Friday, October 30, 2009

The small jump from austerity to cruelty...

The Islamic society at the university I'm attending is quite organised and provides good facilities for me to come and pray when I need to, but there is something I feel uncomfortable about with the "regulars" that I'm coming to recognise there. The Saudi, and in particular Wahhabi influence, is dominant. The people are friendly enough when you talk to them, why would they not be when you are praying with them, but any mention of 'those' other people at the university and you get the k-word. Kafir. Or the absolute certainty that everybody else is going to hell because so and so, and so and so, said this and that, and as they fulfill all the criteria, then, the logic goes, surely they are going to paradise. It is then that I notice the glazed smile of a person who is lying to themselves as they talk about how a non-believer will roast in hell fire. It is written and so they are just basking in the aura of being saved, aren't they?

The Wahhabi's are not teaching or believing in anything formatively different from the main body of Islamic teaching, but substantively there is something subtle and extremely aggressive about it. Puritanical is the word.

The other thing I notice is that with non-Arabic Muslims over there, words like Inshallah, mashallah and jazak Allah kheir are used so completely frequently as to go beyond having any meaning, they are sometimes used as speech fillers, or perhaps in the belief that every utterance must adhere to a strict Islamic teaching. There's nothing wrong with that I guess, but it just strikes me as odd and I can't see how you could live comfortably with yourself and still live in such a confined manner. Perhaps that is why many of them seem to live an insular life, with nothing to do with the city they are living in. I thought I was a hermit!

I think I understand peoples worries about me when I discuss ideas and books I've read about Islam, and about things like my view on morality, when I look at the "flip side of the coin", I see something equally disturbing, but I cannot see how I could subscribe to such severity. Islamic belief to me is much more of a guiding and stabilising core within me as I sail through my life and mix and mingle with people from mosques to nightclubs and of all sorts of mindsets and beliefs. My belief is that this core comes from a 'cleaner' source than others and is much more likely to lead me to happiness than the other paths, but that doesn't mean I view others as inferior human beings somehow. A Muslim should be like a jar of honey, sweet to everybody who tastes from it regardless of their background. I don't think these guys would agree with me entirely.


qunfuz said...

but I do (agree with you entirely). good post, and beautiful image of the honey jar.

Maysaloon said...

Thank you for your comment Qunfuz and welcome back to civilization. I'm sure you are recharged from the marvelous Andalusian countryside.

poshlemon said...

I loved reading this...

I was just having a discussion with a friend on the Wahhabis and their likes. Quite scary. Like you said, people are different and despite that, people should tolerate one another.

Many of the non-Arab Muslims are exactly how you describe them. And I find it quite odd. As you know, in our language we often use Inshallah, Mashallah and so on. Every time I may have used these words in the company of non-Arab Muslims, I'd be asked if I were Muslim. It is quite interesting and at one point I wanted to write a paper on it, but I just cannot multitask so I'm sticking to writing my thesis now lol. But it's almost like the Arabic language in their minds is only spoken by Muslim people. It's an 'Islamization' of Arabic. It shows a lack of knowledge on the history and geography of our part of the world. I am not sure if that's something to use against them.

Lirun said...


we have similar experiences:

(a) the ultra orthodox jews often make others feel (i) less jewish (ii) wrong (iii) in need of correction and in any event separate..

(b) i often find it strange how non israeli jews blend in hebrew/yiddish terminology in odd places.. i guess its a derivative of needing to establish your religion/faith system into your culture in the face of some other disconnect - whether it be because they're a minority in their home country or the language issue..

come to think of it i may be guilty of a similar sin with my over use of the word "dude" haha linking me to my surfing culture..