East and West Share Moral, Social and Spiritual Values, Part 5

"We speak different languages; We come from different cultures;
We keep different traditions.
No matter who you are or where you are,
You are not responsible for the past,
But you are responsible for the future."
I don't know who wrote the preceding words, but I found them apropos while writing more on Who Speaks for Islam. I felt this way living in Istanbul for 10 years. Today, people communicate different perspectives on the same subject.
In The Trouble with Islam Today, Irshad Manji notes that Muslim families bring up their children to believe Islam is the most beautiful way of life—morally, socially and spiritually.
Meanwhile, Joel Brinkley writes about how Saudi religious authorities directed the execution of two Saudi journalists for suggesting religions other than Islam are worthy of respect. Why? The Koran demands respect of all religions and prophets.
Chairman Mohamed Sini of the Trust for Islam and Citizenship says he respects freedom of speech, all the while slamming Ayaan Hirsi Ali for speaking in defense of Muslim women's rights and considers her motives to address such issues as 'pure provocation'.
While Muslim women desire equal treatment, they're not interested in complete adoption of Western values or morals. In "Who Speaks for Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think" majorities in most countries surveyed believe men and women should have the same legal rights: Iran at a high 89 percent agreement; Egypt at 74 percent and Saudi Arabia close behind at 73 percent.
Conversely, accepting all parts of the Islamic system may force a person to feign authenticity and create pressure on an individual to think and do the same as everyone else, sometimes not so nice.
Since 911, Muslims have come under pressure to examine their own world wrought with high numbers of poverty, violence and decline, at the same time held unfairly responsible for terrorism, religious wars and the ails of the world.
Moreover, Muslims feel their countries must modernize and reduce and control both extremism and terrorism. Fortunately, rejection of attacks on civilians is held globally reprehensible by Muslim and non-Muslim societies alike.
While we still see people throughout the world similar in degrees of moral corruptness and wrath against one another, Turkey, a 99 percent Muslim country, bears little resemblance to that of my native country, America, regarding the Muslim demographics.
Muslims in America are the most ethnically diverse in the world. According to Jen'nan Ghazal Read, American Muslims are well-informed and come from over 80 countries.
Muslim immigrants living in America for more than ten years resemble the general U.S. population. While most are employed, 25 percent earned a bachelor's degree or higher and another 25 percent earn $75,000 or more per annum.
Ghazal Read goes on to say that Christians, Jews and Muslims share similar numbers for attending places of worship; however, only 61 percent of Muslims say they pray daily compared to 70 percent of their Christian counterparts.
You can easily surmise that Muslims, no matter their nation, are similar to Westerners in their thoughts about global issues like terrorism, practice of religion, women's rights, freedom of speech and many other issues.
Of particular importance, though, a majority of Muslims in all countries expressed that what they most disliked about the West was the denigration of Islam and Muslims, promiscuity, and ethical and moral corruption. Conversely, in their own societies, they don't like the economic and political corruption, extremism and their lack of unity.
Both the West and East rebuke all these blights to our societies in vast numbers; however, it seems when looking from the outside in, many also have at least of sparkle of ethnocentrism.
That's okay because it gives us a place to start to bridge the divides and reach out to one another to forgive misunderstandings, myths, grievances and agitation.
So for the final segment on Who Speaks for Islam, we'll look at What Actions we can take as individuals to stem the tide of more Islamophobia and Muslim-bashing?
Until then, you're invited to leave your thoughts, feelings and comments on this burning issue.
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About Bea Vanni

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