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Standing on the Side of Love with the Muslim Community

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Sep 14, 2010

By Mar Cárdenas

My heart sunk when I heard my Muslim friend, Sarah, tell everyone at our potluck that Imam Taha had decided to close the Islamic Center on 9/11 out of fear that the mosque could be targeted on that day.

Sarah, a Muslim Latina who had been my contact on Facebook for quite some time, unbeknownst to me, are the rest of the wonderful UUs who attended the Wednesday potluck made the decision that we were going to be at the mosque and have a vigil to show the local Muslim community our support.

On Thursday the plan was put on hold. The imam had received some hate-filled calls. On Friday it was decided to go ahead with our plans. I had 24 hours to get as many UUs there as possible!

I set up the event on Facebook, invited every UU in my network and sent an invitation to the UUSB listserve. In the meantime Sarah and her team got busy planning a meal for us to show their gratitude. The mosque was not closed on that day after all!

Almost 30 UUs came! Most of them wearing our cheerfully yellow SSL shirts. The women wore headscarves to show the respect we felt for our new friends’ faith. The interaction was wonderful. We were invited to partake in the evening prayer session during which Imam Taha spoke gratitude-filled words about our group. We laughed and played and sang silly chants together.

When Sarah came to our Chula Vista campus to speak last Sunday, she told us how everyone in her group was in tears after we left. Now we were ALL in tears too! =)

For that one day we were all Muslims, we were all human beings holding each other close in times of adversity! Blessed be all our Muslim friends!

7 Responses to “Standing on the Side of Love with the Muslim Community”

  1. Thank you Mar- you are an inspiration to me!

  2. Roberta Jackson says:

    How is a UU woman supposed to feel about the fact that women cannot pray with men in mosques, and are otherwise not accorded equal treatment. That is completely at odds with supposed UU values. We would never countenance racial segregation, and would not tolerate others doing so–why is there a different standard when it comes to tolerating someone’s religion, when it enforces such terrible segregation? Because you attach a religious label to it? Because Moslems have achieved victim status, so the rest of the world, including progressives, are supposed to tolerate everything they do, in the name of their religion? Or are women still supposed to just suck it up, and accept that even so-called progressives will allow others to persecute women, because it is their “culture?”

  3. Jade Robinson says:

    To Roberta and any others who feel similarly:
    I am a Muslim woman. Besides being a Muslim, a woman, and mother of two girls – I also consider myself a progressive and further, a feminist. Issues of equality interest me so much so, I made my academic focus the sociology of gender and ethnic studies. I have prayed at the mosque/masjid and otherwise interacted with men and women in my Muslim community. I have never been persecuted, made to feel “less than”, or otherwise slighted. We as Muslim women are afforded every respect in our religion, and afford every respect in return. As far as praying separately in the mosque: differing opinions but as for me, I find it beneficial because during prayers we prostrate (bow) and I actually prefer not to be in front of men in a compromising position. I am hoping to check out a UU congregation soon with my husband (who is also Muslim) and kids; so it’s slightly disappointing to see such a comment about Islam. I am hoping to find open minds and flexible perspectives at the UU church. Thanks for allowing me to comment.

  4. Merle Wenger says:

    I grew up conservative Mennonite and for the past 12 years have finally felt “at home” with a UU congregation. Indeed it is a challenge to accept people where they are in their faith journey. It is a challenge to accept people putting themselves in an inferior position to another person. But it is the “stuff” of love, to love that which we do not understand, to love that which feels strange, to love those with whom we can not agree. That is why we would love even those who might hate us. That is really standing on the side of love, because love rises above the me vs them, the white vs black, the Christian vs the Muslin etc. Values and morality are learned and built over generations, through education and experience. It seems unreasonable to think that we all might have the same values. What is reasonable is to think that we personally might demonstrate such outstanding values, that others might want to emulate our stand: then we are “standing on the side of love.”

  5. Christine Purcell says:

    Our UU church in East Tennessee recently signed up to be a host church for Family Promise. Family Promise is a 20-year-old national program which reduces family homelessness by mobilizing the interfaith community and existing area resources to provide shelter, meals, skill training, and support to homeless children and their families.

    At our last Social Justice committee meeting, we discussed finding a support congregation for Family Promise, and finding a way to show solidarity with our Muslim neighbors in the wake of the arson at the Murfreesboro mosque site. Though we initially discussed these topics as separate issues, we realized that they are not. Since Family Promise is also known as the Interfaith Hospitality Network, and Muslims are not currently represented in the interfaith group of area churches which supports Family Promise, we asked the local Muslim community to act as our support congregation. They agreed to support our Family Promise efforts!

    I cannot fairly judge the worship and cultural practices of another group; I can only take responsibility for my own actions. My place of worship welcomes all, and treats all people the same. We support the right of our Muslim neighbors to worship freely. We are proud to stand with our Muslim neighbors against family homelessness. Working with our Muslim neighbors toward the goal of social justice makes the differences in our worship practices seem very small, indeed.

  6. Muslim Sister says:

    Dear Roberta Jackson,

    Men and women are considered equals at the mosque. The separation of men and women does not have to do with equality, but rather a spiritual norm in the form of convienience for prayer. The manners in which muslims pray, which requires us to bend down and prostrate on the floor…would be a very ackward position for a woman to do in front of a man…that why women prefer to pray behind men.

    I find the Universalist church to be very interesting and it reminds me of Sufi Islam. I will be visiting my local UU church here in Florida. Thank you for the love and support during these times.

    You human sister.

  7. Chris Barghout says:

    I come from a mostly Christian family that has intermarried with Islamic persons. In addition I am an Arab-American that has gone to a very large UU church in Portland, Oregon. My experience has been of a religion that preaches tolerance on the outside but is extremely bigoted on the inside. It is no accident that UU churches are among the most segregated places in the USA.

    There are of course a few allies who understand that for UU churches to succeed in being more multicultural, it is they who need to change. Traditionally, almost all UU’s of color are those who wanted to be more Anglo, and appreciated a church where they could be the center of attention. An inconvenient truth to be sure and one who’s veracity would be as contested as evolution at a fundamentalist Christian church.

    Failure to be diverse of course follows, with the overwhelming UU response of, “We have started down the road of diversity” instead of “we found a minority who prefers white culture” and why can’t we have more like him or her.

    I wish the best to the very few UU churches who are willing to change their basic culture to embrace diversity. I don’t think it is really very hard, much corporate, political, and civic culture has done so. UU’s are just about the last institutions to do so.

    More models of success are really not necessary. It would be pretty accurate to say, just stop being a bigot and start to act like every body else. A bit of an exaggeration there, but too close to the truth not be close on target.

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