Thursday, March 05, 2009
I had a friend in college who was muslim. we would sit and talk about religion from our perpectives.... Ausuf on Sunni Islam and myself on Roman Catholicism and Buddhism. We would lament the spread of fundamentalism and the lack of dialogue between our faiths.
on the trip we visited two mosques, the oldest one in Cairo and this one in Alexandria. both were impressive and laid out completely unlike a church. Mosques have no particular design, for the Quran just states that a mosque can be any place people gather to pray. some mosques were designed by Christian architechs and resembled churches.
Egypt is a Sunni muslim country with a 10% Christian population. conversion from Islam to Christianity is a hard choice to make as families are torn apart, communities are fractured, and all involved will resist such a change. the society is extremely communal. everyone is out talking and hanging out on the streets, everyone seems to know everyone else's business. the Christians in the country have lasted for centuries as the minority but are quickly "losing the baby race" as Romani put it.
so what's up? am i lamenting that Islam has the majority here? no! Islam provides an excellent structure for it's adherents, just as Christianity does for us here in the states. it's not without it's problems either... but here's some interesting facts:
-there is more about Mary in the Quran than in the N.T.
-Jesus is viewed as a high prophet, some would place him just under Mohammed.
-Jesus viewed as God doesn't make sense to the muslim mind, as the Trinity is viewed as a pagan idea transposed on the truth of One God (a marketing point from the church to the pagan cultures)
-the women (who we here in the west call oppressed) lament how oppressed and awful we treat our women and ourselves here. they view us as constantly working and view our family network as falling apart.
it was an interesting aspect to our trip and i wish we would have spent more time with this religion. we did meet with Dr. Ali El-Samman who talked about the importance of interfaith dialogue. he's responsible for putting on many forums and has met everyone from John Thomas (president of the UCC) to the popes of the orthodox churches (Coptic, Roman Catholic, Eastern, etc).