West is west

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.

West is west

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sat Mar 05, 2011 8:35 pm

Is this an announcement? I don't know.

I just watched West is west. I think everyone should see it. Having never been to Pakistan or India (or anything more easterly than the Island of Rhodes), several of my misconceptions about Pakistan were broken. Knowing that Pakistan is a Muslim nation, I imagined it to be similar to the middle-east. According to West is west, it is much more similar to India. Not surprising, I suppose, given that it was India until recently.

I'm now at a loss about what 'Muslim culture' actually means. It's a great big wide world.

Edit: Ah yes, that is what I was going to say. In West is west there is a character who teaches the young boy about things. He speaks as though is is a Sadhu or some sort of wandering ascetic, but I thought Pakistan was mostly Muslim. Confused me a bit... and made me wonder: just how much Dhamma is in the Qur'an?
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Re: West is west

Postby mikenz66 » Sat Mar 05, 2011 8:46 pm

Hi Mawk,

Yes, Islam varies a lot. We get quite a lot of Malaysian students here (in this case I'm talking about Malay, rather than ethnic Chinese), and I've discussed various issues with them. If you only listened to the middle-eastern stuff you'd think that the women would be under all kinds of restrictions, but that's simply not the case for these women. "We go where we want by ourselves" was essentially the message I got when I asked...

Of course, it's completely different for the Saudi's here...

:anjali:
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Re: West is west

Postby cooran » Sat Mar 05, 2011 9:21 pm

Hello Mawk,

"If anyone harms (others), God will harm him, and if anyone shows hostility to others, God will show hostility to him." Sunan of Abu-Dawood, Hadith 1625.

"Those who believe (in the Qur'an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians...and (all) who believe in God and the last day and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve." The Qur'an, 2:62


I work with a Muslim woman and we have grown to be close friends. Her parents came here from the middle-east twenty five or so years ago. She had a typical Australian education – infant, primary and then high school in a fairly working class area. She went to University and got two degrees.

Then the americans invaded Iraq.

She and her female relatives saw this as a western attack on Muslims in general and Islam in particular, and decided to make a stand – they all voluntarily began wearing the Hijab.

The area we work in is the most multi-cultural city in the world – Logan City –over 185 ethnicities in 2008 and still rising.
http://www.logan.qld.gov.au/about-logan
There are many forms of Islam here. You cannot paint them all with one brush - any more than you can say a Baptist from the deep south of the USA is like an Anglican at Harvard, or an Catholic Italian farmer.

During tea-breaks at work, she and I would discuss life and the world in general. Often it came to religion. I would say something about what the Buddha taught, and she would look delighted and say, ‘’But that is what the Prophet, peace be upon him, also taught’’ and she would explain …. And so it would go on. Me learning from her, she learning from me.

She had an arranged marriage (she accepted the third or fourth offer, and the final choice was hers), and I attended the wedding …. All female, except when the nervous groom-to-be arrived with his small party of males. Most women were covered – some with entire faces hidden, some behind screens – until the formalities were over and the males left for their own reception. Then the women took off their outer covers and Deva Heaven arose – some of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. Most of them University grads as well.

We tend to forget that that the majority of Muslims are intelligent, peace-loving and compassionate. There are approximately 1.57 Billion Muslims in the world, and hard-line terrorists would number only a few score thousand if that. They also have the lifestyle of whatever country they live in - just like christians and buddhists.

With metta
Chris
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---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: West is west

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sat Mar 05, 2011 9:33 pm

:( a bit sad that the topic of terrorism came up. The thought of terrorism hadn't even entered my head.
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Re: West is west

Postby cooran » Sat Mar 05, 2011 10:25 pm

Hello Mawk,

mawkish said: I'm now at a loss about what 'Muslim culture' actually means. It's a great big wide world.


You asked about Muslim culture, including it in the ''big wide world''.

All Muslim culture is affected one way or the other by world events affecting their religion and civilisations - as are all Buddhists.

If you only want a limited discussion with boundaries - stipulate that in your OP.

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: West is west

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sat Mar 05, 2011 10:43 pm

cooran wrote:If you only want a limited discussion with boundaries - stipulate that in your OP.
I didn't say I wanted a limited discussion with boundaries.
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Re: West is west

Postby zavk » Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:47 pm

Hi Mawk

I've seen East is East and I really liked it! Glad to hear the sequel is good, looking forward to it. Yes, 'Muslim culture' is certainly NOT homogenous just like how it is meaningless to say that there is one 'white culture' or 'Asian culture' (what a diverse range of people these categories cover!). I grew up in Singapore and some of my best friends throughout high school were Muslim. Ethnically these people were the Malays. It was a blast hanging out with them.... we were the bunch in school listening to heavy metal that the other kids would frown upon. Heh...

But these teenage antics aside, I've visited their homes and met their families. For me, those Muslims are the most hospitable and gracious folks I've ever met. To my understanding, there's a great deal of emphasis in their religion on hospitality, kindness, graciousness, and generosity.

I've also lived with a Muslim friend and his family for a short period of time. It was a very low period of my life. My friend was happy for me to rent a room at a minimum rate. It even included meals (his mother was staying with them at the time). I would sometimes stumble upon them doing their daily prayers. The atmosphere in the room was EXTREMELY tranquil. Looking back now, I'd say it is the same feeling of peace and tranquility I get on retreat, an atmosphere of 'refuge' in the Dhammic sense.

Peace be unto you, as they would say.

:anjali: :) :group:
With metta,
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Re: West is west

Postby zavk » Sun Mar 06, 2011 1:01 am

Mawkish1983 wrote:just how much Dhamma is in the Qur'an?


Oh, to pick up on this point. I've had many interesting conversations with my friends about theological issues. What I find is that virtues such as kindness, generosity, etc, are definitely shared. I think these are the things to focus on when engaging in conversations with other religions and/or cultures. In terms of doctrines and philosophies, there will invariably be bits that cannot be reconciled. But I don't think we should aim to erase these differences. It is important to maintain these differences, to allow the other to be who or what they are--just like in any relationship it is important to let the other person be who they are. Any conversation/comparison between religions and cultures should not be narrowly focussed on evaluating whose doctrines or philosophies are 'better', nor should it be about expecting one to conform to the other. In terms of personal relationships, I think we can all see how disastrous such an attitude can be!

Virtues like kindness and generosity, on the other hand, are recognised by everyone regardless of religion or culture. I've posted about this previously in a thread about the recent events in Egypt. These form the common ground for us to relate to one another while allowing for the many differences that give each of us our distinct 'flavour'. To my understanding, true kindness, generosity, hospitality, etc, is enacted when they are open to those who are 'different'. Recognising these shared virtues would still allow us to make constructive criticisms about the other.

So if there is any commonality between the Dhamma and Islam (or any other tradition), they are to be found in these shared virtues, virtues shared by the different groups of people making up humanity who are all grappling with dukkha in one way or another.
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