Try as I might to stay up to date with the entries of all those who follow my work, one falls behind while keeping their own workload ticking over.
Perusing Vignette Writer‘s pages, a link to a quite useful page was provided. Following the link, I found my way to the website of the American channel PBS, and a subsection dedicated to its public affairs program ‘Frontline’. The show it was transcribing was enetitled ‘Muslims‘. It is a fascinating read, asking the difficult questions regarding why terrorism and secularism seems so prominent to those outside of the faith. To balance this, it also works to clarify the foundations of Islam, and the history of the religion. Give it a try, and see if anything that is written challenges or reinforces your thoughts.
One particular queston and answer stood out to me, when the topic of women within Islam is addressed. Below is the question to, and reply by, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. He is the Imam of Masjid al-Farah, New York, New York.
What about [Islamic] interpretations regarding women? We find, in many parts of the world that tend to be populated by Muslims, it seems that women are getting the short end of the stick.
… Some of what we see may be considered to be inequities. But we have to remember that, when Islam spread from Arabia to what we consider the Muslim world today, it spread through countries and societies which had very ancient traditions. Egypt, which had an ancient tradition. Iran, another ancient country. Persia, before that. The subcontinent of India, another ancient culture. Same thing with today, current-day Turkey, the Byzantine Empire. …
Through that, many cultural norms became to be considered by societies as being Islamic, but they’re really cultural. So in matriarchal societies, which you will see some matriarchal societies like in West Africa or in Egypt, you’ll find women very, very influential. Women hold the purse strings; women determine a lot of what happens, because ancient Egypt had a tradition of having women kings, women queens. Queens of Egypt.
Whereas in some societies, which tended to be nomadic, it was very much more male-oriented, and the patriarchal and very strong male orientation became predominant. So as you go across much of the Muslim world, you will see this diversity, which really entered into Muslim life through custom, and not through the Quran and the hadith itself.
That answer is one of the realisations I came to during my readings of particular texts. Just like the stories themselves, the societies you see are a product of their location and their history. If things are done a particular way for a long enough time, it becomes a part of a culture. Every religion that has had a lasting influence on the world has been able to adapt to their time and to the people they are attempting to convert, and that required taking parts of a culture on board to merge into the faith system. Though the faiths are struggling to convert the people in the modern day, such a process can happen again, adapting to the new age while keeping the core truths of justice and equality first and foremost.
– Fr –
To try and get back to those whose pages I have not visited for some time, I returned to Valiowk and her fine work Lu Xun: Thirteen Perspectives, based in the Three Kingdoms period of China. The writing style has a nice flowing style, allowing you to read passages quite quickly. Visual descriptions of the characters are somewhat sparse, but it feels like the focus is more on the character’s words than their physical presentation. Having read the first four portions of the story, I look forward to reading more =)
– Fr –
Tomorrow marks the beginning of the final chapter of ‘On Venusian Cloud Colony Number Nine’. Here’s to hoping that a satisfying conclusion results =)