A few weeks ago I decided that its high time I learned more about Islam. Virtually everything I know I have been spoon-fed from the popular media, be it the news or Hollywood’s distorted and sensational visions of the mysteries associated with the Middle East.
I started with the Koran. Read it from cover to cover. It reads very much like the Old Testament. I was surprised by what I found in there. I could see the germ of our stereotypes… how by misinterpreting the words and taking them out of context, we could come to believe that Islam is a violent and misogynist faith; and how the same error could be made by extremist elements in Islam. But I could also see progressive and reformist ideas. Ideas that were radical in their day. Ideas that could benefit everyone if applied.
I then read a book by a US Middle East scholar titled What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam. This was a useful book written by an outsider like myself. Its in a question and answer format, addressing many of the misguided but common questions that come from non-muslims. I thought it was balanced, basically warning us not to judge 1.2 billion people by the actions and interpretations of a few extremist wackos.
I’m now reading a book about Sufism, the mystical tradition of Islam, written by an Muslim Islamic scholar. Not surprisingly, it is very consistent with other mystical traditions found in Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and others. It is said that there are many paths up the mountain, but the view from the top is always the same.
In every faith there are people who seek the truth, and people who seek to impose what they believe to be truth on others. The latter, whatever their religious persuasion, are blights upon the earth. It’s ironic that in their quest for universal acceptance of their truths, they kill and destroy. The wisest among us are those who recognize that truth is something to be found, not imposed.
First photo of the new year