This is not islamophobia. OK? I am happy to accept people’s religious beliefs as acceptable to them though I,for myself, am slowly losing any personal religious beliefs. However I cannot see the value of such beliefs unless they are expressed in a community. What a community does says a lot, if not all, about its values and the validity of the beliefs of its followers. So I really really do want to hear about an Islamic community, any Islamic community, anywhere, where I can see the shining lights of truth, goodness, love, inclusion, peace, kindness in action. Unless I can see such actions then don’t be surprised if my finite mind starts to concentrate instead on the murder, abuse, bigotry, exclusion, hatred, now being displayed in all its horror, within Islam, in certain places, and if I then begin to interpret that as being a key to understanding the real nature of that religion. To those at the ‘top’ within Islam, especially in the UK, I would urge you to try harder. Your religion is rapidly losing the patience of normally tolerant people like me and you urgently need to find a way of changing this. No I don’t need to understand your beliefs better; I don’t need pamphlets etc. I just want to feel that I can smile when Islam and its followers are spoken of.
The sad, or even happy, thing is that when speaking of other religions there is a general feeling within me of being content that they exist. For example I smile about Jewish behaviour even when it appears to be way out. I well remember walking through the district of Mea Shearim in Jerusalem and finding a shop where the faithful could take newly bought clothes to test them for illegal combinations of fabric. Not in the least important to me but it brought a wry smile to my face. I am glad to laugh with the rest of them when Jewish jokes are told. For example I heard of the Rabbi who on a walk along a coastline happened to fall over the edge, but grabbed hold of a branch to stop his fall. He shouted out to heaven to be saved and heard a voice saying “Just trust me. Let go and my divine arms will save you.” He replied “Is there anyone else up there I can talk to?” This joke is not a denial of the truth but a refreshing acknowledgement of human religious frailty. And I do not let this affectionate approach blind me to the horrendously unjust behaviour which I see happening at times by Israeli jews towards Palestinians.
Similarly within eastern religions such as hinduism there is something gloriously uplifting about beliefs which just do not fit in with my western humanistic beliefs and there is no way I could adopt a polytheistic approach to religion even if modern theologians tried to explain it as being just another way of looking at monotheism. Nevetheless there is much that is attractive about hindu practice such as the festivals, with their colourful and raucus behaviour, and which don’t turn me off one bit, and the architecture carries with it an affirmation of love, devotion, even sex, which I find liberating. I am aware of the excesses of Hindu fundamentalism and the violence stemming from it but I am still left with an accepting smile on my face.
I could, and might sometime, go on about all the other faiths and certainly not let Christianity off the hook either but I go back to my first paragraph that, for me, something terribly wrong is happening within Islam which could have the effect of creating massive problems for our security as humans and which requires urgent action, not by me but by those with the beliefs.