Okay guys, I'm trying to take it slow here, I really am! I think that I may just post my thoughts on the chapters and put the links up to them on the Facebook page, but leave it to you to read at your own pace.
So, Chapter 2 - Still not 100% sure that I like this book, but we'll see. As a Muslim, I obviously identify more with Ranya, -- in this chapter she tells about her family's departure from Palestine. This is difficult for me, my husband is also a Palestinian, some his family fled to Jordan, some remained behind in Gaza. They can't always go back to see each other, they are a family torn apart. (Warning, I'm about to get political here) -- what bothers me most is seeing pictures of his family members in Gaza. They live in squalor. They make the best of it, but the fact is that they live in conditions that are, in my opinion, unsuitable for habitation. Yet...look over the rise, and there are the Israeli settlers who live in fantastic villas with manicured lawns and beautifully paved streets. I find that unjust. I don't care about the religious aspect of this and I don't take sides in the debate. The Palestinians feel as if their land and home was unjustly taken from them. The Israeli settlers feel that they deserve the land (and have been living there for 2 generations now). The land is home for both people. I just don't like the juxtaposition between the Israeli citizens and the Palestinian. I feel as if it's a "na-na-na-na-boo-boo" thing.
Okay -- back to the book -- I have more to complain about with this chapter (but am into the 3rd chapter, and liking that)
It is a major pet peeve of mine when people confuse cultural practices with religious ones. A great example would be the Burkas that Afghan women wear. That is culture, it is not a part of Islam. Ranya does this as well; on page 23 she says "I am reluctant to throw out leftover bread without kissing it and asking for God's forgiveness" -- Culture. Shortly after that, she says "...making sure that no shoes remain with their soles facing up toward God in a sign of disrespect." -- Culture, not religion.
On the same page, she talks about carrying a Quran in her purse, or sometimes wearing a verse of the Quran around her neck. Does this make one a Muslim? Does it make them religious or faithful? I don't think so. She says "I pray, but not necessarily five times a day as more traditional Muslims do." --- In all these years that I've been praying 5 times a day, I have never, ever considered myself a "traditional Muslim". Never.
I am surprised that she didn't discuss some of the small things that we (Muslims) do that make every action that we take a method of worshiping God. For example, before we eat something, we say Bismillah which literally means "in the name of God". When we end our meal, we say alhamduillah which means "Thank God". This way, our entire meal, from beginning to end has become an act of worship. There is the greeting of Salam alaykum meaning "peace be on you" that we greet all other Muslims with. There is the act of smiling to others. Smiling -- a form of worship! How simple and beautiful!
I'm glad that I read a little further into this -- as so far, these first two chapters are...disheartening. Chapter three, however, really gets into the similarities of the three faiths - something that I find beautiful.
5 days ago