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Post re: Switzerland: Voters Ban Minarets; on Muslims in Europe (Vincent Littrell, US)
Created by John Eipper on 12/04/09 2:46 AM - re-switzerland-voters-ban-minarets-on-muslims-in-europe-vincent-littrell-us

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re: Switzerland: Voters Ban Minarets; on Muslims in Europe (Vincent Littrell, US) (John Eipper, USA, 12/04/09 2:46 am)

Vincent Littrell writes: Nigel Jones on 2 December commented on Islam in Europe saying, "European Governments are dangerously out-of-step with popular opinion in Europe, which is rightly alarmed at the increasing influence of Islam on our continent and official appeasement of the same." I confess to a sense of deflation to see such a comment from one of the WAISers whose writings I usually admire. I would ask for Nigel Jones's thoughts on the below linked article. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2009/may/20/muslim-integration-gallup The above linked Guardian article starts off by saying: "One of the most pervasive underlying assumptions in the discourse on European Muslim integration is that Muslim religiosity is a threat to Europe. Those who believe in the irreconcilability of western and Muslim identity generally argue that Muslim piety, expressed in religious symbols and moral conservatism, contrasted against the backdrop of secular and sexually liberal Europe, is a recipe for increasingly insular Muslim communities and profound alienation from European national identity. These isolated communities, the argument continues, not only represent an illiberal island challenging western democratic values, but are a 'cesspool' for radicalisation. "Integration, defined as conformity with majority culture, is therefore seen as a vital security measure and a defence against dual loyalty citizens. "However, the recent Gallup study paints a very different picture. While Muslims in three European countries are indeed highly religious and socially conservative, this neither leads to a sympathy for terrorist acts, a desire to isolate nor a lack of national loyalty." I have read quite abit of scholarly writing on the loyalty of most European Muslims towards their nation of residence and citizenship. It was easy to "Google" Muslim Integration Europe and find material like the above link. The above article I think nicely presents the argument that most Muslims find no conflict with being patriotic towards their European nation-state and being Muslim. Therefore, why is it that a powerful mind like Nigel Jones's feels it necessary to write in the monolithically negative about Islam in general? It seems to me that we in this Forum would want to advance dialogue, support the peaceful behaviors of Muslims, and provide support for those majority of Muslims who reject violence in general and terrorism in the name of their Faith. I have explicated at length in this Forum over the years about the differences between Puritanical/Conservative Orthodoxy and the problematics of exterior forms of Islam in practice as opposed to the majority who have internalized and practice the Faith of Islam. Make no mistake, the Muslim world is in crisis and interpretations of the Qur'an that run counter to concepts of a global ethic or the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are a serious problem in many places of the Muslim world, and I do study those strands of evil thought that are guised as Islam or archaic interpretations that are being outstripped by global realities (particularization of universalism in Islam). Be that as it may, why not lend support to the notion that Islam has spiritualized strands that make up large swaths of the Muslim world (to include Europe), and write in support of that reality instead of lumping all 1 billion or so Muslims in the same pot and labeling the entire religion as a harmful influence on "our continent?" This of course might lead to the debate about what actually constitutes religion. Those who understand the inner experience of religion many times have a different take of "the other" in terms of religion than those who view religion as an act of imagination and/or foolishness/fallacy or whose practice of religion takes a more exclusivist bent. The problem of divergant Western views towards Islam I think very much plays along the lines of how Westerners in general diverge in attitudes towards all religion. I fall in the category that recognizes spiritual reality either in synergy with varying levels of exoteric practice (to include juristic aspects of religion) that has play in all "true" religion or stands in opposition to superstition guised as "true" religion. As my thinking evolves in this arena, I do believe it possible to discern the "true" from the superstitious as it relates to the vast multiplicity in religious thought. Part of this is to be found in the tremendous commonality in moral thought, samenesses that transcend the differences. I'm not alone in my thinking that divine inspiration takes many forms and flows along multitudinous strands. I currently have the privilege of near-daily contact with an Afghan Sunni Muslim man who is, from what I can tell so far, an excellent yet humble exemplar of the excellences of his Faith. From what I can discern so far he presents a powerfully on-target morality, abhors violence in the name of the religion he adheres to, is devoutly prayerful and consistent in adherence to Qur'anic injunctions regarding prayer, humorous, honest, powerfully intelligent, and I'm glad to know him. This gentleman has been in the US less than a year and after visiting with him sometimes I do get a sense of possible discrimination he faces as he settles into life in the US. It is through him that I am currently learning much about day to day life in Pashtun Afghanistan and I enjoy it while I also learn the Pashto language. On another note: I am currently a student of Pashto and I find it a rather more difficult language than Persian. So far, generally speaking, grammar rules appear to me so far to be more complex than Persian, especially dealing with masculine/feminine, whereas Persian is gender-neutral. There are more letters in the Pashto alphabet than Persian (Farsi), and the sounds are more difficult for the English-speaking tongue to precisely articulate. I never achieved native-level fluency in Farsi, but I can still get around at a basic level in that language (I've been able to practice quite a bit with Iranian/American friends here in the DC area and my Pashto learning is actually improving my Farsi as well). Having some proficiency in Farsi does certainly help my Pashto, as there is a surprising amount of cross-over in terms of vocabulary and similiarity of alphabet (Pashto has more letters though). Because Dari is another major language of Afghanistan, there is Dari/Pashto cross-over. Dari/Pashto cross-over means of course Farsi/Pashto cross-over as well. Interestingly in terms of systematic grammar rules, Farsi is far more developed than Pashto. As I learn Pashto from a University of Kabul-educated Afghan, he does comment that the systematic grammar rules of Pashto are still in development and according to him the reality is most Afghan Pashtuns don't speak in the grammatically "correct" way I'm learning the language. I'm learning that Grammar will many times depend on what village you are in (which of course makes sense, because over 70% of Afghans are still illiterate according to recent figures I've read). I am learning how to pronounce Pashto words in the two major Pashto dialects of Afghanistan however, the Southwest and Eastern dialects. Learning Pashto is an interesting experience that I'm enjoying though am challenged by. JE comments: Best of success to Vincent Littrell as he continues his Pashto studies. There are few intellectual activities more challenging yet satisfying than learning a new language. And though I'm far from impartial on the topic, I'm sure most WAISers will agree!

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