Monday, September 11, 2006

Islam

Some questions for you, five years after 9/11:

Have you personally made an effort to learn about the religion of Islam, if you did not know much about it prior to 2001?
If so, what have been the best resources you've found in your effort?
Has your congregation helped you in this effort?

When people you know discuss the religion of Islam, do they seem to know what they're talking about, or do they rely wholly on information they receive from the popular media?

How many people do you know express the belief that the secularization of Muslim community is the best hope for the future?

No judgment, just genuinely wondering.

11 Comments:

Blogger PhantomDirector said...

PB: Enjoy, go to:
http://mysticsaint.blogspot.com/

Cheerfully, RK aka: Barakat Amir

03:46  
Blogger Bill Baar said...

Yes I have. Keep trying to enroll in local Arabic classes too at our community college but there are never enough of us to make a go of it.

I hate it when UU's equate Christian Fundamentalists with Islamic Fundamentalists. I hate using the word Fundamentalist outside an American Prostestant context.

Muslims themselves call themselves Unitarians i.e. tawheed and our curious about our history and have written on it. There especially impressed with the fact past presidents have been Unitarian thinking of Taft and Jefferson.

05:48  
Blogger Bill Baar said...

Muslims meaning the Salafi's like Safar Al-Hawali who wrote our history for Al-Bayan...

It's worth noting much of what we know of Islam has been filtered through Aramaco who were inclined to present the Unitarian side of Islam as more palatable to the west as opposed to the more mystical Sufi and emotional Shia traditions.

06:05  
Blogger Chalicechick said...

I read up on it a bit, starting with Huston Smith and reading a book by Karen Armstrong about it. Also, there was an Muslim man posting to the Beliefnet UU boards for awhile and I learned a lot from him. His blog is here and it's really good.

I didn't really ask my congregation for help as this search was more of an intellectual search than a spiritual search.

People at my church who talk about it seem to have at least a background in Islam comparable to mine. Outside of church it's REALLY a mixed bag.

The only person I know who has expressed desire for secularization in so many words is a confirmed nutjob. But other people may quietly believe it.

CC

07:24  
Blogger Chalicechick said...

Clarification: By a "background comparable to mine" I mean they've read a few books on it and thought about it in a mostly political context and that it doesn't particularly speak to them religiously.

I didn't mean an actual background.

07:26  
Blogger powderblue said...

As a religious education volunteer at our church in early 2001, I taught a class of students ages 10 to 12 Islam as part of our World Religions curriculum. We learned together.

Because I serve on the advisory board of a business school located in my community, I knew the Dean then, who is a Muslim. He offered a non-credit introduction to Islam at the University, which I attended. He agreed to come to one of our classes with his daughter, who was in the same age range as the class. Needless to say, it was our best class. The father played a recording of adhan, the haunting (to me) Muslim call to worship. He told the class that Allah is neither a He nor a She, and is therefore referred to only as Allah. That scored some points. He said that the Unitarian Universalist principles were all consistent with Islamic teachings.

His daughter, somewhat shy but articulate and poised, talked about her experiences as a Muslim and demonstrated to the class the correct way to put on and wear her beautiful hijab (headscarf). I think some of the kids were captivated enough to have signed Muslim membership cards on the spot had they been offered.

Your questioned has sparked a pleasant memory.

19:48  
Blogger JD said...

CC: Thanks for the mention of my blog; I had been wondering where all of the hits were coming from. High praise indeed. :)


Bill: You might try contacting a local mosque (if there are any) with regard to Arabic classes. If they don't teach any classes themselves, they should still be able to link you up with a tutor.

"I hate it when UU's equate Christian Fundamentalists with Islamic Fundamentalists. I hate using the word Fundamentalist outside an American Prostestant context.I hate it when UU's equate Christian Fundamentalists with Islamic Fundamentalists. I hate using the word Fundamentalist outside an American Prostestant context."

Actually, many Muslims agree with this sentiment. To us, an Islamic "fundamentalist" is one who practices the fundamentals of Islam (especially the pillars of Islam) and has nothing to do with the likes of UBL or al-Qaeda.


"When people you know discuss the religion of Islam, do they seem to know what they're talking about, or do they rely wholly on information they receive from the popular media?"

In person, because I live in S'pore, most non-Muslims are fairly knowledgable about Islam because the number of Muslims here is fairly large (about 15% of the total population) and their daily interactions with Muslims are high. So that's the good news. On the internet, the situation is almost completely reversed. Non-Muslims relying upon information from the popular media would almost be a blessing. It seems like a lot of people have fallen into the trap of the "unvirtuous circle," where those people who already have a negative attitude toward Islam rely upon websites that are hostile to Islam for their information.


"How many people do you know express the belief that the secularization of Muslim community is the best hope for the future?"

Very unlikely to happen, IMO, insha'allah. In fact, we would say that Western society has degenerated largely because of secularization. Non-Muslims need to take their religions much more seriously.

23:02  
Blogger Ellis said...

I haven't studied Islam as such; I did read Karen Armstrong's book, The History of God, which is about monotheism, and also part of her The Battle for God, which is about fundamentalisms. They were quite useful.

In college, I took a class in Middle Eastern history, which was enormously useful. Until then, I was ignorant of the history of the Middle East; now I feel like I know more. I took a class in Chinese history, too, which really illuminated that area for me. One class won't give you a grip on a whole culture, but it's a start.

10:07  
Blogger Doug Muder said...

I've been on an Islam/Middle East reading binge for a while now. I just reviewed Reza Aslan's "No God But God" in the current UU World.

A couple of interesting books not about Islam per se, but about the local culture of Islamic countries, are written by young exiles who grew up in California and then returned to their ancestral home: "Come Back to Afghanistan" by Said Hyder Akbar and "Lipstick Jihad" by Azadeh Moaveni.

Akbar is a California teen-ager who spends a few summers with his father -- an old friend of President Karzai who becomes governor of one of those border provinces that Bin Laden might be hiding in.

Moaveni grew up among the Iranian exiles of San Jose -- mostly upper class folks who fled after the Revolution, some with their money and some without. She returned to Iran in 2000 to find a country very different than she had pictured. She's also a brilliant writer; every once in a while I have to stop and read one of her sentences out loud.

11:41  
Blogger SC Universalist said...

I read some books about Islam, all written pre-9/11. I re-read the chapters in the "Cartoon History of the Universe" - I re-read a book of Sufi poetry. I re-listened to some Islamic rock records (mainly UK brand). Cant say I have any reccomendations though.
As to my congregation helping, sure they listened when I gave a talk on the subject. but yes, they seemed to have more media knowledge than actual --
I have to admit that I didnt ask the Muslims I knew at work (all the ones I know are MDs)about Islam. Some were obviously very religious, wearing head scarfs, etc; got along with us southern bbq eaters just fine ---

19:22  
Blogger ogre said...

No (I'd already done a fair bit before 9/11, resulting in a Qu'ran and a volume of hadith sitting on my shelves), but I have been doing more reading on Arabic history.

Congregation's been doing some--but it's not been geared to those who knew much already.

Most people still don't know jack about Islam, and frequently what they know is a crumb of accuracy embeded in a fruitcake of garbage, much of it from the media.

A fair number. Rarer in our congregation than the population at large, but still...

Bill, while "Fundamentalist" has some very specific meanings vis-a-vis Christianity, it seems to be a useful term, to me, in discussing similar impulses and outlooks in other religions. What's your aggravation over?

19:26  

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