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Archive for July, 2014

Post conversion to Islam…

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     I was born and raised in the U.S., served and retired from the Navy after 23 plus years and then subsequently converted to Islam around 2005. I settled in Malaysia after re-marrying and absorbed my new culture whole-heartedly. The following comments are not intended to be inflammatory– only observations of both cultures and experiences.
     As a Christian (pre-Islam (PI)), I would go to church whenever I had time on Sunday or maybe onboard ship if they had a lay person because there might not be a preacher. Growing up, my mother would send us to Sunday school and church– I always found that part interesting, sending us to church rather than bringing? As a culture, I’ve observed that it’s basically ok to party, drink, have sex or pretty much do whatever I want — within reason of course. For example, party at the club til 3 or 4 A.M. in the morning and then wear the same suit to church the next morning at 11 A.M.  But otherwise, everything was happy with world and my surroundings.
     As a muslim now, the things I described above are not possible. To make judgements isn’t the point, only an observation aimed at letting people understand the cultures and thus, possibly making the world a better place. When I meet people now and they ask where I am from and go through all the obilgatory questions and greetings– many will comment and say, “…oh you’re a convert”; I often ponder when they say it as if to suggest you’re not a real muslim I guest. I come back with what do you mean, we both worshipped the same God (s.a.w), the God (s.a.w) of Ibrahim (Abraham)? They say yes, but it’s different as the Holy Quran is the last book and true word and his messenger is Muhammad (phuh). I reply yes, but I’ve always worshiped the same God (s.a.w) you have… anyway, that’s an interesting conversation.
     The culture and things in Islam seem to be all encompassing, i.e., everyday and five times a day there is a prayer and Azan (call to prayer); Friday being a special holy day and mandatory for men to attend– Friday Prayer. In between, there are many other celebrations and events from the birth of children, Muhammad to fasting and many others. It’s total immersion and involvment. People, young and old, memorize the Quran (Hafiz) and recite it often. Some say this creates a global sense of community and always ensures the book lives forever without being edited as any editions would be noted by the many witnesses and reciters world wide– ingenious. This methodology would not be possible in Christianity.
     Why I decided to write something about this was to get a look into both cultures to try and make the leap as to if peace between muslims and christians was generally possible! In the literal sense of the word– no; but, if we say co-exist– yes. I think one has to agree to disagree and let others live there lives as they see fit– again, within reason. The problem with this idea is that reason itself comes from a place of culture– which itself (culture) suggests an inward looking view and suggests it’s not possible to see those free ideas outside the culture as reasonable or normal! So coexistance seems to be our best chance at “peace.” However, when that peace is based on what’s called international norms framed and modeled on Western values– how is peace possible, palatable or exceptable to those outside that Western system? Seems those in power may not really be concerned about peace, but rather the imposition of certain frameworks! There are terms and words for this, but I won’t mention them here and now– what are your thoughts?

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Categories: Community Building

Life’s just too short!

     I know it’s been many times before, but you know life is just short to be worried about all the small stuff… it’s like missing the forest before the trees. We’re so worried about that next house, car or ”new thing” that we can’t see what’s important right in front of us!
    So the next time you want next big thing– look in front of you, it’s right there!