MY BUSY WEEKEND – Hospice and Muslim encounters

This photo I took at the lunch celebration for Hospice and Palliative Care volunteers and friends.

A view outside

SPIRITUAL COMPREHENSIONS

Sunday afternoon and evening I took part in an interfaith event. Different Christians and other spiritual belief’s, had a special meeting with a Muslim group. The event was to engage in discussion over differences in perception.

You could imagine that such a group would tend to be liberal; meaning open to differing viewpoints and belief encounters. A liberal presumption it might have been, but I was frankly surprised at the grilling these liberals gave the Muslim Imam. He pretty much was asked to address all the usual suspect viewpoints we have become familiar with; What is your view point on the Muslim’s who are terrorist; What God do you believe in; Explain the sad fate of Women in Islam; Who has the right to claim Palestine as theirs…

I was impressed with a few occurrences.

The Imam was ready and willing to go into any question deeply. I expect he has become quite familiar with the issues raised.

One of the women born in Jerusalem was surprised at the idea that woman are all oppressed, since she and most of her female family and friends have college degrees. Most of the Muslims at this event were well educated with professional degrees.

Another Muslim woman, with many Jews in her family, said she was used to all the grilling. One thing this woman did on more than one occasion, was to interrupt the Imam while he spoke, as did others at times. The interruptions seemed as normal speaking points of interest or expansion, as one might expect in conversation. The Imam seemed to show no signs of this being a problem, seeming grateful for the offerings.

This Muslin group will be joining with Jewish organizations on an upcoming peace walk, as they have in the past.

The Muslims seemed generally non reactive to defend their perceived “wrongs” expressed by the non Muslim majority at this meeting. I felt the Imam was a spiritual man, something I question with some TV televangelist, for how they promise and pander to insecurities or human alienation, but to the point of promising fixes, even for serious health issues, if one just joins their mission.

It seems to me that many Muslims get to keep close track on their spiritual state by all the immersion such things as praying toward Mecca 5 times a day encourages. I was in a cult at one time, and must admit that immersion is a comforting phenomenon, and does tend to keep one on the “path”. However, for that very reason, I feel too much immersion and acceptance of things handed up from the past, can certainly bias one against what Life might ask in a new way. For some beliefs, nothing new exist beyond the parameter’s of their belief system. God is done and waiting.

And this freedom to believe, while not necessarily endorsed by any religions, is what a secular state offers human beings to find their spiritual way and earn their own spiritual merit. It is not just handed to one from where one is born.  Well, not by government mandate. In a representative democracy, there are no true citizens based by where they were born, whether country or city. Our strength is in our diversity. It is that diversity which make us stronger than any one groups “only right way”. That is the American gift to the World.

May its light of tolerance, diversity and acceptance never be extinguished.