Ponder Ancient Muslim Tolerance


I doubt many could fathom a world of religious tolerance under Islam. Ancient history lends itself to images of holy war, crusades and religious oppression.

Sultan Mehmed II conquered Constantinople in 1453 – a crushing blow in favour of the Ottoman Empire – orchestrated by a 21 year old visionary. According to Sharia law, non-Muslims were guaranteed freedom and protection from persecution. Once Ottoman rule was established, it made little sense to squabble over religious differences.

The Arabic word for “nation” is millet. The Ottoman Empire allowed each “millet” or religious group to elect leaders and practice freely as a “nation” under Ottoman protection. Each “millet” was free to enforce their own rules – Islamic law did not apply to non-Muslim “nations”.Criminal acts within a “millet” were dealt with under religious laws of that nation. The only time Islamic law applied was when crimes involved people of two separate nations or was perpetrated by a Muslim. Millets could speak their own languages, build churches, schools and practice faith autonomously under the Ottoman umbrella.

The system created religious harmony until European meddling abolished it in the 1800’s. Creation of European secularist style rule, eroded religious freedom and created fewer rights along with increased hostilities. Armenian genocide during the first world war a perfect example.

All too aware this is an extraordinarily compressed historical account – my point is “freedom of religion” worked for a few hundred years. At the very least, we should ponder Sultan Mehmed’s approach. Knock yourselves out – practice freely anything that floats your boat but keep it to yourselves and don’t shove it down the throat of your neighbor.

http://www.infoplease.com/encyclopedia/people/muhammad-ii-ottoman-sultan.html

Feeling Passive Aggresive


There are dozens of interesting topics rattling around my head, topics of interest without the slightest whiff of politics or religion. My practical side is screaming at an oblivious passive aggressive streak rearing it’s ugly head. Last night I received a comment on one of my posts; I’m not going to say which one, or name the author, but will quote an excerpt…

“Because Obama’s faith, or lack thereof, interferes with our lives. Initially he claimed to be Christian then he went to visit some foreign country and bowed deeply to the Prince who was Muslim. They hugged. If Obama was a ‘Christian’, he would not have bowed. His deep bow indicated submission and respect to that leader. In essence dragging out country with him. Muslims do not hug anyone but other Muslims.
Then Obama claims that he is Muslim. His accent is quite good when using their words, so it’s not something foreign to him. Yet this past Easter, while addressing his audience he says…”as we Christians”, including himself. Either the man can’t make up his mind what religion he is, or he thinks we are too stupid to know you cannot be both a Christian and a Muslim.
He has put Muslims in numerous aspects of the government, military and businesses. That way, when Obama is out of office, there will be other Muslims to take over.”

My apologies – I simply can’t help myself – I’m a nice person who should be sensible by letting it go. That said, who can blame me for a clip of George Bush holding hands and  kissing King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

Take “God” Out of Politics


I could care less for the religious views of people I meet. As long as they’re polite enough to keep it to themselves, I’ll take them at face value. Religion is a personal matter; it belongs at home, no one’s business but your own. Sorting out matters of faith is complicated; something as individual as each of us. In a perfect world it wouldn’t be an issue.

Our world is far from perfect. Religion fuels an ever widening gap that threatens to take us all down. It seems history has taught us nothing. For all our science and technology, mankind is no different than 1000 years ago. Scarier still – we seem to be walking backwards.

Fundamentalist Christian ideology creeping into the norm faster than Islamic Jihad. I can’t believe we’re debating abortion again, blaming Godless upbringings for pulling the trigger at mass shootings, or sentencing homosexuals to burn in hell.

I have a suggestion – a simple, logical place to stop this madness. At the very least – a baby step towards common sense. I’m going to single out America because like it or not America still packs some weight. America is fighting tooth and nail to preserve their second amendment “right to bear arms” . The founding fathers were adamant about the “separation of church and state” Lets fight just as hard for that principle.

I propose that any elected official be forbidden to use God or the Bible as a defence for their position. Further more – God would not be allowed mention in speeches under any circumstances. “God” has no business in politics.

Timbuktu


In my mind Timbuktu resided on a book shelf, along side Shangri La and El Dorado. I saw it as a place born in the mind of Edgar Rice Burroughs, nothing more than a fictional backdrop for characters like Allan Quartermain. Unlike King Solomon‘s Mine Timbuktu lacked biblical reference, escaping Hollywood treatments featuring Charlton Heston. Instead it was relegated to a euphemism for the ends of the earth, it became synonymous with expressions like “when pigs fly” or “when hell freezes over”.

Timbuktu is far from fictional, and finds itself in a rather tough spot. Located in Mali, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is on the endangered list. Timbuktu was the centre of Islamic teaching in Africa during the 15th and 16th centuries. Located on the edge of the Saharan trade routes, it was believed to have housed 100,000 people in the glory days of the Askia dynasty. Of concern to UNESCO are the Sankore, Djingareyber, and Sidi Yahia Mosques. Urban development, climate, and now war threaten to impact these historical treasures beyond repair.

My ponder is not that Timbuktu is tangible, my thoughts are stuck on Islam and what went wrong. Built during the golden age of Islam, Timbuktu epitomizes a society built on science and knowledge. Europe wallowed in the Dark Ages, while Islam flourished. Of course there was , violence, war, and conquest; human nature is unavoidable. The sad fact is; these once great centres of science and innovation have disintegrated into rigid, closed minded societies, engulfed in religious fervor to the exclusion of all else.

The cradle of civilization is imploding, and it appears history has taught us nothing. Timbuktu exists for now, not as it was but as it has become. I liked it better when it was on my book shelf.

                   Timbuktu            © UNESCO

Ponder Life as a Woman Living Under Sharia Law


Imagine being forced to leave your family to live with a group of strangers. One of these strangers is now your husband. You are his property, you are invisible. Under the law obedience is all that matters. Divorce is not an option. Your body no longer belongs to you. You might be raped, beatings are encouraged as a means of love and instruction. You can not work, drive a car, or ever leave home unescorted. You can not contact your family without permission from your husband. If you complain you may be returned to your family, who must repay your dowry.  You may be murdered in a perfectly acceptable “honour killing” aimed at keeping order.

It would be unfair to paint all of Islam with the same brush. That said, for those women born into a fundamentalist part of the world, the reality is tragic.

http://www.iran-bulletin.org/political_islam/punishmnt.html

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