A humble little blog about books, information, and other things that are good to know.

Posts tagged ‘Islam’

Honouring World Religion Day

The wheel of World Religions.

Image via St. Edmund Campion Catholic Secondary School.

Today is World Religion Day, an acknowledgment that in these times of division between religions, we can choose to look at all faiths as paths to God. Many fundamentalist strains of many different faiths would call that heresy, but it’s hard to imagine a world that can be truly peaceful and just if we don’t have the humility to admit that the path we’ve found to God might not work as well for another person as it has for us. Essentially it’s a celebration of acceptance and unity.

It’s my personal belief that harmony starts amongst children, who have a natural tendency towards openness and acceptance. We can shut that down by teaching them that our way is the only right way, or we can encourage it by exposing them to other types of people and how they are different from – and similar to – ourselves. In that spirit, I’ve created a book list for families who want to help their children get to know how some of the world’s other faiths reach out to God.

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Does My Head Look Big In This?

Does My Head Look Big In This?

Image via Journey Online.

Title: Does My Head Look Big In This?

Author: Randa Abdel-Fattah

Year of Publication: 2005

Genre Keywords: coming of age, culture, family, friendship, high school, identity, Islam, multiculturalism, popularity, religion, teen, women’s issues, young adult.

Summary: Amal is an Australian teen like any other . . . except that she’s a Muslim of Palestinian extraction who’s decided she’s ready to wear the hijab full-time. She knows it won’t be easy, attending a posh private school away from her Muslim friends while sporting such a hotly-contested marker of her Muslim identity, but she feels passionately about it. Now she’s dealing with all the usual trials and tribulations of high school – crushes, mean girls, friends with body-image issues, and more – but also with the judgments of teachers, friends, and strangers trying to identify what the hijab says about her life and placing her in the role of a full-time apologist for Islam, even in its most twisted and horrifying iterations.

Who’ll Love It: If you’re open to walking a mile in the shoes of a young Muslim woman, this book is a great way to do it. The central character is one of those rare gems – strong and smart and (mostly) confident, yet still believable. Readers who like a good relationship story that centers around friendships and family relationships (as opposed to romantic ones) will find an added bonus in the wide range of people supporting Amal as she tells her story.

Food For Thought: Does My Head Look Big In This? investigates some of the key assumptions many Westerners make when confronted with a Muslim, particularly a Muslim woman. For instance, when you see a woman in the hijab (or niqab, burqa, or what-have-you), do you assume she’s been forced to wear it by some man in her life? Do you stop to wonder how your assumption affects her or makes her feel? It’s worth spending some time with the idea.

If You Don’t Approve Of Quran-Burning . . .

. . . there are at least a few things you can do to register your opposition.

  • Sign the petition addressed to the pastor of Dove World Outreach Center, asking him to please NOT burn the Quran. It even says please!
  • Check out the Quran. Literally, at your local library. (Or somewhere else.) This Facebook site calls for us to show overtures towards peace and understanding by making 9/11 a day to read the Quran instead of burning it.
  • Speak your mind to make your thoughts on the book-burning plan clear. I plan on plastering my favourite anti-book-burning quote all over the place, everywhere I can think of . . . although really it’s sort of sad that I have to even mention it in the 21st century.

Here’s the quote: “Where books are burned in the end people will be burned, too.” Heinrich Heine, 1797-1856. I would absolutely love to see this take over the Internet for the next couple of days as a reminder of the high cost of censorship.

Hey, maybe while we’re at it we can spread pictures of famous book burnings – my personal favourite being the pre-Holocaust Nazis – to drive home how prescient this quote really is. I think I may even change my Facebook pic until Saturday as a form of protest. Wow, this whole ‘educating and reminding’ thing can really go places once you get the creative juices flowing!

This is not a religious battle, Christianity versus Islam. This is about culture – the culture of hate and ignorance going up against the culture of peace and toleration. And make no mistake, there are examples of both cultures in every religious tradition. I call on well-meaning people of every faith and of no faith at all to stand up for the basic right to be treated with respect and decency by those who don’t agree with you. Which is not really a basic right generally, but I was under the impression that we live in a civil society, and it should certainly be a basic right here. Let’s make the point to Muslims here and abroad that not everybody in the West is like these so-called Christians who want to burn away somebody else’s faith.

For the record – yes, people have the right to burn any book they like . . . but that doesn’t make it the right thing to do. And actually, I’m not certain whether this demonstration legally amounts to the kind of hate speech prohibited by American law. But I do know how I would feel if I were a Muslim woman watching this spectacle unfold, and I don’t want to see anybody feeling the way I’d feel under those circumstances. That’s not a statement about which religion is right or wrong, or about law or civil liberties or censorship or any of the rest. That’s just compassion, people.

Ten Reasons Not To Burn a Quran

Dove in fire.

Image via the Ministry of the Holy of Holies.

You may have heard about it: the Christian blog on Dove World Outreach Center that plans to spend this coming Saturday (that’s 9/11, for those keeping track) burning copies of the Quran to “raise awareness and warn”. They say it’s not an act of hate, because Islam is dangerous and therefore the loving thing to do is to warn people both within and outside of Islam. I say it’s ironic that the organization is called “Dove World”, given that the dove is a symbol of peace.

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