September 7, 2010

Taking responsibility for learning about Islam

Recent sobering news about how one house of worship in Florida wants to "acknowledge" the events of 9-11 has gotten me to start thinking about what I can do, as one person.

At least for the remainder of September, each day I am going to read a passage from the Qur'an. (I've changed my homepage on my computer to this link as a commitment to doing so.)

I got to thinking about this after I learned from Robin M. that San Francisco Meeting will be talking with some of their young Friends about recent developments around the proposed Islamic Center in New York and historical examples of religious persecution. Sounds like a good way to teach and learn about tolerance.

I also find myself wondering: If we can take the time to talk with our children and youngest Friends about Islam and the religious persecution that Muslims in America are currently facing, maybe I can start educating myself too.

Perhaps others will join me.



Hystery said...

I too have decided to commit to this. I've decided to increase the amount of information I provide for my college students about the history of Islam and its cultural, artistic, and intellectual contributions. I've begun a home school unit on Islam for my own children, and I am going to finally jump into the book I borrowed from my meeting for worship library, What's Right with Islam is Right with America by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf.

Liz Opp said...

Glad to hear from you, Hystery. It's nice to have "company" as I take these new steps and take responsibility to address my own ignorance.


jisbell said...

I just joined here, although I've attended the Orange County meeting in the past, we'll see if this gets posted and if I am accepted :)

I have been discussing these issue extensively with my brother. This morning I chatted with a Muslim friend. The conflict is so silly when you come down to the level of a personal relationship.

I emailed the police department in FLA where the "free speech" activity is scheduled to take place and expressed my opinion that - even though I am a staunch free speech supporter - this act is "intended" (the legal test) to incite violence. I believe there is an obligation to prevent violence. I hope enough people express that sentiment to the police that they stop it. Still, it's chilling to stop "speech"...

creekgal57 said...

Dear Liz,
I've been very active in interfaith issues for a decade or more and both my children regularly attend meetings with me in which these issues were discussed.
I was so pleased when my 15 year son asked me the other day if he could shadow at the Universal School, a Muslim school near our home. We homeschool and so he has this luxury. I will take a page from your book and read from the Qu'ran too.

Pat said...

I know very little about Islam. Yesterday, I ordered a book from Pendle Hill: "Islam: A Concise Introduction." It is a start to better understanding.

Joanna Hoyt said...

Liz, thank you very much for posting this. It was the prompt I needed. I bought a paperback Qur'an some months ago, dipped into it a little bit but didn't really stick with it. I'm starting to read it systematically now. So far that's rewarding and confusing, and makes me think what the Bible might seem like to someone encountering it outside the context of a community based on it...

Liz Opp said...

jisbell -

THANK YOU so much for telling me (us) that you contacted the local police department in Florida. This is a great idea and inspires me to do something similar.

Last night on the national news, I heard a report that books--any book--is considered hazardous material by fire departments, because of the ink on its pages, making it dangerous to burn. I'm hopeful that the local fire department steps up early and as often as is needed to counter this particular act of intolerance.

Perhaps calls into the local fire department as well as to the police are in order...

Creekgal -

I often put hope for a better world onto the shoulders of the upcoming generation(s). In our ever-evolving world of a global economy, intercontinental commerce, and instantaneous communication via the internet, how can we humans continue to stay ignorant about our "foreign" neighbors?

Pat -

Thanks for the reference to the book on Islam you've ordered. I see that Pendle Hill has an entire section of its online bookstore dedicated to Islam, which can be a valuable resource at this time.

Joanna -

Like you, my few daily reads of small bits of the Qur'an has made me think of the importance of having a community of religious/spiritual people familiar with its own particular Holy Book--be it the Torah, the Christian Bible, the Qur'an, etc.

As someone who is hardly familiar with Scripture, I am coming to value more and more the Friends who can relate contemporary issues with stories and teachings gleaned from those early Hebrew and Christian texts.

...I am so very appreciative of each of these personal testaments of small-but-significant actions we are choosing to take up, as well as the sharing we are doing here.

Each of our small actions sends out a ripple to countless others that we may never know about...


David Hoffman said...

Dear friends,

I thank all of you, and I give thanks FOR all of you, for discerning that this is a time for courage, love of neighbors, and integrity. What creativity! It gives me new hope.

I have been studying about Islam, visiting mosques and seeking friendly discussion with Muslims for several years. It's been a tremendously rewarding experience. One of the most striking bits of learning I received was to discover how profoundly courteous and hospitable Muslims are. I remarked on this to an Iranian friend, partly crediting the ancient social culture of the Muslim World. He told me that most of all, they just care about you and what you to be comfortable and feel good.

When you write letters or statements repudiating the irresponsible bigotry of the Koran-desecrating antics, please consider sending a copy to any mosquees or other Muslim groups in your community. Muslims are feeling horribly vulnerable and isolated right now. Any strong hand of reassurance from the non-Muslim community will be tremendously helpful.

We can step forward and raise our voices, and prevent our neighbors being scapegoated. When we see the warning signs is the time to act, before the problem can get out of control.

I'm very proud to see many Christian leaders and groups speaking out in protection of our Muslim friends.

Al Salaam Alaikum. Shalom. Namaste. Peace.

David Hoffman

Michael said...

I strongly recommend Reza Aslan's book, No god but God: The Origin, Evolution, and Future of Islam to readers who want to have a thoughtful and enlightening exploration of both the true Islam and the historical complexities which have let to so much trouble.

Aslan's says that we are witnessing an Islamic Reformation--that is, a struggle within Islam over who has religious (and political) authority, and he reminds us how conflicted and bloody the Reformation/Counter-Reformation struggle was. He points out that almost all the global violence now is actually Muslim against Muslim. The attacks on the West (which he also condemns) are motivated as leverage to move the Islamic populace, more than to directly war on the West.

A very intelligent book by a faithful Muslim, which makes no excuses for the errors of Muslims yet give a clearer context for what is happening now.


Liz Opp said...

David -

Thanks for the counsel to send any letters or statements that affirm the peaceful nature of Islam, as well as those that repudiate violence against Muslims, destruction of the Qur'an, etc. I hadn't thought of that and I much appreciate your input here!

Michael -

The book you cite seems like a good one, and I like the summary you provide, pointing out that there are complexities to Islam--as there are with any religious tradition. By any chance have you suggested that QuakerBooks of FGC carry Aslan's book? I might suggest it if you haven't...


Robin M. said...

Maybe I can get one of our young Friends to leave a comment regarding what they learned...

Liz Opp said...

Robin -

That would be great... Feel free to ask them about what they learned and then ask if you could paraphrase it here, with their permission.


LA Quaker said...

I am coming to this post very late but I do want to call attention to two things: my pamphlet "Islam from a Quaker perspective" which I am happen to mail to you for free if you contact me at and our new blog
I have been reading the Quran almost daily for ten years along with the Bible and have been deeply enriched spiritually. It helps to read it with Muslim friends who understand and live its profound spiritual message.

Liz Opp said...

Hi, LA Quaker, Anthony! So glad to hear from you....

I often think of your involvement with Friends and the writing and presenting you've done on interfaith relationships. Keep up the fruitful and faithful ministry.