Not making a difference since 2006. Blog motto: Always be sincere whether you mean it or not.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

An Inconvenient Truth

Someday, I plan to write some thoughts on Islam. I have not solidified a position on the matter. I do have issues with it, but I would not say I trust sites like LGF. People are always saying where are the moderates. Well, I think I have found some. This group of Muslims is offering to pay for lawyers to help the John Does being sued by the Flying Imams, which is more than any Christian groups are doing. If anything, the Methodists would be hiring attorneys for the Imams.

Of course, I hardly want this blog to descend into rampant kumbayahism, so I have found a moslem whom I can sink my anti clerical teeth into. Sheik Mohammed Omran has told his followers at an Ozzie mosque that the terrible drought Austtralia suffers from is caused by the displeasure of Allah. I am guessing the implication here is that if the denizens of the land down under convert en masse, the heavens will open.

The Sheik did not have the thinking cap on when he came up with this one. Now, the home of Islam and the most Islamic of nations is in Arabia. When you think of Arabia you think of, let me think here, desert, sand , dry, hot. Enough, I am starting to choke with thirst from my little word assocition. My guess is that Allah must really hate Arabian Muslims. Whereas every now and then Austalia lacks for rain, the drought in the peninsula is never ending.

While we are on the subject of moisture or the lack thereof, the point goes to Jesus on this one,

"the rain falleth upon the just and the unjust"

6 comments:

ASWJ said...

Compare what media reported and what sheikh Omran said about Climate change and then let us know about this issue...

Muslim Media Watch 2, An Inconvenient Truth by sheikh Omran

http://aswjblog.blogspot.com/2007/03/muslim-media-watch-2-inconvenient-truth.html

www.aswj.com.au

Black Sea said...

In the US, people often assume that practicing Muslims are generally fanatics, but actually, lots of Muslims, at least in their own cultures, approach their religion with an intensity quite similiar to what I was used to growing up.

Where I was raised (Atlanta in the 1970s) everybody I knew belonged to a church, except for the Jews who went to Temple. How fervently people believed, or if they actually believed at all, was something known only to them. Religous participation was in one sense nearly universal, but it was understood that faith and engagement varied widely.

A few people I knew tried to make religion the focus of their life, but that's a difficult passion to sustain. Oddly, I think this is one reason for the vogue in Islamic suicide bombing. These people (boys, usually) are not really monomaniacs, or at least, not for very long. They know that ordinary life can't be held at bay forever. Better to die young, before the confusions of life overwhelm you. We act like this is a foreign sentiment to us, but it's not.

I think for many Muslims who emmigrate to Western countries, their lack of status in those societies does reinforce the role of Islam as "a matter of pride" and a tribal identity. Some may feel humiliated, confused, and dismissed in Western countries, not because they are particularly discriminated against (as we would see it), but simply because the culture they're now in fails to reinforce their moral and religious beliefs, which is what they expect any decent culture to do.

Most Americans would be hard-pressed to imagine just how homogeneous a society like Turkey is. It has ethnic and even religious tensions, but 99.8% of the population is Muslim.

Religion aside, it's very important in Turkey, and throughout the Middle East, to be somebody. Even if you are simply the village baker, still, you are THE village baker, and everybody knows you as such.

So, imagine that you come from a village, or from some Istanbul slum, which is in certain ways is like a village, and you move to another country, where you feel that you're nothing, nobody knows who or what you are, and much of your life seems a humiliation. What have you got, other than your religion?

You barely speak the local language, and you're in a country where maybe 1 person out of 30 shares your faith. In your eyes, this statistic alone is an affront to Islam, and a reason for increasing wariness around strangers.

You've come from a class and a society where almost everybody views the world in the same way that you do, and now, almost nobody does. The emotional consequences of this aren't difficult to imagine.

tvoh said...

Black Sea,

Your points are well taken, but I wish to examine some of them,

"So, imagine that you come from a village, or from some Istanbul slum, which is in certain ways is like a village, and you move to another country, where you feel that you're nothing, nobody knows who or what you are, and much of your life seems a humiliation. What have you got, other than your religion?"


Generally, the Turk arrives somewhere wherein he is moving to another Turkish village, say in Germany. I guess the situation depends on the religious direction of the community. If there is great admiration for suicide bombing, then the new guy will see that as a good career move. If academic advancement is prized, that will be what is sought.

"You've come from a class and a society where almost everybody views the world in the same way that you do, and now, almost nobody does. The emotional consequences of this aren't difficult to imagine."

By now at least you are not usually the only Turk in town. It may be that Turkish neigborhood that resents the host country, but it won't be just you.

When I was in the army quite a long time ago, there was a fellow that came through where I was posted. We had a few conversations and he seemed well adjusted. He was the only Turk or Moslem I met in the army.

tvoh said...

aswj,

I think it bad form to just post a link and not make some reasoned comment. Still, I shall respond.

I have viewed the Sheikh's video. He certainly did not say if Australia converts the heavens will open. His message was more an Islamic enviromentalist outlook.

Substitue Gaia for Allah and he could have passed for a Jewish new agey environmentalist speaking at an American University.

Black Sea said...

I think I was trying to envision the circumstances and emotions that would drive someone deeper into a sense of Islam as a protective cloak against a "hostile" society, rather than against Satan, or bad luck, a pyroclastic afterlife, or an indifferent universe.

In an Islamic country, despite the fact that people vary in their religious intensity, everyone is Muslim, and at least outwardly shares the same faith. Islam, like Christianity, is a universalist faith, and this homogeneous environment makes it easier to sustain a moderate faith without "pushing" it all the time.

For a lot of Muslims, movement to an environment where this isn't so is quite a shift.

If our hypothetical villager gravitates to a Turkish ghetto in Berlin or Hamburg, he is there routinely reminded of the need to remain true to Islam within a larger sea of cultural indifference. It's not just a matter of firebrand preachers; he senses that he has no place in the larger society that is familiar to him. Or his kids don't feel that society respects them. Of course, in Turkey much of the society wouldn't respect them either, but that creates class rather than religious antagonism.

Obviously here, I'm thinking of a certain kind of person. Some Muslims have little interest in religion, or don't particularly like their own, and may view life in a non-Muslim society as an escape from a straightjacket they were never comfortable with anyway. This is probably more common than many Americans imagine. Such people are happy to go bar-hopping, or study yoga and Feng Shui (sp?), and take up "the good life." They just breathe a sigh of relief when they get to the West and never look back. Others carry on with their faith, but find a psychologically comfortable palce for themsleves in a new society.

But for some Muslims, the transition is painful, and among the devout, the default option for dealing with any kind of pain is usually more Islam.

Finally, within the Islamic world, a hell of a lot of money gets spread around to promote a certain, highly agressive and paranoid variant of the faith. I realize that this is not unknown in America, but I mean LOTS of money.

I assume most of this money comes from the Gulf states, but I know that I don't know the half of it. Still, I've heard about and seem some pretty amazing evidence.

tvoh said...

Islam in America is a new thing and there is the variation of types you mention. I grew up in 50s/60s USA not five miles from a Mosque in the next town over. There were a lot of Syrians and Lebanese Christians and Moslems. The feeling was they were another denomination. In that America nobody thought too much about who the other guy was so some of the Levantine Arabs would be tarred with the nickname "Turk." No problem. One of them who had a car dealership advertised himself in his ads as Turk.

The point is, I don't think it is always Islam itself. In some places that Gulf money is a big part of it. I've heard that in France the imams have tried to cool things down but the kids are out of control and not really carrying on for the faith. More a class thing.

Gulf money does count for a lot:
http://washingtontimes.com/op-ed/20070313-090315-9588r.htm

"Obviously here, I'm thinking of a certain kind of person"

Certainly true. After all we are not all McVeighs. All the conditions have to be right.