The Bridge with Islam

Discussion in 'Religion and Spirituality' started by WAEL012000, Jan 6, 2008.

  1. The Bridge with Islam

    By: Rabbi Haim Ovadia

    I am a Jew of Islam.

    Not an Arab Jew, mind you, since that term makes as much sense as Slavic or Baltic or Arian Jew, but a Jew of Islam.

    It is not only because in my family's veins runs the blood of people who lived in Iraq, Syria, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey, nor because among my congregants there are natives of Bahrain and Indonesia.

    It is true that my I-pod is packed with Abdul Wahab, Sabah Fakhri and Farid Al Atrache and the Shabbat songs and liturgy borrows freely from generations of Islamic, Sufi and secular Arabic music , but the connection runs much deeper.

    I am a Jew of Islam because Judaism under the rule of the crescent took a different course than that under the rule of the cross. The Jews of Islam, although decreed by the Pact of Omar as dhimmis, or second class citizens, never experienced the same level of hatred, anti-Semitism and persecution which were their daily bread in Christendom. They were not demonized as god killers and did not have to defend their religion in public disputations. They were not expelled en-masse on religious grounds from a Muslim country as they were from England, France and Catholic Spain.

    As a rule, Islam used to be much less fanatic then Christianity. The number of wars waged and the amount of lives lost by the followers of the man who said: "Love your enemies; bless those who curse you… Resist no evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also", is mind boggling. And that violence was not directed only against other Monotheistic heathens such as Muslims and Jews but also against Christians who deviated from the norm.

    The Crusades, Saint Bartholomew' s day massacre and the Inquisition are just an example. The latter, founded by the disciples of St. Francis of Asissi, a gentle soul who preached to the birds: " little sisters, study always to give praise unto god", targeted not Jews but Christian heretics and new converts. It did it with such atrocity and cruelty, in the Old and the New World that the Abu Ghraib tortures pale in comparison.

    The so-called Western civilization has just emerged from a long history of religious intolerance. The much celebrated Nostra Aetate declaration was only issued in 1965, mere minutes ago in historic perspective. Furthermore, although it graciously "acquits" most Jews from the sin of killing Jesus and calls for peace and religious tolerance, it stresses that the Lord Christ is the only true god and that we foster friendship in order to bring all humanity to believe in him. It recognizes that in the past there were "some quarrels" between the Church and the Moslems, but urges people to forget the past and start anew. His Holiness was probably not aware of Santayana's words: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it".

    Much greater tolerance is conveyed in the 1805 Chief Sagoyewatha' s address to Christian missionaries:

    Brother, you say there is but one way to worship and serve the Great Spirit.

    If there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about it?

    Why do not all agree, as you can all read the book?

    Brother, we do not wish to destroy your religion or take it from you.

    We only want to enjoy our own.

    Looking back, we should ask ourselves, what happened to moderate and enlightened Islam?

    Why, as Harold Bloom writes in his foreword to Menocal's Ornament of the World, there are no Muslim Andalusians visible anywhere in the world today?

    Part of the answer is that when West met East in modern times it was an encounter infused with arrogance, religious zeal and greed.

    The colonialist and imperialist forces looked down at and did not bother to understand the "natives", missionaries tried to "save" lost souls, a goal that justified all means, and the spoils of the Oriental and African world were divided among the culturally "superior" conquerors.

    Is there any wonder that nationalist and religious forces eventually sprang to action in order to counteract that hostile takeover?

    When we speak about religion, the problem of the world today is not Islam but rather religious fanatics.

    As of today most of them are Muslims but to a certain extent it is the same brand of religious zeal that in our country, a country that heralds the separation of church and state, is holding back stem cell research, fights pro choice supporters and discriminates against gays and lesbians.

    The remedy for fanaticism is to support and promote proponents of moderate Islam, to bring back the glory of Andalusia, Cordoba and Granada and to prepare a cadre of Imams and Quran scholars who are willing to accommodate to changing times, simultaneously teaching Westerners about Islam.

    It is time to open up a dialogue of acceptance, not one that teaches our ways to others, but rather one that searches to solve conflicts and violence by drawing upon each one's own culture.

    It is a long and difficult way, but history has a long breath and memory and it will wait.

    Meanwhile, we don't have to build a bridge with Islam, just open for traffic the ancient one.

    Haim Ovadia is the rabbi of Kahal Joseph Congregation in Los Angeles, California.

    The article will be published in next week's Jewish Journal of Los Angeles.
  2. Here we are dealing with effects. I deal with cause...where the problem begins. Ironically, there is often a low interest in cause among those who seem most interested in conflict resolution. How about we bring back the glory of creation the way our Father made it instead of putting lipstick on a skeleton we made in opposition to His creation.

  3. The cause of the world's problem is an identity crisis. The world is the incorrect answer to the question, "What am I?"
    Until that is answered correctly, the world will keep turning so it's mistaken denizens can keep asking. In the very first sentence, the writer gives himself another of a long string of incorrect answers. He tells us he still does not understand the cause of the world's problems. So there will continue to be conflict in the writer's experience. Perhaps that is what he wants. There is nothing in this world that you can identify with and be correct. The world's denizens constantly try to find their place in the world...where they fit they should be labeled...what position they are in. None of that matters. True place is not found while any place in this world is still cherished. Let go of all labels if you wish to be free of conflict.

  4. This is so funny :D
  5. Nice wael, a jewish rabbi is talking about the bridge with Islam. Wake me up when you find muslim mullahs, clerics, sheiks, ayatollahs interested in the bridge with Judaism/Jews/Israel (or Christianity for that matter) , wake me up when you find mosques and madrassas preaching peace, tolerance and co-existence the way churches and synagogues do.
  6. I wouldn't be too pessimistic. This is a start:

    Well, that was me five minutes ago. I started to google for "moderate muslim" to try to show you that there are in fact moderate muslims. I got a few hits about a book "Why I am not Muslim." Since that didn't look very promising, I searched further. Finally I hit paydirt with this link:
    "Moderate Muslim Speak Out Against Intolerance Across Globe"
    The first picture on that page showed a huge hand-written banner "Freedom of speech is Western terrorism!" Well, I got quite an education.

    You know my stand against religious bigotry and hatred on this board. But before Islam really starts to reform itself (as some moderate Muslims in the US are trying to do but without much acceptance from the rest of the Muslim world), it is very hard for a sympathetic outsider to defend it.
  7. None!!! None what so ever dddooo!!!

    For anyone who is interested in the answer to this maggot's question, please inform me and I will flood this thread of hundreds of examples.

    As for dddooo, carry on with your zionist agenda of promoting conflict and hate. After all, that is how you assure yourselves of receiving continuous funding and military support.
  8. And the point of this post is.....

    Christianity will NEVER accept islam and true islam will NEVER accept christianity. One celebrates Jesus as Gods only son and THE ONLY WAY TO ETERNAL LIFE...

    The other doesn't...

    There can be no bridge.

    Just like when God told the children of Isreal to wipe out all the peoples on the promised Land.... You cannot intermingle the seed.

    A righteous and unrighteous seed will NEVER co-habitat in peace or otherwise.
  9. James, great post as always. As one of my favorite fiction authors Nelson DeMille said in one of his books - a moderate muslim is the one who ran out of ammunition.:D It's a joke of course, on a more serious note the fundamental difference between people like me and wael is well demonstrated in the following example:

    "I spoke to about a thousand students there, and I asked how many of the students, after my presentation, generally regarded themselves as pro-Israel, and 200, 250 raised their hands. And I said, "Among those who just raised their hands, how many of you would support the existence of a peaceful, economically viable, democratic, pluralistic Palestinian state, side-by-side with Israel on borders approximating those proposed at Camp David and Taba. "I think every single one of the people who said they supported Israel raised their hand. In other words, of the 250 who said they generally regarded themselves as pro-Israel, all of them were also pro-Palestine. They supported a two-state solution. They supported aspirations of the Palestinian people, consistent with peace and pluralism.

    "I then asked how many in the audience regard themselves as pro-Palestinian, here because they're supporting Palestine. Probably 100, 150 raised their hands. Then I said, 'I want to know how many among you would be willing to accept a peaceful Israel, an Israel not occupying, an Israel not interested in acquiring more land, but simply living as a Jewish democracy living side-by-side with a Palestinian state. "I was shocked, and so was everybody in the audience, shocked to see that not one person among the 100-150 who described themselves as pro-Palestinian, would raise their hands."

    No wonder jews and christians are looking for the bridge with Islam. It's too bad that the muslim world seems to be bent on burning one existing bridge after another.
    #10     Jan 6, 2008