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Posts Tagged ‘Islam’

Pilgrimage Statistics 

Consecutive Days Riding: 153                                         Days Blogged: 137 

New Mileage: 4                                                          Total Trip Mileage: 1053

A Protective Platinum Rule

As I ride the bike this afternoon I would like to respond to several comments on yesterday “Platinum Rule” topic.  I agree with one viewer who pointed out that the rule, which takes into account what the receiver actually desires, leaves out the important fact that what people want is not always good for them.  In some cases people will do downright destructive things if we give them what they want.  I have many times sat with depressed individuals who wanted nothing more than to kill themselves.  Sorry I wasn’t letting it happen on my watch! 

Clearly some judgment needs to be made about the appropriateness of the “assistance” before it is given!  However, I think the critical point is that in many cases when the Golden Rule is used,  little or no effort is made to first ascertain what the receiver wants and desires.  More often it seems to me that the giver takes the easier route of assuming they “know best” and act accordingly.  This concern was part of what fueled an earlier blog where I was critical of a Christian group who wanted to send solar powered audio bibles to Haiti following the disastrous earth quake.  Did they first ask the Haitian people to choose between audio bibles or tents, audio bibles or water?  In general, could a lack of a consideration of the receiver’s needs, help to explain why we sometimes find our “gracious offers” accepted in a seemingly ungrateful manner?  

Testing the Waters!

While it is my experience that listening and considering others needs takes more time and effort,  I believe it is worth the expense!   Taking the easier “we just assume we know what they want or need” approach has not lead to a decrease in violence and suffering on our planet.  We have got to do something different.  Why not trade up to a higher grade rule?

What does this have to do with the title of today’s blog?  Nothing, because the title speaks to a newspaper article and an internet story I wanted to briefly share.  Earlier this month Nicholas Kristof, a writer for the New York Times wrote an opinion piece in the Times entitled: World Aid: Evangelicals Blaze the Path.  He argues that evangelicals have cast off many of the old negative stereotypes and become “the new internationalists, pushing successfully for new American programs against AIDS and malaria and doing superb work on issues from human trafficking in India to mass rape in the Congo.” 

Showing our Support!

He notes that the organization “World Vision” has 40,000 staff members in over 100 different countries and that it has banned the use of aid to lure anyone into a religious conversion.  I was relieved and impressed to read this as I have often feared that such aid can and is used to coerce needy people to “find the Lord” in order to receive aid.  It sounds like the Platinum Rule may already be in place within some organizations.  Let me quote Mr. Kristof’s final paragraph as I believe it contains an important message for all of us. “If secular liberals can give up some of their snootiness, and if evangelicals can retire some of their sanctimony, then we all might succeed together in making greater progress against common enemies of humanity such as illiteracy, human trafficking and maternal mortality.”

Support the message!

The second item I want to briefly comment on is a series of recent announcements where top Muslim clerics have denounced the terror attacks directed against the United States and its allies.  I feel that it is important to highlight these developments as I still find far too many people believing that “all Muslims” want to kill us and that Islam is a dangerous faith.  One story was entitled: “Top Muslim Clerics Issue a Fatwa Denouncing Terror Attacks.”  A Fatwa is an important religious edict which states an authoritative opinion on a religious matter.   This edict called those terrorists who attacked the U.S. and Canada “evil” and was signed by some twenty Muslim Imams in Canada.  I’ve read of similar Fatwas issued by important Imams in Europe and the Middle East.  I applaud these efforts and believe that we non-Muslims should do everything in our power to support and strengthen the positions of these moderate Islamic religious leaders.  Ultimately terrorism will be defeated, or at least beaten back and minimized, only if the larger silent moderate masses of Muslim stand up and reclaim the mantle of their faith from the radical CULT which spreads hatred and destruction in their name. 

I would like to again applaud both the evangelical World Vision organization and these courageous Imams.  In both cases we are seeing a movement from the moderate center of Christianity and Islam to reclaim the mantle of their respective faith from radical Cults and/or fundamentalists.  All of us who claim other faiths or no faith at all should do everything we can to support these movements as the safety and peace of the world likely depends upon their success!

 
 
 

When will it end?

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 137                            Consecutive Days Blogging: 119

Today’s Mileage: 5                                             Total Trip Mileage: 958

I just finished riding the bike and I have to admit that I am not feeling 100% tonight.  As such I am going to make today’s posting brief.  It just so happens that today is an important Religious Holiday in the Islamic world. 

Mawlid is a celebration of the Prophet Mohammed’s Birthday.  The holiday is celebrated in most Muslim countries in a carnival manner, with large street processions, children receiving special gifts and sweets and the decoration of homes and mosques.  Charity and food is distributed, and stories about the life of Mohammed are narrated with recitation of poetry by children.

Mawlid is celebrated in a number of non-Muslim countries where sizable numbers of Islamic followers are present.  India is noted for its extensive celebration which includes the  display of relics at various shrines.  Saudi Arabia is the only Muslim country where Mawlid is not an official public holiday.

The Prophet

To give you a sense of what the festivities can include one site gave the following description: “The Holiday is usually celebrated in a festival with strength contests, card and shooting games, clown and puppet shows- it ends up looking like the circus came to town. Whether you prefer to ride the swings, arm wrestle or try to find the queen of spades, don’t forget AROUSET El MOULID (The Mawlid’s Doll) and the candy horse, more popular among boys than girls. The experience would be incomplete without the doll-shaped candy and a box of sweets like FOULEYA, which is sweetened and caramelized peanuts, and MALBAN, a jelly like candy covered with powdered sugar, and sometimes stuffed with walnuts.” 

This description of dolls, horses and sweet treats reminds me of the major festivals of many other faiths.

This celebration is not without some controversy.  It was noted on several sites that Islamic scholars are divided on whether observing Mawlid is necessary or even permissible in Islam. Some see it as a praiseworthy event and positive development while others say it is an improper innovation and forbid its celebration.

In recent years there has been some efforts made by Muslim’s in western countries to have the Holiday receive official recognition, most notably in the United Kingdom.  They argue that such recognition would afford the Muslim community an opportunity to better educate the population about their faith. These efforts have largely been met with resistance.

Sacred Words!

This question of designating religious holy days as official state holidays has the potential of being divisive within communities and nations.  Many people will remark that only the holidays of the “predominate faith” should be so honored.  But what defines this distinction, a simple majority? 

I remember having a conversation several years ago with a Buddhist nun from Sri Lanka who said that Christians were creating conflict in some part of the country by demanding that Sunday be made a non-work day, as it is in the Christian nations of the west.  It’s easy to see how this could add to animosity between the faiths rather than build bridges between them.

Let us honor our Muslim friends and fellow community members by wishing them a happy and festive Mawlid celebration as we pray they will honor us on our faith’s celebrations.

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Pilgrimage Statistics

Consecutive Days Riding: 49                             Consecutive Days Blogging: 50

Today’s Mileage:  10                                        Total Trip Mileage: 429

Holidays and Holy Days on November 28:

Ascension of Abdu’l-BahaBaha’i celebration of the rising of the spirit of Abdu’l-Baha to the heavenly dwelling. 

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As I peddle my bike this morning the words of my partner Susan ring in my ears: “Keep the blog short today!”  Yesterday’s posting was longer than usual by necessity as I wanted to give a detailed explanation of my Pilgrim Symbol. This morning before climbing on the bike I spent time on the internet, reviewing comments to my blog and face book page. In addition, I looked for scenes along our virtual path as we near next pilgrimage site visit which we will visit tomorrow.

Fasting Buddha

A friend who frequently comments on my blog sent me an intriguing photo image of a rarely seen rendition of the Buddha.  It is entitled: The Fasting Buddha.  The image was accompanied with the following text:  Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without,” said Siddhartha, and they listened motionless as words flowed from his mouth, “believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”  It was followed by a thread leading to a gallery of photos by the photographer: Umair Ghani. I spent the next half hour enthralled and lost in the beauty, color, and “otherworldliness” of his images of southwest Asia, the people, their mosques and the dancing dervishes.

Smile of a dervish

Soft Beauties

I pulled myself back from this distant world, with the clock ticking overhead and the sun rising on a new day.  I navigated quickly to my face book page to check for any crucial messages or postings, concerning friends, students or family in need.  I stopped abruptly at a series of small images.  A friend, former student and colleague in the school of life, had posted some of her beautiful photography!  Without hesitating I joined her on this path, got lost in the soft hues of flowers and crossed a remarkable stone bridge. After thanking her for the wonderful artistic display, I replenished my coffee cup and mounted the bike.

The images I viewed, creations of a stranger and a friend, reminded me that often on our daily journey we catch glimpses and hints of other realities. If we take a moment to stop and follow this thin spider thread crossing our path, we may discover beautiful details of life we had never imaged.  These glimpses of the divine and its gifts are just a head turn, a step or a mouse click away.  Sadly most often we just push by, not even noticing that we have passed a brief but powerful pilgrimage journey.

Path to some where new!

Hints of Another

It was there a moment ago.

   A thin hair of spider filament.

I know I saw it! 

Was it torn away by some flying insect,

   did a gust of wind create too much tension,

       leave it fluttering like a flag?

It’s a lot like life,

    thin, fragile, fleeting.

You catch glimpses of it

    in a child’s face,

        in the passion of youth,

            in the wisdom of old age. 

You glance away and it is gone…

       but wait…

            just a step down the path…

                 is another.

I hope you enjoyed my poem, a product of a nature walk. A special thanks to Umair Ghani and Fran Smyth for the beautiful photographs.  More of Umair’s work can be seen at Photo.net. 

 

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