Thursday, May 2, 2013

A way to explain...

K.I.S.S.        Every semester I’m faced with a daunting task that involves finding ways to compare and contrast our American culture with many others. To ensure that I know where to begin, I administer a diagnostic the first day of class. Rather than indoctrinate my students, I seek to engage them by knowing where to begin.

Because many more than half of the world’s population is either Christian or Muslim (or is under the influence of those two religions), I ask each student to explain what he or she knows about Islam. Since almost 100% of my students are Christians, I ask them to compare their religion to Islam.

This coming semester, I may phrase the questions differently.

“Does our American culture share a similar belief in the Ten Commandments with Islam?” Answers would be telling.

I may pose a more difficult question, one that, hopefully, may prompt them to research the answer: “Please explain why it is important to study Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini and his role in the Holocaust.” [please see: Haj Amin al-Husseini - Jewish Virtual Library - Homepage Haj Amin al-Husseini (1893-1974) ... Known later as the Grand Mufti, al-Husseini was able to establish himself as the preeminent Arab power in Palestine. -]

Although Haj Amin was a most important figure, I won’t expect a single student to recognize his name. Following the Boston Marathon massacre, I hope that will change.

Bear in mind that my intent is to educate, not to inflame.

That said, certain comparisons are so basic and so essential that it has proven perilous to ignore them. To make that point, I always ask whether everyone in the world believes in ethics outlined in the Ten Commandments. In the past, most of my students assume the answer is yes.

But it’s not. Although it may be true for those who pledge their allegiance to “America and to the Republic for which it stands…” it is not true for many aliens who are in America both legally and illegally. Indeed, their views are radically different.

Here’s why. Our laws, grounded in the Ten Commandments, are thought to apply to every single human, especially those who have or want to have American citizenship. Some would say that the scope of our freedoms and our national sense of justice is or should be seen as universal.

For most Americans and for most Muslim Americans, such a supposition holds. However, as Muslims become more grounded in fundamentalist Islamic tenets, a conflict arises.

Why is that? Although it may be difficult to believe the answer is simple enough for my most naïve students to comprehend, unfortunately it is.

To admit that their ability to understand is unfortunate speaks to the stunning simplicity of Islam’s message: the world is divided into two spheres. One of them, Dar al Islam, the world of Islam, contains all who believe in Allah and who also believe that Mohammad was his prophet, the perfect man.

Those of us who are not Muslims belong to Dar al Harb, the world of war. Until we convert to Islam and become part of Dar al Islam, we are regarded as lesser beings. Terms most commonly used are dhimmi, kuffar, infidel, and non-believers. Many of us, Jews and Christians, are referred to as people of the book.

Islamic rules for us differ greatly than those for Muslims. Although examples are not hard to find, some of the most obvious can be found in Saudi Arabia. Non-Muslims are not allowed in their holy sites, especially Mecca. Churches and synagogues can’t be built there.

Islamic peace with Dar al Harb depends on necessity. Formerly, those who wanted to live in peace with the Islamic forces that were in control had to agree to their second-class status. Doing so meant that they would willingly pay a tax, jizya, to acknowledge their dhimmitude.  Maimonides struggled with such restraints [please see: Maimonides/Rambam - Jewish Virtual Library - Homepage If one did not know that Maimonides was the ... To avoid persecution by the Muslim sect — which was wont to offer Jews and Christians the choice of ... -]; they are still being held as standards.

Troubling as that is, it’s even more important to know that such a worldview persists. The reason for that is also brilliantly clear: it’s in the Koran. And the Koran is perfect and immutable, changeless. For those who accept its authority, dictates that originated with Mohammad remain in force today.

Especially the part about Dar al Islam and Dar al Harb. [please see: Photos and Documents of Amin Al Husseini: Nazi Father of ...This page shows how the Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin Al Husseini, ... German Chancellor Adolf Hitler and Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini: Zionism and the Arab -]

                                    B.Koplen 5/2/13

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