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26 February 2009

a conversation about islam

two nights ago, i had to stay late for work to do CO2 fire protection testing on the enclosures. basically, this entails releasing about 1 ton of CO2 into the enclosure and waiting for an hour to make sure the concentration is within spec. four enclosures and about a half hour setup time in between means, in short, a lot of waiting. during the downtime, i was speaking to one of the mechanical guys i work with about the qur'an which i've started reading a translation of recently. i'm only several suras (chapters) in, but i have a load of questions already. one, i asked, was why women weren't to pray in the mosque? the qur'an says the men should pray at the mosque, but the women should pray at home. he quite plainly explained that it is for their own safety. women should stay at home to be safe. he used the example that a drunk driver might hit and kill her on the way to the mosque. wtf?! so non-sequitur! he also used safety as the reason that women should not have jobs. it is safer for them to stay at home taking care of the kids, cleaning the house, and making sure everything is comfortable for the man when he comes home from work. i'm not an activist by any means, but i couldn't believe how naturally the sexist attitude came to him. for him (and possibly the culture, i can't speak for it entirely), it's just natural. i explained that i don't think i could handle sitting at home all day, cleaning, rearing the kids, and waiting for my wife to come home to take care of her, i'd want to live, do something meaningful... this is where i was completely floored. he replied of course YOU couldn't do it, you're a man, but women are better suited for it. he was basically saying that women can handle it because they are, well, dumber! they don't need excitement, per se. it was amazing how matter-of-factly he said this.

i bit my tongue because there is no reason to upset a good working atmosphere over a religious argument that i couldn't win. islam indoctrinates it's followers by rote. muslims pray 5 times a day, they fast for the month of ramadan, i believe they are supposed to read the entire qur'an during ramadan, etc. the end user here has an engineer who is trying to convert me to islam, now that he's heard i'm reading the qur'an. i told him i was doing it more as research, to be better informed, and he told me that was wrong, i should only read it because it is the word of allah, and it is completely true. apparently, there are scientific revelations in the qur'an that allah told mohamed, his prophet, long before they were actually discovered by the human race. i haven't gotten that far yet. i'm not shooting down or blaspheming islam, it's just that, anyone who talks to me about it seems so... robotic. so, now i have to get on to reading to see how wrong/right/totalitarian this religion is.

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Blogger themom said...

Oh, and by the way - I just bought "Religulous" - Bill Maher's documentary. Let me at that guy and his damn principles of a woman is "better suited to the home."

You are right - it is an argument you would never win. thank heavens they are theorizing about millions of other earth like planets - inhabited no less. That would blow all their theories to smithereens.

3:46 PM, February 26, 2009  
Blogger khany said...

peace slyght,

are you sure you are reading a translation of the qur'an? you implied that your question was inspired by your reading of the qur'an. yet there is not a single verse in the entire qur'an which states men or women should pray in the mosque!

in fact, a relevant verse from the qur'an is:
And who are more unjust than those who prevent the name of Allah from being mentioned in His mosques and strive toward their destruction.

islam liberates women. muslim cultures today may or may not reflect this fact. next time you meet this mechanical guy ask him to produce his proof if he is truthful.

so i do wonder if you are actually reading a translation of the qur'an? perhaps you might be in possession of a commentary on the qur'an with some person's personal biases inserted along with qur'anic text.

hope this helps

3:39 AM, February 27, 2009  
Blogger slyght said...


you are correct in part. i am reading a translation, it has both the original arabic and the english translation, along with commentary at the bottom. i looked up where i'd gotten that comment from, i noticed i was pulling from the commentary.

the commentary is from surah 2:3 about that iqamat-as-salat. the commentary goes, "each and every muslim, male or female, is obligated to offer his salat regularly five times a day at the specified times; the male in a mosque in congregation and the female at home.

it goes on after that quoting mohamed's writings, so maybe this isn't something from the qur'an, per se, but from mohamed's writings? i'm not sure.

either way, this is exactly why i'm reading this, to learn, to clarify, to be better informed in the culture that this religion grew from. thanks for the input.

11:44 AM, February 27, 2009  
Blogger khany said...

my opinion is that you should first read the plain translation (minus the commentary). this way you will have a clearer idea of what the qur'an says. then if you are interested in finding out more about a particular verse or chapter you can read different commentaries and points of views.

men are strongly encouraged to pray in congregation at the mosque whenever possible. moreover, it is obligatory upon men to attend the friday prayers in congregation. on the other hand, women are not obligated to offer their prayers in a mosque. however, women are not barred from praying at the mosque either. in fact, both men and women prayed at the prophet's mosque in medina.

good luck with reading the qur'an. try not to take average joe's opinions as islamic fact. in many muslim communities, like the one i grew up in, culture is passed as islam. because islam is so important to muslims people try to legitimize and gain support for their projects by dressing them in 'islamic garb'. this applies to both good and bad endeavors. so while charity, accountability, and social justice are pursued in the name of islam, so are misogynistic practices and violence.

therefore it is important, in my opinion, that your read the qur'an without the bias introduced by commentary to arrive at your own conclusion of what the qur'an requires of muslims. in the end islam is not what the muslims do or say, rather it is what god has revealed in the qur'an.

just a final note. you referred to "muhammad's writings". in fact, muhammad was unable to read or write. the arab culture was an oral culture and very few individuals could read and write. the traditions of the prophet recorded by his companions or people in following generations to whom these traditions were passed down orally. the word "qur'an" itself means 'the recitation'. it is not so much the physical book but the spoken word.

12:22 PM, February 27, 2009  
Blogger slyght said...

aye, i did know that about mohamed being illiterate, i forget where though. actually, i think it was "idiot's guide to world religions". i guess what i meant were what was written down about his teachings. the written record of what he said and passed on to his followers. thanks again for the clarifications. i like to learn, and it's best to learn the right way the first time around. shokron.

12:52 PM, February 27, 2009  

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