… and Some Friendly Words for Muslims (and Jews):
(c) 2014, Davd
I have no sympathy for the vicious violence of the “Islamic State”* toward non-Muslims and sometimes toward non-Sunni Muslims. I hoped for a while that the worldwide leadership of Islam could discipline them as i heard they once disciplined the “Nation of Islam” in the United States. I was not present when it happened, obviously; the story that came to me was that when “Elijah Muhammad” and his “Nation of Islam” were condemning “White” America, the imams of world Islam somehow got together, “called them on the prayer carpet”, as it were, and said:
-1- Islam welcomes all races and treats all races as equal.
-2- You are welcome to call yourselves Bilali in honour of the first Black Muslim—to honour your own race—but not to hate other races.
From what i heard, the negotiations succeeded. Mind you, the Bilalis did not have one tenth the military hardware that “the Islamic State” has captured from less passionate armies in Syria and Iraq, nor had they done one tenth of the violence the “Islamic State” has done this year. But the older story is worth remembering, to remind us that the traditional Muslim greeting, Salaam, translates peace—indeed, it and the Hebrew Shalom are basically the same word pronounced a little differently.
My friends over the decades have included a few dozen Jews and at least a dozen Muslims. None of them seemed the sort who would kill anyone for following another faith or no faith at all. They might feel superior, in a way, because they regarded their faith as the best; but they were willing to let me regard mine as the best, also.
Let me picture for you, a few hours in the life of a Muslim family that does not hate.
I cooked two slices of bacon for breakfast one day last winter; and on the package was a brand name, Western, and a simplified picture of a bovine head—more likely a steer than a cow, i suppose, but that doesn’t matter much. Cattle ranching is a Western rather than an Eastern activity in North America; the head with its bovine outline and horns is thus a symbol of the brand name—to Canadians and Americans who grew up here. It might be confusing to people who can’t read the words, though.
Here was a package of smoked pork with a cattle symbol on it. Imagine some new Muslim or Jewish immigrant shopping for food, who looks at the package, doesn’t read the label because is his first language is Arabic, his second is Spanish, and he’s only learned a few hundred words of English so far. Bacon isn’t one of those words. He can see that the package contains meat, rather fatty but it looks to be smoked, so the fat can be used for cooking. The price, which he can read, is less than three dollars for a half kilo. And the picture is of a bovine—a clean animal, one that Islam and Judaism bless for food.
Oops! Imagine poor Yusuf, bringing home the bacon to his sister and brother-in-law, who do know English pretty well. This is pig meat, and Islam [and Judaism] do not bless pigs for food. First they are shocked that he could do such a thing… but they are not stupid, they know that Yusuf is only six weeks in Canada and does not read English—and they see the picture on the package. They start to laugh. Fatima hugs her brother and Abdul pats him on the shoulder.
“Don’t worry, Yusuf,” Fatima says through tears of laughter. “We can take this to the atheists in the next apartment, and exchange it for two kilos of sugar; the money is not even wasted. And the picture on the package, yes, in a way it is a lie—but the purpose was not to deceive anyone.
“Omar, come here and practice your Arabic, explaining to Uncle Yusuf why they would put the picture of a cow on a package of pig meat. And then Uncle Yusuf can help you with your differential calculus homework.”
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* The CBC seems to insist on referring to them as “ISIS”, which is needlessly offensive. Isis was a goddess of Ptolemaic Egypt, based on Hathor, the cow-moon goddess, mixed with some Greek and perhaps Persian goddesses through a process scholars call theocrasia. [H. G. Wells, The Outline of History, v I, 1949, p. 385] To be named after a “pagan goddess” is needlessly offensive to any Muslim sect.