Thursday, 24 December 2009

O come all ye faithful, Muslims welcome too

Normally I will enter a house of worship only if I am dragged inside kicking and screaming. Ask me to listen to a khutba (or religious sermon) and it's an open invitation to either suicide or homicide!
It may sound odd, but not entering a mosque is actually a sane reaction to what many ill-informed mullahs in Pakistan (and many other countries) preach. The product of these sermons, religious fanaticism, is apparent to anyone who watches the news.

Mosques come in all shapes and sizes. This is the Larabanga Mosque near Mole, Ghana

I still enter mosques, mostly as a tourist or as a tourist guide. In fact, I have had the privilege of visiting Mecca and Medina as a child. I have clear memories of conducting Umra. (Since I was only about ten years old at the time I don't get any 'brownie' points for the experience!)
Nowadays, while in a mosque, I generally silently recite some personal prayers seeking His guidance and forgiveness. I count on the fact that my God is all-knowing and all-merciful.
Certain rituals are important, nay mandatory, in Islam. I am not at that point in my religious journey. I will wait and see how He deals with my disregard for orthodox practices when we meet.
Despite all of the above, I will attend a Catholic mass on Christmas Eve. The visit is not under the threat of a gun to my head either.
I am excited about the experience. In the past, I have gone to wedding receptions at Church, but Christmas is an infectiously 'magical' time. It will be nice to participate in a community event and be a part of the festivities.
More seriously, it's a possibility to be a bigger and better person.

A clash of civilizations is not inevitable

Islam does not have a monopoly on religion, religious practices, or God. Islam believes in Jesus and the Virgin Mary.
Surely, there are differences between Islam and the other monotheistic faiths. Jesus is considered a mortal – although as a prophet he is attributed with many more miracles than the prophet Mohammed.
Religion is a personal journey for me. I have covered a fair distance since my days as a sceptic (Marxist atheist!) during my teenage days. I don't think my God will disagree with my partaking in a Christian ceremony.
If some believe in the Original Sin and the Son of God so be it. I am not qualified enough to question their thinking. I don't wish to be like those who question my religious philosophy and status as a Muslim or half-Muslim.
Tomorrow I listen to a Catholic clergyman tell me about good and evil. I will let you know if his interpretation is radically different from mine.

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