with their neighbors as brothers and sisters, but with someone like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calling to wipe Israel and the Jews off the face of the planet, and saying the Holocaust never happened, it’s difficult to swallow that the world hates Israel for defending itself from the 800+ rockets being launched at it from Gaza in the past week alone, needing to keep their kids home from school for weeks at a time to attempt to keep them safe. It’s a difficult pill to swallow having some of the wonderful friends I do working on interfaith issues, yet knowing others out there are working actively against what we are, who are allowed to act as keynote speakers at human rights conferences, or to chair or sit on human rights committees, when they are committing atrocities against their own people. When they say that my decades old (longer than I’ve been alive) friends of the family who HAVE survived the concentration and death camps were lying? That their children are lying? That my most prized possession, a particular painting by another survivor who is no longer with us that, is worthless and meaningless because he did not go through what he said he went through? Maybe it’s the fear in me, hearing what’s going on over there through my beloved, AND reading through more news stories than he, but I don’t want to see him dead just because someone hates him for his religion or his racial identity. I know the stories of what happened and what has happened, andd I apologize for my departure from the program materials but this is what’s on my mind when we talk about this right now.