Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

So the last time I posted... was when? Why?

My life has been busy, and it has been stressful, and alas there has been little time to sit and think about what's going on (and there have been days when the thinking simply brought tears so I tried to avoid it...) This should be an easy time. I am under relatively little academic stress at the moment--being out of school for the first of five days today. Work is troubling, I'm trying to be a little more dedicated to my work since it's getting harder and I seem to be getting more responsibility. I really need to apply myself more in my engineering classes. Yesterday.

So a few weeks ago I was in a wreck... lost my car. Just this weekend I've purchased a new car... it doesn't seem that I am allowed to upload the picture, unfortunately. It's a red ford focus. My mom helped me a lot with it and I'm really grateful to her, and I have no idea how to show her.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving... so I'm baking pies. I guess I'll bake them in the morning? This reminds me I should take the cool whip out of the freezer. I'm really looking forward to the time spent with my family. I really hope that I don't have to deal with people's attitudes tomorrow... that could just ruin it... uhoh am I pessimistic already?

Next note... tonight I watched a show called Criminal Minds... oh boy. The show is about these profilers for serial killers. Every show, a new killer (or two?), and the team tries to find out who it is, why they're killing, how to stop them... good guys get the bad guys basically. Well this week, the guy to profile was a detainee in Guantanamo prison. This is interesting, because you imagine from the previews that you're going to get a bad view of Islam here with this wacko preaching jihad is killing Americans. Well... maybe you do, because he does that.

But what is really astonishing is the two main profiler characters, the wise and seasoned Gideon and the young but extremely intelligent Dr. (I forgot his name), have a better grasp on Islam (though knowing no Arabic) than the Muslim guy! In reality! First step, Gideon uses the man's faith as a weapon, really, to get him to "open up." Instead of following normal interrogation tactics where the man is stripped, beaten, humiliated, not allowed to pray, etc., Gideon allows him to pray, tells him which direction, ensures he has water for ablution, hands him some clothes, etc. Now he's manipulating the guy, but the reason for doing so is to prevent a large-scale terrorist attack (this is the plot.)

So they engage in dialogue, the crazy Arab person and Gideon, with the crazy man saying that he is on jihad and that killing Americans is jihad, that they aren't innocent (rather, that the kids in a shopping mall are somehow responsible for 3rd world poverty?) and that he is at war. It's kind of gross, really (criminals are that way.) But here it's interesting. Gideon tells him that the Prophet (pbuh) was in Mecca preaching peace for 13 years. (True statement! And incredibly important to understand in today's world--many non-Muslims forget this.) But then the reply (from crazy) is that when the Prophet pbuh when to Medina the command for violence became clear. The other profiler in the background explains (mostly for the audience) that this is talking about the "verse of the sword" that supposedly cancels the previous commands for peace. He actually explains that this is what some Muslims (i.e., the ones who like to strap bombs to themselves) use to justify violence.

Then the topic is dropped and it's not sufficiently explained that the command was actually not for violence. The crazy man elaborates on his view which described in further detail how he understands that violence is an appropriate reaction. What was flat out astonishing is for the crazy man to quote part of a verse (i.e., "kill the infidels" and I HATE that word!) and Gideon follows up by repeating the restriction, explaining the command to stop, to allow people to practice religion.

And then of all disgusting things the crazy man tries to get Gideon to "revert to Islam." Can you believe it? I was disgusted and insulted by that. As if by reverting to Islam one becomes a superior person.

So there was good and bad in this episode, I guess. I really didn't like it... the "sleeper cell" was actually a "homegrown" group mostly from prisons. I guess that will lead people away from the racial profiling issue. But a problem I see arising from this is in an imaginary discussion with a non-Muslim. He (theoretically) asks me why Muhammad pbuh was so violent. I explain that for 13 years in Mecca the Prophet pbuh taught peace. But then the entire value of that teaching is ignored while the person wants to focus on the permission to fight. That part of the teaching is neglected, I think--the person is aware of it but not in depth, and they don't or won't understand the concept of a prophet of peace, with respect to Muhammad, like Jesus was a prophet of peace. They can't understand it because they are aware of it but de-emphasize it. One extra note, I did like how the Dr. guy (who has a photographic memory) mentioned that even though "terrorists" use jihad to mean "holy war," the words "holy" and "war" never appear next to each other in the Qur'an. The statement itself is totally meaningless, but the point of it, I think, explaining that jihad doesn't actually mean holy war, was nice to see being asserted. He made another good point that I can't seem to recall right now. Oh well.

So anyway, Muhammad pbuh was a prophet of peace, and we as Muslims should demonstrate this for them. Call to peace, call to salam. Don't ask for vengeance, but remember that God is forgiving and merciful.

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