Thursday, February 19, 2009

“My friend Diana Butler Bass embodies this ethos in a story from Broken We Kneel. Diana lives near me in the Washington D.C., area – rich in cultural diversity, tense after the 9/11 attacks, and the context for this story:

One day (my daughter) Emma saw a woman walking toward us covered in a veil and asked the inevitable, “What’s that, mommy”.

“Emma,” I answered, “that lady is a Muslim from a faraway place. And she dresses like that – and covers her head with a veil – because she loves God. That is how her people show they love God.”

My daughter considered these words. She stared at the woman who passed us. She pointed at the woman, then pointed at my hair, and further quizzed, “Mommy, so do you love God?”

“Yes, honey.” I laughed. “I do. You and I are Christians. Christian ladies show love for God by going to church, eating and drinking the wine, serving the poor, and giving to those in need. We don’t wear veils, but we do love God.”

After this, Emma took every opportunity to point to Muslim women during our shopping trips and tell me, “Mommy, look, she loves God.” One day, we were getting out of our car at our driveway at the same time as our Pakistani neighbors. Emma saw the mother, beautifully veiled, and, pointing at her, shouted, “Look, mommy, she loves God!”

My neighbor was surprised. I told her what I had taught Emma about Muslim ladies loving God. While she held back tears, this near stranger hugged me, saying, “I wish that all Americans would teach their children so. The world would be better. The world would be better.”

Now when I read that my heart leaped for joy and I so admired the loving, neighborly spirit in which the Christian woman had taught her child and affected her neighbor. I pondered if this Pakistani woman would be more open to hear her thoughts on God; would she respect her more, would she seek to befriend her?
I would answer yes to all. Then I had this fearful feeling of how some Christians I know would react to this piece. So I will include McLaren’s footnote –

“Before some readers wish to embroil me in debates about whether Allah of Islam is the same God as Yahweh of the Bible, please allow me to show at least a few Muslims the same grace Jesus showed: (a) a Roman centurion when Jesus said he had not seen such faith in all of Israel and (b) a Syrophoencian woman when He told her she had great faith. And please allow me to believe that if God would use stars to lead wise men (astrologers) from the East to Jesus, God might also speak to Muslims in terms of their own worldview and vocabulary.”
Photo from the Internet


Mel said...

I appreciate this post so much, Fred. May God open our eyes and renew our minds so that when we have opportunities to speak of those that are different from us, we will do so with grace and acceptance. And may our children's hearts be soft and moldable to the multi-faceted workings of the Spirit and He teaches us how to love all people, not just those who are like us.

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi Fred :)

Very interesting post.

I have no doubt that Muslim women believe in God.

The point is that Muslim women wear a veil out of compulsion imposed on them not out of their free will. I don’t think there is any woman on this earth who would not like to show her lovely face, hair and dress.

The veil only represents subjugation of women. Muslim women in US are living in relative freedom. But in many Muslim countries they are ill treated and denied education.

In Kashmir, India, Muslim men threatened Muslim women that if they don’t wear the veil, acid will be thrown on their faces. In one or two cases they did throw acid on young girls faces who refused to wear the veil and scarred them permanently.

Muslims and Christians follow the Old Testament of the Bible. We depart with the Birth of Christ.

Muslims remained primitive and never changed with the times. Islam denies freedom, liberty and dignity to women.

I saw a young Muslim girl working in a shop. She had no veil to cover her face. But the rest of the body was covered except the tip of the hands and legs. I stood there wondering how she will cope up with the sweltering heat because at that moment I was observing her there was a power cut and the only fan in that suffocating shop was not working. She must be fully drenched with sweat from top to bottom. What sort of cruelty to women imposed in the name of Islam.

Its OK if the mother told the daughter that the Muslim women wear veil because they love God. But the little girl will one day grow up and wonder why her mother told her a lie!

The photo you have posted looks like a Hindu woman dacoit because Hindu women wear bindhi ( round dot )on their forehead. She is covering her face to hide her identity:)

Best wishes :)

FCB said...

Hi Mel, and I give a hearty amen to your comments. I'm still working on loving those who love me the most, those whom I know the most.
We homosapiens are a strange and difficult species.
God bless,

Hi Joseph,
I appreciate your information about the purpose of the veil, and for the most part I do know much of it, and I abhorr oppression in all of its ugly forms. But that isn't the principle I was blessed by in this story, as simplistic as it is; in the US there is often a sense of superiority projected by some Christians, and this is something that needs improvement.
Not that many customs and traditions in many faiths, including our own, need to be changed and are oppressive, but be that as it may, I felt the quote was showing a way to best open the door for exchange of ideas.

I wondered about the photo that you say is probably Hindu, but I knew you would know because you live in such a melting pot.
Thanks for your insights Joseph,
God bless,