This is part 3 of a longer series.
To read part 1 go here: https://casiaschreyer.wordpress.com/2016/06/11/religion-hatred-tolerance-part-1/
To read part 2 go here: https://casiaschreyer.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/religion-hatred-tolerance-part-2/
I’m going to come right out and say that I have family and friends who follow the following religions and philosophical paths: Catholic, other Christian denominations, Muslim, Atheist, New Age Spiritualism, and Buddhism. I’ve known and worked with Jews and even a “Hinjew”, someone of East Indian Hindu descent who was a practicing Jew (and before you yell at me for making racist comments, that is the label she gave herself).
I studied religion in university including: Intro to World Religions, History of Christianity in the West, History of Buddhism in the West, Women in Eastern Religions, History of the Jewish People, and a Christian Lit course. I attended a Catholic Formation Program for Catechism Teachers.
Now that you are aware of who I know and what I have studied I am going to tell you what I believe about Religion.
All religions that teach a moral code that promotes love and peace are paths to the same goal.
The finer details of our rituals and worship and prayer may be different but our core beliefs are the same. Every major religion has a list – 10 commandments, 7 sacred teachings, the 8 fold path, the 5 pillars – that all say pretty much the same thing: don’t lie, cheat, steal, or kill and treat people with respect. If we all believe those same things who cares what building we pray in or what name we give our god?
Okay. Hold on. Don’t start screaming at me yet. I want you to look at a little piece of Christian history. And then a piece of Muslim history. And then we will talk about the reason you’re most likely ready to scream at me.
“The crusades were a series of holy wars called by popes with the promise of indulgences for those who fought in them and directed against external and internal enemies of Christendom for the recovery of Christian property or in defense of the Church or Christian people.” http://www.usna.edu/Users/history/abels/hh315/crusades_timeline.htm
The crusades, remember those wonderful years? The popes offered to forgive people all their sins, past, present, and future, if they went and killed the enemies of Christianity. That’s right. If you went and killed Muslims you could do anything else you wanted with your life and it didn’t matter, you had a free pass to heaven.
The crusades were fought, on and off, between 1059 and somewhere between 1291 & 1588, depending on which battles/wars you classify as a crusade, which you classify as “just wars” (as in justice, not as in “only”), and which you classify as totally unrelated. The timeline linked above does list 753 AD as the first event that can be directly traced to leading up to the crusades in church history.
Islam was founded as a religious tradition in the late 7th century. So, Christianity was roughly 1000 years old when the Crusades were fought – and Islam was about 350 years old.
So you have a fairly young religion that has been in tense relations with neighboring religions basically since it started that is now under siege. Yeah, it would be pretty easy to convince Muslims of the time that killing infidels was a good idea. And since those wars stretched some 200-500 years, well, that’s enough time for any “good” idea to become fairly deeply ingrained into a culture or religion.
Okay, now that I’ve put all these facts out there for you, let’s get back to the screaming. You probably want to yell at me that Islam is not a religion of love and peace, that they are all terrorists and killers out to eliminate the infidels from the world. Convert of kill. Right? Jihad. Car bombs. Genocide. Yeah, I read the news, I know the stories.
Look back at the Old Testament. There are several occasions upon which the Jews put their enemies to the sword. Or destroy their cities. Sinners, the lot of them. Worshiping false gods. Doing horrible, immoral things like eating pigs, not observing the Sabbath, and wearing cloth made of the wrong combination of fibres. (Check out some of the laws in the Old Testament, it’ll be important later on). Sounds an awful lot like “killing infidels” doesn’t it?
And the Crusades? Holy Wars to kill enemies of the church?
If Islam follows the pattern of the other Abrahamic Traditions (Judaism, Christianity) they will pass through this time of “convert or kill” and will become a religion of peace.
Given how many Muslims I know who have never pressured me into converting, who are nice, kind, respectful people, who are NORMAL in every way, as younger adults, as parents, as coworkers. I know a young Muslim woman who is hooked on Deadpool and Game of Thrones. She coaches soccer. She plays floor hockey. She works with children! And not once have I heard her talk religion to the children.
Somehow I think this post will generate a lot more controversy than my others.
People are afraid, they’re insecure. They think that if their children are exposed to these Muslims, to anyone different, they will ‘fall away from the straight and narrow path’. Seriously? Stop worrying about what the ‘others’ are teaching your kids and worry about what you are teaching your kid. Because the one teen I knew who came from a Christian home and convert to Islam, she had damn good reason to convert.
Her mother preached Christianity at her, when she wasn’t abusing her physically and emotionally. She hated the church because her mother was the only “face of Christ” she knew. Now a friend comes along and treats her as an equal, treats her with respect, values her. And then introduces her to Islam. No pressure. No ultimatums. Just “this is what I believe, if you’re interested. Ask questions. No pressure.” Of course she converted. She married a Muslim man who balances her personality, who respects her and defends her in a way no one in her family ever did, and who loves her. They have 3 wonderful children. They are happy – she is happy. And I am happy for her because the teen I knew was self-destructive and seldom truly happy.
If anyone stood on a street corner shouting about death and damnation, fire and brimstone, threats and ultimatums, most people would walk by without a second glance and the only second thought we’d pay them would be to warn others, to label them as stupid, or crazy. The only people who would listen are those who already agreed with the hate. Like to like – no conversion.
The most successful vessel of conversion is LOVE.
When people feed the hungry, peacefully protest a wrong-doing, come together in solidarity over a tragedy, raise money for a cause, hep a family in need … people take notice, and they notice for the right reasons. Actions will always be more powerful than words. Actions can prove words right, or wrong. And the actions of right-wing conservative Christians, and of right-wing conservative Muslims, have been disgusting me.