Monday, October 16, 2006

Why do I care so much?

It happens to me very often to find myself trying to read the Coran or any basic or fundamental books about the Muslim culture. Naturally, I would end up thinking about my purposes from this. Why do I care?

In my family, we give a significant importance to “knowing others”, or maybe the more appropriate term would be “knowing the enemy”. I remember when my Dad bought the Coran, people thought it was weird. Some even thought it was dangerous. At that time we were living in the country side in a religious Christian area, where I never knew the difference between Sunna and Shiia and where the Aounists were just those who hated the ‘ouwet for some irrational reason… it was one of those places where there were only us and the others.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard conversations such as this:

- Shooo?! Why would you buy THAT for?
- Why “not”?
- Well, you have the bible what would the Coran do you? What if you’re children read it, you know Christianity but children are children, they might get lost.
- We are very confident with our children’s ability to differentiate the good and the bad; we know what we have taught them. Everybody should know what Muslims believe in, what they think of us and what they say about us.

At that time, I thought my dad was awesome, perfect. In fact my dad is awesome at least he bothered to read their writing before pointing his weapon in their face, right? But I suppose no body’s perfect… I mean, I am certain there’s more about Muslims than the enemy.

So the question remains unanswered:

Why am I reading it?

I admit that I am curious about everything that’s different and at the same time profoundly important to others. All the faces of spirituality are so fascinating. We grow up believing that OUR religion is the answer to all unanswerable questions. We also grow up believing everybody else is wrong. Being born in this rusty Middle East I had many others to call wrong, so I grew up believing I am right in a world where so many people are wrong, which made me feel safe and special.

But one day I just peeked into the others’ lives and they were not so bad after all, my family always taught me that people are good regardless of their religion, but they never told me that others can have religions just as fascinating as mine and that when they pray they are just as pretty as my folks are in church. Their spirituality wasn’t so weird after all. They also struggle to be good and they suffer for failing that objective. They also suffer for doing what’s wrong, their religion wasn’t just the religion that puts women in veil and allows men to beat their wives. No. They had more than that, in fact women are always asked to be more discrete and men always beat their wives, religion’s simply the easiest excuse.

Suddenly I wanted to know the others so much, but how? How can you get objective information about such a subjective issue?

My society can’t possibly help, since my society needs first of all to preserve its superiority over any other. And the others’ society can’t either, because their society will need to establish a superiority of its own.

But I am not seeking a new religion to adopt, so I don’t want to adopt any supremacy. I want to see another culture to see the magic that I have found in my religion but in others’ religions. I wanted to see the world from the enemy’s eyes for a moment. The only thing I have to achieve that is what the others write for themselves… Their holy books.

Ok then, why Islam? Why do I have this particular interest in Islam?

Frankly? I don’t see why should I seek an answer to such a question. After all I am the “Why not?” person. Why not Islam? I have a Coran so learning about it is easier, right?


shlemazl said...

I am fascinated by all religions. It's history, but also psycology and human nature. There must be something about a religion for it to work.

Jos said...

I am fascinated by religions too: their philosophies, their way of explaining life and death, their rituals, Holy books, etc, I've already read a lot about Islam, Christianity [the different groups; and so much more stuff I wasn't aware of], Judaism, Buddhism and even Hinduism!

Religion is the reflection of the society to which they belong. The more I read about religions, the more I am far from being an extremist or a fanatic to any given religion. I mean, there are 1500 different religions in the world! No one can pretend to hold the ultimate 'true religion'. Anyway, it's a long debate.

One final note: you can't learn a whole lot by just reading The Coran, you won't understand a thing! Believe me I did it before. Read the 'Sira', and the books that explain the verses, you will learn more. Also, there are lots of online resources, with loads of info. I can give you some you want.

jokerman said...

Nice blog but let me point out a few mistakes.
- you equated Islam & Muslims as enemies, as though they were one or two sides of one coin. That is basically a big fundmental mistake.
- You also said[their religion wasn’t just the religion that puts women in veil and allows men to beat their wives.]
What a flawed statement. You are simply hearing what muslims say & take it for granted that Islam or the Koran states it. There is no Veil in the Koran or Islam. Women were not at any point in the Koran ordered to cover their hair or faces but were told to be modest.
as for the beating, that wasnt taken out of context which refered to a certain situation & didnt mean beat them up, Mohamed himself didnt beat up any of his wives & disdained those who did, but you have to understand the patriarchal society Koran was revealed to & the limits of change you can bring to such uncivil people, it takes time.
I dont regard christians or jews or anyone else as an enemy, if such a situation is a fact in Lebanon, its because of bigotry which hides behind religion. You will find in the Koran verses that praise christians, verses that says they are believers, & verses that attacks them, like it does with the jews. You will be confronted with a contradiction,many muslims find it is vexed but further reading clarifies it.
The Koran, ISlam, in general regards christians & jews & anyone who belives in God & the day of judgment as a believer,regardless of their then adds & those believers who do good need not worry. That is generally speaking, but later when certain groups or individuals within a group(jews & christians) are condemned for something they have done, muslims mistook it as generalising the whole group.
The word Kuffar is mainly used in the koran to designate the pagan & idol worshippers in general, & a few times to specify some within the other various groups. Needless to say there are bad & evil people in all religions, whether believers or atheists.
If you have any questions about the KOran, please feel free to ask me.

shlemazl said...

I can't find the post that Jokerman is commenting on.

Einmal said...

I am not adopting the statements saying that muslims are enemies or that the Islam put women in veil and allowed men to beat their wives, I am stating the situation that I was rasied in.

I do agree on most of what you said, but I was raised in a different way of thinking. What I did say was that I DON'T agree with them.

I am planning to find other sources but right now this is what's available, I would also apreciate any links :D

jokerman said...

ok i get it pazuzu,, but it just wasnt clear whether it was your understanding aswell or those around you. Anyway, my offer still stands, if you ever want to ask anything feel free to do so.

shlemazl said...


This offer is just too tempting to refuse. I know it's not addressed to me, but would you mind explaining this:

"Koran 9:29
Fight those who do not profess the true faith (Islam) till they pay the jiziya (poll tax) with the hand of humility."

"Koran 5:51
Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends. They are friends with one another. Whoever of you seeks their friendship shall become one of their number. Allah does not guide the wrong-doers."

"Koran 98:1-8
The unbelievers among the People of the Book and the pagans shall burn for ever in the fire of Hell. They are the vilest of all creatures."

"The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews." (al-Bukhari, taken from Hamas charter)