The other day, I was reading a travel blog written by one of my coworkers. She had visited both Sacre Coeur and the Hassan II Mosque in one day, and was commenting on how grand they both are.
The blog entry detailed how beautiful the two structures are, although the cathedral is no longer used and is falling apart. It ended by saying that it is a shame that the mosque is more elaborate and impressive despite being for an “empty religion.” After many Islamic studies courses in college, I find this statement surprising and ignorant, especially coming from someone who chose to work and live in a Muslim country with students and coworkers of different faiths. Although I doubt she reads my blog, I am going to tell you, my dear readers, some fascinating things about the Islamic tradition.
Poetry and music – You’ve probably heard of Rumi, the Persian poet. If you haven’t, look him up! His poems remind me of the book of psalms; a lot of them sound like love songs, but are about God instead of a man or woman.
Language – The Quran is written in classical Arabic, which is a beautiful and complex language. Even native Arabic speakers have to study it for many years to grasp its many rules and structures, but those who can truly speak or write it can produce wonderful songs, stories, and poetry.
Islamic law – Many scholars have worked together to produce Islamic law and the correct sayings of the prophet. I think it is amazing that one can read exactly what the prophet said, along with who reported what he said, when it happened, and where, and that we can trust that this information was researched for years.
Science and math – The schedule of daily prayers is very complex. It involves finding the exact times the sun rises, sets, and is at it’s highest every day. I also find it interesting that there are set periods of time in which to pray. Many Christians set aside a certain time of the day for prayer and reflection so as to make sure to stay on track, which is much the same idea, though less rigid.
I firmly believe that one can appreciate the gifts given to us by other religions while still being steadfast in our own beliefs. And you never know; you might just learn something new about your own traditions and values by learning about those of others!