Some people are staying balanced and positive…

04 Nov

… thank God.

…The Project Abraham concept comes from the tradition held in common by Jews, Christians and Muslims. Each of these faiths includes the Abraham narratives in their scriptures. Here on the Gold Coast a group of leaders from each of the three faiths gathered to host a travelling exhibition and a community forum on hospitality.

Now’s the time for making peace. There’s been a lot of media coverage of Muslim beliefs and practices over the last few weeks, particularly with reported comments from Ramadan sermons. Australians each read or hear about controversy regarding the rights of women. In overseas news we have been hearing about conflicts in areas that affect Jews, Muslims and Christians – Lebanon and Israel for example.

So what do the traditions and scriptures of each religion have to say about making peace?…

That is from Pacific Highlander. Good on him. May their efforts bear fruit.

Good on Archbishop of Perth, Roger Herft too: embarrassing but honest. “In our haste to judge, let us not forget that similar views are found in the Christian faith, as it is found in secular ideologies portrayed in the degrading view of ‘the sheila’. In the recent [Sydney debate on ordaining women], the foundational issues were argued with more sophistication, but the basis on which the determination never to allow women into the ordained ministry was canvassed on similar grounds.”

And good on Mike Carlton (and former PM Malcolm Fraser of the Liberal Party) this morning: “Fabricated fear of Muslims is a cancer among us.” See also the comment I added below after writing this post.

Catechism: merely my opinions!

1. Do you reject Sheik Taj el-Din al Hilaly’s views on women? YES

2. Do you think Hilaly advocates or justifies rape? NO.* (But what he said about Jews in 1988 was utterly mischievous and evil. I remember that well.)

3. Do you think his views of women are backward? YES in an Australian cultural context; NO in some conservative Muslim contexts. But that YES outweighs the NO.

4. Do you think some of his flock would use his remarks to justify an appalling attitude to non-Muslim women, even to the extent of rape? YES, because some clearly have, which some would argue may or may not be Hilaly’s fault — but the habit of mind that informs his remarks can have such evil consequences, and given the attitudes so unambigously expressed by some of the more testosterone addled and/or criminally inclined, it is fair to say this has happened. It is also fair to say that such attitudes are not confined only to sections of the Muslim community, that they may reflect a particular cultural cluster rather than the religion, and I have to say hardly any of the Muslim youth (most of them from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, but some from Indonesia, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Turkey and Lebanon) I have actually met share such attitudes, but then I have met a rather select intelligent group.

5. Do you think Australian Muslims should look to someone more at home with Australian culture to be their most eminent public voice? YES, YES, YES!

6. Do you think Muslims by and large should seek to relate more to the Australian context they live in? YES and NO, as some do and some don’t. I had a Muslim colleague for the past twenty years, and it is only in the past three years I have even known he is a Muslim… Of course he has the advantage of being “white”, but I now understand his beard…

7. Do you think it is possible to be a good Muslim and a good Australian? OF COURSE

8. Do you think anyone who thinks THEIR truth is the only one is deluded? BLOODY OATH MATE!

9. Do you think non-Muslims should seek to understand more about Islam? DEFINITELY

10. Do you think there are 1.3 billion terrorists out there? DOCTOR, HAND ME THE PILLS!


* I am glad that the rally that was to happen yesterday in support of the Mufti was called off, and, in fairness, it was the Mufti (or his closest supporters) who caused that. See Rally off as rape victim backs cleric.

FOLLOWERS of Sheik Taj el-Din al Hilaly yesterday heeded the pleas of the beleaguered Muslim cleric and called off a planned rally in Sydney… Hundreds of emails and text messages about the rally, planned for Parry Park, near Lakemba Mosque, spread through the Islamic community. But some Muslims voiced fears it could turn into a flag burning gathering by an angry mob, and Sheik Hilaly asked his advocates to cancel the rally.

Parry Park was almost deserted and there were only about 100 worshippers at the mosque…

After widespread criticism from Muslims and non-Muslims alike, the sheik yesterday won support from a woman who said she was a rape victim. Cindy Taylor walked down the steps of the mosque with the cleric after prayers, before talking to reporters. She called the cleric “a wonderful man” whose comments did not condone rape. She said she had been raped twice, when she was 14 and 30, but no one had ever been charged. She said she was raised a Christian but had developed an interest in Islam.

But then, not directly related but relevant, see Where the Boys Aren’t on Ali Eteraz’s blog.

Jill at Feministe has an excellent post on the recent NY Times article about the dearth of available young men in Lebanon; the Egyptian Blog Ring has several excellent posts about the recent horrifying attacks on women (veiled and not veiled, I might add, sticking another skewer in the efficacy and purpose of female modesty when men’s issues are not addressed) in Cairo. These bloggers deserve an award, by the way: they are coming under fire from the Mubarak regime in ever-greater numbers and are arguably the only reliable source of news out of Egypt. (Most media is state-owned and has remained silent over the assaults.)

I think I am about ready to declare a point-of-no-return crisis in gender relationships in modern Islam. If something is not done now there will be nothing to do. We have to get over this. If we don’t have the resources to get this under control we might as well stop trying to fix anything else; this is basic survival stuff. You will say ‘politics!’, you will say ‘oppression!’, you will say ‘poverty!’ to which I say yes; of course these things factor into the absolute social breakdown between men and women that is occurring in Muslim communities around the world…

Go there for the links, and explore while you are there.

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One response to “Some people are staying balanced and positive…

  1. ninglun

    November 4, 2006 at 8:25 pm

    On Malcolm Fraser: see The World Today Thursday, 2 November , 2006:

    MALCOLM FRASER: I’m concerned that the Government believes it can win the next election best by following the same tactic and trying to make the majority of Australians believe that Muslims are different and don’t really fit in.

    I believe that this is divisive, dangerous and false. You know, you’ve only got to look at the different reactions. When the Pope said some things which he must’ve known were going to cause great concern in Islamic countries, the Government’s general approach was, well misunderstood, it was an academic speech taken out of context, let’s move on.

    When an Islamic cleric says some, from our point of view, totally foolish and totally wrong things, he’s condemned by many other Muslims, both men and women. There are many Muslims who say that, you know, he should leave his job, he should resign or he should be sacked.

    But the Government on at least three occasions I’ve seen on television has almost hounded the Muslim community.

    ALISON CALDWELL: In the case of Sheikh Hilali, though, the Prime Minister was, did point out that his comments referred directly and solely to Sheikh Hilali and that he thought that Sheikh Hilali was differing from the moderate members of the Muslim community.

    MALCOLM FRASER: But it’s the way you say them. I mean saying to the community you’ve got to do something about this, you’ve got to fix this. Astute, careful politicians know what they’re doing.

    ALISON CALDWELL: So what’s Andrew Robb doing then, when he says that you’re an apologist for radical Islam?

    MALCOLM FRASER: Well I think he’s playing the same game, maybe trying to drive me off track. Maybe trying to stop me pointing out what I think is very obvious what he is doing.

    Why does Andrew Robb now suddenly come out and say we’ve got to have English language tests, we’ve got to have history tests for citizenship? We’ve probably run the most successful multicultural society and migration program in the last 50, 60 years of any country.

    I think it was quite unnecessary for the Government to intervene three or four times in relation to Sheikh Hilali. It seemed to me to be a very strong view amongst the Muslim communities that something had to be done and they know the damage this does to general relationships.

    The sheikh is clearly going to remain a very divisive figure and if those who believe that he should resign or should be removed are successful, I would think that that’s going to be a good thing for the future. Well, I wouldn’t think, I’d be sure it would.

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