Posts Tagged ‘Islam’

“THE CONSENTING FUNDAMENTALIST,” (PART 01)

August 21, 2012

OK, the title of this post is kind of a play on Mohsin Hamid’s “the Reluctant fundamentalist,” (smile) But, I am exploring fundamentalism (in the context of both christianity and Islam) and giving a picture and nonprofessional psychological theories). All of these opinions and theories are directly related to my own experience, but “might” be able to be applied to the experiences of others. I’d love to hear your opinions and thoughtt on the matter.
There are at least four main schools of thought in Suni Islam (I don’t know how many different schools are in shia’ Islam) and hundreds of different strands of christianity. All have different rules and Holy reasons to support their beliefs. I don’t know enough about the other religions to include them in this post, so I won’t.
what makes a person gravitate to a specific type of religion? All would pronounce that “God/ Allah” led them to this particular religion, but I believe that it is more complex than this. We are all looking for “something.” God/Allah gives us that “something” in the form of the religion that we choose. Many people, including me, go through phases and stages of fundamentalism to liberalism. I am not immune from this unsettling practice and will recount my own experiences later in this and other successive posts. but, I do think that there are certain characteristics that make fundamentalism (whether in christianity or Islam) attractive, just as there are characteristics of more liberal approaches to religion which are also very appealing. I am not naive or arrogant enough to think that I am the first who has wondered about such a thing. so, my first thought is to search the internet. I found psychological articles, but forgot DH’s password to our local library, so I can’t read them. (I hate my memory). Many of the books cited, however, either focus on Islam, Violence or Homosexuals in the context of Christianity. I have found two interesting titles that are yet to be translated into formats that I can readily access. the two titles are:
Religious Fundamentalism and Social Identity
By Peter Herriot
Published January 25th 2007 by Routledge – 144 pages
The psychology of religious fundamentalism
RW Hood, PC Hill, WP Williamson – 2005 – books.google.com
If anyone has read them, please give your comments and opinions.
—-
I am a rules person. I have always been. I put on my seatbelt regularly, don’t litter, won’t purposefully Jay-walk (sometimes my dog and/or myself have a problem with walking straight) and generally feel guilty when I do break a law, even if I find it a bit mundain. DH is not necessarily a rules person. If he can get away with not obeying them, he will. But, maybe this is dependent on the specific authoritarian. He finds American Government a bit ambiguous (as he probably does Pakistani Government) and tends not to follow rules, if he can do this without serious consequence to himself. He doesn’t disobey rules as a result of some philosophical or hunamistic epiphany. He disobeys when he feels they are not necessary. Yes, this does make him a bit arrogant. As if, he always knows the best or right thing to do and he will never suffer consequences from not obeying the rule. There are also parts of Islam that he finds difficult to follow. I won’t elaborate here, but sufficed to say, he is the last person that needs to adopt a strict fundamentalist approach. Stop! when I say that he might be adopting a “fundamentalist approach,” don’t call the FBI. This has nothing to do with violence or AntiAmerican sentaments. Yet, there certainly are more strict segments of Islam and he seems to gravitate to them. He is from the Suni School of Hanifi, and although I will elaborate about the schools of Islam — at least, touch on some of the differences and leave the rest to other more knowledgeable people in a later post; just know that Hanifis are pretty strict about some things: the role of women seems to be one of them. but, I’m jumping the gun a bit. Let me go back to my own understanding and experiences.
I understand this draw to a fundamentalistic approach, somewhat. when I was raising my children, (those Adult ones that I talk about occasionally), I admit, I was quite the fundamentalist. Let me elaborate.
*We would do devotion at least once a day — many times twice.
*When my children got into trouble, part of their punishment always required them to read, write or explain passages in the bible which supported my reasoning for the punishment.
*Only christian music (and only certain kinds of christian music because much of it sounded much too secular for me) was to be played on Sunday… … and only positive uplifting music for the rest of the week.
*No drinking, smoking, tattoos, substance use, piercings or tabacco use and limited contact with those who do because we wouldn’t want them to influence you.
*no premarrital sex, (which included any contact with certain private body parts and intimate kissing) and only group dating when you are teens(fifteen and up).
* no celebration of Halloween.
* no movies over PG rating soon turned into — no TV.
* no swearing or saying some words that aren’t actually swear words, but have negative connotations.
*dressing modestly meant not showing cleveage; nothing above midcalf (including splits); no spaghetti strap or bear shoulder and no too tight clothing.
*no working on sunday.
*eat healthy, which means limited sugar and preservatives.
*The Parent’s decision is the final one: while you might try a good debate, there is no questioning.
Those are the only ones that I can think of at the moment, but I am sure that my family would say that I was quite conservative. We attended a baptist church which affiliated itself with Southern Baptist, but in some circumstances, made every attempt to be as conservative as posible. It was only recently that the church had supported interracial marriage, yet, I know that many – most – of the members would (outwardly support interracial marriage — but wouldn’t want their child to engage in such a practice).
So, I ask myself, “what drew me to this conservative / fundamentalist lifestyle? (I’ll get to the “How did it effect your children?” and “why did I leave” questions later). I have always been drawn to the “simple” lifestyle. I rarely go shopping, don’t eat out much and am not very materialistic. I enjoy the simple things like spending time with family, card and board games and believe that relationships and communication is the key to a happy life. I wanted my children, above all, to have a good strong character. I did not want them to be caught up in the glammor and glitz of the world or think that dishonesty, deception or jealousy/envy were “just normal.” I was looking for simplicity and peace. (In fact, I continue to look for such things and even dabbled in quakerism to find it). I was looking for order, security and absolutes. Absolutes are a good way TO ACHIEVE stability. In a world of ambiguity and “shades of grey,” many people search for a solid foundation to stand on: one that does not waffle or crumble. and, I felt that I had to give this to my children, also. My life was chaotic, understandably so, after a breakup with my current husband and a move to a very small town where resources and transportation was limited. My children felt insecure. I was looking for a set of guidelines inwhich I could use to help myself and my children adjust. My own family was kind of fragmented on their support and was still dealing with the consequences of my children’s skin color. That is to say, they were still adjusting to public scrutiny and formulating their own opinions about my children’s racial and cultural heritage. surely, Jesus wouldn’t support racism or ableism or discrimination or socioeconomic preferences or…. … —
so, I looked to christianity — fundamentalist christianity for the answers. After all, God Loves everyone and if Love was the central foundation, how could we actually go wrong?? Familial peace and justice was the goal(nevermind that peace and justice have a difficult time coexisting, sometimes), success was an extra perk. You also find that the more fundamentalist a group is, the more close-knit they are. I longed for a close-knit family. It is natural to want to be a respected member of a community. You want to be “part of the whole.” with my own family being so fragmented, I wanted a family that I could count on; a family that shared my concerns and values; a family that really cared for the well being of my children; and a famly that respected me as an individual and benefitted from my contributions. I don’t think that I ever achieved my goal for “family,” and there are many contributors to these ends. to summarize, my disability, my political ideology, my views on social issues such as poverty and racism and communal hipocrasy were the most dominant factors.
Here was another problem. While I whole-heartedly supported those individual rules, especially those spoke about in the “Sermon on the Mount,” and those that advocated for justice and social equality; I didn’t realize that there was a hierarchy. In many christian circles, conservative politics trumps any other conservative values. For example: Let’s say that to negate materialism and support a simple and honest living, you limit the amount of things that you buy your children. You teach them to work for things they want. But, because you supremely believe in the ideology of capitalism, you don’t begrudge businesses from “doing whatever they must,” to make their money. Personally, you talk about giving and charity, but politically, you support cutting social programs. While “Jesus loves the little children,” the unspoken community mindset was that he must love some children more than others because racism was summarily ignored(unless it was perpetrated with malice and visible contempt), socioeconomic disparages were minimized and international concerns were met with either pity, apathy or an opportunity to convert. There might even be a time, as there was for my own daughter, where you (as in the entire community/ church family that I allowed to help raise my children), supported her decision to get on Birth control between the ages of fifteen and sixteen (the support was secret and without my knowledge), but, “you” outwardly and politically spoke out against teens having premaritral sex and “planned Parenthood.” You advocated for abstenance and scorned those who supported birth control, yet, privately, —- Well, — just this once!!!! You, the community, talked about those lazy welfare people and how the bible looks down on laziness. Yet, You would hire an affluent college student from a socioeconomic background similar to your own, as opposed to a person you supposed was “on welfare.” — and, that included myself. I could never find employment in that small town. This Hierarchy of values actually meant that those who were most accepted in the group were those who first and foremost, held similar political views. the values concerning individual living was largely left to the “individual.” I was looking for an “Acts” community. And, while I admit that no community is perfect, I found that noone really wanted to change, even if they saw where the Bible might mandate such a change. The other part of this reason is that “noone,” (at least as far as I know — with the exception of christ) has or will live the religion as purely as it has been defined in a Holy text. But, I found that many people were politically right wing, yet personally (and quite privately) they desired the exceptions that a more liberal approach would afford them. I also realized, much to my dismay that the more close knit a community seems to be, the more exclusive it also is. You can’t be “close” and “inclusive” at the same time because this “bond” relies on a shared value set — one that you would not have if you included most everyone. So, (although sometimes unspoken) there were definitely qualifications to be met for inclusion. And, at one time, I was willing to pay that price for belonging. For that time in my life, I was willing to sacrifice some of my own personal beliefs so that our family would be accepted in such a community.
(TO BE CONTINUED)

Another post about Ramadan — from a Christian in an interfaith family

August 13, 2012

I wrote a lengthy Post about ramadan, but I think DH accidentally deleted it. So now I have to do it all again. That’s frustrating. But, here we go and know that it will probably be twice as long as the original post.
Honestly, my thoughts and plans, rather fantasy, about celebrating Ramadan was very different than reality. I imagined that my husband and I would listen to Quranic messages together. He would get more generous and more understanding and closer to God as Ramadan progressed And I would take the messages that were most like the Biblical messages and remember to apply them. After all, we could all use some reminding of our fundamentals…. and I must admit, my prayer life could be better. Muslims pray five times a day and I probably could increase my prayer life which is always a good idea. There’s nothing saying a Christian can’t pray five times a day. I would pray my prayers when my husband prayed his prayers. At the end of Ramadan I would cook something special. We would have a meaningful holiday and pass this tradition down to our LO(Smile). We would Celebrate Ramadan in our own special way. We would have wonderful Eid traditions that we handed down to our little baby. Everything would be full of meaning and reflection and family connections. That however is not how it is happening.
I seem to be on the peripheral of Ramadan. We don’t share messages together we rarely talk about any message that is given. And I admit that I am readily willing to listen to any scholarly message in English about the Quran or Ramadan. But I want to do it together. I want to listen and discuss. My husband does not like discussing. I suppose my approach might be a bit American in nature it’s kind of like the Bible study approach. But I thought it would have some value.
There’re many reasons I am on the fringes of Ramadan but I’m going to name one here right now. I don’t go to the mosque much. So, I take my responsibility for that one. I should insist on going to the Mosque with DH, if I want a full meaningful experience. This Ramadan my husband has gone to two specific mosques. one mosque is very diverse. This is the mosque that has the aggressive headscarf policewomen. yes I felt as if they were policing my headscarf which by the way never wanted to obey my commands. However we have went one other time to this mosque and I didn’t find the women nearly as aggressive. The only time my headscarf was pulled into submission by some African women who were sitting next to me, was when a man came into the women’s quarters. — twice… but I am ok with that because I saw it as a way to protect my respectability — or something similar. . the other mosque that my husband goes to periodically especially when I don’t go, is an exclusive Desi mosque, AKA “the men’s Mosque.” Of course, women are not exactly forbidden to come but they are certainly not welcomed and there is no place for them to pray. “After all,” DH reminds me, ” it is not mandatory for women to come at all.” What disturbs me most is that my wonderful husband is okay with this logic. he does not see a problem if women want to go to the mosque, He says, ” they can go to at least seven other ones around the city…” … I think there’s more mosques springing up all of the time, now … the Exclusive Desi one was not even listed on the Google Search. . In any case, DH has no problem with the fact that it is all men. And, they have (according to DH) some awesome food. Which probably means that, women are at home, cooking for the men to go to a mosque that they are not even welcome to attend. And… … DH has no problem with this. He won’t even offer an objection, and this is America(the land of opposition and objections), not Pakistan.
obviously and unfortunately, he doesn’t see us celebrating Ramadan together. My participation is not mandatory. and it seems to make no difference to him whether I go to the Mosque or not. now of course it will make a difference with the baby so for that reason he might want me to go but not for my specific support.
So, I ask him to put the question to his mother: Would she attend “Mosque,” if one gave her a space to pray? his mother and father live in Pindi. This is not a village, but mosques still don’t openly welcome women. His mother said that she would certainly go, if there was a place for her to pray. Her daughter, R, (DH’s youngest sister) goes to the mosque in Lahore with her new husband. His mother asked if I would go with her and I gave her a definite “yes.” I understand that attending a mosque is manditory and this is seen as a gift to the women since they have household duties and/or children to care for. But, there are many women who have neither of these responsibilities. Besides, by “not” giving women a space to pray at a mosque (we haven’t even gotten to the equal space argument) aren’t we saying that women’s spirituality is less important than men’s? furthermore, I wonder if this “men’s mosque,” is so conservative about women’s participation, what else are they conservative on? and: why was it even built? Apparently, it was only built two years ago, yet there were many other mosques quite close in proximity already in full swing.
It strikes me that one of the reasons my husband says it’s not a big deal for women to attend the mosque, is because he says women tend to socialize more than they should. He says they are loud and they tend to want to socialize instead of listening to the message. But I have to point out, it wasn’t two days ago that he was saying to me how wonderful it was that he was making some contacts at the mosque. Hello, socialization. It’s just done in a different way. I also pointed out that if they have a imam right in front of them or have the speaker right in front of them, they probably would be more likely to be more quiet.
And there’s a considerable amount of women who are frustrated with those loud social women and who does want to hear the message. I know because when I was at the mosque there were quite a few African women and American women who voiced their stern opposition to those loud talkers.
I talk about “sex discrimination,” which I am sorry to say doesn’t even seem to touch DH. The men are quite friendly, the prayers and messages are dynamic and the food is awesome!
Anyway, we did go to the diverse mosque, once. And actually it was a nice gathering. Now of course I couldn’t follow those prayers. No I don’t speak Arabic but it wasn’t just that. Every time I thought the prayer was over because there was a little interlude where people began to discuss and talk then , it would start back again. I didn’t know whether the prayer had ended or just … … took a little break — for some unknown reason. And yes my obstinant headscarf never tends to stay in place. I wonder if there is an elastic version of this headscarf that just encompasses the entire head like a showercap. Ok, that doesn’t sound very attractive, but it would get the job done. Maybe that would be better for me. It doesn’t help that my little guy loves to yank the headscarves off of myself and any other woman in close proximity. Yes, that is exactly what we got when we went to the mosque. He decided that he would be a bit more social than usual and yank women’s headscarves off their heads. This did not amuse the African woman sitting next to me. I think it was the fact that she was dressed in a very colorful outfit and headscarf and he was fascinated by it. Yet they weren’t amused. They were however enamored by my baby because he was so good we ended up staying until 1230 at night. Know that it certainly did mess up my sleeping schedule for the next two days. But my baby was not cranky at all. He wanted to get down and blow bubbles and crawl around on the floor which by the way I restricted his movement because I didn’t want him wondering off without me. Also we know that he has a fascination with people’s iPhones and there were a few women who plugged in their iPhones to be charged while they were praying. I was somehow surprised that women brought their iPhone chargers and plugged in their iPhones while they were playing. OK, I admit that I was a little bit India’s that I hadn’t thought of it myself. I thought somehow it would have been a bit disrespectful to do so. I don’t know why. I just did.
My little guy was very social. Much more social than I thought he would be. He seemed to be quite comfortable there. I think one of the reasons is because everybody was sitting on the floor. He likes people sitting on the floor. and, most women didn’t try to get him to come to them. they just waited until he was comfortable. he likes people sitting on the floor because They are his height and somehow they seem more personable down there. If they’re standing or sitting in a chair they just don’t seem to be as inviting for him.
I think the women like me more if I have a baby. Strangely enough it was unlike our Pakistani picnic experience. I didn’t really know what to expect when I went to the mosque. One woman actually remembered me and sat down and talk to me all night.
Now here is one of my dilemmas. I was called sister. I have no problem with this. I am, after all, a person of the book, Which means that I believe in the Bible so I am actually a believer in one of the three Abrahamic faiths. So maybe sister is not out of the realm of possibilities for me. However I don’t want them to think that I am Muslim and feel betrayed when they find out I am not. I don’t want to act as if I’m something I’m not. But I don’t want to brandish the big C on my chest and every time someone says something I retort ” did you know I’m a Christian?” I don’t want to make a big deal about it. But there isn’t anything that distinguishes me as a Christian from them as Muslims. I wear my headscarf. I don’t fast because I’m nursing. I sit in a chair instead of getting down on the floor to pray but that could be for a number of reasons. Maybe it doesn’t even matter. I just don’t want the women to think that I have somehow fooled them. That would be counterproductive to what I’m trying to do which is to Forge good relationships between them and myself.
Another thing I did like about Our Mosque experience was the five minute English message that talked about being gentle and kind with your children especially since school is starting and while we certainly want our children to succeed, we also don’t want to make it so difficult that they feel the stress. I thought it was a very good message. And I found out that they’re having a celebration for the children. No my baby will not be able to enjoy the celebration yet. But I think my husband is getting excited just thinking about the time when he will be able to. And I’m glad they’re doing a celebration for eat. And of course we realize that many children won’t get to celebrate Christmas and Easter and that our baby is special in that he will celebrate all the holidays. The be plenty of time to spoil him with gifts and other things. Not that I necessarily want to spoil him but you know what happens. I also remind myself that there are probably a number of children who do celebrate at least Christmas because many families are interfaith now. many times there is a brother or a sister or a cousin or a mother and father who are still Christian after the Muslim converts. Therefore it is likely that they could celebrate Christmas. Maybe. And any case I wanted to give money for the eve celebration. And my husband reflected on how he could be more patient with our baby.
We were invited over to a doctor’s house after E was over to enjoy their hospitality. They also have a son who is about fifteen days older than our baby. Of course I’m certain that there is going to be comparisons made… Etc. But it will be nice to meet another couple. With a baby at the same age. And his wife is from the US, as well. I don’t know if she’s Muslim or not. But I do know she’s from the US.
any case, one thing I have learned this Ramadan, is that if I wanted to be special I have to make it so. My husband is not inclined to make Ramadan a family affair. It just was never done. His mother was just fine with not going to the mosque and hearing the messages. It just was not an option for his mother, so her role was to cook. If I want Ramadan to mean more than just cooking, I need to seek out those meanings for myself. I’m also fully aware that there will come a time, when my baby will not be experiencing Ramadan in the way that I am experiencing Ramadan. He will be with the men and I will be again on my own to experience Ramadan by myself. But hopefully by then I will have lots of women friends.
To top it off, I invited my daughter to the eve celebration. Now I invited her because there’re many Christians to go to eat celebrations. We have an interchurch and interfaith organizations to go to eat celebrations. Not only do they learn about Islam or Ramadan, but, many christians celebrate with Muslim friends. So I didn’t think it was out of the question to invite my daughter, after all her little brother will be experiencing his first eat. However she forcefully declined. She was almost apald that I would invite her to a mosque. Now I understand the fundamentalist Christians who feel very adamant about not stepping foot in the mosque. But this woman in her Christianity will go to a gay karaoke bar, tattoo parlor and redneck tailgating concerts; but, she has a problem with a Muslim place of worship??? So, she is totally comfortable with obssessive drinking, dressing in drag, all types of drama on the stage; but she is not comfortable with a different form of prayer?
Anyway, I am very much disappointed by her close mindedness.
This year it is me and my baby. We will make Ramadan and eid the best we can. And, I’ll have to start early to try to make the next Eid even better for LO.

the hunt!

March 28, 2012

I have mentioned it before, we are looking for a house. The truth is, since we didn’t go to PK, we have decided to step up the hunt for a good house.
Last Friday, my daughter and I went to look at four houses. One of them was only 36k, but needed lots of work. We know nothing about house fixing and although her fiancee does, he doesn’t have time. I liked house3 the best.
I thought of posting the links, but then, the address would be displayed and maybe that is just a bit TMI. I’ll post pics when we decide to buy or if I can get the pics without displaying the address.
Muslims are not suppose to benefit from or pay interest. So, we are trying to get money together so that we won’t have to obtain a loan/mortgage — or better put, (obtain a loan that will result in interest). so, we might get a loan from Muslim brothers, etc. I am not sure, yet.
. i am trying to learn everything that i can about the buying process. There are classes on “house buying,” from the City Neighborhood Housing Project, but when I called them, they said that since I was not getting a loan or paying a mortgage, I would not benefit from the classes. the only advice they gave me was to obtain an independent inspection and appraisal. They say that the cost is worth it. DH wants to find any Government programs or such that “gives you assistance.” But, the only ones that I find mandate that you have a mortgage or get a loan for a mortgage.
Our qualifications include:
*more than 1500sqft,
*at least 3bdrms,
*relatively safe neighborhood(although this is kind of subjective),
*Relatively Good school system(although this is also a bit subjective),
*no fixing up or repairs necessary,
*close to work — on the NorthWest side of city,
*close to a busline (preferred),
*wood or tile floors (preferred),

I know to ask about the age and servicing of the furnace and hot water heater. I am not a fan of the wooden windows and like the newer windows with the good locks. I know to check the roof, crawl space, flood damage, plumming, septic or city water and flooring. I know to ask about the utility bills. Did I forget anything?
i would love to hear about your house experiences — good and bad. please share.

Eid mubarak! — and other thoughts about the mosque — all rolled up into one.

August 30, 2011

There are many complex variables to worship. Of course, worship should be a time when you do, say or sing to get closer to God/Allah. But, there is a communal part to worship and somehow, (and I think that most people have this expectation or hope) you also want to develop relationships with those who share your spiritual beliefs and are worshipping along side of you. I’ll admit, I was never one for “collective prayer,” it seemed so conscribed. Yet, I do understand the sense of communal oneness in such an act.
I wonder, did I fool myself or is it a myth somewhere: the thought that Muslims are, somehow, quite close knit in their communities and relationships – almost as close as those Amish. (smile) We have attended two different mosques on a regular basis. I wish that I could tell you that I was openly greeted and embraced. I can’t. Now, I need to admit here that I always feel a bit timid and shy and vulnerable when going to the mosque. Sure, you wonderfully assertive people will tell me to get over it and stop being so emotional. Quit whining, you will say. Bla bla bla: it has went through my mind several times. But, it is really a combination of a few things which makes me feel vulnerable.
1. It is still taking me some time to get use to this male/female segregation worship. It is not that I don’t enjoy the company of women. I am “sisterhood,” all the way! It is that I feel that my guide is leaving me at a crucial moment. In churches, I can take his hand, lean over and whisper something in his ear, ask “Tum Theek ho” to gage his comfort level. All this is missing at the mosque. When we have Muslim taxi drivers, they drop me off at the “women’s entrance,” and DH at the Men’s entrance. So, I have to enter alone.
2. All mosques are a bit different and it is hard as a blind person to understand what is expected of me. Where do my shoes actually go? (If I have not taken them off yet, it is not because I am unaware of the rule, it is just that I am not sure where the shoes are being put); I think that the headscarf knows that I am not Muslim, thus, resists my efforts to keep it on; how conservative is the dress of other women in this mosque; during Ramadan, some people are strict about only eating dates and drinking water between the call to prayer and the actual prayer and some include fruit and snacks; someone has to help me with the food because I don’t know “what” is there or “where” it is (consequently, someone always has to serve me which makes me feel a bit uncomfortable);
3. I am not Muslim. I don’t want the sisters to think that I am “playing Muslim” when I am not. Yet, I don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb and/or disrespect anyone in the process. There are some discussions – some acts – that I am precluded from because of my religious affiliation. Yet, I am never quite sure where the line is. And, I wonder, does my Non-muslim-ness make it more difficult for sisters to bond with me? This is not an ethnographic study and I am not an observationist – or at least, I don’t want to be or to be seen that way. There is a certain objectivity that an observationist gives to the experience and I would rather be more participatory than that. Yet, obviously, there is a line to my participation.
4. I have a guide dog. I don’t take him to the mosque, but if the same friends take us places or want to expand our relationship, they have to be comfortable with the dog — — which many are not. Actually, we rarely get that far. But, I know that many are not comfortable with my dog and this causes all of us some discomfort. There is a limit to how much I can leave him at home and honestly, if I leave him at home too much, it kind of defeats the purpose of having one. However, when we have to depend on rides, I have to put their comfort first.
My hope was that we could knit together a community of brothers and sisters (both from the church and the mosque), as well as some work colleagues — maybe — to be like close family. What church, you ask. And, I must agree, because I have not made much headway there, either. While I admit that the mosque is a bit more accepting than most churches that I have attended, there still feels like a disconnect. Sure, men at the mosque are more willing (than men at a church) to drive us to and from the mosque. They do seem to be “more helpful.” But, I was not just looking for “help” I was looking for a community to belong to – a community of interaction and the sharing of ideas and ultimately ourselves.
[side note: I think that is also what my daughter is looking for and one of the reasons (certainly not the only one, because he seems to be a much better guy than the others), that she wants to marry her ex-morman boyfriend who has tons of sibs and cousins]. The “Ex” is on the “mormon” part, not on the “boyfriend” part.
Anyway, at first, We began attending a very small mosque. The Imam would drive us to and from the mosque. Sometimes, I would talk to his wife. I thought that we wre developing a relationship with the couple. The man went off to study Arabic for three months in DC. I called the wife a couple of times to see if she needed anything. I got no response. The imam did not even call us when he returned. We had expressed excitement about his trip and were generally interested in his progress & experiences. Since we were one of the main families who would worship (and I use that term loosely in my case) at the mosque where he gave lectures, I kind of expected a closer relationship with the members. The second mosque is quite a bit larger. The one thing that I do like about this mosque is that there are lots of different nationalities present. We know men from Somalia, Gambia, Senegal, Lebanon, Pakistan, India and some American born&raised Muslims. The men of the mosque are willing to pick up DH and I and return us to our homes. Our Gambian friend has a Christian wife, but she never comes to the Mosque. There is one bright spot. One Auntie, Shaaesta, does sit and talk with me. I realize that she could very well sit and pray/talk with the other Aunties. But, this pashton woman will sit and talk with me every time I see her at the Mosque. Sure, sometimes, she can be opinionated and she usually worries that I will fall down and/or trip over something on the floor. I wonder how much more intense this preoccupation with my falling will become when I have the baby and need to carry him around. ? Yet, she is kind and when we sit and talk, she really listens to what I have to say. I have not seen her outside the Mosque, however. It is a promising start. And, I must understand that *one* person can make a difference.
Now, DH is celebrating Eid with our Gambian friend and his Christian wife. That is where he was invited. And, I am stuck here at work. Dh has many more personal days than I do. When he works over, he gets comp time and he has been working at the company longer. Besides, whenever we have doctor appointments, I have to take off 30mins before my work day ends. He does not because his work starts 30mins before mine does and ends 30mins before mine does. So, He had the time to take off and still get paid. I don’t. and, frankly, I am a bit emotional about not getting to celebrate Eid with him. So, I’ll stop here with the future hope that next year, we all will celebrate Eid together.

Hear the Call of III (International Interfaith Initiative)

January 25, 2011

For the last year, I had tried to find interfaith resources and people in interfaith marriages. I found a wonderful group of Muslim/Christian couples. The problem is that their meetings are in Southall, London. Obviously, that is not going to work. I have written on interfaith issues in previous posts and if I was more technically savvy like most of you, I would point you to their links. SORRY! I just don’t know how! And, dh is not interested. (smile)
I even thought about starting a “meetup group” or something similar for
‘intercultural’ couples. This came from a desire for both of us to feel strong in our faith. I wanted a place where we could unabashedly explore and express our faith with others who held similar desires, yet were open to their partner’s faith. But, I had to “find” the couples, first.
There were a few problems with finding interfaith couples that live in Indianapolis or the surrounding areas.
I could not find any interfaith couples at all. Now, I found the Dovetail magazine which talked about interfaith families. But, there was no ‘interfaith family’ in Indiana that I could talk with. And, even if there were: it is most likely one might be catholic or agnostic or atheist. In this case, they don’t have the same challenges as a Muslim and a Christian might have. I have also discovered that
1. just because one is a part of a minority faith, does not necessarily mean that they will accept others from less prominent faiths. Now, I say this, but I know that there are more than six million Muslims (maybe 8 million, my reporting might be off; but at least, six), in the USA. [So, i guess “minority faith status” might be kind of relative], Yet, as I have reported, imran and I have not made lasting connections with either the people at a mosque or at a church. Is some of this disconnectedness due to our status as an “interfaith family?” I don’t have enough experiences with mosque going individuals to make a definitive guess, but I do know that in the case of church going people, the word “interfaith,” is rarely spoken and definitely somehow not applied to Christian/Muslim couples.
2. this is the Midwest, people don’t really like to talk about their faith, unless they are certain that they will be supported. Interfaith is kind of a taboo subject.
3. did I mention that we have trouble with transportation? so searching the state is just not an option for us.
4. ‘faith’ is so subjective. What might be important to me in my faith, might not be as important to you in yours.
5. We are talking about “Muslim” here. At best, his religion is ignored and at worst, it is criticized.
So, here we sit!
And, when Rev Michael and Barb Slater from editors of the “Together magazine and who are CoChairs of the National Association of InterChurch and Interfaith Families
http://www.NAIIFOnline.org
Posted a desire for a Muslim/Christian couple to join the board, I was thrilled.
Now, of course, DH and I are newly married, so I did not suggest us, specifically. But, the thought of another couple bringing their wisdom to bear on such a sensitive subject and the fact that they actually were open to such a Christian/Muslim couple frankly, thrills me to no end. Before now, they had focused more on varying cultures and traditions within more similar faiths. Some will argue that Christianity and Islam are similar, but let’s not get into that debate.
And, to my Hindu, Buddhist and other faith friends (I can’t spell sorry), I realize that, as of yet, Hinduism and other such faiths are not included. I am not sure of the reason, but as of now, the farthest I have seen “interfaith initiatives” go is to Judiism.
So, here’s my Q:
Is there any interfaith couple “Specifically Muslim/Christian,” who would be willing to serve on their board? I have just received information about membership and specifically board membership. We (due to our zealousness concerning interfaith issues and probably because they don’t know any other Muslim/christian couple [passionate or not]), have been extended an invitation to be a board couple. It sounds quite intriguing (to me) and not too burdensome (to DH). yet, I still wonder if “we” are “qualified” to do so.
Whether it be “US” or “SOMEONE ELSE,” , this is an opportunity for the Christian/Muslim couple to be heard. Hey, why not throw a bit of culture (Pakistani) and disability (Blindness) into the mix. I am all for diversity. And it would be a great learning experience and opportunity for us! But, honestly, I admit that another couple might be more qualified for the position and might do a better job at being an effective mouthpiece to show the positive side of an interfaith(Christian/Muslim) marriage, present an objective viewpoint concerning the struggles that an interfaith family faces and give suggestions and tips for those contemplating such an endeavor. They also might be able to dispell the myth of the spiritually stunted confused child; similar to the stereotypes you hear about when people talk about bicultural or multicultural or biracial children. The myth lives on despite the many who can prove its obsurdity!
… …. …
And, just as I was about to post this, DH sends me an email detailing plans from the International Interfaith Initiative to host some seminars at our Indiana Interchurch Center.
What????
We have an Indiana Interchurch Center?
There are five upcoming events in Februrary, alone. Hmmm, maybe February is “interfaith month,” which also happens to be the month in which DH has a birthday. (smile) He received this information from a Muslim email list that he belongs to. It seems that the members of the Muslim Email listserv are a bit more open to interfaith initiatives than their Christian counterparts. Now, I am under no illusions. “interfaith,” does not always mean “interfaith families.” And, I remember how much “interfaith dialog,” and “interfaith celebrating,” went on at the last “interfaith event” that was held close to the Thanksgiving holiday. But, it is a start!

My first Ramadan

October 7, 2010

One of my firsts!
September 3, 2010
I have not written in my blog for a while, but I wanted to write about Imran’s visit and the start of Ramadan.
People in MC relationships (Muslim/Christian) [No Christian offense because I put Muslim first, it is not a comment about dominant faith, etc] – [people are so sensitive].
Approach Ramadan differently.
My goal was to respect the fast and not eat because Imran was not eating.
But….
I wondered if I was kind of “thumbing my nose), because I was participating in a fast that was not mine to participate in.
Yet, I did not want to tempt Imran.
So, I ate/eat discretely.
I got up early to prepare a breakfast. I made some pretty flavorful food, but I knew that it was not authentic Pakistani food. When I did buy parathas, I seemed to burn them. My cooking&baking skills are disappearing and who knows why.
Imran came on August 8th and had a job interview on the 13th of August. He actually had one on the 10th of August for a Customer Service position and the one on the 13th was for a script writer/ assistive technology teaching position.
We were hoping for the latter interview to yield a job, but with today’s economy, we would take any job offered.
But, back to Ramadan:
So, I was thrilled that we were invited to one of his friends’ house to break the fast. This was on Saturday, the 14th, so we had already spent three days of Ramadan.
He had forgotten to mention (I think that “avoided the issue” might better describe it, but I am not quibbling on this point) that I have a guide dog. Fallbrook, my guide dog, can not stay at home when no one is there to watch him. It truly is like having a small child. But, we were invited to a traditional Pakistani home and the parents and even Imran’s friend was quite afraid of the dog. I strongly suggested that Imran go without me. I did not want to make anyone uncomfortable, but there was no one to watch Fallbrook. As reluctant as Imran was to bring up the situation, he was even more determined that I accompany him. We decided that I would take the dog: (the family said that it would be ok, as long as we kept him outside). And, I prepared for it. It was a bit hot, but I brought extra water. But, when we got there, it was suggested that we keep the dog inside, but in the entryway: where there was no carpet. It worked out rather well.
The family consisted of a mother and father,(who were visiting) their children, A., B., and C., (A and B are females) and C is a male and married to D. C & D also have a two year old son. D., C.’s wife, is an American. A will be getting married soon and moving out. B is blind and we talked lots about her GRE, Braille skills, etc. She has taught in Pakistan and we talked about some of the differences and resources that she could find here.
I expected to have a large Pakistani dinner. What I had was vegetable rice, biryani, chicken in a spicey sauce and some pita bread that served as Naan. Oh, and D and I ate a bit of fruit before the fast. She said that she was not fasting either. At first, I thought that she may not be Muslim, but, upon later reflection, I think that she is Muslim, just was not fasting that day.
It was wonderful to talk about cultural differences, compare Urdu notes and just enjoy the evening. Imran and I have not had much response in regards to finding people to take him to the mosque, etc. He had one Indian friend, but he went back to India. The last couple of calls to various mosques did not result in any contacts being made and no Mosque attendance.
Imran bragged about my urdu. I wish that he had not because I have not used it in a while and frankly, it is not that good at all! But, he cajoled me into singing one of our favorites, “Tayri Yaad” by Adnan Sami. Of course, he would sing it with me. The problem was that I know the song much better than he does. So, soon enough, his masculine voice ceased to resonate and, of course, I was on my own for a bar or two. They were impressed, I was embarrassed. .

The other intercultural couple sang Pakistan’s national Anthem… … put us to shame. I don’t even know it and could not pick it out.
Does anyone have a link?
No pakoras, no samosas, but the vegetable rice and spicy chicken was quite tasty! The biryani was a bit too spicy for me.
But, we thoroughly enjoyed the meal and the company!
I demonstrated my “I-Bill,” Thanks to Imran, I have a way to recognize currency.
It happened in Dallas. Someone thought that they gave me a $10, but it was really a $1. Now, I am not jumping to conclusions and assuming that there was any malicious intent. In the past, we would have to ask a sighted person the denomination of our currency and then fold it accordingly, so that we would not have to continue to ask all of the time. But, now, there is a small device that will read and speak the denomination. It is quite small. The end of the bill is slid into the device and it will announce the amount of currency. So, Imran bought me an I-bill, after my unfortunate miss hap in Dallas. And, I got to show it off! (smile)

We also visited one of our favorite restaurants “Magoo’s California Pizza,” which is Halal and owned by a Pakistani family.
We broke the fast with dates and a kind of sweet rosewater: … … Rahoofsa????
He had a place to pray and all was good.
We had a good time and went out by ourselves.
There is something “free” about not having to rely on someone else’s time frame.
But, we really did have to rely on the timeframe of public transportation, so we were not as “free” as I pretend.
(smile)
Yet, Ramadan celebrations were great: despite the fact that I could not provide him a “close to Pakistani” experience.

I realized two important things from this wonderful evening with the family.
I tend to give up too easily. Imran always looks for the compromise, he makes every attempt to make things work. For me: A “no” is a “no.” I take things for face value and try to work within that mind frame. Imran is always looking for the compromise. … even with people he barely knows. Many times, people are not as rigid as I might think that they are. And…. Each family has their own way of blending cultures. Some accept extended family into their homes and some do not. Some cook lots of Pakistani food and some do not. Some American counterparts learn Urdu and some do not. Some Pakistanis wear their traditional clothes and some do not. Some take frequent trips to Pakistan and some do not. It is whatever makes the couple and extended family feel comfortable. Certainly, I would not want Imran to lose his culture and/or minimize his customs. But, the specific blend is up to the individual couple. I think that I had been oversensitive to the fact that people might accuse him of “losing his culture,” or “assimilating.” Does a relationship with an American already mean that one is “assimilating into the American culture?” So, I have been trying hard to help him preserve his culture.
I am learning to relax a bit. Just as some enjoy a very strong cup of coffee and others enjoy a bit of coffee with their sugar and cream—
As some enjoy very spicy meals while others have a pallet for the more bland selections –
The blend is up to the family.
I can’t tell you that you are not a “real coffee drinker” just because you like lots less coffee in your cup than I do.
If each party makes every attempt to incorporate different blends, then one partner won’t feel as if their specific culture and traditions are being overlooked. It is important that people do keep certain treasures from their own culture. But, each individual person gets to decide “what” those treasures are and how to incorporate them into their new blended life.
I am not advocating choosing a dominant culture and forgetting another’s culture.
But, I don’t have the right to criticize someone else’s particular blend. If both participants are happy, then, it works for them.
It might not be agreeable to me, but I don’t have to live there and/or with such decisions.

In any case, the “friend finding” is slow. But, we are enjoying our ramadan.
And, I, as a Christian am praying more because I pray when he goes to pray.
I can already hear the opposition ringing in my ear about the differences in prayer, worship and so forth.
But, all I can say is that:
you make your compromises and I will make mine. Our Ramadan was good for a first year and I hope that it will get better and better as the years go by.
I thought that Imran would be disappointed that he did not have large Pakistani celebrations. But, for now, he is ok with it.
He is an eternal optimist and I am learning to appreciate this quality more and more.
(smile)

Oh, and he did get the Assistive Technology job.
It took lots of time to figure out the specifics.
It had to do with immigration, employment, CPT, form i94 (I think that was the number: I am already mixed up about the specific forms — there are so many), fulltime work, etc.
Whenever immigration laws rear their ugly head, some people are quite knowledgeable and others think that they are, but are not.
But, in the end, he works full time at
Bosma Enterprizes.
He teaches blind people how to use the computer and he is also working to make more programs accessible so that more blind people can join the work force.
He likes his work and his colleagues.
He started work on the 1st or 2nd of September.

an explosion of a different kind

May 6, 2010

Ok, I have gotten calls from people who just wanted to inform me that “The Time Square Bomber was from Pakistan.”
[I specifically don’t follow — or didn’t — because I didn’t want to talk
and argue about such things] But, I must now. No matter how hard I try, possible terrorist attacks are a part of my world. Muslims and Pakistanis in the USA and those associated with these two groups not only have to worry about getting attacked by a bomb (which is no discriminator of people), but then, they must be attacked from US citizens who think that they are the enemy.
And, oh, by the way, “the Underwear Bomber was too…. maybe there are more Pakistani bombers — it must be in the water… … or religion!”
It does not matter that people are wrong.
this one woman’s indignation made up for any minor geographical miscalculations that she might have made. Faisal Shahzad may not have detinated a bomb, but he was the instrument which allowed fear to ignite terror in the hearts and shatter logic in the minds of people everywhere.
Instead of spending the day thanking God that the plot was foiled and that there were no casualties, I must spend the day feeling the wrath and fear come upon all Pakistanis for that any and all acts of terrorism. Because, it is not enough to deal with the current state of affairs, we must bring up every act of terror that has been perpetrated on our innocent society and make sure that we have sufficiently wired them together by geography, nationality and religion.
And, since I have ties to a Pakistani, I must be naive or stupid. The aftermath of irationality has spread farther than the effects of that bomb ever would.
So, I was off to do research. “Famous Bombers,” who are they? Where is their country of origin? And, of course, this is only limited to those “people” who have made an attempt (successful or not) to detinate a bomb — or those in conspiracy to do so.
It is worth noting that acording to research, the most famous “bombers,” are American Aircrafts. (smile)
Some of the lesser known (at least according to current News Media) are:
The Klu Klux Klan, the Canadian
Front de Libération du Québec, The Italian Red Brigade, The German Red Army Faction, The Peruvian Shining Path, The American Weathermen and The Spanish ETA. I am almost certain that there are no Pakistanis in any of the above mentioned organizations. But, maybe I need to alert my local meteorological society. (smile)
Ok, we have Richard Reid (aka Tariq Raja) from Srilanca.
I know that no one knows Paul Rose who was from Montreal, Quebec. And, of course, Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols are not Pakistani.
I realize that there is a large number of foreigners on the list of “Famous Terrorists.”
I found my information at:
http://www.knowledgerush.com/kr/encyclopedia/Famous_terrorists/
If someone has a better site, let me know.
Here is the thing:
There are many (ok, the census bureau had stats, I just could not read them because they were in that funny table thing) Pakistanis living in America.
There are Organizations such as the Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America which would at the least signify some solidarity with America.
And, statistics say that we have from eight to ten million Muslims in America.
Now, of course there are many Pakistanis that don’t claim to be Muslim,
but even if every Pakistani registered as Muslim, there would still be many more Muslims. Muslims and specifically Pakistani Muslims are under the microscope and anyone who is associated with them will be also.
I have wanted to go to Pakistan, which will probably be delayed — although who really knows.
But, I wonder: for the ease of things, how many Pakistanis feel the need to call themselves “south Asians,” or “Asian,” just to avoid the hastle.
Not that they will avoid it for long.
And, I know that I read a post by The Gori Wife that expressed her anger toward Faisal Shahzad.
I, on the other hand get upset at all of those ignorant people who can’t separate Imran from Faisal —
who has no idea of where Peshawar is (and where it is in relation to Rawal Pindi — not just geographically, but culturally)
and those who think that “muslim,” obviously means Terrorist.
I noticed that the news reports stated that Faisal Shahzad was a “Financial Analyst.” I think that this is the real problem. We should stop targetting and stereotyping Pakistanis or Muslims and start making all kinds of assumptions about those financial analysts. That kind of work could push anyone over the edge!

Interfaith (continued)

April 29, 2010

Hello,
It is time to begin to unravel the Interfaith questions that I have had, yet have been hesitant to blog about.
This “interfaith” discussion has plagued my existance for months.
I have not written about it because, frankly, it is too raw and I wanted a bit of prospective on it before writing.
sometimes, I am not sure if I have any prospective at all — and this is after months, yet, I must write and hopefully, in that way, process some of the
thoughts and questions that I have.
since not many are reading anyway, I am not likely to encounter opposition — although that means that I won’t encounter wise thought either.
And, I must admit that it is helpful for me to see my writing posted and then analyze it again.
For better or worse, here are some thoughts.
Today, I’ll focus on the view of Muslims in the USA and how Church folk see them.
I will try to untangle that stereotype from the actual character of Muslims that I know. 
Portions of a letter that I sent to a friend:
“intertwining politics and religion.” 
Hi Hannah,
(the name has been changed because although it is my letter, it is to my friend and I wanted to protect her identity)
You talked about each side projecting anxious messages about the other: especially when it seems that they might be reaching for a more peaceful dialog.
Yes, I agree. It is certainly prevalent here in the USA.
I know that Christians are afraid that if they are “too peaceful,” or “too understanding,” they will be friends of the world and Satan, in particular. Someone
or something must be the force of opposition that we struggle against. The bible does say that the world will be against us and that we need not fellowship
with Believers.(I will find the biblical quotes in a later post)
It seems, though that there must always be two groups of people: the good and Evil. So, for many reasons,
Muslims have been chosen as that evil group. And, it worked/works for many reasons:
1. it use to be that “Muslim,” also meant “those of different less progressive countries, those of different colors and so the “them,” was easy to oppose
because the “they” were not any of “us” —  not in color and/or  nationality. 
2. Politics and oil fueled the fire
3. we are big “freedom fighters,” (now, no one knows why we have not taken up the cause for liberation in Zimbabwe as Robert Mugabe rules– I guess no oil
or diamonds in Zimbabwe — ), but since cultural ideas (the oppression of women) are mixed with religion, we feel it necessary to fight for those women
which also puts us at odds with Muslim men.  
    For me, it is easy to stand against these. Most people can’t distinguish between cultural practice and Quranic commands. There are now many White American
Muslims, so the “enemy” that they think that they are fighting is harder to recognize: not to mention that there are Arab Christians. Yes, I do believe
that the majority of people who claim to be Christians (sorry to say) are listening to political preachers and fundamentalist evangelists who are guided
by greed and propelled by certain political groups. Some are guided by scripture and their interpretation of it.  Most people that I know either do not
know muslims or don’t interact with
them on a regular basis. And, why would they? they don’t want to be seen as befriending the world.
{James 4:4
You [are like] unfaithful wives [having illicit love affairs with the world and breaking your marriage vow to God]! Do you not know that being the world’s
friend is being God’s enemy? So whoever chooses to be a friend of the world takes his stand as an enemy of God.}
 So, if they must interact with Muslims, they are cordial at best.   
Strangely, though, those who have no faith at all, seem to be much more friendly and accepting of Muslims.
In some sense, they empathize with the Muslim because the Muslim, much like themselves have been judged and deemed without or even Anti  God. thus,   they
negate faith altogether and become supportive.    
I moved to a larger City. This means: more diversity, more access to pub transportation, more feeling like a number, yet more ability to connect with likeminded
invividuals. That “connecting with likeminded individuals” is a myth because I have yet to find them. Admittedly, I have not visited a mosque, where Muslims
worship, but I was looking among my own faith.  I either find those who are so rigid that the concept of an interfaith relationship is unthinkable: or
those who
believe that “Faith” is unimportant to a relationship. These extremes have harpooned me.
Actually, I never believed that Islam was a violent religion or one that oppressed women. I continue to remind people of the christian Crusades, puritans,
Salem witch trials, American Slavery and even how we use our weapons today. Islam has nothing on us: so to speak.     
____________
Personal trials with faith and the world,
I have a dear friend — she use to be a dear friend and I called her my sister.
When I told her about Imran and I, she was supportive. Yet, over time, she has told me that God dictates that she is honest with me.  Which means that she
is quite uncomfortable with the fact that I am going to marry a Muslim. In fact, she seems to become more rigid by the day.
First, she was concerned,
then uncomfortable,
then oppositional.
So, I wonder: Where is this coming from?
Well, I don’t think that this is solely her interpretation of the bible. I don’t think that she is only standing on biblical principle.
Yet, let’s assume for a moment that she is.
The scriptures that she quotes include:
(From the Amplified bible)
2Corinthians 6:14-17
14Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers [do not make mismated alliances with them or come under a different yoke with them, inconsistent with your
faith]. For what partnership have right living and right standing with God with iniquity and lawlessness? Or how can light have fellowship with darkness? 
15What harmony can there be between Christ and Belial [the devil]? Or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?   
16What agreement [can there be between] a temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God; even as God said, I will dwell in and with and
among them and will walk in and with and among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
17So, come out from among [unbelievers], and separate (sever) yourselves from them, says the Lord, and touch not [any] unclean thing; then I will receive
you kindly and treat you with favor,
&
2John 1:7-11
7 For many imposters (seducers, deceivers, and false leaders) have gone out into the world, men who will not acknowledge (confess, admit) the coming of
Jesus
Christ (the Messiah) in bodily form. Such a one is the imposter (the seducer, the deceiver, the false leader, the antagonist of Christ) and the antichrist.   
8Look to yourselves (take care) that you may not lose (throw away or destroy) all that we and you have labored for, but that you may [persevere until you]
win and receive back a perfect reward [in full].   
9Anyone who runs on ahead [of God] and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ [who is not content with what He taught] does not have God; but he who continues
to live in the doctrine (teaching) of Christ [does have God], he has both the Father and the Son.   
10If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine [is disloyal to what Jesus Christ taught], do not receive him [do not accept him, do not welcome
or admit him] into [your] house or bid him Godspeed or give him any encouragement.   
11For he who wishes him success [who encourages him, wishing him Godspeed] is a partaker in his evil doings.   
____
Ok, now, it seems to me that John is telling the members of the Church of Syria not to accept those who were taught about christ and now deceive people
by teaching something different.
In any case, I find many more scriptures concerning our acting in love and kindness. Of course, this brings up the  question:
“is there actually inconsistencies in the bible?”
I will discuss this also further in a following post.
Just know that these are the scriptures that she condemns me with .
So, I would be marrying an unbeliever.
This is true.
But, that exact group of people that we are not to “socialize or fellowship with,”  is debateable. 
The first quoted verse, the one in 2Corinthians is the one most often quoted.
But, I continue to look for a deeper, more clear meaning of these bible scriptures.
Maybe I just don’t want to admit that  this is the true meaning and I am looking for justification.
Yet, when I remember how the bible was used to steel land, condone slavery, oppress wives,  depict dark-skinned people  as inferior, blame the disabled
for their disabilities and justify the killing of those in far off  lands, it leaves me questioning popular interpretation and compels me to search for
something more substantial.  

peeling off the label

April 28, 2010

Anyone would tell you that I dislike labels for a plethora of reasons. I feel that they are constrictive, misleading and one way that we as a society limit and impersonalize people. Furthermore, rarely, can we escape the stigma of a bad one, yet we can easily be excluded from a supposedly positive label. While “blind,” might tell you that I am unable to see, it does not necessarily mean that I count my steps, am a good musician, feel faces of others to understand what they look like, am mentally incapable of understanding complex thought and/or wear sunglasses to hide my eyes. In fact, “Blind,” (unless one uses the adjective [totally]) does not mean that one has “no sight.” It means that one has less sight than the normal and probably due to this limitation has to make some modification in the way that they view the world. I know blind people who are able to drive in certain circumstances. So, for this reason, and many others, I find myself rejecting labels and the people that feel it necessary to use them.

Yet, I have a need to find a lable to describe my specific brand of christianity. I find myself searching for a label that will fit: not because I want a box to fit into, but because I want to find likeminded people to fit into the box with me. Sometimes, not having a specific label, means not having somewhere to belong. It means, not being able to proudly proclaim something and having others affirm you in your stance. Yes, the thing about labels is that many have been put into the category that you are placed into. It is easy to suggest that I create my own space and my own definition of what I am and what I believe. Yes, that is forward thinking and a good suggestion, as far as it goes. But, within that creation and definition, one stands alone and is many times misunderstood. What that suggestion is really saying is “Do your own thing and don’t be afraid to stand alone until someone else finds themselves in a similar situation and joins you — in which case, you will be creating your own label for you and others to fit into and inversely reject.” People don’t like a fluid concept of belonging. They feel much more comfortable understanding “who” belongs and “who does not. And, there are certain criteria for one to “belong” anywhere. I must be “blind,” to be integrated into the blind community. I must adhere to certain idiologies, if I am going to claim to support a specific political party. So, where does this new brand of faith leave me?

I have searched for a church from the time that I arrived in Indianapolis. Actually, the last thing that I did on my computer before I packed it up was to search for churches. One of the first things that I did when I arrived in this city was to start calling churches. Because of my interfaith connections, I had lots of questions to ask them about interfaith issues, as well as issues pertaining to disability, transportation, beliefs and so on. I left many messages. No church seemed to have a secretary and the ones that did, took a message and promised to give me a return call. The calls never came. An amazing thing is that Imran came down to see me one week later and found a Muslim taxi driver to drive him to my house for a small visit. He, with one call, found a Muslim man to help him, yet, my calling all week yielded nothing.

What is that saying?

I must admit to being a bit fearful of churches. Most are fundamentalist and know nothing about Islam and would certainly condemn me for dating a Muslim. It does not matter that there is other points of sin within the church that they do not deal with. And, who really cares, accept for the point that any mention of “Islam,” or “Muslim,” yields such a strong reaction that it is overkill. But, honestly, there is just too much for most people to accept. First, I am blind. Imran is blind. He is a Muslim. I have friends of many different cultures and am open to learning new languages, cultural customs, etc. I believe in the sanctity of life. I adhere to a more “socialist” brand of Christianity than most Americans are comfortable with. I need transportation to participate in worship and church functions. Oh, I am unemployed, so am not of the socioeconomic background that would allow me to lavish gifts of gratitude on those who assist me. That is more than enough for me not to fit into their religious community. So, I look online. And, I find myself trying to craft a new label for myself: one that adequately explains my spiritual beliefs and one that I can comfortably live by.

Check out my written articles and comment at:
http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/487125/jan_wright.html
“Bonds of the Heart should never be broken!”
“Dil kay rishton kay bandhan kabhi naheen tootnay chahiay hain!” — Urdu translation

Conversion

February 9, 2010

01/10/2010
Ok, so as I am reading blogs like:
Gori Girl,
the Gori Wife Life,
Southern Masala
and Susie’s Big Adventure,
it occurs to me that if their husband is Muslim, the women have converted to Islam.
So, people might ask me why I have not converted to Islam, as my friendly bloggers have done.
Here it is in a nutshell,
my Christianity consists of the following:
Christ was perfect. Even Muslims believe that he was faltless. Of course, they believe what the Quran says about Jesus, not what the Bible says about him, and obviously, the Quran says considerably less than the bible says.
But, nonetheless, Christ was perfect. Now, there is the debate about “sonship” and I have read lengthy discussions and discertations on the subject.
But, what it all comes down to is this:
I want to behave and conduct my life as Christ conducted his life. I want to (as closely as I can) follow in his footsteps. And, I will continue to do so.
I will pray to God and Yes, I do acknowledge that we (The Christians, Muslims and the Jews) pray to the same God.
I will respect my Muslim life partner.
But, I will follow Christ.
And, we will live harmoniously because, Imran (I still will use his name and not an initial) respects my beliefs and supports my choices as well as how I behave and act in certain situations. and, I don’t try to control his beliefs or actions.
if/when we do disagree, I note that for the most part, most of our disagreements could be had between myself and other christians. so, it is not specifically religion that divides us, it is our own personal views.
In fact, I have found many Islamic passages that would support most of my actions. At least, those that are not connected to prayer, communion or church.
To convert would be to betray christ and I won’t do that. This is the bottom line.